Things to do in Oakland, California

EXPLORE OAKLAND’S NEIGHBORHOODS

Oakland is huge. You’d be surprised at how large it is, with so many neighborhoods. Each neighborhood in Oakland is unique, just like San Francisco. You’ll discover many aspects of Oakland if you spend a day visiting a handful.

This comprehensive Oakland neighborhood guide includes a selection of tourist-friendly, walkable spots that you can spend some time exploring.

Jack London Square: Jack London Square is the home of some spectacular views. It sits directly on the bay, looking out over the Bay towards San Francisco. California Canoe & Kayak lets you rent a kayak to cruise the waterways by boat. For great BBQ and Souley Vegan vegan soul food, head to Everett & Jones or Nido for delicious tacos. Enjoy your meal with Zinfandel from Rosenblum Cellars. This winery is part of the Oakland Urban Wine Trail. You can also grab a drink at Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon in Oakland, which was created from the wreckage of an old whaling vessel.

Fruitvale (Yes, this Fruitvale. Oakland’s historical Hispanic neighbourhood is home to amazing food and a rich history. Tacos Sinaloa serves the best treet tacos. Next, head to BART to get a mangonada from Nieves Cinco de Mayo at Fruitvale Market or a Churros Mexicanos cart dessert. You can stroll along Jingletown’s waterway, an artistic micro-neighborhood, and visit the Peralta Hacienda historical Park to see the Peralta House Museum, which teaches you about Spanish coloniazion in California, as well as Native land loss.

Uptown and Downtown: These two areas are located in the most central part of downtown Oakland. You can explore them both if you are up to a walk. You can also visit the independent shops and galleries that are locally owned. Oaklandish has the best selection of Oakland merchandise. Amazing street art can be seen at eye level as well as splashed onto buildings and skyscrapers above. The Fox Theatre and Paramount Theatres are two iconic buildings in Oakland.

Old Oakland: The historic and beautiful section of Oakland that was once home to the Transcontinental Railroad’s western terminus. It’s a beautiful neighborhood with brick- and Victorian-restored buildings. To learn more, we recommend the Old Oakland Walking Tour. Spend a couple of hours browsing the independent local shops and stopping by Swan’s Market to grab a bite. You will find helpful tips in this guide to Old Oakland’s best activities.

Temescal: Take Telegraph Avenue to the Macarthur Station and walk up and down this street of shops, restaurants, and breweries. These are some of Oakland’s best restaurants. Cholita Linda’s tacos, Pyeongchang Tofuhouse’s tofu soup, or Burma Superstar’s tea leaf salad are all great options.

Rockridge is one of Oakland’s most green and boujiest neighborhoods. Rockridge Market Hall is a European-style food hall that serves excellent coffee and cheese samples. You can walk up and down College Avenue, past many shops, bakeries, florists, and breweries. Rockridge’s real appeal lies in Rockridge’s side streets and hills. You can veer off College Avenue to see old Craftsman houses nestled among towering trees of sequoia and surrounded by lush green gardens. For breathtaking views of the Bay, climb up any of the hidden stairs into the Oakland hills (there are many step-by-step secrets staircase walks in this book). Tara’s Organic Ice Cream is the perfect place to stop for dessert after your urban hike. Rockridge can be found next to Temescal. You could combine the two if you are up for it!

SAVE A DAY ON THE LAKE

Anyone who hasn’t been to Oakland yet will be surprised to learn that the city is home to a huge lake. Yes, it is true: Lake Merritt can be found right downtown. It’s stunning.

Although the lagoon measures 3 miles wide, it is the site of the oldest wildlife refuge in America. However, the lake today feels much more urbanized than natural. Lake Merritt can be enjoyed in many ways.

The 3-mile loop around Lake Merritt is worth it. Enjoy a pleasant morning stroll, bike, scooter, or run around Lake Merritt, enjoying the views from all angles. A free audio guide can be downloaded to help you navigate the streets.

Enjoy a day out on the water. Visit the Lake Merritt Boating Center to pick up a kayak, canoe or rowboat. A Gondola is a romantic, or even Italian option.

Get your binoculars out and get birding! You will find 70 native species around Lake Merritt. Below is a visual guide.

Lake Chalet offers a delicious meal. Lake Chalet is the perfect place for amazing food and stunning views. You can enjoy the stunning lake views outside or in the restaurant’s dining area through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The restaurant offers a wide variety of delicious meals, including brunch, lunch and dinner. Are you looking for a drink? You can find the Tequila Pier Bar right outside.

Go hiking in the REDWOODS

You think you’d have to travel an hour to Muir Woods in order to enjoy redwoods? You’re wrong! You can avoid the crowds by hiking in Oakland’s redwood parks. You’re correct, there’s two. The redwoods that you will find here are among the most ancient in the Bay Area. They date back to 1880.