My husband and I took a road trip to Southern California a few weeks ago. We were looking forward to a few days away from all the miserable weather we've been having in NorCal. A little fun in the sun in SoCal.
Alas, it was not to be.
San Diego was blanketed with thick gray clouds, spitting a heavy mist until mid-afternoon the first day. Determined not to waste any precious sightseeing time, we hunkered under our umbrella after breakfast and attempted to enjoy a muddy meander around Old Town.
Later, we ventured up to historic Mission San Diego, hoping for some shelter from the gloom. And though there were a couple of indoor exhibits, plus a gift shop, we spent the better part of our visit shivering in the mid-50s temperature, touring the grounds, still dodging drizzle.
That evening, I got to thinking about home (OK, wishing I WAS home) and what visitors might find entertaining indoors on a gloomy, overcast day in San Ramon.
I know what you're thinking. That unseasonal May weather is already long forgotten. The recent mild temps are ideal for enjoying the outdoors at our many parks and trails. But before long, the late summer swelter will be upon us and we'll be seeking shelter from the soaring temps.
Not to worry. San Ramon offers a variety of indoor activities to keep locals and out-of-town visitors amused no matter what the thermometer reads.
High on the list of indoor interest is the Lindsay Dirkx Brown Art Gallery. What a perfect place to spend an hour or two protected from the elements, admiring the work of local artists. All this month, enjoy the colorful, evocative oil paintings of Hongmei Lu.
Tours of the Glass House, held on the second Saturday of each month, are another excellent option for indoor activity. Docents attired in period costume offer a glimpse into San Ramon's past, sharing the history of the Glass family and valley life at the turn of the 20th century.
If performing arts are more to your liking, take in a matinee at the Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center or the Front Row Theater, the two venues affiliated with the San Ramon Performing Arts.
There's always something going on at the Senior Center. How about a game of table tennis? The computer lab has plenty of PCs available for a quick check of email or a status update on Facebook. Why not simply enjoy a cup of coffee, a pastry and a little conversation, while taking in the awesome views from the many windows at the center overlooking the valley.
Got grandkids visiting for the summer? After a good soaking under the mushroom fountain at Central Park, Nana and Papa will be begging for something to calm those lovable munchkins and, frankly, silence the squealing. A trip to the San Ramon or Dougherty Station Library offers something for all ages – from Lapsit Storytime to Movies for Middle Schoolers.
And while we're talking books, who among us doesn't share the guilty pleasure of an hour or so browsing in a bookstore? Forget about those mega chains. Bay Books, San Ramon's only independent bookstore, is the perfect place to find new releases as well as old favorites.
How about a little pampering? Start with a signature spa facial, a deep tissue massage, then finish with a mani/pedi at Bodylines Day Spa.
After all that indoor sightseeing, you've probably worked up a serious appetite. San Ramon offers a variety of first-class restaurants. Shiraz Restaurant offers traditional Persian cuisine, including, according to its website, "traditional to modern recipes, appealing to all tastes."
Z-Rice with Chicken Kabob – Basmati rice mixed with currant berries, cranberries, carrots and saffron, served with chicken kabob was the dish that caught my eye. For elegant Chinese dining, visit Uncle Yu's Restaurant. Its website boasts a range of dishes from traditional hot and sour soup and Mongolian beef to contemporary specials such as smoked salmon on a bed of cucumber noodle, baby spinach, and sautéed with a shitake mushroom soy vinaigrette.
Finally, for good, old-fashioned American cuisine, you can't beat The Brass Door. Be sure to check out the senior entrees — they include salad and dessert at no extra charge.
I have to admit though, that despite the unfortunate weather on our recent trip, San Diego is a great city for a quick, fun getaway. But it's got nothing on San Ramon for interesting, entertaining sights.
Sure, it may have its very own historic mission, but did you know that the Franciscan friars once considered building a mission in San Ramon? Read about it .