Things to Do in Oakland – California

As professional journalists, we are constantly seeking out new and exciting destinations to share with our readers. Oakland, California is definitely one of those destinations that should not be overlooked. Located just across the bay from San Francisco, Oakland offers a plethora of activities and attractions that are perfect for travelers looking to explore the West Coast.

Whether you’re a foodie looking to indulge in some of the best cuisine on the West Coast, an art lover seeking out the latest exhibit at a local museum, or an outdoor enthusiast eager to explore the city’s many parks and lakes, Oakland has something for everyone. In this article, we will explore the diverse range of tourist spots and activities available in Oakland, uncovering its hidden gems and popular attractions.

Key Takeaways:

  • Oakland, California offers a diverse range of tourist attractions and activities
  • From exploring vibrant neighborhoods to indulging in the city’s culinary delights, Oakland has something for everyone
  • Oakland’s iconic landmarks, natural beauty, and arts and culture scene are must-visit attractions
  • There are plenty of family-friendly activities, sports and recreational opportunities, as well as exciting nightlife and entertainment options in Oakland
  • Getting around Oakland is easy, with various transportation options available

Exploring Oakland’s Vibrant Neighborhoods

As we delve deeper into Oakland’s offerings, it’s essential to explore the various neighborhoods that make this city so unique. From the bustling Jack London Square to the trendy Temescal, Oakland neighborhoods offer a diverse range of attractions.

Jack London Square

One of Oakland’s most popular attractions is the Jack London Square, located on the waterfront. This lively area offers a range of shops, restaurants, and entertainment. Visitors can enjoy a meal in one of the waterfront restaurants or take in a movie at the historic Grand Lake Theatre.

Jack London Square is also home to the USS Potomac, the presidential yacht used by Franklin Roosevelt. Visitors can take a tour of the yacht and learn about its interesting history.


For a trendy and vibrant experience, head to Temescal. This neighborhood is known for its fabulous restaurants, coffee shops, and boutiques. Visitors can explore the independent shops and sample some of the best cuisine Oakland has to offer.

One of Temescal’s highlights is the Temescal Alley, a charming street lined with unique stores and cafes. The alley even has a barbershop that has been in operation since the 1920s!


Another neighborhood worth exploring is Rockridge, located in North Oakland. This area is known for its beautiful architecture and range of shops and restaurants. Visitors can browse the boutiques and antique stores or dine in one of the many delicious restaurants.

Rockridge’s main attraction is the Rockridge Market Hall, a vibrant indoor market offering fresh, local produce and gourmet food items. It’s the perfect place to grab a bite to eat or stock up on supplies for a picnic in one of Oakland’s parks.

These neighborhoods are just a few examples of the many fantastic places to visit in Oakland. With so much to explore in this city, it’s easy to see why it’s one of California’s top destinations.

Discovering Oakland’s Iconic Landmarks

As you explore Oakland, you won’t want to miss its iconic landmarks. These top attractions are steeped in history and culture, and offer a fascinating glimpse into the city’s past and present. Here’s a look at some of Oakland’s must-see landmarks:

Attraction Description
Oakland Museum of California This museum features exhibits that showcase California art, history, and culture. It’s a great place to learn about the state’s diverse heritage and explore its contemporary art scene.
Lake Merritt This tranquil lake, located in the heart of Oakland, offers a peaceful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. It’s a popular spot for jogging, picnicking, and boating, and it’s surrounded by beautiful gardens and parkland.
USS Potomac This historic ship was once used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt for official business, and it has been restored to its former glory. Visitors can take a tour of the ship and learn about its fascinating history.

These are just a few examples of the exciting landmarks that Oakland has to offer. From the Fox Theater to the Oakland Zoo, there’s no shortage of memorable sights to see and explore. So why not take some time to go sightseeing during your visit to Oakland?

Enjoying Oakland’s Natural Beauty

When it comes to enjoying the great outdoors, Oakland has plenty to offer. With its abundance of parks and green spaces, the city is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing stroll or a challenging hike, there’s a park in Oakland that’s perfect for you.

