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50 Things To Do In Oakland In 2022

Oakland is one of the underrated gems in the San Francisco Bay Area. After years of shrugging off a bad reputation, it’s a city that now is safe and has a lot to offer.

A thriving music scene, the highest concentration of artists and massive park space means there are a lot of things to do in Oakland.

Last and definitely not least, Oakland’s food scene is as diverse as its people. It has everything from Michelin-starred restaurants, to specialty shops, to taco trucks.

Planning to visit this underrated gem? Here’s 50 things to do while you’re there!

50 Things To Do In Oakland

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Stop by Lake Merritt

What’s special about this place?

Located smack dab in the middle of Oakland, Lake Merritt is a large tidal lagoon that is home to the United States’ oldest designated wildlife refuge dating from 1870. Originally a part of the San Francisco Bay, Lake Merritt is a unique lake with both freshwater and saltwater. It’s home to large breeding populations of herons, egrets, geese and ducks; and countless migratory birds make the lake their home during winter months!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Tourists looking for a nice spot in the middle of the city to just relax and watch wild birds would love Lake Merritt. It’s also ideal for tourists looking to do some hiking or light jogging, as the grounds feature a fitness area and a jogging path. The annual Autumn Lights Festival is ideal for those looking to see some illuminated and digital art made by local artists.

What to do here?

Go jogging along the Cleveland Cascades. Check out the Lakeside Gardens and observe the abundant wildlife at the Rotary Nature Center. If you’re bringing kids with you, check out the fairytale-themed Children’s Fairyland on the lake’s shores. If you’re in the area around late October, check out the Autumn Lights Festival!

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Lake Merritt would largely depend on your itinerary. If you just want to go jogging or hiking along its 3-mile shoreline, the best time to visit Lake Merritt would be early in the morning, or late afternoon. If you want to catch the Autumn Lights Festival, as well as the migratory birds that flock to the lake during winter, it’s best to visit Lake Merritt late October through the winter months!

Learn more about Lake Merritt here!

Explore Jack London Square

What’s special about this place?

Located at 472 Water Street, along the Oakland/Alameda sanctuary, Jack London Square is a historic entertainment and business destination that’s been a longstanding Oakland landmark since the mid-1800s. Named after the famous author Jack London, it is Oakland’s only publicly accessible mixed-use waterfront area, and is one of the Bay Area’s premier recreational, dining and commercial districts! Some of the square’s best attractions will be mentioned separately in this list.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Tourists looking for great waterfront views of the San Francisco Bay while being a stone’s throw away from a variety of boutique stores, restaurants, hotels and bars, would love Jack London Square. It’s an ideal Oakland trip starting point for those new to Oakland, tourists traveling in groups, and families who want to get an idea of the general urban culture of Oakland.

What to do here?

Check out Jack London Square’s slew of restaurants and dining spots. Check out Plank, a gastro pub and beer garden that has over 50,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor space. Check out Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine for a genuine Thai dining experience. Catch a movie at Regal Jack London, or go for a stroll on The Bay Trail!

Best time to visit

This depends on you itinerary. There are tons of different activities during the day and tons of things to do and places to visit at night. As this is a major tourist destination, expect Jack London Square to be one of the most crowded areas in Oakland!

Learn more about Jack London Square here!

Explore the Oakland Zoo

What’s special about this place?

Located at 9777 Golf Links Road in the Grass Valley neighborhood of Oakland, the Oakland Zoo is a 525-acre zoo managed by the Conservation Society of California, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of local and global wildlife. Established on June 6, 1922, the Oakland Zoo is home to over 850 native and exotic animals. It’s recognized for its outstanding animal care and Leed-certified veterinary hospital.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Oakland Zoo is ideal for families, conservationists, and nature lovers in general. It has a variety of enclosures that represents most of the planet’s wildlife, from its African Savanna to its Tropical Rainforest to its California Trail!

What to do here?

Check out the Oakland Zoo’s different enclosures. Observe the African lion and African elephants and a variety of birds in the zoo’s 4-acre African Savanna enclosure. Watch chimpanzees and tigers and macaws in the zoo’s Tropical Rainforest. Ride a gondola and check out the California Trail. Learn about the delicate balance between plants, animals and humans, and the impact of change on all three!

Best time to visit

The Oakland Zoo is open daily, from 10 AM to 4 PM. It’s best to visit during weekdays to avoid large crowds. That said, the Oakland Zoo is one of the best places to visit for families, so expect it to be quite busy at all times.

Learn more about Oakland Zoo here!

Get an authentic Sicilian dinner at Lo Coco's

What’s special about this place?

Located at 4270 Piedmont Avenue, Lo Coco’s is a family-owned authentic Italian restaurant that specializes in standard Sicilian preparations of pizza and pasta. Lo Coco’s is considered an Oakland institution and is consistently in the list of the top Italian restaurants in the city!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Tourists looking for an authentic Italian dining experience would definitely love Lo Coco’s. It’s quite a small restaurant, and most of the time, there will be a line to get seated, but it’s worth it! The food is authentic and the family that operates has stuck to its old-school Sicilian roots, ignoring all the contemporary culinary trends and pitfalls that come with them.

What to do here?

Try some of Lo Coco’s bestsellers. Try their Pappardelle Bolognese and their Spagghettisugo with Meatballs. Most locals consider their meatballs in a class of their own. If you still have room for dessert, try their Special Homemade Cannoli!

Best time to visit

Lo Coco’s is open Tuesday through Sunday. 4 – 9 PM on Sundays, and 3 – 9 PM the rest of the week. Lo Coco’s is usually quite busy Friday through Sunday, so it’s best to go there any day from Tuesday to Thursday. It’s recommended to go there as they open, around 3 PM to make sure you get seated immediately; be advised that most tourists will do this as well!

Learn more about Lo Coco’s here!

Check out the Oakland Aviation Museum

What’s special about this place?

Located at 8252 Earhart Road, the Oakland Aviation Museum was founded in 1981 as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit under the name of Western Aerospace Museum. The museum houses over 30 vintage and modern planes, and has exhibits about the lives and stories of aviation notables!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Aviation enthusiasts and history buffs would definitely enjoy a trip to Oakland Aviation Museum. The museum is also ideal for families and tourists traveling in groups, as it offers group tours and hosts Open Cockpit Days which, for an additional fee, include flying boat tours and flight simulators!

What to do here?

Check out the museum’s aircraft exhibits, like the replica of the Wright Bros. Model EX Vin Fiz, or the Vietnam war veteran Cessna O-2A. Take a self-guided tour or a group tour through the museum. If you can, visit the museum on Open Cockpit Days and try your hand at the museum’s flight simulator!

Best time to visit

The Oakland Aviation Museum is open daily, from 10 AM to 4 PM. It’s really only busy on Sundays, so any day other than Sunday would be ideal for visiting the museum. That said, if you want a full aviation museum experience, it’s recommended to check their website ahead of time to see if you can visit on one of the museum’s Open Cockpit Days.

Learn more about Oakland Aviation Museum here!

Have a bowl of Burmese noodles at Burma Superstar

What’s special about this place?

Located at 4721 Telegraph Avenue within Temescal Plaza, Burma Superstar is an authentic Burmese eatery that offers Burmese noodle, rice and meat dishes with more than a few vegetarian and vegan options. Awarded for Best Burmese restaurant in the Bay Area, it’s a certified local favorite, and a must-visit Oakland destination!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Tourists looking for reasonably priced, authentic Burmese cuisine would enjoy Burma Superstar. Burma Superstar also offers a relaxed and welcoming (albeit sometimes cramped) setting ideal for hungry families and tourists traveling in groups. With over 50+ items on Burma Superstar’s menu, there’s something for every palate, even for newbies to Burmese cuisine.

