SMC & Beyond

A short guide to Saint Mary’s College of California’s campus and our school’s surrounding areas 

Noteworthy Places on Saint Mary's Campus

Geissberger Observatory

Located in the green hills behind SMC's campus, the observatory is a great place to get away from the commotion of campus life and be a little closer to the stars. Take Mission Road toward the townhouses; after you pass Marjorie David Ageno Hall, you'll find a dirt path to the observatory.

Joseph L. Alioto Recreation Center

Nearly three years after its proposal, a new recreation center that gives Saint Mary's College students a place to exercise and hang out has opened its doors. A pool, climbing wall, three indoor courts for basketball, soccer and volleyball, a fitness center, and rooms for yoga, dance and spinning classes the new recreation center has plenty to offer for its college community.

Legacy Garden

This half-acre garden plot, which grows pesticide-free food for the student-dining hall, is located behind South Claeys Hall. The Legacy Garden was built in 2008 and is maintained by student and faculty volunteers. 

Museum of Art

If you're inspired by images, by soft brush strokes or bold, brazen colors, check out the Saint Mary's College Museum of Art. The museum is located behind the chapel and across the street from the Soda Center.

Meridian Plinth

Located near the new science building, the meridian plinth is a quadrant cut in stone and set up in line with a terrestrial meridian, which runs through the north and south poles of the earth (and sky). Its west face will receive the direct light of the sun at the moment the sun crosses our local celestial meridian, which runs from north to south and directly overhead. Note:  See Professor Brenda Hillman's poem, "Meridian Plinth" in Bright Existence on page 49. 

The Redwood Grove

Located at the end of Gael Way, the Bertain Redwood grove serves an excellent venue for writing. The grove is surrounded by towering redwood trees and is on the very edge of SMC's campus.

Surrounding Hiking Trails

The Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail, a 7.65-mile linear park, parallels St. Mary's Road through Lafayette and Moraga. The north end of the trail begins at Olympic Boulevard and Pleasant Hill Road in Lafayette, south of Highway 24, and ends at EBMUD's Valle Vista staging area at the outskirts of Moraga, bordering San Leandro Reservoir and Redwood Regional Park. A portion of the trail lies directly across the road from SMC. If you walk about a quarter mile down, you'll find a little park, Moraga Commons that includes places for Frisbee golf and bocce ball.

Other Important Places on Campus

Hagerty Lounge

The MFA program hosts many readings and events inside the Hagerty Lounge, but you won't find it on a campus map. It's located on the ground floor of De La Salle Hall.

Print Shop

This is definitely the cheapest place to make copies of your work for workshop! And they're very fast and friendly. The print shop is located behind Assumption Hall, next to a greenhouse. They are open Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 5:00pm. You can contact them at ext. 4374.

IT Services Desk

If you're having trouble with Gael Express, your Saint Mary's email, or any other tech-related issue, ITS might be able to help. Their service desk is located on the first floor of the library in the computer lab. You can contact them at ext. 4266 or at

For more information about student services and campus life, please visit the SMC Student Life Website.


Lamorinda is a portmanteau that refers to the three cities that make up the region:  Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda. Lamorinda is located east of the Berkeley Hills between Caldecott Tunnel and Walnut Creek.

What is there to do in Moraga?

Aside from Saint Mary's College, Moraga is a fairly quiet town. But if you're looking for a great place to eat, read, or write, here are a few of our favorites.

The New Rheem Movie Theatre

Located in the Rheem Valley Shopping Center this Theatre shows current films but also holds a nubmer of special events.  In September the theatre is one of the hosts for the California Independent Film Festival.  There are monthly classic film showings as well as movie memorabilia located inside the theatre. A five minute drive from campus.

Rheem Valley Shopping Center

Most of Moraga's restaurants are located in this shopping plaza which is a five minute drive from campus. 

Bianca's Deli & Catering

If you're a sandwich connoisseur, look no further. Bianca's has a wide variety of sandwiches, salads, and drinks. Just remember to bring cash—they don't accept plastic and only take local checks. But trust us, it'll be worth the drive to the ATM.

