Oakland is the third largest city in the San Francisco bay area and is the busiest port for North California. The diverse area includes hillside scenery, a buzzing metropolis and a picturesque waterfront. This variety gives rise to plenty of things for visitors to do. Outdoor activities like hiking, sailing and biking are enjoyed here as well as the growing entertainment and food scene. Some of the most popular tourist attractions in Oakland are the sports teams in particular the Raiders American football team.
Representing the city’s diverse Asian-American community Chinatown is located in downtown Oakland from Broadway to the southern tip of Lake Meritt. Visitors can explore the rich culture whilst strolling the brightly coloured streets. The weekend is great for affordable shopping and picking up traditional items including native crafts, head pieces and imported teas. The food scene here is really great, restaurants offering fine cuisine and local street food. There are festivals throughout the year, Street Fest, Lunar New Year’s Bazaar and the Spring Banquet are to name a few.
9. Grand Lake theatre
Described as one of the top ten vintage theatres in America the Grand Lake Theatre has won East Bay Express “Best movie theatre” award almost every year. The theatre was opened in 1926 but it wasn’t until 1980 when it was opened as a single screen movie palace. There are four auditoriums today. The main auditorium one and also a 1920’s Egyptian style and a Moorish style auditorium. Movie ticket prices are $6 for matinee showings, $5 on discount Tuesdays and $11 for adults, $6 for kids at any other time. There are also 3D features on show at certain times.
8. Chabot space and science centre
The centre is a great place for the family to learn about science and the universe. The cool interactive activities and hands on exhibits make it a fun way for kids to learn while enjoying themselves. Three telescopes are on the observation deck at the rolling roof observatory which allows access to 180 degrees of the sky. The centre is located within the redwood regional park and there is free parking available here. General admission prices are $18 for adults and $14 for ages three to eleven. Discounts are available.
7. San Francisco bay ferry
Travel across the bay to San Francisco from Oakland and enjoy beautiful views of the area. An inexpensive way to get a tour of the bay area and spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline. The ferry also stops at the Ferry building or fisherman’s wharf. Refreshments are available on board to help passengers relax on their journey whether commuting or sightseeing.The shortest trip is 10 minutes and the longest is 60 minutes. Fares cost from $6.40 for adults and $3.20 for children.
6. Oracle Arena and Coliseum
Oracle arena is home to the Golden State Warriors and is the oldest arena in the NBA. As well as basketball the arena hosts concerts, boxing and wrestling matches, rodeos and other events. The Coliseum is home to the major league baseball team Oakland Athletics and the Raiders football team. Tours of the Coliseum ballpark are available from April to the end of July and cost $12.50 for adults and $9.50 for children. Tours last between 60 and 90 minutes where visitors are shown all levels of the park.
5. Redwood regional park
A few miles over the ridge from downtown the 1,830 acres of park can be found off Redwood road. The area is made up of 150 foot coast redwoods as well as evergreens and grasslands. Wildlife including the rare bald eagle and Alameda striped racer make the park their home. Available here are picnic areas and campsites that can be reserved within the park which is great for groups of friends to enjoy. Fishing, hiking and horseback riding are also popular on the 40 miles of trails. Romantic walks or action packed activities, there is something for everyone here.
4. Oakland zoo
The zoo sits within the 490 acres of Knowland park and looks after over 660 animals. Make your way through the tropical rainforest, around the African savanna and visit wild Australia. Visitors can learn about animal keeping and how the vets keep the animals here healthy. Children can enjoy the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children’s zoo where they can explore and learn. There are live animal encounters too! The zoo is open from 10am to 4pm Admission prices are $17.75 for adults and $13.75 for children, 25 cents from each ticket helps towards conservation in the wild.
3. Lake Merritt
In the centre of the city the heart shaped shoreline of Lake Merritt is nestled. The water and surrounds are home to the oldest designated wildlife refuge in the United States. The circumference of the lake is 3.4 miles which makes it a perfect place for walking and jogging. There is a boating centre where sailboats, canoes and rowboats can be hired, lovely on a warm sunny day on the lake. For kids there’s a fairy tale themed amusement park called children’s fairyland which is great for young children. The area is free to enter however there are charges for permits and hire costs.
2. Jack London Square
Jack London square is one of the best places to visit in Oakland. Located on the shorefront it is a cool place to be and there is something for everyone to do. It is a popular destination for drinking and dining in the city with a range to suit all tastes. There is great shopping, retail stores and summer night markets. There is also a weekly famers market on Sunday mornings where fresh produce is for sale. As well as shopping and eating, the square is a place for recreational activities such as walking or biking along the Oakland/Alameda estuary.
1. Oakland museum of California
This museum is dedicated to the history, art and natural science of California. There are over 1.8 million objects on show to tell the story of California. There are galleries for each of the sections as well as changing exhibits. Today you can see the Pacific worlds and rituals and remembrance exhibits amongst others. On Sundays there are special tours where vistors can learn more about the themes within the galleries. Opening times are between 11am to 5pm Weds and Thurs, 11am to 9pm on Fridays and 10am to 6pm on the weekend. Admissions cost between $6.95 and $15.95.
As you can see there are a range of things to do in Oakland and whatever the weather there will be something to keep you occupied. The best time of year to visit is in the summer months when the temperatures are higher and the rainfall is low. To get around the easiest way is by car due to the great freeway system however the bus and subway services stop at major tourist attractions.