What to do here?

Try some of Burma Superstar’s popular dishes, such as their Burmese Style Lamb and their famous Laphet Thoke (otherwise known as their Tea Leaf Salad). The Samusa Soup and Spicy Noodles are Burma Superstar must-eats as well!

Best time to visit

Burma Superstar is open daily. 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM, and 5 PM – 9:30 PM Sunday through Thursday; 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM, and 5 PM – 10 PM on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s recommended to visit Burma Superstar around lunch time on weekdays to make sure you get a table. They don’t take reservations, so plan your trip accordingly!

Learn more about Burma Superstar here!

Check out the Black Panther gallery at It's All Good Bakery

What’s special about this place?

Located at 5622 Martin Luther King Jr Way in North Oakland, It’s All Good Bakery is a typical bakery that offers pies, cookies and cakes. However, it’s the history of the place that really qualifies the bakery as a must-visit. The building it is operating in was actually the original office of the Black Panther Party. The bakery functions as a mini Black Panther exhibit, as articles and photographs of Panther members line its walls!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

History buffs and tourists keen on learning about the history of the Black Panther Party and its role in shaping African American class consciousness, would love It’s All Good Bakery. That said, the bakery is also ideal for tourists looking for classic comfort food desserts like pecan pie and sweet potato pie!

What to do here?

Check out the numerous articles, newspaper clippings and photographs of the Black Panther Party plastered on the bakery’s walls. While you’re at it, try some of the bakery’s bestsellers, like their peach cobbler and sweet potato pie. What’s better than enjoying a piece of history with a slice of pie?

Best time to visit

It’s All Good Bakery is open daily. 8 AM to 7 PM Monday through Saturday, and 9 AM to 5 PM on Sundays. It’s best to visit the bakery around 8 AM to 11 AM, as it gets quite busy approaching lunch time, especially on weekends!

Learn more about It’s All Good Bakery here!

Hop aboard the USS Potomac

What’s special about this place?

Located at 540 Water Street within Jack London Square, the USS Potomac was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidential yacht from 1936 until his death in 1945. Since its sale to the Port of Oakland, the yacht has become a culturally significant attraction in the city, and was opened to the public at Jack London Square in 1995. To this day, the USS Potomac functions as a museum ship, offering dockside tours and regular cruises on San Francisco Bay.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The USS Potomac is ideal for families and American history buffs who are curious as to the features of the great FDR’s presidential yacht. Cinephiles would also enjoy a tour through the USS Potomac, as it was famously used to film shipboard scenes of the Paul Thomas Anderson film, The Master.

What to do here?

Take a guided tour and explore the USS Potomac. Cruise through San Francisco Bay aboard the USS Potomac and learn about the history of San Francisco Bay and the role FDR had in its development. Take in the sights of San Francisco Bay!

Best time to visit

As of this writing, the USS Potomac is closed due to the COVID crisis. However, it intends to reopen in September 2021. It’s best to check out their website calendar to schedule a tour ahead of time!

Learn more about USS Potomac here!

Hang out at the Mountain View Cemetery

What’s special about this place?

Located at 5000 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland’s Mountain View Cemetery is a 226-acre park-like cemetery established in 1863. The cemetery was designed by the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Specific sections of the cemetery are occupied by many of California’s important historical figures and wealthy elites. The Mountain View Cemetery offers spectacular views and is unironically one of the most scenic spots in Oakland.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Tourists looking for a nice place to have a picnic or a light jog would love the Mountain View Cemetery. It’s ideal for history buffs as well, as a lot of important historical figures are buried here.

What to do here?

Take a docent tour and explore the Mountain View Cemetery. Take a hike through the cemetery’s hills and check out the graves of historical figures (respectfully, of course). The cemetery is also one of the best places in Oakland to have a quiet picnic!

Best time to visit

This depends on your itinerary. There’s no bad time to visit the cemetery, and it shouldn’t be too crowded most of the time. As of this writing, though, due to the COVID crisis, the Mountain View Cemetery is closed to the public. However, the cemetery is normally open daily, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Friday, and 10 AM to 4 PM on weekends.

Learn more about Mountain View Cemetery here!

Pig out at Kitchen Story

What’s special about this place?

Located at 5422 College Avenue in the heart of Rockridge, Kitchen Story is a casual breakfast and brunch restaurant serving American style breakfast with a fusion of Californian and contemporary Asian cuisine. The restaurant also offers a variety of beers as well as wines and specialty cocktails with the same American-Asian flair!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Kitchen Story, like most of the restaurants on this list, is ideal for families and tourists traveling with friends. That said, the food is just as enjoyable when eaten alone. Kitchen Story is also ideal for tourists looking for great American-Asian fusion cuisine!

What to do here?

Try some of Kitchen Story’s bestsellers. For breakfast/brunch, try their Lemon Ricotta Pancakes and Souffle skillets. Their Tornado Galbi Omurice is a fan favorite as well. For dinner, get their binge starters. Anything with Millionaire’s Bacon is good!

Best time to visit

Kitchen Story is open daily. 9 AM to 2:30 PM, and 5 PM to 9 PM on weekdays; and 9 AM to 3 PM, and 5 PM to 9 PM on weekends. There’s usually no wait if you go there during weekdays. Weekends are a whole different story, though, no pun intended.

Learn more about Kitchen Story here!

Explore the Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park

What’s special about this place?

Located at 7867 Redwood Road, the Dr. Aurelia Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, formerly known as Redwood Regional Park, is a “hidden” redwood forest off Redwood Road just a few miles over the ridge from downtown Oakland. The park contains the largest natural stand of coast redwood in the East Bay area. Because of its unique geographical circumstances, the redwood forest creates coastal conditions ideal for all sorts of outdoor activities!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Outdoor enthusiasts and tourists traveling with families would love the Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park. It’s one of the many Oakland gems that provide an escape from the urban jungle of Oakland. It also provides a look into Oakland’s natural history, so naturalists, professional or otherwise, would definitely love the park as well.

What to do here?

Go hiking through the redwood groves. Try to spot some of its rare and elusive wildlife, such as the Alameda striped racer, or the golden eagle. Check out some of the trout in Redwood Creek, which are descendants of the pure strain of rainbow trout taken from the San Leandro Creek drainage. Try camping overnight at one of the park’s camping areas. Bring a camera and take pictures of the redwoods and its wildlife!

Best time to visit

The Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park is open daily, from 5 AM to 10 PM. It’s usually very busy on weekends, so it’s best to explore the park during weekdays. That said, it’s best to phone the park and inquire about accessible trails and camping sites, as some trails can sometimes be closed due to inclement weather.

Get some comfort food at Brown Sugar Kitchen

What’s special about this place?

Located at 2295 Broadway, Brown Sugar Kitchen is an iconic soul food restaurant that offers California-influenced soul food and Southern eats. Owned and operated by French-trained Tanya Holland, Brown Sugar Kitchen uses local seasonal ingredients whenever possible. This elevates the flavors of traditional soul food. Naturally, Brown Sugar Kitchen is an Oakland staple that is worth a visit if you’re coming to Oakland!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Brown Sugar Kitchen is ideal for families and tourists looking for the familiar flavors of soul food within the culturally diverse city of Oakland. The small restaurant is also a great place to bring a date for a casual brunch!

What to do here?

Try some of Brown Sugar Kitchen’s bestsellers. Their chicken and waffles, and ox tails are must-tries! Their gumbo and rice are particularly good as well. try some of their beignets and corn bread as well. If you’re feeling adventurous, try Brown Sugar Kitchen’s blackened catfish!

