Oakland
Oakland

Oakland

California, United States
Green energy and Black Power, peace movements and medical marijuana, and of course Alice Waters' local, sustainable, sensational food revolution all started in Oakland and Berkeley. The East Bay's still got funk, punk, and spunk to spare.
Getting Around Oakland
The best way to get around downtown Oakland and Berkeley is by walking and using the BART (subway/metro). Fares are calculated based on distance and generally range from $3-$6. Driving will allow better access to some residential areas.
Nearby Airports
  • San Francisco International Airport-SFO
  • Oakland International Airport-OAK
Airport Taxis
  • $68 from SFO to Downtown Oakland
  • $30 from OAK to Downtown Oakland
  • $85 from SFO to Downtown Berkeley
  • $45 from OAK to Downtown Berkeley
Things to Do and See in Oakland
TemescalEmeryvilleClaremontDowntownJack London SquarePiedmontRockridgeChinatownNorth Berkeley
Just north of Lake Merritt and south of Rockridge, the family-friendly neighborhoods of Piedmont and Temescal seem worlds away from desolate downtown Oakland. Piedmont seceded from Oakland in 1907 and maintains its distinct character, with lanes of single-family bungalows winding through East Bay foothills to hilltop Piedmont Park. Old money blends into the scenery in Piedmont, from historic California Arts and Crafts cottages to hillside Mountain View cemetery, designed by Central Park architect Frederick Law Olmstead. But beyond a few boutiques and restaurants scattered along Highland Ave. and Grand Ave., Piedmont relies on its hip neighbor Temescal for action. Temescal's Piedmont Ave. is lined with trendy restaurants, including Michelin-starred Commis, and its hip Telegraph Ave. shopping hub shows the design influence of California College of the Arts, founded nearby in 1907.
If you're in the East Bay for business, odds are you're headed to the Oakland suburb of Emeryville. The East Bay's most successful enterprises are headquartered here, including Pixar, Peet's Coffee, Clif Bar, and Jamba Juice. Once a Wild West port town with gambling halls and bordellos, Emeryville has gone legit and corporate, with megastores Ikea and Target along Emeryville's I80 exits. Emeryville's Amtrak depot has served as the Bay Area's railway hub since 1989, when the Loma Prieta earthquake damaged Oakland's 16th St. Station (redeveloped as a housing/retail complex). Packed into two square miles of reclaimed marshlands and converted industrial warehouses, Emeryville ends in mudflats and the occasional unauthorized public sculpture along Berkeley's Aquatic Park.
Close to Oakland, the turreted white Claremont hotel stands out among the green Berkeley hills. This quaint and quiet residential side of the college town has mom-and-pop shops, restaurants and cafes for a mellow change of pace. College Avenue connects Elmwood and Rockridge, and looks a movie version of an American Main Street. The clean, pretty street has a mix of restaurants and novelty stores, minus the downtown Berkeley bar hopping scene.
Aside from the massive California oak that's the city's living mascot, signs of life seem scant downtown. The main thoroughfare, Broadway, is lined with splendid but often empty Art Deco facades, including now-shuttered Oaksterdam, California's pioneering medical marijuana dispensary. But scattered along Broadway are major points of Oakland pride, including James Beard Award-winning chef Daniel Patterson's Plum restaurant. At the gloriously restored 1931 Paramount Theatre, the mosaic marquee hosts major comedians (Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld) and R&B acts (Prince, Alicia Keys). Further uptown, Fox Theater is a smaller converted Deco cinema hosting big names from Green Day to President Obama. Oakland's uptown, off-Broadway gallery hub is anchored by Johansson Projects and Creative Growth Art Center—don't miss local first Friday openings and weekly Saturday afternoon strolls coordinated by Oakland Art Murmur.
Down by the Oakland docks, you may hear The Call of the Wild: before Jack London wrote his adventure bestseller, he came here looking for trouble and inspiration. A century later, you can still find both at Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon, which has miraculously survived since 1880. Wolf-print Jack London Path staggers from Heinold's toward the docks and Yoshi's, California's landmark jazz club—though savvy adventurers stay alert around the Amtrak station and parking garages. Flanking the San Francisco ferry dock are waterfront hotels, swanky sunset-view bars and the USS Potomac, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidential yacht during World War II. Come hungry: California bistros are popping up in Jack London Square warehouses and the palm-lined plaza hosts Sunday farmers markets and food festivals.
Just north of Lake Merritt and south of Rockridge, the family-friendly neighborhoods of Piedmont and Temescal seem worlds away from desolate downtown Oakland. Piedmont seceded from Oakland in 1907 and maintains its distinct character, with lanes of single-family bungalows winding through East Bay foothills to hilltop Piedmont Park. Old money blends into the scenery in Piedmont, from historic California Arts and Crafts cottages to hillside Mountain View cemetery, designed by Central Park architect Frederick Law Olmstead. But beyond a few boutiques and restaurants scattered along Highland Ave. and Grand Ave., Piedmont relies on its hip neighbor Temescal for action. Temescal's Piedmont Ave. is lined with trendy restaurants, including Michelin-starred Commis, and its hip Telegraph Ave. shopping hub shows the design influence of California College of the Arts, founded nearby in 1907.
Oakland's swankiest neighborhood cozies up to Berkeley, and invites tech millionaires to come out of their Oakland Hills mansions to play. Right next to Rockridge BART, Rockridge Market Hall offers tantalizing tastes of the good life, including organic produce, locally roasted coffee and sustainable caviar. Wine bars, sidewalk cafés and boutiques line College Ave., which leads to the University of California at Berkeley campus. Beyond Claremont Ave. bistros and old-school butchers is Berkeley's Claremont Resort, a gleaming white, turreted Gold Rush mansion that's been the East Bay's toniest hotel for a century, with palm-framed views of the Bay and a state-of-the-art spa. Beyond its two main thoroughfares, Rockridge is perpetually sunny and sleepy, with 1920s-50s bungalows hiding behind teeming gardens along tree-lined lanes.
The Gold Rush left San Francisco with seedy docks and muddy streets—but just across the bay, 1860s Oakland offered an orderly, elegant alternative. Alongside a snug harbor, tidy streets were soon flanked with Victorian mansions for the nouveau riche. Today downtown skyscrapers abruptly stop just south of Oakland Convention Center, bowing to the stately Victorians and historic brick storefronts of Old Oakland. The city's best happy-hour spots keep a low profile in well-preserved buildings west of Broadway, and the Pardee Home Museum offers tea and tours of an 1869 mansion with Victorian trimmings, from billiards to corsetry. By the 1870s, Chinatown had put down roots east of Broadway, where ramshackle Victorians hunker behind modern storefronts selling authentic Cantonese dim sum, Vietnamese pho, and Cambodian papaya salad.
UC Berkeley may be known for political protests, but North Berkeley started the slow food revolution. Chez Panisse restaurant was founded in 1973 by food activist Alice Waters to offer local, sustainable California cuisine—her radical experiment established America's organic food culture. The area of Shattuck where the restaurant still serves guests is known as the Gourmet Ghetto. The collectively owned and operated Cheeseboard creates a daily seasonal and vegetarian pizza. Nearby Fourth Street is a wide avenue lined with shops, galleries, bookstores and cafés.
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