The area around Danville, California, is rich in local history and traditions. From its beginnings as pasture lands for the Spanish Mission to the advent of the railways, you’ll find many museums and historical sites tracing the history of Danville to explore and enjoy.
One of the most popular Danville museums is the Blackhawk Museum. This is a truly unique place that the whole family will enjoy. The Blackhawk Museum features vintage automobiles. The collection is quite impressive – even if you aren’t a car junkie! The museum also is located near shopping, a charming plaza and a small playground that will keep the children entertained.
The museum was established in September 1988 to showcase classic cars, both American and European, in a year-round setting. If you love vintage autos, this is the place to visit. These cars are in mint condition, either original or expertly restored, and their appearance is highlighted by the luxurious ambiance of the museum’s black marble floors and high ceilings. From Aston-Martins and Maseratis to the Ford GT40, it’s amazing to be able to view these rare beauties one place. Many of the “stars” of the well-renowned Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance held each August also make appearances here. You can simply ogle the six and seven figure cars or also get in some serious research in the museum’s automotive library.
The museum also features educational lectures, rotating exhibitions such as the one on HO scale model trains and track layouts, and a museum shop and bookstore. In addition, the museum provides a unique venue for corporate and social events.
Blackhawk Museum, 3700 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, CA, 94506; phone: 925-736-2280.
Museum of San Ramon Valley
The Museum of San Ramon Valley is dedicated to the region’s history, covering the valley from prehistoric times to the present. Founded in 1985, the museum itself is located inside a restored Southern Pacific Railroad Depot dating back to the late 1800s. Look out for the life-like mannequins dressed in old-time costumes housed near the restrooms in the caboose! The exhibits here change frequently, ranging from delicate handmade baskets to giant reconstructed mastodons.
One convenient feature of the museum is the availability of docent-led tours. A docent is always on duty when the museum is open and special docent tours can be pre-arranged for other times. In addition, there are a number of walking tours available by appointment. One walking tour is for Old Town Danville which takes you through the origin of street names and the people who lived here. The Old Town Danville tour is available from May to October on the second Saturday of each month at 10 a.m., no appointment is needed. Other walking tours cover the Alamo Cemetery or the Tassajara Grammar School, which originated in 1889.
Museum of San Ramon Valley, 205 Railroad Avenue, Danville, CA 94526, telephone: 925-837-3750
Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site
The Tao House, Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site, the previous home of Nobel Prize winning playwright, Eugene O’Neill is managed by the National Park Service. Eugene O’Neill won four Pulitzer Prizes for his many plays among which are Iceman Cometh and A Moon for the Misbegotten. It is believed that he wrote his best plays when he lived at Tao House at the end of his life.
You need to reserve a spot to visit the National Historic Site which is accessible only by a Park shuttle departing from the Museum of San Ramon Valley in downtown Danville. You can visit Wednesday through Sunday. There are two guided tours at 10:00 a.m. and 2 p.m. every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday.
The home is set at the top of the hills above Danville and you can get some wonderful views of the town from up above.
Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site, 1000 Kuss Road, Danville, CA 94526, telephone: 925-838-0249