If you’re looking for a place to hike, Redwood Regional Park is a must-visit. Located in the hills just east of Oakland, this park has over 1,800 acres of redwood forest, hiking trails, and picnic areas. One of the most popular trails in the park is the Stream Trail, which takes you through a beautiful canyon and past several small waterfalls.

If you’re looking for a more urban park experience, head to Lake Merritt. This 3.4-mile lagoon is located in the heart of Oakland and is surrounded by walking paths, picnic areas, and several small islands. You can rent a paddleboat or kayak to explore the lake, or simply relax on one of the benches and take in the views.

For a more challenging hike with stunning panoramic views, check out Joaquin Miller Park. This park has over 500 acres of wooded hills and streams, and several trails that offer breathtaking 360-degree views of the Bay Area. Make sure to visit the Woodminster Amphitheatre, an open-air venue that hosts concerts and performances during the summer months.

Tilden Regional Park

If you’re looking for a family-friendly destination, Tilden Regional Park is a great option. This park has something for everyone, including a lake for swimming, a farm with animals to feed, a botanical garden, and a steam train that takes you on a journey through the park. There are also several hiking trails that offer panoramic views of the Bay Area.

No matter which park you choose to visit, make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as well as comfortable walking shoes. With so many parks and green spaces to explore, Oakland is the perfect destination for outdoor lovers.

Experiencing Oakland’s Arts and Culture

When it comes to arts and culture, Oakland has a lot to offer. From galleries and museums to festivals and live performances, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

One of the best ways to explore Oakland’s art scene is to visit the Oakland Art Murmur, which takes place on the first Friday of every month. This event features dozens of galleries staying open late, live music, food trucks, and more. It’s a festive atmosphere that draws locals and tourists alike.

The Paramount Theatre is another must-see attraction. This historic theater, which opened in 1931, showcases live performances and classic films. Its art deco architecture and ornate details make it an impressive sight to behold.

For those interested in African-American history and culture, the African American Museum and Library at Oakland is a must-visit. Its collection includes historic archives and artifacts, art exhibits, and educational programs and events.

Visitors can also explore Oakland’s vibrant music scene. Venues like The New Parish and Yoshi’s offer live performances from local and national acts, while the Fox Theater hosts both concerts and comedy shows.

If you’re looking for cultural activities in Oakland, be sure to check out the annual festivals and events. The Oakland Pride Parade, the Eat Real Festival, and the Malcolm X Jazz Arts Festival are just a few of the celebrations that take place throughout the year.

Overall, Oakland’s arts and culture scene is thriving and diverse. Whether you’re into visual arts, music, or history, there are plenty of things to do near me in Oakland that will satisfy your cultural cravings.

Indulging in Oakland’s Culinary Delights

One of the best ways to experience Oakland is through its diverse and delicious food scene. Whether you’re looking for upscale dining or casual eats, Oakland has something for everyone. Here are some of our top picks for the best restaurants and places to eat in Oakland.

Fine Dining

For a truly memorable dining experience, check out Commis, a Michelin-starred restaurant known for its innovative tasting menu. Another top pick is À Côté, which offers French-inspired small plates and an extensive wine list.

Casual Eats

For a more laid-back vibe, head to Pizzaiolo in the Temescal neighborhood for delicious wood-fired pizzas and seasonal salads. Another popular spot is Homeroom, a mac and cheese-focused restaurant with a variety of creative toppings.

International Cuisine

Oakland’s diversity shines through its international food scene. Try the Ethiopian food at Cafe Colucci, the Mexican-inspired seafood at Tacos Sinaloa, or the Southeast Asian flavors at Hawker Fare.


Oakland’s commitment to sustainable and locally-sourced ingredients is evident in its farm-to-table restaurants. Check out Brown Sugar Kitchen for its famous cornmeal waffles and fried chicken, or the vegetarian and vegan options at Souley Vegan.

Food Markets

For a different type of culinary experience, explore Oakland’s food markets. The Grand Lake Farmers Market offers fresh produce and artisanal products, while Swan’s Marketplace in Old Oakland features a variety of food vendors and specialty shops.