Best time to visit

Brown Sugar Kitchen is open Wednesday through Sunday. 12 PM to 8 PM on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 12 PM to 9 PM on Fridays and Saturdays, and 9 AM to 3 PM on Sundays. There’s never a bad time to get some soul food, but it’s best to stop by the restaurant on weekdays to avoid a long wait!

Walk through the Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve

What’s special about this place?

Located at 7087 Skyline Blvd, the Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve is a 241-acre regional park and nature reserve in the Oakland Hills. Considered an ecological jewel, the native plant community in the preserve is found nowhere else in the East Bay. The preserve features a 1.7-mile loop nature trail that traverses a wide variety of terrain. It is an extremely diverse and unique botanical area that exists because of very specific soil and climatic conditions.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve is particularly great for nature lovers and avid hikers. Due to its fragile nature, jogging is discouraged and camping and picnicking are not allowed. That said, a quiet hike through its 1.7-mile nature trail is enough to fully appreciate the preserve.

What to do here?

Take a walk through the preserve’s nature trail. Bring a camera. The importance of taking pictures cannot be overstated here. Take pictures of the varied flora thriving within the preserve. Check out some of the insects and wildlife in the preserve as well. Try to spot some of the unique wildflowers in the area.

Best time to visit

The Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve is open year-round, 5 AM to 10 PM. For the best hiking experience, it’s best to explore the preserve either early in the morning (around 5 AM to 8 AM) or late in the afternoon (around 4 PM to 6 PM).

Travel back in time at the Camron-Stanford House

What’s special about this place?

Located at 1418 Lakeside Drive, the Camron-Stanford House is the last of the Victorian mansions that once surrounded Lake Merritt, and was home to five influential families before becoming the first museum in the City of Oakland in 1907. The restored home is like a time capsule that allows its guests to travel back to the 1880s and learn about the early days of Oakland as a city!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Camron-Stanford House is ideal for families and tourists who want to learn about the history of Oakland and the lives of the influential families that lived in the Camron-Stanford House. As it is the last remaining Victorian mansion in the area, architecture enthusiasts should find a trip here to be thoroughly engaging and educational.

What to do here?

Take a tour through the Camron-Stanford House and time travel back to the 1880s! Check out the museum’s exhibits, such as the Camron-Stanford House Collection, which shows various artifacts, photographs and ephemera from the house’s former tenants. Check out the museum’s Tattooed and Tenacious exhibit, which showcases the history of California’s foremothers of modern tattooing!

Best time to visit

The Camron-Stanford House is only open on Sundays, from 11 AM to 3 PM, so if you plan on visiting the museum, it’s best to plan your trip accordingly. That said, it’s also advisable to check out the museum’s website for special events.

Learn more about Camron-Stanford House here!

Have a cup of joe at The Coffee Mill

What’s special about this place?

Located at 3363 Grand Avenue, The Coffee Mill is a longstanding coffee shop in Oakland that bills itself as the city’s oldest coffee shop. Aside from its great coffee, the cafe offers an extensive menu of breakfast and lunch options, as well as pastries and some alcoholic beverages. The cafe also sells coffee by the pound.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Tourists looking for a great place for coffee and breakfast/brunch would love The Coffee Mill. Whether its claims as Oakland’s oldest coffee house is true or not, The Coffee Mill serves great coffee and great food, and you really couldn’t ask for more than that.

What to do here?

Try some of their top menu items, such as their Savvy Sausage Wrap Breakfast and Mill #1 Breakfast Combo. Obviously, get their coffee and/or try their Cafe Mocha. Their baked goods are also some of the best in Oakland.

Best time to visit

The Coffee Mill is open daily, from 8 AM to 2 PM. As it is one of the top brunch/lunch spots in Oakland, it’s best to stop by the cafe around 8 AM. That said, going to the cafe at its busiest hours is one of the best ways to soak up the local vibe.

Learn more about The Coffee Mill here!

Engage your inner child at the Museum of Children's Arts

What’s special about this place?

Located at 1221 Broadway LL, 49, in downtown Oakland, the Museum of Children’s Arts is an interactive children’s museum that is dedicated to creating opportunities for all children to experience the arts to develop creativity and realize their potential. The museum also conducts art workshops for adults as well as facility rentals. It’s considered a mecca for hands-on cultural and artistic activities for all ages!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Museum of Children’s Arts is ideal for families and tourists traveling with children. That said, as the museum offers activities for all ages, it’s great for adults looking to get into some hands-on creative activities as well!

What to do here?

Check out the Museum of Children’s Arts art studio and participate in a variety of hands-on creative workshops and activities! Regardless if you plan on making art or not, and regardless of age, it’s a great place to engage your playful creative side!

Best time to visit

The Museum of Children’s Arts is open on weekdays, 8 AM to 5:30 PM. It’s best to visit around 10 AM to 11 AM if you want to avoid large crowds. People typically spend an hour or two here, so plan your trip accordingly!

Learn more about Museum of Children’s Arts here!

Stop and smell the roses at the Morcom Rose Garden

What’s special about this place?

Located at 700 Jean Street, in a residential neighborhood in Oakland, the Morcom Rose Garden is an 8-acre municipal rose garden that features more than 6,000 rose bushes of different varieties. It’s considered one of the grandest rose gardens in the whole country!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Morcom Rose Garden is ideal for families and tourists looking to escape the busyness of Oakland. It’s also ideal for florists and botanical artists, as it features some of the most beautiful rose bushes in the country!

What to do here?

Take a stroll through the three sections of the garden. Check out the different rose bushes and don’t forget to take pictures. Hang out at the garden’s benches and contemplate why Natalie Imbruglia’s cover of Torn is more popular than the original. For something less specific, try bringing a date to the garden. It’s also considered a birding hotspot, so listen to some of the birds’ calls and pretend you’re in a Disney film!

Best time to visit

The Morcom Rose Garden is open on weekdays all year round, from 6 AM to 10 PM. The garden is always a little busy, so it’s best to get there early, around 7 AM to 9 AM. If you want to see the rose bushes at their best, though, bloom season is late April through October, so plan your trip accordingly!

Try the authentic Ethiopian fare at Café Romanat

What’s special about this place?

Located at 462 Santa Clara Avenue, Café Romanat is a family owned and operated authentic Ethiopian restaurant named after the Ethiopian village of Romanat. Consistently rated as one of the best restaurants in Oakland since it opened in 2011, Café Romanat offers classic African fare with some veggie options.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Staying true to the Ethiopian dining spirit, Café Romanat serves all of its food family style, so it’s ideal for families and tourists traveling with friends. Anyone looking for authentic African food would love Café Romanat!

What to do here?

Try Café Romanat’s classic combinations, such as their Shiro Combo and Meat Combo. Their vegan dishes like Misir Wot and Gomen are some of their most popular dishes. All meals are served with Enjera, a traditional sourdough flatbread as well as a side salad and Buticha, so make sure to incorporate those in every bite!

Best time to visit

Café Romanat is open Tuesday through Sunday. 5 PM to 10 PM on weekdays, and 11:30 AM to 10 PM on weekends. It’s best to visit on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays around 6 PM to avoid long waits!

Learn more about Café Romanat here!

Check out the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment

What’s special about this place?

Located at 3400 Broadway, the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment is a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of digital art and gaming, and to inspire the next generation of game developers. Its mission is not only to preserve digital gaming heritage, but also to legitimize the preservation of video games as both a historic and artistic medium within the context of our time. The museum offers fully playable exhibits, and is one of Oakland’s best kept secrets!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment is ideal for families, tourists traveling with kids, digital gaming historians, and digital gaming fans in general. Its extensive collection of video games and video gaming consoles makes it a paradise for gamers in different generations!

