A Perfect Day in Oakland
I’m feeling an extra-dose of Oakland Pride today — I sure love living here! For the final post in my 3-part series with Uber, I’m going to take you on a little tour of Oakland, and give you a helpful itinerary for your next visit. If you are traveling to the Bay Area, consider taking a break from San Francisco and spending the day across the Bay Bridge. It’s sunny over here!
We used uberX for our entire day of exploring. It made life so easy for us. We could go door-to-door with ease, and didn’t have to deal with finding parking (which can be a big challenge in Oakland), or paying for parking (which can be very expensive in Oakland). Here’s my suggested itinerary for A Perfect Day in Oakland:
8:30 – Classic Breakfast
Start with a lazy breakfast at Sequoia Diner in the Laurel District. The menu is classic diner food, but upscaled and made with super fresh ingredients. Try the Coconut Almond Granola, or the Herb and Goat Cheese Omelet (served with a buttered slice of house made sourdough). Don’t be surprised to find a line out the door for this popular brunch spot, but it’s worth the wait.
And once you put your name down on the waiting list, you can entertain yourself at the charming gift and homewares shop, called Therapy, just two doors down.
10:00 – Redwood Forest Walk
After breakfast, it’s just a 10 min uberX ride to Robert’s Grove.
A gorgeous redwood forest that used to be a major landmark for ships coming into the Bay. It’s where we held Ralph’s Eagle Court of Honor.
As you wander through this quiet and majestic forest, you’ll notice the trees seem to be planted in circles. You can read all about that on a monument you’ll find as you explore.
If you’re with kids, you’ll be glad to hear that Robert’s Grove is part of a larger Robert’s Park that includes a pool set in the redwoods, and a”Barrier Free” wheelchair accessible children’s play ground.
11:30 – Hipster Windowshopping
When you’ve had your fill of the forest, summon another uberX to take you to the hip and hidden Temescal Alleys.
If you’re local, and you don’t know about this place, you may have driven by a dozen times and not even noticed it. Because it’s truly 2 small alleyways hidden off the main road — and lined with some of the most charming shops in town. These are small independent shops featuring local artists and artisans. You’ll find jewelry and housewares and gifts. You’ll find small batch foods and specialty items. You’ll find a barbershop.
1:00 – Lunch Downtown
For lunch, I have 2 options for you. You can walk around the block from Temescal Alley and eat at Bakesale Betty, while standing at ironing boards (so cute!). Or, grab an uberX and head to True Burger on Grand Ave.
This is an Oakland original and a Blair Family favorite. As far as I’m concerned they can do no wrong. Their burgers, their fries, their shakes — all top notch. Bonus: Pickles are self-serve and I can get extra like I prefer. : )
2:00 – Afternoon at the Lake
Half a block from True Burger, you’ll find Lake Merritt. An absolute jewel in downtown Oakland, and also America’s oldest wildlife refuge.
Fun fact: Did you ever see The Incredibles? During the big fight scene at the end — when Dash runs across the lake and Frozone uses the water to slow-up the robot? That whole thing is based on Lake Merritt and the surrounding buildings. In fact, Pixar is based nearby!
There’s a lot to do at Lake Merritt and in the surrounding park. You can rent kayaks or small sailboats. You can take a leisurely walk around the lake — the whole perimeter is about 5k. You can play on the rocks near the waters edge, or observe birds in the sanctuary.
On weekends, you’ll probably hear music being performed at the bandstand. There’s a gorgeous bonsai garden, and several other gardens as well. And if you are with little ones, you’ll LOVE Children’s Fairyland. They say Walt Disney visited Fairyland, and that’s what inspired him to create Disneyland.
4:30 – Sightseeing at Jack London Square
From Lake Merritt, take a short uberX ride to Jack London Square.
If the farmer’s market is going on, I highly recommend picking up a snack for a little lawn picnic. You can also find yummy goods at the happy shops that line the Square (try Miette for sweet treats).
At Jack London Square, you’ll find Jack London’s cabin, you’ll find a gorgeous walk along the docks, and you’ll find great views of the famous Oakland Cranes. If you like, you can rent kayaks and paddle your way through the channel. There are movie theaters and restaurants and lots of fun shopping. And there’s a famous jazz club too.
One of our favorite things to do at Jack London Square? You can catch the ferry to San Francisco. It takes you right by the cranes and under the magnificent Bay Bridge, then drops you at the Ferry Building. It’s a really lovely (and affordable way) to get some time on the water, plus you get GORGEOUS views of the city.
7:00 Dockside Dinner
After you’ve had your fill of exploring Jack London Square, grab a table at one of the waterside restaurants. There are lots of excellent options. Bocanova is one we’ve been to several times. It has indoor seating if it’s chilly, or patio seating that overlooks the boat docks.
What do you think? Does that sound like a lovely, adventurous day? Have you ever been to Oakland? Or wondered what it was like? If you’re an Oakland local, and you were planning your own Perfect Day in Oakland, what would your itinerary include? Anything you would add or subtract from the itinerary I created? And wherever you happen to live, have you ever tried to plan a tourist itinerary for your town? It’s lots of fun, I promise. I think it’s a great exercise for picturing what your city looks like from a visitors’s point of view.