Colorful murals, art walks, open studios for local artists,great shopping, nearly every kind of food imaginable (have you had Burmese cuisine?). Welcome to Oakland. There’s more to Oakland than the violent city portrayed in the media.
24 hours in Oakland isn’t nearly enough time to fully explore the city but if that’s all you have, here’s a taste of what you should do.
Breakfast/brunch are BIG events here in Oakland, though you’d better prepare to wait a bit for the good stuff. To start off your morning head over to 43rd and Telegraph to Aunt Mary’s Cafe. As you approach you’ll see the orange and blue building. Is there a crowd? Yes? That’s it.
Aunt Mary’s Cafe has a soul food, southern influence. If you are a fan of french toast go for the Pain Perdue. It’s one of their signature dishes: sliced baguettes soaked in a whisky custard, baked and topped with a wine compote. It’s calorie free. I swear.
Once you’ve been rolled out of Aunt Mary’s head up to Lake Merritt. You’re going to walk breakfast off. Lake Merritt is a large tidal lagoon in the middle of Downtown Oakland. It’s the United State’s first official wildlife refuge, designated in 1870. There is a walk/run/bike path around the entire lake, fabulous for people watching as you stretch your legs. Put on some tunes and take a leisurely stroll around the 3.5 mile path. As you walk you’ll see Children’s Fairyland (a fairy themed amusement park), boat docks, man-made bird islands and more. The entire perimeter is almost 3.5 miles so break off whenever you feel ready.
Next, head over to the Oakland Museum of California (closed Monday and Tuesday). The Oakland Museum is one of the lesser known museums around even though it’s been in existence for over 40 years. Inside you’ll find exhibits that showcase the history and art of California. A favorite exhibit this year is “Inspiration Points: Masterpieces of California Landscape” an exhibit that showcases California landscape art. Works by Ansel Adams, David Hockney, Imogen Cunningham and many more are included in this exhibit.
When you’re done at the museum make your way over to Jack London Square for a late lunch.
Jack London Square lies along the Oakland Estuary in downtown Oakland. One of the restaurants I love here is Bocanova. It’s food is Central/South America cuisine (ceviche anyone?). They also have an extensive cocktail menu if you are so inclined. Ask for an outdoor table, put your feet up and relax.
You’ll be right in front of the yacht harbor and the extensive pedestrian walkway so you can get your people watching and boat lust on. Walk the path after lunch.Check out the boats (a few are for sale), and breath in that fresh bay air.
Next, you’re going to go shopping! Drive over to the Rockridge district in North Oakland. The neighborhood for an eclectic mix of antique shops, boutiques, spas and more. With all the walking you’ve been doing, pop into Tootsies, a cute shoe boutique that also offers pedicures! Rockridge is one of the higher end areas of Oakland and the prices reflect it. Hey, window shopping is always a good idea.
Once you’ve shopped yourself into an appetite, make your way over to A’ Cote. A’ Cote is a Mediterranean tapas style restaurant. The mussels and fries are always hits here. Again, due to the area it is on the pricier side. For something a bit more reasonable you can also go to Soi 4 (a trendy little Thai place on college), or even Zachary’s Pizza if you have a craving for deep dish pizza.
To round out the evening, get your groove on at Luka’s Taproom on 27th and Grand. Luka’s (named after the owner’s late dog Luka) doubles as a restaurant and nightclub. DJs play an array of music that gets you in the mood to dance! If you aren’t up for dancing (you’re still full, huh?), catch a show at the beautifully remodeled Fox Theatre down the street. Originally opening as a movie theater in 1928, the Fox is now a 2,800 seat concert hall and also houses the Oakland School for the Arts.
If you walk out onto the evening street after the dancing or the show, and you feel pleasantly full and excited for more exploration (and food!) the next day there is plenty more to do. This is only a taste of what Oakland has to offer!