What to do here?

Take a tour through the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment. Check out the museum’s collection of over 12,000 games across 40 systems and learn about the history of digital gaming and how it has shaped and continues to shape our modern culture.

Best time to visit

As of this writing, the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment is temporarily closed due to the COVID crisis. It’s best to check their websites for updates on virtual events, as well as updates on their reopening schedule!

Learn more about Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment here!

Take a quick break at Kaiser Rooftop Garden

What’s special about this place?

Located on top of the Kaiser Center’s parking garage, at 300 Lakeside Drive, the Kaiser Rooftop Garden is an internationally acclaimed 3-acre garden with over 6,000 feet of combined indoor space. The garden includes a reflecting pool and 42 mature specimen trees. The garden is the first “true” post-war rooftop garden in the country, and has since inspired the proliferation of roof gardens across the planet!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Kaiser Rooftop Gardens is ideal for families and landscape architecture aficionados. The Kaiser Rooftop Garden, like most of Oakland’s outdoor spaces, also provides tourists a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of Oakland.

What to do here?

Pick a spot in the garden and check out the surrounding buildings. It’s a great place for a quick lunch or a light picnic. Check out the geese that gather at the pond and take pictures of the trees that have been in the garden for more than six decades!

Best time to visit

The Kaiser Rooftop Garden is open to the public on weekdays, 9 AM to 6 PM. It’s best to visit the garden around 11 AM or 12 PM for a quick lunch, or late in the afternoon to watch the sunset!

Explore the Peralta Hacienda Historical Park

What’s special about this place?

Located at 2465 34th Avenue, the Peralta Hacienda Historical Park is a 6-acre museum, park and cultural center that is dedicated to promoting understanding and historical healing in a diverse and ever-changing community. As the site of the first Spanish-speaking settlement in Oakland, the Peralta Hacienda Historical Park is one of the most significant historical sites in the East Bay area.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Peralta Hacienda Historical Park is ideal for tourists who want to learn about the origins of Oakland and the history of its first settlers, as well as its original, Native American inhabitants–the Ohlone people. That said, architecture fans would definitely love exploring the park’s focal point, the 1870 Italianate Victorian farmhouse.

What to do here?

Check out the Undocumented Heart: Oakland Day Laborers Tell their Stories exhibition. Check out the permanent exhibits in the 1870 Antonio Peralta House, such as The Kitchen exhibit and the Native American Land Loss exhibit. Explore the park grounds and check out the outdoor exhibits like the Native Plant Garden.

Best time to visit

As of this writing, the Peralta House Museum is currently closed to the public. However, the park grounds are open for visitors from sunrise to sunset. It’s advisable to visit the park in the morning, as it can get crowded in the afternoon.

Learn more about Peralta Hacienda Historical Park here!

Spend an afternoon at FROG Park

What’s special about this place?

Located at 5500 Claremont Avenue, FROG Park, officially known as the Rockridge-Temescal Greenbelt, is an urban greenbelt that connects Hardy Park and Redondo Park. FROG Park features a playground with custom-built play structures, basketball courts, and a dog park!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

FROG Park is ideal for families and tourists traveling with children. The playground has something for all types of kids. It’s also ideal for tourists looking for a spot in Oakland where they could get in a quick yoga session or just pass the time.

What to do here?

Explore FROG Park. Check out the custom-built play structures made out of timber. Check out some of the local regulars that come to the park and try to strike up a conversation with them. FROG Park is a product of community involvement, so it should be a nice conversation starter!

Best time to visit

FROG Park is open 24 hours, all year round. It’s only ever really busy on Sundays, so anytime would be ideal for visiting the park. That said, while the surrounding neighborhoods are generally safe, it’s best not to stay at the park very late at night.

Try the tacos at Tacos Oscar

What’s special about this place?

Located at 420 40th Street within Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood, Tacos Oscar is an iconic taco joint that offers extremely creative Oakland-style tacos. The restaurant is set in brightly colored refurbished shipping container with a great outdoor area. Known for their great gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options, Tacos Oscar has built a reputation as one of the best places to get tacos in Oakland!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Hungry tourists from all walks of life would enjoy Tacos Oscar. While Tacos Oscar does serve a wide selection of beers and wine, the colorful restaurant, the area’s homey atmosphere, and their delicious tacos make it ideal for children as well (the vegan tacos are also an ingenious way to make children eat vegetables).

What to do here?

Try some of their bestsellers. For meat eaters, try their chile verde pork tacos. Tacos Oscar is particularly known for their vegan items, though, such as their Charred Brócoli Taco, Hongo con Nopales, and Eggplant Tostada!

Best time to visit

Tacos Oscar is open Thursday through Monday, from 5 PM to 10 PM. There isn’t really a bad time to get tacos, but it’s ideal to stop by Tacos Oscar on Mondays to avoid large crowds.

Learn more about Tacos Oscar here!

Explore the Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve

What’s special about this place?

Located in the Berkeley Hills of the East Bay region, the Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve is a 928-acre regional park. The preserve’s most prominent feature is Round Top, one of Oakland’s highest peaks (at 1763 ft. above sea level), which is made up of lava and volcanic debris left over from the preserve’s Pliocene epoch volcanic center. The preserve also features man-made labyrinths, and many trails for hiking and horseback riding!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Outdoor enthusiasts, amateur and/or professional geologists, as well as avid hikers would definitely enjoy exploring the Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve. It’s also ideal for tourists looking for a long meditative hike away from all the Oakland hubbub.

What to do here?

Check out the regional park’s visitor center to get maps and information on the various trails on the park. Hike through some of the preserve’s many trails, such as the 31-mile East Bay Skyline Regional Trail and the Round Top Loop Trail. Check out the man-made labyrinths in the preserve. Don’t forget to take pictures!

Best time to visit

This depends on your itinerary. The Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve is open year-round. 7 AM to 6 PM November through February, and 7 AM to 10 PM the rest of the year. People typically spend a few hours exploring the preserve, so plan your trip accordingly!

Try seasonal Californian fare at Wood Tavern

What’s special about this place?

Located at 6317 College Avenue, Wood Tavern is a contemporary, rustic Michelin Guide restaurant that offers seasonal Californian cooking with Italian influences, and an extensive wine list. Though competition is stiff, Wood Tavern is one of the best dining spots not just in the Rockridge neighborhood, but in all of Oakland.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Wood Tavern is ideal for families and tourists dining out with friends. While there’s almost always a crowd in Wood Tavern, its warm and inviting atmosphere makes it a great place for a casual date!

What to do here?

Try some of their specialties, such as the creamy parsnip and pear soup with brown butter, and their grilled double cut pork chop with spicy Italian sausage. Don’t skip dessert either. Their warm mini Bundt cake is legendary.

Best time to visit

Wood Tavern is open Tuesday through Sunday. 12 PM to 8 PM on Sundays, and 11 AM to 8 PM the rest of the week. It’s best to get there early, around 11 AM to 12 PM or mid-afternoon at around 3PM to make sure you get a table. They don’t take reservations, and they operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

Learn more about Wood Tavern here!

Pass the time at Montclair Park

What’s special about this place?

Located at 6300 Moraga Avenue, Montclair Park is a nearly 7-acre park that features a pond (an extension of the Lake Merritt bird sanctuary) that’s home to ducks, geese, koi fish, and other animals. The park includes a baseball diamond, a children’s play area, two picnic areas, and 4 tennis courts!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Families and tourists traveling with children would love Montclair Park. Although it’s not as big as other green spaces in Oakland, there’s enough play space for children, and there’s an outdoor basketball court as well as tennis courts for visitors of all ages.

What to do here?

