From Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip
1. Give five adjectives that you would use to describe the “feel” of Lafayette and its residents?
Enthusiastic, educated, athletic, intellectual and suburban.
2. What is your favorite neighborhood/area of Lafayette?
Burton Valley reminds me of Mayberry RFD minus Gomer Pyle. We are in a small hamlet, surrounded by hillsides, cows, deer and wild turkey, yet we are minutes from bustling Walnut Creek and a BART ride from the City. BART stands for Bay Area Rapid Transit and for those of you outside of the Bay area, we do not call San Francisco “Frisco,” we call it “The City.” In Burton Valley, most folks don’t lock their doors, the kid’s splash in several neighborhood pools and homemade lemonade stands abound. We are within walking distance to excellent elementary and middle schools and a pedestrian/bike path leads to our downtown.
3. Which cuisine do you think Lafayette does best? What is the runner-up? (feel free to share your favorite restaurant)
The local chamber of commerce hosts a “Taste of Lafayette” restaurant walk in May, as there are numerous dining spots in “the burbs.” The owner of Chow restaurant chain lives here, so we have a restaurant downtown featuring fresh, local cuisine. Executive Chef Jeff Amber recently left Chow to open Gigi, also in Lafayette. Both restaurants reflect our California-style dining, with patio seating. If you are looking to add a little sugar into your day, Teacake Bake Shop opened in La Fiesta Square. Try the Pink Velvet or Chocolate Sour Cream cupcake. Yum!
4. What is the best free thing to do?
The Lafayette Rotary Club sponsors the May “Concert at the Res.” Aside from paying a parking fee, the reservoir, located one mile from BART, offers year round fishing and a 2.7 mile, paved Lakeside Trail. More ambitious hikers can climb the 4.7 mile “Rim” trail, a dirt fire road with 700 foot elevation changes. Leashed dogs are welcome on both trails.
5. What is your favorite type of entertainment?
At 72, the Roundup Saloon is one of our town’s oldest businesses. Oh my; I did a quick Google search and it came up on sleazybars.com, but with all good “reviews” I might add. Nearby St. Mary’s college students flock to the bar, while weekends find motorcycles parked alongside bicycles. Bicyclists from the neighboring Oakland hills seem to like our wooded, windy roads for touring.
6. List the best family friendly activity?
Our thriving community center opened a roller rink and offers family skate night. Cap off the outing with a visit to Powell’s Sweet Shoppe on Mount Diablo Boulevard. Walking into Powell’s is like a visit to Willie Wonkaland, minus the Umpa Lumpas. There’s nothing like putting the kiddies to bed with a sugar high. To quote Mr. Wonka, “Scratch that. Reverse it.” Perhaps it is best to visit Powell’s first and then run the buggers ragged at the skate rink?
7. What spot would you send a couple looking for a romantic weekend?
The Lafayette Park Hotel and Spa has dreamy suites, some with fireplaces, and a couples massage packages. The hotel has a swimming pool and hot tub, an upscale restaurant, The Duck Club, and a less expensive, Bistro at the Park. Both restaurants offer a wonderful French onion soup. Lavande recently opened at 3589 Mt. Diablo Blvd. in the Lafayette Mercantile building wiht a separate men’s and women’s locker room, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi. I’ve not experienced Lavande. I have stayed at the Park Hotel, enjoyed a wonderful massage and dined there yearly for our anniversary. Not to self; must make room reservation for next anniversary!
8. Describe the perfect day…one that captures what your area/city is all about? In three sentences or less.
I’d start my day with a piping hot hunk of coffee cake and a steaming cup of java at Millie’s Kitchen, 1018 Oak Hill Road. Then it’s off to neighboring Canyon, bordering the town of Moraga, for a leisurely walk through the redwood trees. Finally, I’d take in a play at Town Hall Theater, the oldest continuously active theater in Contra Costa County, after a dinner on the patio at Metro.
9. Tell us about a place that you love to go to whether it is in the guidebooks or not.
Lafayette is a town of dog walkers. I imagine census takers would find that a Labrador retriever lives in one in five Lafayette households. That being said, I love taking my yellow Lab for a walk on the community trail, over the bridge to the 68-acre site of Lafayette Community Park, off St. Mary’s Road.
10. What question did we not ask that we should have (and answer it, of course!)?
Is it true that former Olympic Swimmer Matt Biondi and NASA Astronaut Stephen Robinson grew up in Lafayette? No. They both grew up in the neighboring suburb of Moraga, but we still claim them as home town heroes. We claim Eddie Money as a former resident, along with current resident Joe Montana. We are also known for our Lafayette hillside memorial, a collection of crosses intended to serve as a memorial for United States soldiers killed in the Iraq war.