If you’re looking to take a family vacation to California and want to avoid the usual tourist traps, consider Fremont. You can find Fremont in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, in Alameda County. It’s just across the bridge from Silicon Valley and is one of the biggest cities in the Bay area.
There are many amazing things to do in Fremont because of the stunning landscape and rich history. There are many activities and places for the whole family to enjoy. A lot of the recreational activities available in Fremont are nature-based or nature-centric. So if you’re looking to be outside in that beautiful California Sun, this is still a great choice.
- 21 Things to do In Fremont
- 1. Coyote Hills Regional Park
- 2. Mission Peak Regional Preserve
- 3. Central Park
- 4. Alameda Creek Regional Trail
- 5. Ardenwood Historic Farm
- 6. Old Mission San Jose
- 7. Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area
- 8. Niles Canyon Railway
- 9. Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum and Theatre
- 10. Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
- 11. Vargas Plateau Regional Park
- 12. Shinn historical park and Arboretum
- 13. Dumbarton Bridge
- 14. Museum of Local History
- 15. Aqua Adventure Water Park
- 16. Olive Hyde Art Gallery
- 17. Niles Farmer’s Market
- 18. Children’s Natural History Museum
- 19. Redwood National Park
- 20. Berkeley Mystery Walls
- 21. Fremont Market Broiler
21 Things to do In Fremont
The best things to do in Fremont involve the beautiful nature in the area or some of the historic landmarks. Vacationing in Fremont is very much about soaking in the sun and soaking in the amazing history of that part of the Bay area.
1. Coyote Hills Regional Park
Coyote Hills Regional Park sits on 1266 acres on the southern shore of San Francisco Bay. The park is a mix of wetlands and hills that intersect. There are amazing views of Oakland, San Francisco, the ocean, and the Santa Cruz Mountains from within the park.
Coyote Hills Regional Park has trails that are popular for biking, hiking, and horseriding. The park is also a popular spot for bird-watching, picnicking, and photography. You can take a guided tour of a recreation of the Tuibun Ohlone Village Site. The site is there because they have found archaeological evidence that this Native American tribe inhabited that area.
There are exhibits in the Coyote Hills Visitors Center has a small museum that offers some insight into the lifestyle of the Ohlone people. There are also exhibits to educate about the park’s history, and the wildlife found there.
The museum contains various Ohlone artifacts like woven baskets and tools. They put on demonstrations of food preparation and the other routines of the Ohlone people on the weekends.
There is a nectar garden for birds and butterflies adjacent to the visitor’s center that is open to the public. There are also tours of the marsh on offer for those interested. There’s an overnight campsite that has accessibility features.
There is an admission fee of $5 for every car that comes into Coyote Hills Regional Park. Cyclists and pedestrians can enter for free. Dogs are permitted in the park for a $2 fee, and they must be leashed and under control.
2. Mission Peak Regional Preserve
This next attraction is just perfect for families that enjoy a physical challenge. Mission Peak Regional Preserve sits on 3000 acres, offering an unparalleled view of the city and mountains. It’s located on a mountain ridge that includes Mount Allison.
The trek to the summit of Mission Peak is a steep and strenuous climb of 3 to 4 miles. It will take you at least five hours to complete this hike. You’ll have to come well prepared as there aren’t any water points along the trail. It can also get scorchingly hot during the summer.
The trails are multi-use and are mostly used for hiking, biking, and mountain climbing. Some people follow the trails for sightseeing purposes too. The Hidden Valley Trail is the most popular, but it’s a hard trek.
Once you’re in the park, you’ll have amazing views of Silicon valley, and you’ll have a variety of things to do. At the park’s summit, there’s a marker pole known as “Mission Peeker.” This is where most hikers stop to take a photo and enjoy the view.
3. Central Park
While it’s not quite New York, Central Park in Fremont is popular in its own right. The park is built around Lake Elizabeth, which encompasses 80 acres of the 450-acre park.
There is a 2-mile paved trail that goes around the entire lake. The walk offers great views, including views of the hills in the Mission Peak Regional Preserve.
There’s a Central Park Dog Park for you to bring your furry family member to. There’s also the Fremont Skate Park which is popular with residents of all ages. There’s also a driving range in the park for dad to sneak away to.
There are several picnic areas in the park and paddleboat rentals. There are basketball and tennis courts available to use as well as a children’s play area.
4. Alameda Creek Regional Trail
The Alameda Creek Regional Trail is a paved, 12-mile trail that stretches from the Niles Canyon to the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge. There are two trails on either side of Alameda Creek. Both are favored by runners, pedestrians, and cyclists.