Check out the birds that visit Montclair Park’s pond. Take nice little stroll through the park. Rent one of the picnic areas and spend an afternoon barbecuing! Or, if you’re up for it, try playing a game of basketball or tennis with Oakland locals and other tourists.

Best time to visit

Montclair Park is open daily, from 6 AM to 10 PM. The park is usually only busy during weekends, so if you want a nice and quiet time at the park, it’s best to stop by during weekdays!

Treat yourself with a slice of Zachary's pizza

What’s special about this place?

Located at 5801 College Avenue, and another branch located at 3917 Grand Avenue, Zachary’s Chicago Pizza is a nationally recognized pizzeria in Oakland that offers 2 styles of pizza: a Chicago-style stuffed pizza, and a traditional thin crust pizza. Zachary’s is consistently rated as one of the top pizzerias in Oakland, and has won numerous awards!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Zachary’s is ideal for families and tourists looking to get their pizza fix in Oakland. For some locals, the only legitimate Oakland adventure is one that begins and ends with a slice of Zachary’s Chicago-style stuffed pizza!

What to do here?

Try some of Zachary’s Pizza Favorites, like the Zachary’s Special and Chorizo pizza. If you want a vegetarian option, one of Zachary’s most popular vegetarian pizza is the Spinach and Mushroom pizza. While they’re known for their Chicago-style stuffed pizza, their traditional thin crust pizzas are just as good!

Best time to visit

Zachary’s Chicago Pizza is open daily, from 11 AM to 8:30 PM. It doesn’t really get too busy until around 6 PM, so try to get there during lunch hours or late afternoon. As of this writing, there are two branches, so it shouldn’t be hard to get a slice of Zachary’s, wherever you are in the city.

Learn more about Zachary’s pizza here!

Learn about the historic Pardee family at the Pardee Home Museum

What’s special about this place?

Located at 672 11th Street, the Pardee Home Museum is a historic house in Oakland that was home to three generations of the prominent Pardee family. Today, it functions as a non-profit museum that showcases 100 years of the life of the Pardee family; more specifically, 100 years of California history through the home of the Pardee family. The house is a well-preserved example of Italianate architecture, and is a California Historical Landmark!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Pardee Home Museum is ideal for families and tourists eager to step into a well-preserved piece of California history. Architecture enthusiasts would definitely love a tour through this Italianate house. As the Pardee Home Museum is available for bookings for private tea parties and dinners, it’s also ideal for tourists looking for a reunion venue!

What to do here?

Take a guided tour through the Pardee Home Museum. Before you enter, take a few minutes to take in the Italianate house’s exterior. Once inside, check out all the house’s furnishings. Make sure to explore the gardens and the all-redwood carriage house. For a more intimate experience, rent the house for a small tea party and/or dinner with your friends!

Best time to visit

This depends on your itinerary. The Pardee Home Museum offers twice-a-month tours by reservation on the second and third Saturdays of the month at 10:30 AM. This is in addition to specialty private tours being offered by the museum. It’s best to call the museum in advance and book a tour at least a few months before your Oakland trip to make sure you get a slot!

Learn more about Pardee Home Museum here!

Try the best chicken sandwich in Oakland at Bakesale Betty

What’s special about this place?

Located at 5098 Telegraph Avenue, Bakesale Betty is a popular lunch spot in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood. Like the best viral videos, Bakesale Betty’s menu is short and sweet: a fried chicken sandwich with slaw, a tofu sandwich, and a variety of baked goods. It’s been an Oakland staple since it opened in 2005.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Bakesale Betty is a hit among locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re craving for something savory or something sweet, Bakesale Betty’s got you covered. While they’re known for their fried chicken sandwich, their cookies, pies, and scones are some of the best in Oakland.

What to do here?

Try everything on the menu, but absolutely get their Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Coleslaw Sandwich. For vegetarians, try their Buttermilk Fried Tofu and Coleslaw Sandwich. You really can’t go wrong with any of their baked goods, but their Strawberry Shortcake is particularly good!

Best time to visit

Bakesale Betty is open Thursday through Sunday, from 11 AM to 2 PM. The lines can be pretty long here, and people typically spend 20 minutes to have their order taken, but it’s worth it.

Learn more about Oakland at Bakesale Betty here!

Swim at Lake Temescal

What’s special about this place?

Located within the Temescal Regional Recreation Area next to the junction of highways 24 and 13 in Oakland, Lake Temescal is a small man-made lake, originally almost a mile long and covering 18 acres. Approximately 20 feet at its deepest point, the lake currently supports an artificial recreational beach and is stocked periodically with a variety of freshwater fish. Popular for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing, it’s the main attraction of the Temescal Regional Recreation Area.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

While a bit tame for outdoor enthusiasts, Lake Temescal is a convenient urban oasis ideal for families and tourists who want to get away from the city for a while, without actually getting out of the city.

What to do here?

Explore the Temescal Regional Recreation Area. Make sure you stay on the paved trails to minimize contact with poison oak, which is abundant in the area. Try your hand at fishing at the designated fishing areas in Lake Temescal. If you can reserve a table, the area is great for picnicking as well!

Best time to visit

Temescal Regional Recreation Area is open daily, from 7:30 AM to 6:30 PM. It’s only really busy on weekends, so it’s best to visit during weekdays. That said, if you plan on swimming in Lake Temescal, it’s best to inquire ahead of time, as the swimming area can sometimes be closed due to the presence of blue-green algae.

Take stroll through the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park

What’s special about this place?

Located at 2777 Middle Harbor Road on San Francisco Bay and the Port of Oakland entrance channel, Middle Harbor Shoreline Park is a 38-acre shoreline park. Its main features include an amphitheater overlooking San Francisco Bay that’s occasionally used as a venue for live performances, an observation tower, and a viewing area for observing the super-Panamax cranes at the adjacent Hanjin Terminal!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Middle Harbor Shoreline Park is ideal for families looking to spend a day picnicking along the shores of San Francisco Bay, and tourists looking for a panoramic view of San Francisco and the South Bay area. The park also offers paved trails for hikers and cyclists!

What to do here?

Go on a little stroll along the paved trails of the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. Watch the cranes at Hanjin Terminal. Have a picnic at the shaded picnic area in the park. Soak in the sights, smells and sounds of San Francisco Bay. Take pictures as you enjoy the breathtaking views of San Francisco!

Best time to visit

The Middle Harbor Shoreline Park is open daily, from 8 AM to 7:30 PM. Unlike the other parks on this list, it’s busiest during weekdays, so it’s ideal to stop by the park during weekends!

Learn more about Middle Harbor Shoreline Park here!

Explore the Tilden Regional Park

What’s special about this place?

Located at 2501 Grizzly Peak Boulevard in Orinda, just 9 miles northeast of Oakland, Tilden Regional Park is a 2,079-acre regional park in the East Bay area. The park contains numerous trails for hiking, horseback riding, and bicycling. The park is also known for its botanic garden, its quaint hand-carved merry-go-round, and Lake Anza. One of East Bay’s oldest parks, Tilden is a must-visit whenever you are in the East Bay area!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Tilden Regional Park is ideal for families, outdoor enthusiasts, avid hikers, conservationists, and nature lovers. There’s something for tourists of all ages here, from long strenuous hikes in the woods to casual picnics, birding and wildlife spotting!

What to do here?

Bring your camera with you and take pictures of Tilden Regional Park’s scenery. Hike through the park’s numerous trails and try to spot some of the wildlife that thrive in the area. Take a dip in the park’s Lake Anza. Check out the Regional Park Botanic Garden within Tilden and observe their extensive collection of California native plants! If you’re up for a round of golf, check out the Tilden Park Golf Course.

