Walnut Creek is situated at the intersection of Highway 24 and I-680, making it a terrific location for commuters heading in different directions, whether to San Francisco or business hubs in San Ramon or Pleasanton. Walnut Creek is also the central shopping and dining hub of the Contra Costa East Bay area, with a central downtown including luxury retailers like Neiman Marcus and Tiffany. Walnut Creek is also known for its outstanding dining options, Heather Farms Park, numerous trails and open spaces. The current population of Walnut Creek is just under 70,000.
Within Walnut Creek, homes may be in the boundaries of five different school districts, so figuring out the logistics of that is one of the most important aspects of starting the search for a home for many potential buyers.
The South and Central parts of the city fall mostly into the Walnut Creek School District, which includes only 5 traditional elementary schools, one K-8 school focusing on Project Based Learning and one middle school. On their website is a Walnut Creek School District Map to the elementary school boundaries for all neighborhoods within the district. All kids who attend schools within the Walnut Creek School District are shifted to the Acalanes High School District beginning in 9th grade. The Acalanes district includes one high school in Walnut Creek, Las Lomas High School, along with high schools in Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda.
Below are links to the pages on GreatSchools.net for the schools in the Walnut Creek School District.
The Northeast section of Walnut Creek is within the boundaries of the Mt. Diablo School District. This includes the popular Northgate area, which includes 3 elementary schools, 1 middle school and Northgate High School within the city boundaries.
The Rudgear area, including Rudgear Meadows, Rudgear Estates and Livorna Estates is at the far South end of Walnut Creek, near the Alamo border. As mentioned above regarding the schools, Livorna Estates and parts of Rudgear Meadows fall into the San Ramon Valley School District, while the rest of the area is in the Walnut Creek School District. It’s one of the newer areas of South Walnut Creek, mostly built in the 1970’s. This is a link to a map and current listings available in the general area. Most of this area, while further away from shopping and with a fairly rural feel does have sidewalks. There is a central park and a private swim club. The closest shopping is either downtown Walnut Creek or in Alamo on Danville Blvd.
The Walnut Heights/San Miguel area is one of the more popular areas in the city, and is generally the highest price, although there are a wide variety of types of homes in this area including newer, older, renovated, original 1950’s, etc. It’s generally a very rural feeling with rolling hills and few sidewalks. You can see the general area at this map link. There are two elementary schools in this area, Walnut Heights Elementary and Murwood Elementary. Many neighborhoods in these areas are convenient to downtown Walnut Creek and freeway access, which adds to its appeal.
Lakewood is a small area between Walnut Heights and Northgate. You can see a map at this link. It has a very rural feel, with few sidewalks. There’s generally only one way in or out, through Homestead Ave. Indian Valley Elementary is in this community. It’s cut off from much of Walnut Heights by the Shell Ridge Open Space. It’s called Lakewood because of a private lake at the center of the community, which all residents can pay annually for access to.
Parkmead is another popular neighborhood due to its proximity to downtown Walnut Creek. These are mostly smaller, 1950’s homes, although some have been expanded over time. This is a link to the map of this area. Parkmead Elementary is in the heart of this area.
Saranap is a very old neighborhood east of downtown Walnut Creek. The best way to describe it is eclectic. It’s mostly rural feeling, few sidewalks, lots of odd shaped lots and unusual homes. Here is a link to the map for this area. Most of the Saranap area is in the feeder pattern for Parkmead Elementary, however, there is a portion of the Saranap area on the Lafayette border which falls into the Lafayette School District. The schools there are very highly rated, so that small niche is popular and can be rather expensive. Kids in that area of the Saranap would attend Burton Valley Elementary, Stanley Middle School and Acalanes High School.
Downtown Area - The first homes in Walnut Creek date back to the early 1900’s and sit just west of N. California Blvd. off of Almond Ave. and Shuey Ave. The homes here tend to be on smaller lots with a lot of character. As you might expect, listings in that area are rarer and typically higher in price than other areas of town. The wider downtown area includes mostly commercial areas, but there are numerous new construction projects of upscale condos as well.
The Hill/Buena Vista area is just north of downtown and west of I-680, this neighborhood sits along the northern border of the Walnut Creek School District. The elementary school for this area is Buena Vista Elementary. Homes on the hillside off Overlook Dr. tend to be less walkable, with few sidewalks and lots of steep terrain. The area off of Buena Vista Dr. is much less hilly and walkable in most areas. Homes in this area can vary widely in terms of size, age and cost.
The Northgate area encompasses a large swath of Walnut Creek on the Northeast end of town and includes multiple smaller neighborhoods like Rancho San Miguel, Scottsdale, Diablo Shadows, Rancho Paraiso, and the Woodlands. All of the Northgate area is in the Mt. Diablo School District. There are 3 elementary schools designated for the Northgate area, Bancroft Elementary, Walnut Acres Elementary and Valle Verde Elementary, as well as one middle school, Foothill Middle School, and one high school, Northgate High School.
The Northgate area is mostly walkable, with abundant sidewalks and the canal trail cuts through the neighborhood. 3 shopping areas, with numerous eateries and grocery options are located centrally at the corner of Oak Grove Rd and Ygnacio Valley Rd., including Whole Foods, Safeway, Nob Hill Foods, and Walgreens among others. Heather Farms Park is the largest park and recreational area in the city and is located in the Northgate Area with the entrance just off Ygnacio Valley Rd. The park features a large kid’s playground, central pond, soccer and baseball fields, tennis courts, public pool, dog park, community center and botanical gardens.
Carriage Square is bordered by Concord on two sides and Northgate on one side. The designated elementary school for this area is Bancroft Elementary, one of the Northgate Schools, but after that, it’s designated for Oak Grove Middle School just beyond the Walnut Creek border in Concord and Ygnacio Valley High School in Concord. Because the schools are lower rated, home prices in this area are much more affordable than Northgate or South Walnut Creek.
More than any other neighboring areas, Walnut Creek has an abundance of more affordable condos and townhouses. The Oak Rd. area, north of downtown and convenient to both the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill BART stations, has numerous condo complexes. There are also quite a few townhouse complexes near the Northgate area including Countrywood, Rancho Dorado, Bancroft Village, Diablo Hills and San Marco, with less expensive options for conveniently located homes.
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