Small and affluent East Bay town with charming local businesses
Orinda is a small, affluent town in the East Bay region that is bisected by Highway 24 and enjoys convenient access to San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley via its downtown BART station. This educated community has an understated charm, as Downtown Orinda combines modern and contemporary appeal with family-run businesses, independent specialty stores, and a distinctive 1940s movie theater.
Orinda was first developed as an isolated ranching community in the 1880s. Development increased with the completion of the Caldecott Tunnel, providing a way west through the Berkeley Hills in the 1930s. Orinda retains many of its elegant early to mid-20th-century properties. Exceptional contemporary custom-built homes in a variety of styles can also be found rising into the oak-studded hillsides.
Orinda attracts many professionals seeking to balance a laid-back small-town lifestyle with an easy commute into the major cities nearby. Lots of young families live in the community; local children participate in activities with groups such as the Lamorinda Youth Association and Orinda Baseball Association. Orinda is surrounded by the many scenic hiking and biking trails maintained by the East Bay Municipal Utility District.
Conveniently located alongside Highway 24 near the Orinda BART Station, Orinda Theatre Square is the town’s premier commercial destination. The centerpiece of this shopping and dining hub is the 1941 Orinda Theatre, which shows the latest releases in a stylishly old-fashioned space. A variety of restaurants and retailers can be found at Theatre Square, including kids’ favorite Sweet Dreams Toy Store and inspired decorative items at Sanvitalia Home & Garden. Entourage Spa has a full range of hair salon and spa services to help keep you looking your finest.
Nearby Casa Orinda has been a cornerstone of Orinda’s downtown area for even longer than the Orinda Theatre. In business since the 1930s, this local favorite serves delicious Italian and Western-style dishes and a range of cocktails. Loard’s Ice Cream is another long-time Orinda stalwart offering dozens of indulgent ice cream flavors that have been delighting locals since the 1950s. Peet’s Coffee is an outpost of one of the Bay Area’s most popular coffee chains. Here, you can pick up gourmet espresso blends, teas, and delectable baked goods.
More shops and restaurants can be found at the Orinda Village shopping center on the opposite side of Highway 24, including recognizable brands such as Safeway and Starbucks and a variety of locally run businesses. Orinda Books has a huge inventory of more than 16,000 books. They also order in any titles you can’t find on their shelves. This community hub displays artwork from talented local artists and hosts a range of author signings and other special events. Orinda Library has an even larger collection of books and offers community meeting rooms, a café, and an art gallery.
Orinda is surrounded by a wealth of breathtaking scenery and sprawling open space preserves. Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve covers 928 acres a short distance to Orinda’s west. Several hiking and equestrian trails wind through the park to the summit of Round Top, a 1,763-foot peak formed by 10 million-year-old volcanic debris. The Three Bears Loop is a 21.89-mile mountain biking trail that takes in the stunning scenery as it moves between three mountain peaks. More trails move over the rolling landscape of the Siesta Valley Recreation Area to Orinda’s north. Near the Orinda-facing entrance to the recreation area, an outdoor amphitheater hosts summer performances from Cal Shakes, the California Shakespeare Theater. Orinda Community Park offers lighted tennis courts, playgrounds, grassy lawns, picnic and barbeque areas, and a community center. During the summer, the park hosts a concert series with a diverse lineup of weekly performances. Other Orinda events include a Fourth of July Parade with festivities and a Middle Eastern Festival with food, music, and children’s activities in September.
Orinda Country Club was established in 1924 in the picturesque foothills to Orinda’s north. Amenities available to members of the club include a gorgeous Golden Age golf course designed by William Watson and renovated by Todd Eckenrode in 2015. Orinda Country Club has outstanding pool, tennis, fitness, and dining facilities as well.
Public schools in Orinda are zoned to the Orinda Union Elementary and Acalanes Union High School Districts. Highlights include:
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