Things to do in Oakland
Oakland is a city located in the San Francisco Bay Area, in Northern California. It is known for its beautiful parks, rich, cultural diversity, busy port (with the iconic container cranes that are believed to have inspired the design of the Snow Walkers in the Star Wars Movies) and lakes. Some of the top attractions that bring visitors to Oakland are Lake Merritt, Jack London Square, Paramount Theater and the Chabot Space and Science Center. The city also boasts a thriving arts & music scene, with numerous museums and music venues such as the Museum of the African Diaspora, the Oakland Museum of California, and the Fox Theater.
For food and drinks, visitors can enjoy a diverse range of cuisines, from authentic Mexican at Taqueria El Paisa to fresh seafood at The Lake Chalet. Oakland is also home to a thriving craft beer scene, with popular breweries such as Drake’s Brewery and Temescal Brewing. For nightlife, the Uptown neighborhood is a popular spot for live music and cocktails at bars like The New Parish and The Layover. The best time to visit Oakland is typically during the spring and summer months, when temperatures are mild and outdoor activities are plentiful. However, visitors can enjoy the city all year round, with events like the Art + Soul Festival in the summer and the Oakland Running Festival in the fall.
Top Attractions in Oakland
- Lake Merritt: A large tidal lagoon in the center of Oakland that is surrounded by parks, picnic areas, and walking paths. It is a popular spot for boating, bird-watching, and enjoying the view of the city. There are also a lot of great restaurants and shopping in the area.
- Oakland Museum of California: A museum that focuses on the art, history, and natural sciences of California. The museum has a variety of exhibits, including a hands-on gallery for kids and a rooftop garden with views of the city. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and students with ID, and free for kids under 18. The best time to visit is during the week, when it’s less crowded.
- Jack London Square: One of the busiest attractions in Oakland, Jack London Square is an historic waterfront area that features shops, restaurants, a farmers market, and a ferry terminal. It is named after the famous author Jack London, who lived and worked in the area. Admission is free. The best time to visit is on a sunny day, when you can enjoy outdoor dining and the beautiful views of the Bay.
- Oakland Zoo: The Oakland Zoo is a popular zoo located in Oakland, California. The zoo is home to a variety of animals, including lions, tigers, elephants, and gorillas. The zoo also has a number of interactive exhibits and a children’s zoo.
- USS Potomac: The USS Potomac is a historic ship that served as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidential yacht from 1936 to 1945. The decommissioned ship is now open for tours, where you can learn about its history.
- Chabot Space & Science Center: A museum and planetarium that offers interactive exhibits, live shows, and star-gazing opportunities in the planetarium. The center has a 36-inch telescope that is open for public viewing on clear nights (definitely check this out when you visit). Admission is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and students, and $13 for children.
- Piedmont Avenue: A vibrant street in Oakland that is known for its eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and bars. The street is lined with historic buildings, and is a popular destination for shopping, dining, and nightlife. The best time to visit is during the day, when you can enjoy browsing the shops and having lunch at one of the many restaurants. The avenue is also home to a farmers market on Sundays.
- Children’s Fairyland: An amusement park is designed specifically for children aged 2-10 years old with rides like carousels, trains, boats, swingsets, slides and more! There are also puppet shows throughout the day as well as storybook characters like Humpty Dumpty who roam around the park greeting visitors. Admission prices vary depending on age but children under 2 years old get in free.
- Paramount Theatre: The Paramount Theatre is an historic Art Deco theatre in Oakland, California. The theatre was built in 1931 and is now used for concerts, plays, and other events.
- Fox Theatre: A great place to see concerts in the Bay Area.
- Lake Temescal: Lake Temescal is a popular lake in Oakland, California. The lake is a great spot for swimming, fishing & picnicking and is also also home to a number of hiking and biking trails.