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Is Oakland Worth Visiting?

Is Oakland Worth Visiting?

Is Oakland worth visiting? We share reasons to visit this San Francisco alternative so you can plan your California trip with ease.

Is Oakland Worth Visiting?

is oakland worth visiting

Where is Oakland?

When it comes to the Bay Area, most visitor plans start and end with San Francisco. That’s understandable.

There are countless attractions in the “City by the Bay” and it boasts stunning views, a wonderful diversity of cuisine, and a laid-back atmosphere that has been calling creative types for decades. But there is another city on that same bay – and one that might offer a more down-to-earth Bay Area vibe.

The city across the bay used to be a more rough-and-ready alternative to San Francisco’s tourist gleam. But, although it has retained a more real feel than its ever-more sanitized neighbor, it is quickly becoming one of the more fashionable places to visit in northern California.

With the Raiders and the Golden State Warriors leaving – plus the imminent departure of the Oakland A’s – sports in California will no longer feature a professional major league team from Oakland. But there are still plenty of sports teams representing the city – and much more to do and see besides.

How to Get to San Francisco from Oakland

Let’s this this part out of the way straight away. You can fly directly to Oakland from most international and national destinations these days, so there is no need to base yourself in San Francisco if you are visiting the Bay Area.

But we get it, Frisco has a lot going for it, so even if you make Oakland your main place of interest, you will probably want to head across the water as well.

Getting from Oakland to San Francisco is easy and there are a number of ways you can do it. You could drive, taking the 4.6-mile Bay Bridge, but rush hour jams could be a problem. There is a bus that costs around $6 a day but you could face the same traffic issues.

The ferry is definitely a more scenic and relaxed way of travelling and comes in at around the same price. But the easiest and most reliable is the Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) subway trains which take about 15 minutes and get you to the heart of the city.

The Oakland Museum

Best Things to do in Oakland

Now we have got a short visit to San Francisco out of the way, let’s concentrate on the best things to see in Oakland.

Jack London Square is just south of downtown and gives you a chance to sample some of the best cuisine in the city (more about that later), browse some boutiques, and immerse yourself in the history of the place. It is named after the noted adventurer and writer, after all.

The Oakland Museum is another must-visit in the city. Just a short walk from the southern tip of Lake Merritt, there are 1.9 m million artifacts in the permanent collection, as well as a particularly northern Californian feel to its exhibitions.

If you have children in tow, you may want to schedule in a trip to the zoo, the Chabot Space and Science Center, or even the Children’s Fairyland. You should also know that there is no requirement to actually have children to visit these exciting attractions!

Neighborhoods of Oakland

Visit the Neighborhoods of Oakland

A big part of getting to know any city is to spend time in its diverse neighborhoods. This is how you discover what a place is really like – and what makes it so special. You could start off immediately by exploring the Airport District.

Most city airports are stuck in the middle of nowhere but Oakland’s is just south of the city and is a haven for park lovers as well as aviation buffs visiting the museum. You might also get a chance to watch the A’s if you’re quick.

There’s also one of the oldest Chinatowns in the US, a Korean-inspired neighborhood called KONO, and Old Oakland with its Victorian buildings to take in. Every corner of the city seems to be more fascinating than the last and there is so much diversity that you could spend your entire vacation discovering different places on a mini world tour.

Shopping in Oakland

Not everyone regards a shopping trip as a relaxing way to spend their time. But if you do enjoy a little retail therapy, Oakland has you covered. You will find all the major brands and chains in the city. But try to spread your shopping experience a little wider to take in the huge vintage and upcycled fashion scene that thrives here.

Piedmont Avenue and Rockridge are two areas that specialize in vintage boutiques, and Temescal Alley is a haven for all kinds of interesting places that won’t necessarily dent your budget.

All of these areas also have some amazing restaurants and bars, so if your feet start to ache from pounding the pavement, you can always take a load off and watch Oakland life with a cool drink and a snack instead.

Food and Drink in Oakland

Speaking of food and drink, you didn’t think you could come to such a diverse northern Californian city and not be blown away by the cuisine on offer did you?

If you time your visit right, you could even enjoy the splendor of Oakland Restaurant Week. But we think you’ll enjoy what is on offer, no matter what time of the year you make your trip.

You could go for Michelin-star establishments or food trucks – or even a mixture of the two. But, whatever kind of food you go for, it is going to be memorable.

The taco trucks in Fruitvale are a particular highlight but you could just as easily as opt for one of the fine dining restaurants on Piedmont Avenue, like Pomet. Our recommendation would be to eat in a different neighborhood every day, to sample some of the Cambodian, Caribbean, and other culinary delights Oakland has to offer.

Vegan Specialties

Although we have probably whet your appetite already with the choice of food types available in Oakland, we thought we would help you make a special mental note of the vegan options here. The plant-based scene in Oakland is like nowhere else on the planet – and there is even an Oakland Vegan Trail Map you can download and follow to discover the best in the city.

These restaurants are not for vegans exclusively, so if you want to really enjoy a diverse menu while you holiday in the city, why not give plant-based a go? It’s not as if there is just one type of vegan food anyway. You could have noodles, Creole dishes, burgers, and even some incredible donuts. This is just another aspect of the Oakland food scene that we think you should definitely discover.

Sports in the City Across the Bay

We mentioned earlier the fact that Oakland will soon be saying goodbye to its Major League Baseball team. The departure of the A’s means that there will be no more pro major league teams left in the city. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get your sports fix. You could go and catch the Warriors over in San Francisco if you really wanted. But Oakland has its own teams too.

In true Oakland style, there is a local independent baseball team that plays in the Pioneer League. With no MLB affiliation, the Oakland Ballers (or B’s) play their home games at Laney College and provide America’s pastime like it used to be.

Oakland Roots provides the best soccer in the region, with a creative and community spirit to go along with the game. The Roots play at CSU’s Pioneer Stadium and will change your mind about how a soccer club should be run.

This is the main thought we want you to take away from this guide. San Francisco may be under five miles away – and have a lot of attractions of its own – but don’t forget about Oakland.

Oakland is a fascinating, thriving city that revels in its diversity. If you want to know what the Bay Area is really like, you should definitely spend some time on the east side of the bridge.

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