Best time to visit

This depends on your itinerary. Tilden Park is open daily, from 5 AM to 10 PM. However, some activities within the park, such as swimming in Lake Anza, may be restricted to certain seasons. Some areas may occasionally be closed as well. When in doubt, it’s best to call the East Bay Regional Park District and inquire about the accessibility of certain areas in the park.

Check out the Swan's Market food court

What’s special about this place?

Located at 538 9th Street, Swan’s Market is an iconic marketplace in the Old Oakland district of Oakland. Originally named 10th Street Market, it was opened in 1917 and served as downtown Oakland’s premier market until its closure in 1983. The site stood vacant until it was acquired by the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation in 1998. Today, Swan’s Market is a popular Oakland destination, and is home to some of Oakland’s best restaurants!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Regarded as the Bay Area’s greatest food court, Swan’s Market is ideal for tourists looking for some of the best and some of the cheapest gourmet eats in Oakland would love Swan’s Market. It’s also ideal for tourists looking to unwind and have a tall glass of beer while enjoying the Oakland summer. As one of the best-known historic sites in Oakland, it’s a great place to start for tourists keen on learning about local history.

What to do here?

Check out all the food stalls and restaurants in Swan’s Market. Tourists are spoiled for choice here. If you’re craving oysters, check out The Cook and Her Farmer. If you’re craving for authentic Caribbean fare, check out Miss Ollie’s. Try some of the traditional Japanese food at B-Dama. Don’t forget to check out Taylor’s Sausage, the oldest tenant of Swan’s Market!

Best time to visit.

Swan’s Market is open Monday through Saturday, from 9 AM to 10 PM. However, the tenants’ hours may vary, so it’s best to inquire ahead of time if you’re planning to try something specific within the market. That said, if you want to avoid large crowds, any day except Friday is ideal.

Learn more about Swan’s Market food court here!

Watch a film at the Grand Lake Theater

What’s special about this place?

Located at 3200 Grand Avenue in the Grand Lake neighborhood, Grand Lake Theater is a historic movie palace built in 1926. It was initially designed as a vaudeville and silent film theater before switching to an all-movies format. Despite the many changes it has undergone in more than nine decades, the Grand Lake Theater still retains its original charm, and is one of Oakland’s great architectural landmarks.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Grand Lake Theater is ideal for families, cinephiles, and tourists looking for a classic night at the cinema. Despite the Grand Lake Theater’s old school design and charm, it does use state of the art technology, and is the only theater in Northern California to present two projector 3D!

What to do here?

Step into a classic movie palace in the 20s and catch a movie at one of the four auditoriums in the Grand Lake Theater. Check out the Neoclassical architecture of the cinema and its Art Deco interior artwork. If you’re coming in on a Friday or Saturday evening, don’t miss the Wurlitzer organ concert before the movie!

Best time to visit

This depends on your itinerary, as movie hours may vary. That said, if you don’t have a specific movie in mind and just want to have the Grand Lake Theater experience, you really can’t go wrong with any time you choose to visit the cinema.

Learn more about Grand Lake Theater here!

Grab a few drinks at the Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon

What’s special about this place?

Located at 48 Webster Street within Jack London Square, Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon is an iconic waterfront saloon that has been in operation since 1884. It is known for two things–first, for being Jack London’s Rendezvous, as the bar was frequented by the Oakland writer; and second, for its slanted floor, a product of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The bar is the last commercial Californian establishment with its original gas lighting.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

History buffs and literature nerds would love Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon. Its historical significance alone is enough reason to visit the establishment. That said, tourists just looking for a place to drink would similarly feel at home here, with its variety of draft beers and cocktails.

What to do here?

Have a few drinks at the bar. Sit where the famous Jack London used to sit. Check out a few relics of and older America within the bar, such as the boxing gloves of former heavyweight champion Jim Jeffries, and of boxing’s first ever three-division world champion (ranked no. 8 in The Ring’s greatest punchers of all time) Bob Fitzsimmons.

Best time to visit

Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon is open daily. 1 PM – 9 PM on Mondays, 12 PM – 9 PM Tuesday through Saturday, and 11 AM to 8 PM on Sundays. It’s only really busy on Fridays and on the weekend, so if you want to avoid large crowds, visit the bar anytime from Monday to Thursday. Then again, who’d want to drink alone?

Learn more about Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon here!

Pass by the Cathedral of Christ the Light

What’s special about this place?

Located at 2121 Harrison Street, the Cathedral of Christ the Light is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland, replacing the irreparably damaged Cathedral of Saint Francis de Sales. It’s the world’s first cathedral built entirely in the 21st century! While its construction and design has drawn mixed reviews from traditionalists, its departure from the Gothic style and removal of iconography reflects the relatively progressive views of the church.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Tourists who are keen on seeing modern examples of sacral architecture would find a trip to the Cathedral of Christ the Light an important one. That said, it’s also ideal for tourists who are practicing Roman Catholics and are looking for a place to hear mass in Oakland.

What to do here?

Check out the exterior and interior design of the church. Explore the cathedral grounds and stop by the small garden intended to serve as a place of healing for survivors of clergy sexual abuse. Check out the basalt sculpture and plaque featured in the garden.

Best time to visit

This depends on your itinerary. It’s best to inquire about mass schedules ahead of time if you plan on attending mass at the cathedral. If you don’t intend on hearing mass, the cathedral complex is open on weekdays, 9 AM to 4 PM.

Learn more about Cathedral of Christ the Light here!

Explore Chinatown

What’s special about this place?

Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood is located in Downtown Oakland between Broadway to the west, Interstate 880 to the south, Oak Street and Laney College to the east, and 12th Street to the north. One of the oldest Chinatowns in North America, it’s home to many Asian immigrants and is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Oakland. Home to a lot of local favorites, it’s also arguably the best culinary destination in all of Oakland!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Oakland’s Chinatown is ideal for families and tourists looking for a variety of Asian cuisine to fill their stomachs on their Oakland adventure. From Cambodian food spots to classic Cantonese eateries to Japanese ramen shops to restaurants offering Sichuan and Hunan fare, Chinatown offers the full spectrum of Asian flavors!

What to do here?

Take a nice walk through the Chinatown neighborhood. Check out the unique murals around the neighborhood. Once you’ve built up a hunger, check out some of Chinatown’s best restaurants. Get a classic rice noodle bowl at Classic Guilin Rice Noodles. Get your dumpling fix at Shan Dong. Try a bowl of tsukemen at Sobo Ramen. Or go to one of the more recent additions to Chinatown, Chuan Yu, and try some of their authentic Sichuan and Hunan dishes!

Best time to visit

This depends on your itinerary, as store hours in Chinatown may vary. If you’re new to Chinatown, it’s recommended to take a guided tour through the neighborhood and to ask for restaurant recommendations from a local!

Get a taste of Oakland’s punk scene at Eli's Mile High Club

What’s special about this place?

Located at 3629 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Eli’s Mile High Club is a garage bar that offers a wide variety of liquor and beers as well as specialty cocktails. Formerly an iconic blues venue, the bar has since been transformed into a punk joint that occasionally features some of the hottest acts from the Oakland punk scene!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Tourists looking for an old-fashioned night of drinking and music would find it in Eli’s Mile High Club. It’s also an underrated place to bring a first date, given that said date likes bands, beer, and the garage bar atmosphere. The bar does have blues nights every Monday, so it’s ideal for blues lovers as well, at least on Mondays.

What to do here?

Check out the bar’s interior and try to make out some of the remnants of the former blues institution. Check out some of Oakland’s up-and-coming musicians. Try some of the bar’s food. It’s typical bar fare, but their Totchos and Ungrateful Bowl are quite good.