The North Alameda Creek Trail and the South Alameda Creek Trail also connect with Coyote hills regional park and Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area.
5. Ardenwood Historic Farm
If you’re looking to do something educational – and step back in time – this is the one for you and your family.
Ardenwood Historic Farm is a working ranch straight out of the 1800s. The staff all wear period-appropriate attire from the 1800s. They guide visitors through the estate while demonstrating how to do the various chores and explaining how life was back then.
The Victorian mansion that is the jewel of Ardenwood Historic Farm is actually a historic landmark. The home once belonged to the Patterson family. It was built in 1857 as a farmhouse before being remodeled in 1889 and 1915. It’s been open to the public since 1985.
Of course, there’s more to see on the estate than just the mansion.
Ardenwood Historic Farm also has a Victorian garden on the estate and farmyard animals. You can enjoy fresh produce from the Farmyard Cafe. There is also a Railroad Museum on the estate where you can catch a train ride.
6. Old Mission San Jose
This is one of Fremont’s popular historic landmarks. It’s a historic Spanish mission that was founded in 1797. It’s the 14th mission in California, built by Spaniards.
Aside from Mission San Jose, there’s now a museum and a visitors center. Here, you can watch a slideshow of the Mission’s history. There’s also a beautiful reconstruction of an adobe church that was built in 1809 and later destroyed by an earthquake.
7. Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area
Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area is a great place to spend a day enjoying the outdoors with the family.
There is an abundance of recreational activities to take part in. The most popular things to do here are to swim, have a picnic near the shore, or take advantage of the hiking trails. The hiking trails here connect to the trails at the Alameda Creek Regional Trail.
There are beach areas that actually have sand on both the Horseshoe and Rainbow Lakes. You can also go boating and fishing in the lakes.
If you don’t want to picnic on the shore, there is an abundance of grassy areas to choose from. There are also allocated picnic areas.
8. Niles Canyon Railway
The Niles Canyon Railway is a history museum dedicated to the railroad culture of the Pacific Coast from 1910 to 1960. The museum includes an ever-growing collection of motorcars, passenger cars, cabooses, and other train cars.
The main draw to the museum is that you can take a train ride through the Niles Canyon. You’ll ride on steam or diesel locomotives and live the experience of Americans before 1960.
As you and your family enjoy your journey along the Niles Canyon Railway, you’ll be guided through the area’s history by costumed characters. If you want to take a train ride, it’s wise to make a reservation well in advance.
9. Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum and Theatre
Sitting across the street from the Niles Canyon Railway is the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum and Theatre. This is a must-see for any film buffs, especially lovers of silent films and Charlie Chaplin.
This should be your first stop when thinking of things to do in Fremont. This used to once be considered the hub of the silent movie industry. This building was once the headquarters of the silent film industry as the Niles Essanay Studio building.
The building is a historic landmark and houses many artifacts from the silent film era. This includes movie posters, cameras, memorabilia, and actual silent films. The building is over 100 years old, and it’s a nickelodeon theater, the Edison Theatre.
Charlie Chaplin is well represented at this museum because he made quite a few silent films in Fremont.
10. Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
This is another must-see in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge spans more than 30,000 acres of natural terrain. It is also home to a variety of wildlife because of the diverse landscape that offers different habitats.
It was founded in 1974 with the purpose of protecting, preserving, and enhancing the habitat of wildlife. It’s also a haven for threatened and endangered animals. It is the first national refuge in this country.
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge is best known for its salt pond and upland pool habitats. The landscape also includes ponds, mudflats, and marshes.
This is an amazing place to spend the day spotting wildlife or bird watching with a pair of binoculars. There are more than 30 trails throughout the refuge that you can explore and photograph.
11. Vargas Plateau Regional Park
This breathtaking space is located in the Fremont Hills. There is a stunning view of the South Bay from Vargas Plateau Regional Park, which sits about 1000 feet above Fremont itself. There are more than 6 miles of hiking trails to explore within the regional park.
Come prepared with your own water, as there are no water points along the trail or at the trailhead. Don’t forget to bring your camera and keep your eye out for wildlife on the move. Eagles, hawks, snakes, and bobcats are some of the animals often spotted in the area.
Spring is a great time to visit Vargas Plateau Regional Park so that you can enjoy the wildflowers that bloom here. At the end of your trek, you can enjoy the unobscured views of the landscape and the brilliant sunset. From your vantage point, you should be able to see Newark, Union City, Fremont, San Francisco Bay, and Niles Canyon.
