“Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.”
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.