9 Best Things To Do in Oakland in 2022
Oakland is a short jaunt from the San Francisco Bay area, but it’s not just a means to visit that metropolis; Oakland is a worthwhile place to visit in and of itself. This historic city is a multicultural hub filled with friendly people, delicious restaurants, and amazing attractions.
If you’ve never been to Oakland before, it can be tough to know where to start. Should you check out Broadway or an Old Oakland farmers market? What about Oakland’s famous Chinatown, the historic Fox Theater, or catching a game at the Coliseum?
And how will you get around? Should you take the BART or get a rental?
We’ve got you covered! Read on to learn the nine best things to do in Oakland the next time you visit.
1. Check Out Lake Merritt
You can’t skip Lake Merritt if you visit Oakland. Specifically, you’ll want to visit Lakeside Park: a seven-acre space that includes a bonsai garden and a sensory garden with beautifully fragrant plants like lavender, rosemary, and oregano. There’s even an edible garden that includes educational resources to show you how to grow your own organic vegetables.
2. Visit the Oakland Museum
Museum-minded tourists will want to check out the Oakland Museum of California: a California-focused institution that features quality art galleries and exhibits in the natural sciences. This is also an excellent museum because it focuses on events and artifacts of Oakland’s community, specifically its social justice movements and political activist events.
All tourists can check out the Friday Nights at OMCA event, which opens every Friday night from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. It’s a smart combination of museum exhibits and classic entertainment.
3. Tour the Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park
Oakland is home to a variety of natural wonders, including the Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park. Originally cleared for its forest timber in the mid-1800s, this small but pristine redwood forest in the East Bay area has been reopened as a public park, and its trees have been regenerated to showcase their splendor once again.
The Regional Park is located just a few miles away from downtown Oakland. Take public transportation or hike out to enjoy its equestrian, hiking, and cycling trails. It’s a great place to enjoy the weather, see some cute critters, and take photos.
On warm days, you’ll find that the coastal redwood trees offer plenty of shelter from the scorching sun. Of course, you can also bring a meal for one of the dedicated picnic areas or set up shop for overnight camping if you prefer an extended stay in nature.
4. Enjoy an Afternoon at the Oakland Zoo
Oakland, like many of the surrounding metro areas, has its own zoo. Hidden inside the Knowland Park, the Oakland Zoo has over 850 species — many native and some exotic — that reside in expertly recreated natural habitats like tropical rain forests and African savannahs.
It’s a family-friendly attraction that offers many captivating attractions and a few kid-focused attractions, such as a petting zoo. On top of that, the zoo offers a ridable train that goes through its center, allowing parents to take their kids on a quick tour of the zoo before hopping off to see individual exhibits up close and personal.
5. Grab a Bite at Popular Dining Options
Luckily, there are plenty of delicious eateries to patronize throughout Oakland. For example, the It’s All Good Bakery serves is both the place to be if you want tasty cakes and cookies and the original office location for the Black Panther Party.
For more hearty meals, Everett and Jones is a great soul food joint that offers Southern-style barbecue and plenty of live music events. Or you can try Pizzaiolo, a specialty restaurant that crafts delicious Italian cuisine and wood fire oven-baked pizzas.
Then there’s the Lake Chalet restaurant, found at Lake Merritt as mentioned above. This dining destination delivers delicious California cuisine and has plenty of great waterfront views. From time to time, the restaurant hosts live music concerts on the dock.
Other options include the area’s numerous food trucks and breweries, which can be found at Grand Lake, Joaquin Miller Park, and elsewhere around the city.
6. Fly High at the Chabot Space and Science Center
The Chabot Space and Science Center is a remarkable attraction you can find in the Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park. This museum showcases dazzling displays and exhibits about the solar system and Earth.
It’s also a great place to take future scientists if your kids have an interest in astronomy and geology. With fully interactive laboratories and telescopes, kids and adults alike will have a great time checking out images of outer space.
You can also enjoy the view from 1500 feet above sea level at the Observation Deck. With three distinct telescopes, it’s the perfect place to enjoy the evening sky. Don’t forget to check out the planetarium, either!
7. Enjoy Oakland’s Many Festivals
Oakland is a distinct melting pot and home to many unique cultures. That means you’d be smart to come during one of the many festivals that crop up throughout the year. For example, the Oakland Art Murmur is a gallery walk held each month on the first Friday. It includes pieces from over 30 galleries in the area.
Or you can check out the Temescal Street Fair: a lively event that includes street food, artistic displays, and live music. And don’t forget the Laurel Street Fair World Music Festival, which hosts an international celebration of cuisine, dance styles, music, and art each August.
8. Walk Around Jack London Square
Jack London Square is an appropriately maritime destination with a waterfront setting. Located at the Oakland estuary, it’s a historic neighborhood that once played host to the American author Jack London, who reportedly worked at the Oakland port docks.
More importantly, this beautiful area is a great tourist destination with lots of places to grab food and a waterfront trail for strolling. Nearby, you can check out the USS Potomac, an old vessel that served as the presidential yacht for Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934 and 1935. Now, of course, it’s the subject of many sightseeing opportunities and dockside tours, plus home to lunchtime history cruises and even kayaking.
9. Take the Kids to Children’s Fairyland
What if you’ve got kids on your trip to Oakland? In that case, you should check out the Children’s Fairyland: a storybook-themed local amusement park close to Lake Merritt.
Since 1950, this amusement park has offered engaging attractions centered around old fairytales. Some stories even suggest that Disneyland was inspired by Children’s Fairyland in Oakland.
Here, you can find not only puppeteers and play areas but also rides to entertain your children for hours on end. All in all, this is a great place to go as a family if you want a “daycation” destination.
Rent With Advantage Rent-a-Car
We’re just scratching the surface of what this northern California city has to offer. Other popular destinations include the Oakland Aviation Museum, the Mountain View Cemetery, and Morcom Rose Garden.
Some visitors will enjoy walking tours, from uptown destinations to the famous mural on Telegraph Avenue. You can also walk over the Bay Bridge, check out the Oakland Hills, or just head to the city center. From the minute you land at Oakland International Airport, the city has no shortage of things to experience.
If you’re visiting Oakland for the first time, note that it’s pretty easy to get around town with public transportation options, Uber, or even biking. But if you want to take destination travel time into your own hands, we’d recommend a quality rental vehicle.
Whether you prefer an SUV, truck, or something else, Advantage Rent-a-Car gives you the freedom and flexibility to see anything and everything you want to in Oakland on your own schedule. Check out our diverse fleet today, or contact a local office for rental rates.
Explore the Black Panther Party’s History in Oakland, CA | Visitoakland.com
Children’s Fairyland | The New York Times
Dr. Aurelia Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park | EBparks.org