No matter what type of cuisine you’re craving, Oakland’s food scene is sure to satisfy. Explore the city’s diverse culinary delights and discover your new favorite restaurant.

Shopping in Oakland’s Unique Boutiques and Markets

For those looking for a unique shopping experience, Oakland has a bounty of options to explore. From chic boutiques to vibrant markets, there is something for everyone. Here are some of our top picks for shopping in Oakland:

Location Description
Oakland’s Chinatown This bustling neighborhood is home to a plethora of shops, markets, and restaurants. Explore the colorful streets and find unique items like jade jewelry, herbs and spices, and traditional Chinese crafts.
Old Oakland Farmers Market Every Friday, the area around 9th and Broadway transforms into a farmer’s market with locally sourced produce and artisanal products. Grab some fresh fruits and veggies, artisanal cheese, handmade soaps, and more.
1-2-3-4 Go! Records For music lovers, this independent record store is a must-visit. Browse through the extensive selection of vinyl records, cassettes, and CDs, and catch live performances by local bands.
Temescal Alley This charming alleyway in the Temescal neighborhood is home to a variety of unique shops, including artisanal perfumeries, vintage clothing boutiques, and craft cocktail bars.

Whether you’re looking for handmade crafts, vintage clothing, artisanal foods, or rare vinyl, Oakland’s shopping scene has it all. From the lively markets to the quaint boutiques, explore the city’s unique offerings for a shopping experience like no other.

Exploring Oakland’s Surrounding Areas

While there are plenty of things to do within Oakland’s borders, it’s worth taking a day trip to explore the unique attractions in the surrounding areas. Here are some nearby places that are worth checking out:

Day Trips from Oakland

1. Berkeley – Located just across the bay from Oakland, Berkeley is home to the University of California, Berkeley campus and is known for its progressive politics and vibrant arts scene. Visit the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, stroll through the popular Fourth Street shopping district, or hike the trails in the nearby Berkeley hills.

2. Alameda – A charming island city located a short drive from Oakland, Alameda boasts picturesque Victorian architecture, quaint shops and restaurants, and scenic views of the San Francisco Bay. Check out the Alameda Naval Air Museum, explore the beach at Crown Memorial State Beach, or go shopping on Park Street.

Places Near Oakland

1. Wine Country – Just an hour’s drive from Oakland, California’s world-renowned Wine Country offers scenic vineyards, winery tours, and tastings. Take a hot air balloon ride over Napa Valley, indulge in a gourmet meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant, or simply relax and enjoy the stunning views.

2. San Francisco – A short drive or ferry ride from Oakland, San Francisco is a bustling city famous for its iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf. Explore the eclectic neighborhoods, ride a cable car, or take in a show at the historic Orpheum Theatre.

Things to Do Around Oakland

1. Redwood Regional Park – located in nearby Oakland Hills, this park is a popular destination for scenic hikes and picnics amidst towering redwood trees.

2. Lake Chabot Regional Park – located just south of Oakland, this park offers opportunities for hiking, fishing, and boating on the serene lake.

Whether you’re looking for an urban adventure or a peaceful escape into nature, the areas surrounding Oakland offer plenty of options for day trips and excursions.

Best Places to Stay in Oakland

Whether you’re visiting Oakland for business or pleasure, finding the perfect place to stay is important. With so many options available, it can be challenging to choose the right accommodation. But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the best places to stay in Oakland:

Hotel Name Description Price Range
The Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel This luxurious hotel offers breathtaking views of San Francisco Bay and the Oakland Hills. With its elegant rooms, world-class restaurants, and state-of-the-art spa, The Claremont Club & Spa promises a memorable stay. $$$ – $$$$
Waterfront Hotel, a Joie de Vivre hotel Located in the heart of Jack London Square, the Waterfront Hotel offers easy access to some of Oakland’s best attractions. With its modern rooms, beautiful views, and excellent amenities, it’s a great choice for travelers of all ages. $$ – $$$
The Washington Inn This charming boutique hotel is located in the heart of Old Oakland, offering easy access to some of the city’s best restaurants and shops. With its comfortable rooms and friendly staff, The Washington Inn promises a cozy and memorable stay. $$
Motel 6 Oakland – Embarcadero If you’re looking for budget-friendly accommodation, Motel 6 Oakland – Embarcadero is a great choice. With its clean and comfortable rooms, convenient location, and affordable rates, it’s a popular choice for travelers on a budget. $