Best time to visit

This depends on your itinerary and the kind of bands/music you’re into. If you don’t care for all that and you just want to check out the bar, it’s best to visit on Friday and Saturday nights, when the bar usually features a stacked lineup of musicians. Expect it to be busy, though. If you want a nice relaxing blues night, stop by the bar on Mondays, around 6 PM!

Take a walk among the redwood groves at Joaquin Miller Park

What’s special about this place?

Located at 3300 Joaquin Miller Road, Joaquin Miller Park is a 500-acre open space park full of coastal redwood, live oak and pine trees. The park also contains the 2,000-seat Woodminster Amphitheater and Cascade, an outdoor amphitheater used for both amateur and professional plays and musicals. One of the finest green spaces within the city, the park has miles of hiking, biking and riding trails, an off-leash dog area, and picnic areas.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Tourists who want an escape from the hustle and bustle of Oakland would love Joaquin Miller Park. Its rustic woodland trails that lead to redwood groves and wet meadows often make visitors forget that they are just minutes away from highly urbanized neighborhoods!

What to do here?

Visit the park ranger station. Learn about the park’s history and check out the wildlife exhibits. Explore Joaquin Miller Park and check out one of the few Redwood forests to flourish today in an urban setting. Observe the wildlife and thriving flora within the park. Have a picnic, or go jogging or hiking or riding on one of its trails. Don’t forget to bring a camera and take pictures!

Best time to visit

Joaquin Miller Park is open daily, from 6 AM to 9 PM. It’s best to visit the park on weekdays, as it can get very busy on weekends. If you want the park all to yourself, it’s recommended to visit the park as it opens around 6 AM!

Tour the Oakland Asian Cultural Center

What’s special about this place?

Located at 388 9th Street, on the second floor of the Pacific Renaissance Plaza in Oakland’s Chinatown, the Oakland Asian Cultural Center is an arts and cultural center that showcases Asian and Pacific Islander arts and hosts cultural programs and community events that foster inter-generational and cross-cultural dialogue, understanding, and social justice.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Oakland Asian Cultural Center is ideal for tourists keen on learning more about Asian and Pacific Islander culture and their significance in modern American society. Tourists looking for local and regional Asian Pacific American art would also enjoy a trip to the Oakland Asian Cultural Center.

What to do here?

Check out the Oakland Asian Cultural Center’s exhibitions. Try your hand at some of the classes being offered at the OACC. Learn how to play the Chinese Zither, or try your hand at Mongolian dance and chess, or try learning Mandarin! If you’re not into taking classes, try checking out some of the community and cultural events being held at the OACC.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit the OACC would largely depend on your itinerary. As of this writing, the OACC is only open by appointment, due to the COVID crisis. Normally, the OACC is open daily. 12 PM to 6 PM on weekdays, and 10 AM to 5 PM on weekends.

Learn more about Oakland Asian Cultural Center here!

Check out the Oakland Museum of California

What’s special about this place?

Located at 1000 Oak Street, the Oakland Museum of California is an interdisciplinary museum that houses more than 1.8 million objects dedicated to showing the story of California. It’s one of the top-rated Bay Area museums that explore California art, history, and natural sciences. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Kevin Roche, the museum is also a great example of mid-century modernist architecture!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Oakland Museum of California is ideal for families and tourists with a deep curiosity and appreciation for California art, history, and natural sciences. Architecture enthusiasts would also enjoy a trip to this mid-century modernist museum!

What to do here?

Take a tour through the OMCA. Check out some of its current exhibitions and archives, such as the Dorothea Lange: Photography as Activism gallery, or the Black Power gallery. Check out its permanent galleries as well. Explore the Gallery of California Art, the Gallery of California History, and the Gallery of California Natural Sciences!

Best time to visit

The museum is open Friday through Sunday, 11 AM to 5 PM. If there’s a specific exhibit you want to check out, it’s best to phone ahead and check if it’s still on display, as some of the museum’s exhibits are on rotation and are regularly replaced. Expect the museum to be a little busy, as it is only open three days a week!

Learn more about Oakland Museum of California here!

Check out the African American Museum and Library

What’s special about this place?

Located at 659 14th Street, the African American Museum and Library at Oakland is a museum and non-circulating library dedicated to the discovery, preservation, interpretation and sharing of historical and cultural experiences of African Americans in California and the West for present and future generations. It is an outstanding community resource that houses extensive archival collections of artifacts that tell the story of African Americans in the West.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The African American Museum and Library at Oakland is ideal for families and tourists who want to learn about African American history and the African American experience in the West. The museum is an important resource for learning about important events not nearly fleshed out nor discussed enough in the media and even in most countries’ academic institutions; as such, a trip here is highly educational for all types of tourists.

What to do here?

Check out the library’s extensive archival collections and learn about African American history. Attend one of their public programs and learn about subjects such as gardening, mass incarceration, and the Black Panther Party. Check out some of the traveling and original exhibitions at the second-floor museum.

Best time to visit

The African American Museum and Library at Oakland is open Monday through Saturday. 10 AM to 5:30 PM Monday through Thursday and on Saturdays, and 12 PM to 5:30 PM on Fridays. To avoid large crowds, it’s best to visit the museum and library on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Learn more about African American Museum and Library here!

Explore the LDS Temple

What’s special about this place?

Located at 4770 Lincoln Avenue, the Oakland California Temple is the 15th constructed and 13th operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). It’s a highly recognized East Bay landmark, and is known for its magnificent rooftop gardens!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Tourists eager to explore all the nice gardens of Oakland should have the Oakland California Temple on their list. That said, the temple may cater more to those who adhere to the teachings of the LDS Church, as well as those who want to check out religious architecture.

What to do here?

Stop by the Oakland California Temple’s visitors’ center and check out the temple’s meticulously crafted gardens and its sculptures. The temple grounds offer a great spot to watch sunsets, so be sure to stay there long enough to catch the sunset!

Best time to visit

This depends on your itinerary. The Oakland California Temple is open year-round, from 7 AM to 8:30 PM. However, as of this writing, the temple has limited its operations due to the COVID crisis. It’s best to phone the temple ahead of time if you’re planning to visit!

Learn more about LDS Temple here!

Listen to some sweet jazz at The Sound Room

What’s special about this place?

Located at 3022 Broadway, The Sound Room is a historic jazz & blues club and is the home of Bay Area Jazz and Arts, Inc. It has an old Baldwin Grand Piano that has been played by greats like Geoffrey Keezer, Josh Nelson, and Adam Shulman! It’s a small and intimate venue with a small selection of food and drinks, but the live music from some of Oakland’s best musicians more than makes up for this.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Sound Room is ideal for date nights, and for tourists who want to enjoy a classy night of live jazz. It’s also a great destination for musicians and artists looking to link up with local artists and musicians!

What to do here?

Pick any table within the venue, and listen to some of the best live jazz music in the Bay Area. Sit back, get a few beers or a glass of wine. If you’re looking for an intimate setting for date night, The Sound Room is one of the best places for it! Check out some of the events held at the venue as well!

Best time to visit

This depends on your itinerary and the shows/acts you want to watch. It’s best to check their website or their Facebook page for upcoming events. Try to get to the venue at least an hour before the show/event starts to make sure you get a table.

Learn more about The Sound Room here!

Get your souvenirs at Oaklandish

What’s special about this place?

Oaklandish has two branches, one located at 1444 Broadway, and another located 3419 Fruitvale Avenue. Named the 38th fastest growing inner-city business in the United States by Fortune in 2016, Oaklandish is a fashion line and retail store that celebrates Oakland and allocates ten percent of its proceeds from sales to local non-profit community groups. It’s the premier place to buy Oakland-related apparel.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Tourists looking for souvenirs and t-shirts to commemorate their Oakland adventure would definitely enjoy stopping by Oaklandish. Its designs are a hit among locals and tourists alike, and the store helps the local community. So, yeah, you’re not doing a touristy thing, you’re helping the community.

