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Clayton, CA, has one of the highest liveability scores in the United States – 82 out of a possible one hundred. So what makes it such a nice place to live? For one thing it has stunning views – it lies at the base on Mt. Diablo State Park. Although it has only about 11,000 residents they all seem to enjoy their lives there very much. The people of Clayton seem to embrace a sense of community. Its leaders, business people and residents come together in celebrations from time to time so that they can get to meet and know one another.

The history of Clayton goes back to 1857. Its founder is Joel Henry Clayton and his 2 brothers. He was originally from England. After moving around from state to state he finally decided to settle his family at the base of Mount Diablo and they prospered and grew. The town’s wealth was enhanced by the coal mining boon in Contra Costa County. It took a long time for the town to be incorporated but it did eventually happen in 1964. From there the city just kept growing. According to Wikipedia, “After steady expansion during the 1970s to the east and west from its original boundaries, Clayton’s land area more than doubled in 1987 to near its present-day boundaries with the annexations of the Dana Hills/Dana Ridge and Clayton Wood subdivisions, as well as the former Keller Ranch property that was developed during the 1990s with the Oakhurst Country Club. On December 7, 2009, it snowed in Clayton and Concord for the first time since the 1970s.”

One memorable event that took place in Clayton is a fire that started in a mercury mine in Mt. Diablo. It spread quickly and soon threatened to engulf the town which had to be evacuated. It took the work of more than 1,000 fire fighters and 8 aircraft to put it out. It had consumed more than 1,200 hectares.

Although the city is predominantly white, there are also African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders and people from other races, and they are all well accepted.

Living in Clayton

Life in Clayton is good. Although the cost of living is 27% higher than the California average, the median household income is a whopping 113% higher. This explains where the median cause of a home is 57% higher than the median in the rest of the state. High school graduation is 23% higher, crime is 55% lower and there are lots of amenities in this city. 99% of residents are live in households and you can understand why so many of the want to have families while living here – everything is just right for bringing up children. There are excellent schools in the area and they perform very well. The community is also open to same sex relationships and some have moved there so that they can start families.

According to, “In Clayton, everyone is family. And families are most important. Clayton is simply a great place to live, work and play for people who cherish small-town living and traditional American values. Outdoor bocce courts in the Clayton Town Center will find friends and families vying for social interaction and first place. In this community, crime is low and police are respected. High-quality public and private schools are plentiful. Trails for pedestrians, equestrians and bicyclists meander through the City connecting one with another. Understandably, Clayton has been listed three times running as one of CNN’s Money Magazines “Top 100 Places to Live in the Nation” for small cities.”

Minors can attend Mt. Diablo Elementary School, Highlands Elementary School, Diablo View Middle School, Pine Hollow Middle School, or Clayton Valley Charter High School. There is a public library too. Although there are no institutions of higher education in this small community, this is not a problem because there are several excellent universities and colleges in the Bay Area.

There are some employers in the city but there are also many people who commute to neighboring cities for work. Commutes are not as complicated as they are in some cities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

As for real estate, although prices tend to be rather high you should not despair. If you find the right real estate agent they can find you a deal that is in line with your budget.

Things to do in Clayton

One of the first things you should do in Clayton is go up Mt. Diablo – the views are breathtaking. It is said to be one of the highest viewsheds in the Unites States. You should however be careful – the trails can be confusing so make sure that you take along a recent map.

Go through North Peak

North Peak is the hard way to get to Mt. Diablo so if you consider yourself a climber this is the route that you should take. You will go up 3,000 feet and you will be ascending some of the toughest climbs in the region – for the first 5 miles at least. If you can be make it there is a reward at the end – stunning views. Be warned though – this climb is not for the faint of heart. Come prepared with food and water. The weather is changeable so carry something to layer with.

Lime Ridge Regional Open Space

This one is also about the views, and it is a great place for your family to spend your day taking walks and picnicking. You will see spectacular views – in fact on clear days you can see all the way to the Golden Gate. Since Clayton has mild winters views during that time are great too.

Blackhawk Auto Museum

Do you want to see the best in vintage cars? You don’t have to be a car enthusiast to enjoy this collection. You will see rows of Ferraris, a sedan used by a Maharaja for hunting, another which belonged to a deposed prince of Nepal, vintage jukeboxes and gas pumps and so much more. Everything has been restored to an amazingly pristine condition.


There are many parks in Clayton and they provide excellent recreation areas for families. You will see people gathered or alone pursuing different activities. The city of Clayton is taking the current drought in California very seriously and in order for the authorities to conserve water they have turned off all spigots and picnic drinking fountains. If you plan to spend an aft6ernoon out there make sure to bring your own water. You can reserve areas of the park for picnics and football games by getting a permit from City Hall.

This is not all there is to do in Clayton, CA. The Bay Area has plenty of fun things to do whether you are a visitor or a resident. There are plenty of legendary restaurants, for example, and you can have great experiences with California food and wine. Make sure that you seek out local farmers markets as well – there you will find the best of California produce and homemade food items such as jams and cheeses. Instead of buying your produce in the store you should seek out these markets.