These are just a few of the many great options for accommodations in Oakland. Depending on your budget, preferences, and travel needs, there are plenty of other hotels, motels, and vacation rentals to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious getaway or a budget-friendly stay, Oakland has something for everyone.

Family-Friendly Activities in Oakland

Are you planning a family vacation to Oakland? There are plenty of things to do in Oakland with kids that will keep everyone entertained and engaged. From outdoor activities to cultural experiences, Oakland has something for every family to enjoy.

1. Oakland Zoo

Located in the beautiful Knowland Park, the Oakland Zoo is home to over 700 native and exotic animals, including elephants, giraffes, and tigers. The zoo also offers exciting experiences like the Outback Adventure, where visitors can pet and feed animals like wallabies and kangaroos.

2. Children’s Fairyland

For over 60 years, Children’s Fairyland has been a beloved institution for families in Oakland. This whimsical park features storybook sets and interactive attractions, including puppet shows, carousel rides, and a petting zoo.

3. Chabot Space and Science Center

If you have budding astronauts or scientists in your family, don’t miss a visit to the Chabot Space and Science Center. This interactive museum features exhibits on space exploration, astronomy, and earth science, as well as a digital planetarium and hands-on activities.

4. Lake Merritt

Take a stroll around Lake Merritt, a picturesque saltwater lake located in the heart of Oakland. The lake is surrounded by parks and gardens, and visitors can rent kayaks, paddle boats, and bicycles to explore the area further.

5. Oakland Aviation Museum

For aviation enthusiasts, the Oakland Aviation Museum is a must-visit. The museum features displays and exhibits on the history of aviation in the Bay Area, as well as vintage aircraft and flight simulators.

With so many family-friendly activities and attractions, Oakland is the perfect destination for your next family vacation. Book your trip today and start exploring!

Sports and Recreation in Oakland

With its mild climate and abundant green spaces, Oakland offers a wealth of recreational opportunities for sports enthusiasts. Whether you’re looking to catch a professional game or engage in outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone.

Root for the Home Team

For sports fans, Oakland is home to several professional sports teams. Catch a baseball game at the Oakland Coliseum with the Oakland Athletics, or watch the Golden State Warriors take on their opponents at Chase Center in nearby San Francisco.

Outdoor Activities

Oakland’s parks and recreation areas offer ample opportunities for outdoor activities. Take a hike through Redwood Regional Park, or enjoy a round of golf at the picturesque Lake Chabot Golf Course. For water enthusiasts, kayaking on Lake Merritt is a popular option.

Indoor Activities

If the weather isn’t conducive to outdoor activities, there are plenty of indoor options as well. Climb the walls at the Bridges Rock Gym, or play a game of indoor soccer at the Bladium Sports & Fitness Club. For a unique experience, try your hand at curling at the Oakland Ice Center.

Overall, Oakland is a city that caters to sports and recreation enthusiasts of all kinds. With a range of options for outdoor and indoor activities, catching a professional game, or trying your hand at a new sport, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Oakland.

Nightlife and Entertainment in Oakland

When the sun goes down, Oakland’s vibrant nightlife and entertainment scene comes alive. From live music and comedy to theater performances and bars, there’s no shortage of things to do in Oakland at night.

Live Music Venues

Oakland boasts an impressive live music scene, with venues like The New Parish, The Fox Theater, and Yoshi’s offering a wide range of performances. The New Parish is known for its eclectic music lineup and lively atmosphere, while The Fox Theater is a historic landmark that hosts popular musicians and acts. Yoshi’s offers a unique blend of Japanese cuisine and jazz music for an unforgettable evening out.

