East Bay Open-Water Swimming

A guide to the best local swim spots


Conny Bleul, a coach with Odyssey Open Water Swimming, takes a sunrise swim in the Bay.Bob Day

Increased fitness, unbeatable views, and an instant mood boost: the benefits of open-water swimming are drawing growing numbers of swimmers to the East Bay’s coastal waters. Whether it’s Alameda’s 2.5-mile sandy shoreline,the Berkeley Marina’s more challenging chop, or the relatively calm cove at Richmond’s Keller Beach, saltwater swimming is making a splash.

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Hetch Hetchy Gate to Yosemite; Waterfalls and No Day Pass are Big Drawing Cards


Ginny Prior/for Bay Area News Group A spectacular waterfall can be found in Yosemite National Park at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. A hiker, above, pauses on the trail to Wapama Falls (about 5 miles round-trip). During the hike, you’re immersed in the grandeur of what John Muir described as a place as beautiful as Yosemite Valley.

Nature is really growing on us. A new survey found that almost six out of 10 Americans have developed a deeper appreciation for the outdoors since the pandemic began — and the national parks are getting much of the love.

With popular options like Yosemite National Park filling up fast this summer, though, how do you visit and still enjoy solitude? The answer is to take the road less traveled. The Hetch Hetchy gate is the least visited entrance to Yosemite and the only way into the park without securing a day pass this summer. That alone is incentive to take Highway 120 through Groveland, but there’s much more to like about this lesser known route.

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Happy Wanderer: Welk Resort San Diego experiences fun, innovative


Swimmers wear virtual reality goggles at Welk Resort San Diego, which caters to a diverse group of multigenerational vacationers these days despite famed bandleader Lawrence Welk’s original vision of just having it be a respite for fans.
Swimmers wear virtual reality goggles at Welk Resort San Diego, which caters to a diverse group of multigenerational vacationers these days despite famed bandleader Lawrence Welk’s original vision of just having it be a respite for fans.

If there’s a silver lining to COVID-19 restrictions, it’s that the hospitality industry has found new ways to enjoy the outdoors. From electric bike rides in the country to virtual-reality goggles in the pool, resorts are reinventing what guests can do outside.

An industry leader in outdoor adventures is a group of properties started by famed bandleader Lawrence Welk. It turns out the folksy entertainer best known for champagne music was pretty perceptive about customer service.

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The big cheese appears in Montclair


Ginny Prior/for Bay Area News Group Farmstead Cheeses and Wines’ chief cheese monger, Jeff Diamond, “cracks a parm” — slices open a giant Parmesan cheese wheel — for food and wine writers recently at his Montclair store.

MONTCLARION: May 20, 2019

As far as cheese goes, it was a beaut — 85 pounds of fresh Parmesan, a wheel so big it took a young clerk to flip it. Farmstead Cheeses and Wines’ chief cheese monger, Jeff Diamond, treated journalists to a show the other night. “Cracking a ‘parm’ is a very cool thing,” he quipped. “And I’m always excited when I can show folks how it’s done.” Continue reading

Four Days on Mount Diablo


“Four Days Diablo” hikers dine recently at Curry Canyon Ranch in the shadow of Mount Diablo. At least three Montclarions participated recently in the soft-adventure hiking and camping trip along the 30-mile Diablo Trail linking Walnut Creek to Brentwood.

MONTCLARION: May 9, 2019

Montclarions Steve and Carolyn Balling have hiked all over the world. So has Oakland’s Shirley Langlois. But there’s a place in their own backyard that keeps calling them back — Mount Diablo. Continue reading

Town Crier: Montclair raises over $10K for Antioch Court project


Ginny Prior/for Bay Area News Group Kent Steinwert, the chair of Farmers and Mechanics Bank (F&M), appears recently in front of the new building his bank financed in Montclair. F&M will occupy one of three new spaces in the building.

MONTCLARION: April 25, 2019

It’s been 15 some years in the making, but plans are moving forward to transform Montclair’s Antioch Court into a pedestrian plaza. A handful of us reminisced the other night about our meetings back in the early 2000s, when we first started exploring this concept. With the Montclair Village Association behind it, the money is starting to come in for a community space on a little street with so much potential. Continue reading

Town Crier: What you can do about the Oakland hills’ neglected roads


Potholes and parking are making us crabby. And yes, the two are related because they add stress to driving on increasingly crowded Oakland roads. The pitted streets read like a laundry list: Park Boulevard, Thornhill Drive, Valley View, Shepherd Canyon, Tunnel … and on and on. Critics note despite Oakland’s high property taxes that never seem to quench our city’s thirst for spending, streets like Thornhill have been on the repaving list for years. Continue reading

Town Crier: Montclair Parking Garage proves prolific mural canvas

MONTCLARION: January 24, 2019

An artist once told me that everything is a canvas. Even a drab concrete slab can be transformed into an inspiring art installation. Enter the Montclair Parking Garage, which has rapidly become a kind of open-air gallery. Twelve murals — some up to 50 feet high — now adorn the ramp walls, including the latest piece by Shannon Hood and Victor Garcia. Continue reading