Outdoor markets, warmly lit downtowns, cozy restaurants, cheerful locals... there is something special about American…
People are flocking to Oakland—and it’s not difficult to see why.
When it comes to the Bay Area, San Francisco used to get all the press. However, the city on the other side of the bay is less expensive, teeming with beautiful architecture and history, offers excellent dining (great coffee, too!), and is full of cool boutiques—I could spend a day strolling down Temescal Alley and never get bored. Next time you’re in northern California, why not spend a few days in Oak Town? Here’s a few excellent ways to fill the days and nights.
Check Out Fairyland
Built in 1950, this 10-acre fairytale-themed park harkens back to an innocent time. The park features 10 large scale storybook settings, from The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe to Alice in Wonderland; gentle rides; cute farm animals and robust gardens. It’s said that Fairyland inspired the building Disney World. I believe it, though I secretly wish Disney would get re-inspired by Fairyland prices—just $10 a tickets for people 1 – 100, kids under one year are free.
All that time at Fairyland got you thirsting for a brewski? There’s no shortage of places to imbibe in town. Pacific Coast Brewing Co. is the old standby, with its roots dating back to 1988. Though they brew their own beer (I’m into any beer called the Bitter Mermaid—but at 8.6% ABV, better limit myself to one!), they also pour other beers from around the region. A full menu featuring appetizers, sandwiches and bar food are the perfect pairing to a few hours of beer sampling.
Linden Street Brewery is one of the city’s more up and coming breweries—for a buzz with a history lesson, try their Common Lager, a brew invented in the Bay Area in era following the Gold Rush that offers a robust, medium amber, malt-forward yet sturdily-hopped lager. Check their website to see what’s currently on tap, as well as whether or not a food truck will selling grub while you’re there.
Visit Pepples Donuts
If you follow me on Instagram (link), you know I have a thing for donuts. In Oakland, it’s all about Pepples Donut Farm. At first glance, this is just a great bakery selling perfect, simple cake donuts. However, in true California fashion, these pastries offer bit more. They’re vegan, organic and made totally sustainably, which means if you’re looking for a donut and coffee to-go, you’ll want to bring your own travel mug (no paper cups!). I know this all this sounds like a lot of big stuff to expect from a little ol’ donut, but trust me, all it takes is one bite and you’ll be thinking eco-friendly donuts are the way to go.
Browse at Book/Shop
I could easily spend an afternoon wandering through a great bookstore, and this Temescal Alley gem is no exception. Book/Shop is a light, airy space with a curated selection of new and vintage books, furniture, gifts—it’s got something for everyone, but especially people who love book design as much as they love reading. Book/Shop also hosts many events throughout the year, including The Book Was Better Film Festival, where anyone can submit a short film based on one chapter from a book. Sounds fun to me!
Hike in Mountain View Cemetery
It’s a little weird to recommend visiting a cemetery, but locals really do think Mountain View is a great place for a leisurely stroll. There’s a lovely eucalyptus grove at the top, which offers unparalleled views of San Francisco and the Bay Area.
See a Show at the Oakland Fox Theater
Originally built in 1928 as a movie house, this historic venue underwent a $75 million-dollar renovation and reopened as a concert venue in 2009. Located downtown on Telegraph Avenue, the Fox is a stunning place to take in a show with 2,800 of your closest friends. Definitely worth seeing who’ll be playing while you’re in town!
Get Cultured at the Oakland Museum of CA
Open for over forty years, the Oakland Museum of California showcases art, history and natural sciences. The 300,000 square-foot museum is comprised of more than 1.9 million mostly California-derived art works, historical artifacts, natural specimens, and photographs. Where else can you check out photography from Dorothy Lange, the history of the gold rush-era, and an exhibit on the importance of bees and so much more, all under one roof? Exactly.
Have you been to Oakland? Share some of your favorite spots in the comments!