Bars and Clubs

For those seeking a night out on the town, Oakland offers a variety of bars and clubs to choose from. The Alley is a popular speakeasy-style bar with a lively atmosphere and strong drinks, while Make Westing is a trendy spot with a great selection of cocktails and outdoor seating. If you’re looking for a club experience, The Grand and Level 13 are popular options for dancing and live DJ sets.

Theater and Performances

For those looking for a more cultural evening out, Oakland’s theater and performance scene offers a wide range of options. The Paramount Theatre is a historic Art Deco landmark that hosts musicals, ballets, and live performances throughout the year. The Oakland Theater Project and The Flight Deck both offer unique and thought-provoking theater performances.

Movie Theaters

If you’re in the mood for a movie, Oakland has several theaters to choose from. The Grand Lake Theatre is a classic movie palace with a beautiful marquee and a mix of new and classic films. The New Parkway Theater offers a unique experience with couches and tables for dining while you watch your movie, while The New Parkway Speakeasy Cinema offers a sophisticated speakeasy vibe with classic films and cocktails.

Whether you’re in the mood for live music, theater performances, or a night out on the town, Oakland has plenty of options for entertainment and nightlife. So why not grab some friends and experience the vibrant nightlife scene yourself?

Festivals and Events in Oakland

Oakland is a city that loves to celebrate, and there is no shortage of festivals and events throughout the year. Whether you’re a foodie, music lover, or art enthusiast, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. From annual celebrations to unique one-time events, Oakland’s festival and event lineup is always exciting.

Annual Celebrations

One of the biggest annual events in Oakland is the Art + Soul Festival, which takes place every summer in the downtown area. This two-day festival features live music, local art vendors, and delicious food and drink options. Another popular event is the Eat Real Festival, which celebrates all things food and drink. This event brings together local chefs, food trucks, and breweries for a weekend of tasty fun.

Unique Events

In addition to annual celebrations, Oakland also hosts a variety of unique and one-time events throughout the year. For example, the Oakland Greek Festival is a three-day event that celebrates Greek culture with live music, traditional dancing, and delicious food. Additionally, the Oakland Running Festival is a popular event for athletes of all levels, featuring a full marathon, half marathon, and various 5K and 10K races.

Music and Culture

Oakland is home to a thriving music and arts scene, and there are plenty of festivals and events that showcase this aspect of the city. For example, the Oakland Music Festival features local and national acts across various genres, including hip-hop, electronic, and indie rock. The Oakland Pride Parade and Festival is another popular event, celebrating the LGBTQ+ community with live music, performances, and a parade.

The Details

With so many festivals and events to choose from, it’s important to plan ahead and stay up-to-date on what’s happening in Oakland. Check out the Visit Oakland website for a calendar of events, ticket information, and more. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, you won’t want to miss out on the fun and excitement of Oakland’s festivals and events.

Getting Around Oakland

When it comes to exploring Oakland, transportation plays a crucial role in getting around the city. Fortunately, there are various options available for visitors to choose from.

Public Transportation in Oakland

One of the most convenient ways to get around Oakland is by using the city’s public transportation system. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) provides easy access to different parts of the city and the surrounding areas. BART stations are located throughout Oakland, allowing visitors to quickly travel to popular attractions and landmarks.

Another option for public transportation in Oakland is the AC Transit bus system. The bus routes cover most parts of the city, making it easy to explore Oakland’s neighborhoods and attractions. Visitors can purchase day passes or use their Clipper cards to pay for their fares on the AC Transit buses.

Getting Around Oakland by Car

For those who prefer to drive, Oakland has several rental car companies that offer affordable rates. Renting a car is an excellent option for visitors who plan to explore the surrounding areas, as it provides greater flexibility and convenience.

However, it is important to note that parking can be challenging in certain parts of Oakland, especially in popular neighborhoods and downtown. Visitors should be prepared to pay for parking or search for street parking options.

Biking in Oakland

Another option for getting around Oakland is by biking. The city has several bike rental companies that offer affordable rates. Biking is a great way to explore Oakland’s neighborhoods and parks, and it provides a unique perspective on the city’s vibrant culture and scenic beauty.

