I didn’t know much about Oakland, CA before we took our vacation to the Bay Area, but it had always interested me. Sure everyone visits, San Francisco, but what is Oakland, CA all about? I put together an Oakland City Guide, just for you! These are a few of the things we did in Oakland, that I would highly recommend.
Not only had I never heard of the Oakland Museum of CA before, but I had no idea just how large it was! They have it split up by category: history, science and art. They also have a rotating exhibit that just so happened to be about Ray and Charles Eames (husband and wife designers, probably most well-known for their chair designs.) Obviously that exhibit was my favorite. I literally could have spent our entire vacation in this exhibit.
They also have a really great gift shop, where I got a cute Oakland T-shirt.
The rest of the museum was pretty cool too. They had some modern art exhibits, as well as an entire photography room that had prints from famous people (like Ansel Adams), and old film cameras.
The history section of the museum was laid out chronologically, starting with Native American history, all the way through present day, focusing on the history of what is now the state of California. I learned a lot about the history of CA!
The Museum was perfect for a rainy day. We saved our trip here for the day we knew was going to rain. As we were walking from the BART station to the museum, it didn’t really seem like it was going to rain after all. Then, right as we walked under the covered area of the museum’s outdoor space, it started down-pouring. Talk about timing!
Jack London Square
This was a really cool area of Oakland. It’s most definitely the trendy, hang-out spot. It’s right along the water front, and has a lot of pedestrian only paths, with shops and restaurants. When we went, it wasn’t very busy, so it was nice and relaxing to sit on a bench and stare out into the harbor.
If you do one thing from my Oakland City Guide, this is the thing to do. There are so many things to do at Jack London Square – there’s easily something for everyone here.
Since we went in December, they had a giant Christmas tree set up in front of the palm trees. As a Minnesotan, it’s still weird for me to think about celebrating Christmas in a place that has palm trees and no snow.
After walking around for a while, we stopped for lunch at Belcampo. They are a restaurant and butcher shop, right in Jack London Square, pretty close to the waterfront. All of the meat they serve comes from their own farm, which is certified organic, certified humane and grass-fed. I had the burger, and it was hands down one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten in my life. They’re even decently priced for being in the Bay Area.
Walk Around Lake Merritt
After lunch, we headed over to Lake Merrit, a lake right in the middle of Oakland. Reminded me a lot of the chain of lakes here in Minneapolis, but with a more California vibe of course.
Look for Street Art
Just from walking between the other places we visited and the BART, we found plenty of interesting and unique art along the way. There are some guides out there if you want to make a day out of it, or you can simply keep an eye out for colorful art as you walk to your destinations.
Depending on your itinerary when you’re the Bay Area, you could easily do all of this in one day. It’s all relatively close to each other and easy to get to by public transit. I also wish we would have had the time to check out Chinatown in Oakland. Hey, maybe next time, right?!
Overall, I had a lot of fun in Oakland. I liked how walk-able the area we visited was. There were so many things to see and do. I’ll definitely visit again next time I’m in the area. Hope you enjoyed my Oakland City Guide.
Have you ever been to Oakland before? What were your favorite areas?
*Special shout out to Visit Oakland, for providing us with free museum passes and some cool swag. As always, all opinions are my own.