1480 Moraga Rd, Ste A (In the Safeway parking lot.)
Moraga, CA 94556
(925) 376-4400 


Mucho Wraps

If you're craving a burrito and don't have time to drive out of Moraga, Mucho Wraps is a great place that offers Mexican cuisine in addition to other wrapped sandwiches. Try the Muchisimo.
1375 Moraga Way, Ste B (In the Safeway parking lot.)
Moraga, CA 94556
(925) 377-1203  


China Moon

China Moon offers good Chinese food and a friendly staff. It's a wonderful place for take-out located in the Rheem Shopping center.

380 Park St
Moraga, CA 94556
(925) 376-1828 

Asia Palace Restaurant

If you're in the mood for Chinese, try Asia Palace. The owners are very friendly—so friendly, in fact, that they'll often offer you organic produce and other treats on the house. Located in the Moraga Safeway center.

1460 Moraga Rd
Moraga, CA 94556
(925) 376-0809

Pennini's Ristorante Italiano

Pennini's offers Italian and American fare, along with a fairly extensive beer and wine list. They are also connected to Michael's Italian Restaurant just around the corner.

1375 Moraga Way, Ste D (In the Safeway parking lot.)
Moraga, CA 94556

Farmers' Market

The Moraga Farmers' Market is home to over forty farmers and food producers every Sunday from 9am to 1pm. It is held in the Moraga Shopping Center at the intersection of Moraga Road and Moraga Lane.

What about Lafayette?

Lafayette is a much busier city compared to Moraga. It offers a lot of great shopping and eateries, plus some beautiful places to read and write.  There are also a number of hiking areas up in the Lafayette hills.


Metro's menu features California and French inspired dishes. It has an urban, sophisticated feel along with a great wine list, a full bar, a raw bar, and a large outdoor patio space.

3524 Mt. Diablo Blvd
Lafayette, CA 94549
(925) 284-4422 


Chow prides itself on serving healthy, high-quality comfort food. It's a great place for families (and they're even okay with dogs, if you dine outside). Plus, they have a market where you can get organic produce, meat, and wild fish. Oh, and did we mention the fresh-baked goods and wine shop?

53 Lafayette Circle
Lafayette, CA 94549
(925) 962-2469 


If you're in the mood for a high-class, epicurean Italian dinner, then Postino is your place. It's on the more expensive side, but the food is amazing.

3565 Mt Diablo Blvd
Lafayette, CA 94549
(925) 299-8700

Round Up Saloon

For karaoke after workshop, this is a nearby favorite. It's a very casual bar, perfect for a cold beer or to shoot pool.

3553 Mt. Diablo Blvd
Lafayette, CA 94549
(925) 284-4817


Lafayette Reservoir

A beautiful place for writing and reading. If you're the active type, it's also a great spot to hike, jog, and ride a bike. You can also fish here, and they have rowboats and pedal boats for rent. 

Whole Foods

Yes! There is a Whole Foods in Lamorinda. It opened in 2011, and it is conveniently located near the Highway 24 on-ramp in Lafayette.

3502 Mount Diablo Boulevard 
Lafayette, CA 94549
(925) 284-5305

And Orinda?

Orinda has a small downtown area with some restaurants and a vintage movie theater

Orinda Theatre Square

Most of the restaurants and Orinda Theatre is location in Theatre Square.  Once a month there is a free classic movie showing.  There is a the Lava Pit (Hawaiian Food), Barbacoa (Mexican food/bar), Republic of Cake, and Orinda Starbucks.  Located right next to the Orinda BART station. 

Table 24

Located near the theater, Table 24 has a rustic, modern interior and offers neighborhood comfort food. Try them for happy hour (4pm-6pm and 9pm-close) for great prices on beer, wine, cocktails, and appetizers.

2 Theatre Sq, Ste 153
Orinda, CA 94563
(925) 254-0124 

Siam Orchid

A great place for Thai in Lamorinda.

23 Orinda Way, Ste H
Orinda, CA 94563
(925) 253-1975

Casa Orinda

This place has been here forever! One of the oldest operating restaurants in Contra Costa County (they've been around for nearly eighty years), Casa Orinda has a quaint, homey feel. Try the fried chicken.

20 Bryant Way
Orinda, CA 94563
(925) 254-2981

Some Driving Short Cuts That Might Come In Handy

Although at times it may feel that Moraga is a reclusive town in the middle of nowhere, it's actually very close to some major cities. Here are a couple of driving short cuts that work well when trying to avoid some serious Bay Area traffic. 

To San Francisco/Oakland

If Caldecott Tunnel is a mess, and you need to get to San Francisco or Oakland, try heading up Canyon Road. It's a really beautiful but winding drive and should be driven with care. 