Additionally, Oakland has an extensive bike lane network, making it easy and safe for visitors to bike around the city. Visitors can also take advantage of bike share programs like Ford GoBike, which offers affordable and convenient bike rentals for short-term use.

In conclusion, with the various transportation options available in Oakland, visitors can easily explore the city and its surroundings. Whether by public transportation, car rental, or biking, getting around Oakland is a seamless and enjoyable experience.


Q: What are the top things to do in Oakland, California?

A: There are plenty of activities to enjoy in Oakland, including exploring vibrant neighborhoods, visiting iconic landmarks, enjoying natural beauty in parks, experiencing the arts and culture scene, indulging in culinary delights, shopping in unique boutiques and markets, and exploring the surrounding areas.

Q: Which neighborhoods in Oakland are worth exploring?

A: Some of the neighborhoods worth exploring in Oakland include Jack London Square, Temescal, and Rockridge. Each neighborhood has its own unique charm and attractions that make them a must-visit.

Q: What are some iconic landmarks in Oakland?

A: Oakland is home to several iconic landmarks, such as the Oakland Museum of California, Lake Merritt, and the USS Potomac. These landmarks are rich in history and culture, offering visitors a unique glimpse into Oakland’s heritage.

Q: Are there any parks in Oakland where I can enjoy nature?

A: Yes, Oakland offers a range of parks and green spaces where you can enjoy nature. Some popular parks include Redwood Regional Park, Joaquin Miller Park, and Tilden Regional Park, which provide opportunities for outdoor activities and picnicking.

Q: What is the arts and culture scene like in Oakland?

A: Oakland has a vibrant arts and culture scene, with attractions like the Oakland Art Murmur, Paramount Theatre, and First Fridays. The city celebrates creativity and offers diverse artistic experiences for visitors to enjoy.

Q: Where can I find the best restaurants in Oakland?

A: Oakland boasts a diverse food scene, with top restaurants like Commis, Pizzaiolo, and Homeroom. Whether you’re craving local cuisine or international flavors, Oakland has something to satisfy every palate.

Q: Are there any unique boutiques and markets in Oakland?

A: Yes, Oakland offers unique boutiques and markets where you can find one-of-a-kind items. Places like Oakland’s Chinatown, Old Oakland Farmers Market, and 1-2-3-4 Go! Records are great options for shopping enthusiasts.

Q: What are some day trip destinations near Oakland?

A: If you want to venture beyond Oakland, nearby destinations like Berkeley, Alameda, and the Wine Country offer a variety of attractions and activities for day trips.

Q: Where are the best places to stay in Oakland?

A: Oakland offers a range of accommodations to suit different preferences and budgets. Options include waterfront hotels, boutique accommodations, and budget-friendly motels, ensuring that you can find the perfect place to stay during your visit.

Q: What are some family-friendly activities in Oakland?

A: Oakland offers a variety of family-friendly activities and attractions, such as the Oakland Zoo, Children’s Fairyland, and Chabot Space and Science Center. These attractions provide memorable experiences for visitors of all ages.

Q: Are there any sports and recreational activities in Oakland?

A: Yes, Oakland offers sports and recreational opportunities, including professional sports teams like the Oakland Athletics and the Golden State Warriors. Outdoor activities like kayaking on Lake Merritt and golfing at Lake Chabot Golf Course are also popular.

Q: What is the nightlife like in Oakland?

A: Oakland has a vibrant nightlife scene, with venues like The New Parish, Yoshi’s, and the Fox Theater offering live music, comedy, and performances for entertainment seekers.

Q: Are there any festivals and events in Oakland?

A: Oakland hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year, including the Oakland Art + Soul Festival, the Eat Real Festival, and the Oakland Pride Parade. These celebrations provide a chance to experience the city’s diverse culture and community spirit.

Q: How can I get around Oakland?

A: Navigating Oakland is easy with its transportation options. You can utilize public transportation, rent cars, or even bike around the city. These resources and tips can help you explore Oakland efficiently.