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Urban adventuring in Oakland

There's always something new to explore in SF's vibrant sister city.

Patio at Oakland's Temescal Brewing.
Patio at Oakland's Temescal Brewing.

Oakland, California, is the ultimate destination for those who love urban adventure. As San Francisco’s sister city, it’s known for its amity, vibrancy, and spunk. Whenever I visit, I always learn something new about what keeps the city’s heart beating loud and clear.

Here’s how to experience the liveliness of the bright side of the Bay.

How to Get There

The easiest and fastest way to get to Oakland from San Diego is by hopping on a plane. Thankfully, Southwest Airlines offers nonstop flights.

If you prefer to drive, pack your bags for an 8-hour road trip.

Where to Stay

Look no further than a room at The Moxy, Oakland’s newest lifestyle hotel.

It’s situated in the middle of the Arts and Entertainment District and surrounded by trendy restaurants, theaters, and art galleries. The Moxy boasts comfortable, well-appointed rooms for solo travelers and families alike.

Upon check-in, enjoy a complimentary beverage at the bar in the open-concept lobby, which has garage doors that retract and encourage guests to mingle. The colorful lounge offers lots of seating options, and the second-floor terrace has ping-pong tables and more space to relax.

Where to Eat and Drink

Café van Kleef - Bar Interior

All settled and in search of something to eat and or drink? Oakland’s best-kept secret is their phenomenal food scene. Treat yourself to cocktails and tapas at Sobre Mesa, a renowned Afro-Latino lounge that truly is a neighborhood gem. Chef Nelson German will take great care of you; he personally checks in with all of his customers.

Alternatively, grab a greyhound (vodka and freshly squeezed grapefruit) at Café van Kleef or savor a beer on Temescal Brewing’s outdoor patio. Beer and carbohydrates are the perfect combination. The best mac n’ cheese of your life can be found at Homeroom, down the street from Temescal Brewing. Homeroom's “tikka mac-sala” is Indian-fusion heaven.

Homeroom - Tikka Mac-sala

I recommend eating breakfast at Daughter’s Diner, but don’t leave without trying their homemade ice cream!

What to Do

Oakland is one of the most walkable cities in the U.S. and is best experienced on foot. Devote a few hours to strolling around downtown/uptown while admiring beautiful murals and Art Deco buildings (especially City Hall, the Tribune Tower, and the Fox Theater).

There are hidden adventures everywhere you turn. Support local businesses by visiting the Grand Lake Farmers Market, Oaktown Spice Shop, and Alkali Rye.

If you’re blessed with a sunny day, check out Lake Merritt and go kayaking or head to Jack London Square and walk along the oceanfront promenade.

Closing Thoughts

Oakland lives up to its “love life” motto and certainly holds its own beside San Francisco. Each neighborhood goes above and beyond to foster a sense of community.

There's much more to explore in the Bay Area, and I can’t wait to return!

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Patio at Oakland's Temescal Brewing.
Patio at Oakland's Temescal Brewing.

Oakland, California, is the ultimate destination for those who love urban adventure. As San Francisco’s sister city, it’s known for its amity, vibrancy, and spunk. Whenever I visit, I always learn something new about what keeps the city’s heart beating loud and clear.

Here’s how to experience the liveliness of the bright side of the Bay.

How to Get There

The easiest and fastest way to get to Oakland from San Diego is by hopping on a plane. Thankfully, Southwest Airlines offers nonstop flights.

If you prefer to drive, pack your bags for an 8-hour road trip.

Where to Stay

Look no further than a room at The Moxy, Oakland’s newest lifestyle hotel.

It’s situated in the middle of the Arts and Entertainment District and surrounded by trendy restaurants, theaters, and art galleries. The Moxy boasts comfortable, well-appointed rooms for solo travelers and families alike.

Upon check-in, enjoy a complimentary beverage at the bar in the open-concept lobby, which has garage doors that retract and encourage guests to mingle. The colorful lounge offers lots of seating options, and the second-floor terrace has ping-pong tables and more space to relax.

