Hayward is located near premier tourist locations (San Francisco), first rate educational institutions (Berkeley and Stanford), and an economic powerhouse (Silicon Valley), however relatively speaking Hayward does not have as much to offer as its neighbors. Even so, its central location may make it a very economical home base for tourists and commuters, and its panoramic views of the Bay alone are worth the side trip for visitors.
On paper, the landscape of Hayward sounds nearly perfect. Hayward boasts of a central bay shoreline, a quaint city center with a small town feel in the city flatlands, hills which overlook the bay, and a hub of highways that connect everywhere in the bay area to the inland areas of California. Unfortunately the shoreline is mostly filled with warehouses and marshland, and the city center is slightly run down, although it is slowly being renovated.
As is the case in most of California, you will find it easiest to get to and around Hayward by car. That being said, there are two BART stops in Hayward, including one in the center of town which is in walking distance to many shops, restaurants, the public library and city hall. There are buses run by AC Transit, but these do not go to all parts of Hayward.
Hayward does have a lot of traffic in the Downtown area and on Highways. Hayward has several bus systems that serve the city. AC Transit and All Nighter Bus Network provide bus service and Union City Transit provides service in the Southern Hayward Area along the Union City Border. SamTrans srevice was discontinued in 1999. The HillHopper Bus System provides service to CSUEB. BART Has two stations (Downtown, South Hayward) with BayFair and Castro Valley BART stations nearby. Hayward has a Amtark station in the Burbank District. The San Mateo-Hayward Bridge links Hayward to San Mateo County.
Don Castro Regional Park
Woodroe Avenue, 510-247-2522, .
The clear blue waters of the Don Castro swim lagoon are a favorite with central Alameda County residents. The lagoon and adjacent lake were created in 1964 when the Alameda Flood Control and Water Conservation District dammed San Lorenzo Creek.
Today the lagoon is supplied with water from EBMUD, and a large shallow area is roped off especially for children. The adjacent lake is closed to boating and swimming, but hikers along the shore will discover a surprising wilderness in miniature, where turtles and frogs splash in the water, ducks rest in the reeds and raccoons and deer come down to drink at sunset.
Swimming (fee) in the lagoon is the park's main attraction from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Swim hours are from 11AM to 6PM, and only when lifeguards are on duty. There is a bathhouse, a vending machine, a sandy beach and large lawn areas. Dogs are not allowed in the swim complex.
Picnic sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, although some reservable group sites are available (fee).
Fishing Anglers along the lake may catch trout, bass, catfish and bluegill. The lake is stocked regularly with trout and catfish. A California state fishing license is required for anglers age 16 or older. In addition, a Park District daily fishing permit is required and may be purchased through a self-registration process located at the swim complex entrance - exact change required. State fish and game regulations apply.
Trails are open to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders.
Don Castro park is open 8AM-10PM; 8AM-8PM in winter months. Parking and dog fee collected weekends and holidays.
Directions By Car: From I-580 eastbound from San Leandro, take the Center Street exit in Castro Valley; right on Center to Kelly Street; left on Kelly and left on Woodroe to the park entrance. From I-580 westbound take the Castro Valley exit and continue west on E. Castro Valley Blvd. to Grove Way; left on Grove; left on Center; left on Kelly; and left on Woodroe to the park entrance.
The city has an extensive set of public murals, some of them quite spectacular (if out of the way). they have won a state award for the program that administers them as a joint beautification/graffiti abatement project. Cinema place downtown has 3, and 2 long murals are next to Jackson/92, towards downtown.
Hayward is home to the CSUEB, the California State University East Bay, http://csueastbay.edu/. The highlight of Hayward is in the beautiful panoramic views of the bay which can be seen from and near the university in the hills. Visitors anywhere in the bay should definitely take this detour. From the Hayward hills, one can see Fremont, Silicon Valley, Oakland and San Francisco at once.
The best shopping in the Bay Area is found in the cities of Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose. Hayward's downtown lost a lot of its smaller businesses when Southland Mall opened off of 880, which is a fine place for mall and big box store shopping. Cinema Place in downtown on B Street is a new 12-screen theater with shopping and restaurants. Downtown Hayward is currently undergoing a revitalization.
Every Saturday at Watkins St. between B St.and C St. is the 9AM-1PM Hayward Farmers Market. This is located in front of Hayward City Hall.
Southland Mall is a large sized old fashioned mall, with a central closed building, and satellite businesses, including some good restaurants like Elephant Bar. Anchor stores include a Dick's Sporting Goods, JC Penney, Sears, Macy's. There is a large renovation project happening at Southland Mall, bringing in a 5-screen Century Theatres and a H&M. A Seafood City Supermarket is planned to open as well.
Although the overall number of restaurants in Hayward is respectable by the standards of most cities in the United States, the choices are disappointing compared to those in nearby gourmet powerhouses Berkeley and Oakland. The advantages here: plentiful parking, lower prices, shorter waits. However, most of the Mexican restaurants, especially the taquerias, are excellent inexpensive places to chow down on authentic, if nongourmet, traditional dishes. If you choose to find a place to eat in Hayward, the city center is normally the best place to go, though many eateries can be found all around Hayward. You can also find food on Mission, Jackson, and Foothill Blvds.
There are also the usual chain restaurants including Dominoes, Taco Bell, McDonalds, The International House of Pancakes, and so on.
Don't miss some great food truck offerings every Monday at Watkins St, where "Off-The-Grid" meets weekly.
A comfortable corner bar, The Bistro,  is really the only place to hear live music in the area on a consistent basis...almost every night. They usually have open mic on Mondays. Never a cover charge, and the music ranges from 1920's, blues, jazz, and rock on any day of the week. It's a small place on B street that's worth checking out if you're there after all the downtown shops close down. They serve salads and sandwiches and have tables that flow outside the establishment. No hard liquor, wines and 12 microbrews on tap, and good coffee.
The Funky Monkey (Main st between A and B), typical working class bar, with very sweet and lively bartenders, out of a casting call for the Suicide Girls (think pretty and lots of tattoos). Bartender Zephyr (wed-fri) makes a great Rum Punch. friendly, welcoming customers and staff.
Turf Club (Main St. between A and B) Very straight friendly, somewhat Western themed gay bar, with a large, sandy, funky patio area in back. They state they have existed since 1923. Very much a legendary local hangout. Not fancy, nothing to notice from the outside.
As of 2012, the downtown area has enough odd little hangouts and events, one can easily perambulate on a friday night and pick up on blues or other music at the Music Depot (944 B St.), "pub" crawl, see a movie at Cinema Place. Always plenty of parking.
Like most cities in the United States, Hayward does have its rougher areas. Most of these are small areas right off of the five main streets in Hayward that run east to west. (A St, Winton Ave, Jackson St, Tennyson Ave, and Industrial Blvd.) Some street names to be aware of are:
The City has a free Wi-Fi network or "Hot Spot" for the Downtown area. This area of coverage is approximate and may vary in strength and availability and best reception is found at the Main Hayward Public Library (835 "C" Street). The City does not provide technical support for this Wi-Fi system.
Due to its central location it is easy to get to most parts of the Bay Area using a car, BART, or Amtrak.
San Leandro - Hayward's eclectic neighbor to the north, home of the Otis Spunkmeyer headquaters, worldwide industries, malls, hotels and regional parks and shorelines.