What to do here?

Ignore the last sentence above and definitely do the touristy thing and buy clothing that indicates you’ve been to Oakland. Check out Oaklandish’s Oakland Roots Collection and their Hieroglyphics Collection. Buy some of their bestsellers like their Merrit National Tees and their Treehouse Tees!

Best time to visit

This depends on your itinerary, Oaklandish’s two branches have varying schedules. While the one on Broadway is open daily, the one on Fruitvale is closed on Mondays. That said, a trip to Oaklandish is a great way to end your Oakland trip!

Learn more about Oaklandish here!

Have a culinary adventure at Commis

What’s special about this place?

Located at 3859 Piedmont Avenue, Commis is a two-Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant that offers prix fixe menu crafted with unique local ingredients. The crown jewel of the Oakland dining scene, Commis is a reservation-only restaurant that is worth the trip to Oakland, even if you have to swim across the San Francisco Bay to get there.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Commis is ideal for all types of tourists willing to spend a few more bucks for a world-class meal. Guests get exactly what they pay for, and more. Aspiring chefs and restaurateurs would definitely find the trip here to be highly educational.

What to do here?

Make a reservation for either indoor and outdoor dining. Go to the restaurant at least a good half hour before your reservation, and enjoy your meal. Take a date with you and he/she will most likely thank you with the promise of another date!

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Commis entirely depends on your itinerary. It’s a reservation-only restaurant, so you’ll have to make a reservation ahead of time and build your itinerary around that reservation (it’s that good). If you’re willing to splurge a bit, it’s a great way to bookend your Oakland trip.

Learn more about Commis here!

Experience Hoodslam

What’s special about this event?

Held in Oakland, Hoodslam is an underground wrestling event that was originally held every first Friday of the month. What sets it apart from other wrestling events is that it features edgier, more adult acts and performances. Hoodslam provides the usual wrestling fare without the censorship–performers are even encouraged to use profanity and consume drugs and alcohol, adding another layer to the vicarious experience that is professional wrestling.

Who’ll enjoy this?

Hoodslam isn’t for kids, that’s for sure. Wrestling fans looking for a wild, steamy night of professional wrestling full of bizarre and sexy characters in Oakland would love Hoodslam. Unlike traditional wrestling, Hoodslam is seen as unbridled, non-sanitized performance art–allowing for a looser form of wrestling that pushes the envelope with every match!

What to do here?

Get a ticket and attend a Hoodslam event. While Hoodslam is usually held at the Oakland Opera Metro House, it’s not bound to any one location, and can be held at random venues within Oakland. Check out all the quirky characters and costumes and note how they differ from the typical WWE fare. Prepare yourself for a wild experience, as matches often transcend the ring, sometimes taking place in the middle of the crowd!

Best time to attend this

This depends on your itinerary. Event schedules are irregular, so be sure to check out Hoodslam’s website and Facebook page for event updates. Tickets sell out in a matter of hours, so make sure to purchase one before you run out!

Learn more about Hoodslam here!

Experience an authentic Japanese jazz bar at Yoshi's Jazz Club and Japanese Restaurant

What’s special about this place?

Located at 510 Embarcadero West within Jack London Square, Yoshi’s Jazz Club and Japanese Restaurant is an award-winning 17,000-square-feet, 310-seat live performance venue with a state-of-the-art sound system and design. A 220-seat Japanese restaurant is attached to the venue. While Yoshi’s accommodates other genres, it has earned a reputation as the Bay Area’s premier location for great jazz music and Japanese cuisine!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Yoshi’s Jazz Club and Japanese Restaurant is ideal for jazz fans and tourists looking for a nic, intimate spot within Jack London Square where they can enjoy live music and modern Japanese cuisine at the same time.

What to do here?

Pick any seat within the venue. Relax and enjoy the live music in the state-of-the-art venue. Try their popular sushi rolls, like the Spicy Geisha and the Jack London. If you’re going there with a group of friends or with your family, try their Japanese platters, like the Yoshie Omakase and the Tokyo Omakase.

Best time to visit

Yoshi’s is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 4:30 PM to 9:30 PM. It’s best to go there on nights with live music. It’s also ideal to go there on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays to avoid large crowds. Lastly, while Yoshi’s accommodates walk-ins, it’s recommended to make a reservation to make sure you get a table!

Learn more about Yoshi’s Jazz Club and Japanese Restaurant here!

Catch a show at Fox Theater

What’s special about this place?

Located at 1807 Telegraph Avenue in Downtown Oakland, the Fox Theater is a live music venue that features a state-of-the-art Meyer sound system and a 2,800-seating capacity. Built in 1928, the Fox Theater is a former movie house that closed in 1970. It reopened in 2009. Retaining most of its original details, the Fox Theater is one of Oakland’s architectural gems, and is continuously recognized as a favorite among touring artists and fans alike!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Fox Theater is ideal for tourists who love concerts and live music, as well as architecture fans who are keen on learning about the architectural heritage of Oakland. As the Fox Theater also functions as a restaurant and bar, tourists looking for a drinking place near the BART station would love the Fox Theater as well.

What to do here?

Check out the Fox Theater’s Middle Eastern influenced architecture. If you’ve got the time, catch a show and check out the concert hall. Check out all of the retained original details from the former movie theater!

Best time to visit

This depends on your itinerary, but it’s generally ideal to visit the Fox Theater if you’re attending a concert or a comedy show. Just make sure to get a ticket way ahead of time, as they can sell out pretty fast. That said, it’s an architectural masterpiece, so passing by the area for a few minutes is great, too!

Learn more about Fox Theater here!

Check out some local and international art pieces at Vessel Gallery

What’s special about this place?

Located at 480 23rd Street, Vessel Gallery is a contemporary visual art gallery that showcases thought-provoking art pieces from local and international artists. Vessel Gallery is committed to its mission of creating a space for art, and of developing long-term relationships with emerging and established artists of varied, individual voices. It’s been a key part of building up the Oakland arts scene since its inception.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Artists and art lovers would love the creative space that is the Vessel Gallery. Vessel Gallery a must-visit for tourists who want to learn about the Oakland arts scene and immerse themselves in thought-provoking contemporary art.

What to do here?

Check out Vessel Gallery’s current exhibits. Try to strike up a conversation with fellow guests and engage yourself in civil discourse about art, preferably with people with opposing views. Think about the meaning of the meticulously curated exhibits and the context within which they were conceived.

Best time to visit

This depends on your itinerary. Whether you’re attending an event or just checking out the various exhibits, tours in the Vessel Gallery are available by appointment only. Most guests typically spend at least 30 minutes here, so plan your trip accordingly!

Learn more about Vessel Gallery here!

FAQ

FAQs – frequently asked questions about Oakland:

Is Oakland dangerous?

Yes and no. Its perceived reputation as one of the most dangerous cities in the country is far from reality. While it’s true that Oakland has a long history of violent crime, like most cities in the country, it’s mostly contained in certain pockets within the city. Obviously, whichever city you choose to visit, you must always stay vigilant.

Is Oakland worth visiting?

Yes, most definitely. Oakland has a thriving culinary scene, a booming arts scene, and heaps of natural beauty. Check out the list above for the top 50 things to do in Oakland.

Do you need a car in Oakland?

It depends on the places you’re visiting and where you’re staying at. Oakland has many walkable neighborhoods, as well as areas with access to public transit.

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