Also, if you're looking to get away for a weekend, there are camping spots along this route.  (Anthony Chabot Regional Park has campgrounds spots available. Check out East Bay Regional Parks for more details.).

From Moraga Way to San Francisco

Go past the Moraga Shopping Center
Moraga Way ends
Turn Right onto Canyon Road
Turn Left onto Pinehurst Road
Turn Right onto Redwood Road
Continue onto 35th Ave.
Turn Right to merge onto 580 W toward Berkeley/San Francisco
Merge onto 80 W toward San Francisco

From Moraga Way to Oakland

Go past the Moraga Shopping Center.
Moraga Way ends
Turn Right onto Canyon Road
Turn Left onto Pinehurst Road
Turn Right onto Redwood Road
Continue onto 35th Ave.
Turn Right to merge onto 580 W toward Berkeley/San Francisco
Merge onto 980/880 toward Downtown Oakland

To Berkeley

If you're headed to Berkeley, and want to avoid tunnel traffic, exit at Fish Ranch Road. This route has some amazing views of San Francisco and the entire Bay Area (that is, if the fog hasn't taken over), and it also takes you right by Tilden Park.

From Hwy 24 W (this will take you past Tilden Park and through UC Berkeley's Botanical Gardens)

Exit Fish Ranch Road
Turn Right at the first stop sign onto Fish Ranch Road
Turn Right onto Grizzly Peak
Turn Left onto Centennial Drive
Turn Right onto Stadium Rim Way
Turn Right onto Gayley Road
Turn Left onto Hearst (stay on Hearst)
Turn Left onto Oxford Street
Take the 2nd Right onto University Ave

Alternative Route from Hwy 24 W

Exit Fish Ranch Road
Turn Right at the first stop sign onto Fish Ranch Road
Fish Ranch Road turns into Claremont Ave
Turn Right onto Ashby (Hwy 13 N)
Turn Right onto College Ave
Turn Left onto Haste Street
Turn Right onto Martin Luther King Jr Way
Turn Right onto University Ave

To Walnut Creek

If you want to bypass Lafayette and head to the East Bay, try taking Glenside.
Turn Right out of SMC onto St. Mary's Road
Turn Right onto Glenside Drive
Turn Left to stay on Glenside Drive
Continue onto Reliez Station Road
Turn Right onto Olympic
Continue down Olympic to get into downtown Walnut Creek (or turn left onto Pleasant Hill Road to get to Highway 24 E)

Public Transportation Tips

Contra Costa County Connection

The County Connection provides fixed-route and paratransit service throughout the Central Contra Costa communities of Clayton, Concord, Martinez, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon, Lafayette, Orinda, and Moraga, as well as unincorporated communities. Route 6 is the service that picks up at Orinda BART and will take you to Saint Mary's. There is also Route 250, Gail Rail, which is explained below.

Gael Rail Night Bus Service

The Gael Rail, route 250, is a supplemental shuttle service between Saint Mary's and Lafayette BART that runs beginning when the regular CCCTA service ends. The Gael Rail runs every hour on the hour as a supplement to the regular County Connection bus service. The final shuttle of the evening is at the Lafayette BART station when the last BART train arrives for the night.  Like the traditional bus service, the Gael rail is open to the faculty and staff as well as the public for the regular bus fare. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only, during the school year.

All 131 buses in the fixed-route fleet are fully equipped with wheelchair ramps or lifts. The County Connection takes you to BART and other destinations throughout central Contra Costa County. This service is open to all faculty and staff for the regular public fare. For more information on the County Connection, routes, and timetables please visit their website. See schedule below for more details.


The two closest BART stations to SMC are located in Lafayette and Orinda. There are buses that can take you directly to the stations from campus.

BART Mobile App (EMBARK IBart)

BART has a free mobile app that is great for getting up-to-date departure times on-the-go. BART's online site and mobile site are also fairly intuitive.

MUNI (San Francisco Transit)

Muni is the bust system in San Francisco and a great way to get around the city especially because sometimes BART stations are not spread evenly throughout the city.


HopStop is an online tool, similar to MapQuest or Google Maps, but for public transportation. If you find yourself in San Francisco without a car, we'd highly recommend this tool. You can download the HopStop mobile app, or look up directions online. It will give you directions that include walking and specific MUNI lines.