I am just wanting to write a quick note of reaction to a few days in the Pleasanton/Livermore area as was recommended in this forum earlier in December.
We stayed at the Marriott-Pleasanton that I got from a name your own bid on Priceline. It was a very nice accommodation. No complaints other than they didn't offer free wi-fi, which I always find kind of foul.
Both Pleasanton and Livermore struck me as very new looking communities. Clearly, there has been a lot of recent renovation, etc. in both areas. I was told Livermore used to be a, "cowboy town" and got shined up in the last few years and I found it very quaint. We didn't have much of a chance to stroll and I think I may try to spend some more time in the area in the future.
We had some nice meals in Pleasanton. We ate at Oasis Grille in Pleasanton and I would highly recommend it. Innovative food. Our waitress was a dud, but I can't knock the food. Very well prepared and flavorful.
We also ate at Haps in Pleasanton and I had a smoked ribeye, which is quite unusual. It took on a bit of a ham note from the smoke which was probably hickory, but I didn't regret ordering it.
One lunch was at Wente Vineyard. Pricey, but nice food, as well.
Honestly, I wasn't blown away but much of the wine I tasted in the area. I was using Yelp to sound out what was open and we stopped at Blacksmith Square and tasted Three Steves and John Christopher Cellars. The Christopher Cellars reds were deep and inky, but didn't drink the part. I like the, "big" reds and didn't really get that in the Tri-Valley area. I did, however, get a bottle of Alicante Bouschet (atypical) at the Chouinard Winery in Castro Valley that was tasty.
In sum, I was very pleased with the recommendations and enjoyed my stay in the area. Both Livermore and Pleasanton's downtowns are well suited for strolling with lots of shopping and dining options. Again, I will repeat they both struck me as looking like they were constructed within the last 10 years. Everything including most of the residential sectors I saw looked very new or lightly worn at the very least.
The days in the area were more warm recollections from California.
Thanks again, everyone.