12. Shinn historical park and Arboretum
Shinn Historical Park and Arboretum encompasses 4.5 acres and is home to a wide variety of plants from around the globe.
The park gets its name from the “Big House” on its grounds. It’s a Victorian farmhouse that has somehow survived several natural disasters in the bay area. No one is allowed to enter the house, but many come to admire the Bavarian-style architecture from outside.
13. Dumbarton Bridge
The Dumbarton Bridge connects Fremont to Palo Alto and San Francisco. It also provides access to Coyote Hills State Park. The original Dumbarton Bridge was built in 1927. It was the first Bay bridge built for vehicles. It soon became too congested, and so a new bridge had to be built. It was completed in 1984. This bridge is 8600 feet long and has three lanes going each way. There are also separate pedestrian and bike lanes on the bridge. The bridge has a covered walkway that connects to the Coyote Hills Regional Park.
14. Museum of Local History
The Museum of Local History has been open to the public since 1994. The museum displays exhibits that illustrate what life was like in the past in the Tri-City and Washington Township areas.
The exhibits focus on the different families that lived in the area and the lives they led. The work they did, and what kind of communities they built.
There are many collections in the museum, including collections from the Washington Township Historical Society and the Mission Peak Heritage Foundation. You can take a self-guided tour through the museum, or you can take a guided tour led by one of the knowledgeable docents.
15. Aqua Adventure Water Park
This popular family attraction is the perfect way to spend a fun day in the sun. It’s very close to Central Park, so you can combine the two into one day trip. There are four slides that are 40 feet high. Two of the slides are open, and the other two are enclosed.
For the less adventurous, there is a splash zone that has a variety of water sprays. There’s also a 3-foot-deep lazy river that meanders around the water park. There are 12 shelters to shade visitors from the sun. There’s also a pool to swim and exercise in that is about five lanes wide and 25 yards long.
16. Olive Hyde Art Gallery
Discover the art lover in you and your loved ones by visiting this beautiful gallery. It’s been around since the 1960s, and you can find it in the same area as Mission San Jose.
While the gallery was opened in 1962, the building itself has been around since 1940. The gallery displays rotating exhibits that showcase contemporary and traditional art.
The focus is on showing the history of the Bay area through art. They display work done by local and regional artists; to support them and nurture art in the community.
17. Niles Farmer’s Market
This is the place to go if you want to support locally grown and produced food and products. This market has been around for many years near Main Street. You can spend a happy few hours exploring the market and tasting samples.
18. Children’s Natural History Museum
The Children’s Natural History Museum has many exhibits dedicated to educating families about the earth. They host lectures and workshops as well to work towards that very goal.
The museum is managed by Math Science Nucleus and has been around since 1982. There’s an admission fee, but it’s a great way to get the whole family to learn something new together.
19. Redwood National Park
If you’re in Fremont or the Bay area, it’s imperative that you visit Redwood National Park! Redwoods are the oldest and tallest trees in the United States. There are also rivers and a coastline for you to admire.
Aside from taking in natural beauty, there are many recreational activities that you can partake in. There’s a lot of wildlife in the park that you can observe. Some of the species are rare and protected.
20. Berkeley Mystery Walls
The Berkeley Mystery Walls are what’s left of ancient stone walls that can be found all around the East Bay. Their origin and purpose are unknown as of now. The walls are spread out over more than 50 miles from Berkeley to San Jose.
The walls are each over five feet tall and are made using boulders of various sizes. Some of the boulders weigh as much as a ton! What we do know about the walls is that they are prehistoric. You can find these walls in the Mission Peak Regional Preserve if you end up going there.
21. Fremont Market Broiler
No trip to Fremont would be complete without a trip to the Market Broiler. This local chain is very popular in the area. You can find it in the Pacific Commons Shopping Center.
The restaurant is spacious, with wide and comfortable booths. The menu is large and diverse. There are 18 new fish offerings on the menu daily as well as the usual steaks, pasta, salads, etc. There’s also a Fresh Fish Market in the restaurant lobby where guests typically buy fresh seafood and fish or chowders and side dishes.
What are the most popular things to do in Fremont with children?
Coyote Hills Regional Park and Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area are the best places to take your kids for a fun day outdoors. There’s an abundance of activities to keep them occupied and engaged for hours.
The Aqua Adventure Water Park and the Children’s Natural History Museum are also two great choices because they are specifically catered to children. That said, they’re both very enjoyable for adults as well.
These four attractions are very popular with families in the area as well as tourists, so they can be busy.