Where to Eat and Drink

Café van Kleef - Bar Interior

All settled and in search of something to eat and or drink? Oakland’s best-kept secret is their phenomenal food scene. Treat yourself to cocktails and tapas at Sobre Mesa, a renowned Afro-Latino lounge that truly is a neighborhood gem. Chef Nelson German will take great care of you; he personally checks in with all of his customers.

Alternatively, grab a greyhound (vodka and freshly squeezed grapefruit) at Café van Kleef or savor a beer on Temescal Brewing’s outdoor patio. Beer and carbohydrates are the perfect combination. The best mac n’ cheese of your life can be found at Homeroom, down the street from Temescal Brewing. Homeroom's “tikka mac-sala” is Indian-fusion heaven.

Homeroom - Tikka Mac-sala

I recommend eating breakfast at Daughter’s Diner, but don’t leave without trying their homemade ice cream!

What to Do

Oakland is one of the most walkable cities in the U.S. and is best experienced on foot. Devote a few hours to strolling around downtown/uptown while admiring beautiful murals and Art Deco buildings (especially City Hall, the Tribune Tower, and the Fox Theater).

There are hidden adventures everywhere you turn. Support local businesses by visiting the Grand Lake Farmers Market, Oaktown Spice Shop, and Alkali Rye.

If you’re blessed with a sunny day, check out Lake Merritt and go kayaking or head to Jack London Square and walk along the oceanfront promenade.

Closing Thoughts

Oakland lives up to its “love life” motto and certainly holds its own beside San Francisco. Each neighborhood goes above and beyond to foster a sense of community.

There's much more to explore in the Bay Area, and I can’t wait to return!

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Comments
5

For a very long time, Oakland was seen as a downtrodden, crime-ridden place that was best avoided. Now, this report makes it seem positively great as a tourist destination. But the report fails to mention why the big shift has occurred, if it has. Yes, I've spent time there in the past few years, and Lake Merritt looks good, and there are some 'hoods and eateries that are OK. During the daytime it isn't bad as a walkin' around place that really looks good. Is the reality something that matches the appearance? I'd love to think so, but . . . Anyone else like to comment?

Sept. 27, 2021

Sure, I'll comment. Having spent half my life in the Bay Area, and half my life in Southern CA, I know Oakland very well. Oakland is a somewhat downtrodden, crime-ridden city, and if anything it's gotten worse - just like San Francisco. I wouldn't go as far as saying it's best avoided. There's a lot to see and do, and there are nice areas. During business hours, you'll be fine. At night, be careful.

Oakland is a very walkable city. I've walked from 12th St. BART station to Jack London Square. And Lake Merritt is in a nice area, and always enjoyable.

A lot of good restaurants, and night life. You just have to be careful at night.

And even in the hood (Oakland Coliseum, Oakland Airport, etc.) you'll be fine if you're aware of your surroundings. OPD is everywhere.

I wouldn't live in Oakland, even in the nice areas (Oakland hills, Rockridge, etc.) The crime rate is too high. My friends who live there are happy.

This article is written in a very positive manner, and that's nice. She obviously really enjoyed Oakland -- and that's a good thing when you're travelling.

In general, I LOVE the Bay Area!

Sept. 27, 2021

Thanks for weighing in. Things are not always the way they are reported and perceived. From the standpoint of a potential tourist visitor, you have damned it with faint praise, in that you advise twice to "be careful at night." That's when many/most tourists and other visitors are out and about to dine, dance, and let loose. In spite of your support for the area, you have said enough to keep most of us away. And by the way, the Bay Area has many other communities and cities that don't have a crime rate that is "too high." Oakland isn't representative of the entire Bay Area--neither is SF. Pick and choose and be selective of where you visit, dine, and enjoy the night out.

Sept. 28, 2021

Between the two of us we should be on the lookout for a "loss of revenue" bill from Oakland. The author will receive a $500 gift card.

Sept. 28, 2021

Very amusing. Staying anonymous does have its advantages, I suppose.

Sept. 29, 2021

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