Oakland, California: Highlights of the City

Oakland California skyline.
Oakland California skyline.

Oakland California doesn’t get the same flattering press that some of its neighbors, like San Francisco, do, but there are many good reasons to visit the city made famous by author Jack London.  Though there are some parts of Oakland you should probably avoid visiting, just like in Chicago and Baltimore, it’s quite easy to find desirable places to enjoy time with family without visiting the bad parts.

Start with sports: The city with just 400,000 inhabitants is home to the world champion Golden State Warriors Basketball team.  Oakland’s Oracle Arena gets rocking with a sea of yellow shirts when Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant begin tossing in three-pointers and win game after game. Try to get tickets from a ticker-reseller just before game time.

Don’t miss Lake Merritt during your time in Oakland, California! This lake is recognized as the country’s first official wildlife refuge, surrounded by lush green parkland and urban city neighborhoods.

Lake Merritt, Oakland, California.
Lake Merritt, Oakland, California.

Lake Merritt is a large tidal lagoon that is home to many species and visited by locals and tourists. Inside the lake, artificial islands have been designed as bird sanctuaries. The area also features walking paths and a boating center where canoes, rowboats, and sailboats can be rented out for a day of fun on the water. Lake Merritt is a great place to visit.  There’s even a themed amusement park for children, Children’s Fairyland!

For those more interested in the flora and fauna, check out the beautiful seven-acre collection of themed gardens known as The Gardens at Lake Merritt.

Jack London Square in Oakland, California.
Jack London Square in Oakland, California.

Found on Oakland’s waterfront, Jack London Square is a popular destination named after the world-renowned author, Jack London. This area is popular for entertainment and business, boasting restaurants, stores, hotels, an Amtrak Station, and more!  Every Sunday morning, locals and visitors alike can explore the farmer’s market for some bargains and farm fresh foods.

Tilden Park is a beautiful region in Oakland filled with outdoor adventure. There’s plenty of activities to immerse yourself in including an environmental center, steam train, merry-go-round, and golf course! This 2,000+ acre park is a respite for summer fun.  While you’re there, be sure to check out the botanic garden and swim in the lake.

Afterward, enjoy a picnic in the many seating areas.

The Morcom Rose Garden is a beautiful garden in Oakland featuring intricate paths and walkways, a reflecting pool, cascading fountain, and thousands of roses. This garden is named after Mayor Frank Morcom, known for planting the first rose bush in Oakland in 1933.

This garden has been a sanctuary of peace and tranquility, even serving for special occasions such as weddings. Visiting the Morcom Rose Garden is one of the best romantic things to do in Oakland.

Kids love visiting the Oakland Zoo.
Kids love visiting the Oakland Zoo.

The Oakland Zoo features 650+ native and exotic animals, a wildlife theater, and educational programs. This animal sanctuary covers a hundred acres of modern exhibits and natural habitats. There are also interactive displays for visitors to learn more about the zoo’s inhabitants.

The Oakland Zoo is nationally known for its excellent elephant exhibit, where the grey giants roam freely. Inside the zoo, the Valley Children’s Zoo boasts interactive play structures for children and is home to a range of unusual animals, including ring-tailed lemurs, century-old tortoises, pot-bellied pigs, and bats. The Children’s Zoo also has a modern Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Room and Bug Room, which is a favorite with younger visitors.

Waterfront Hotel, a Joie de Vivre Boutique Hotel

Stay at the Waterfront Hotel, a Joie de Vivre Boutique Hotel to be in the heart of Oakland. Only a two-minute drive from Jack London Square and seven minutes from the Oakland Museum of California, this hotel will put you right in the center of it all. Enjoy one of the 143 air-conditioned rooms featuring docking stations and flat-screen televisions.

Hotel Highlights: Make sure to take advantage of the outdoor pool, sauna, and 24-hour fitness center. Enjoy a meal at the restaurant or snacks in the coffee shop/cafe. Wrap up your day with a drink at the bar/lounge. Continental breakfasts are available for a fee.

At the Hilton Oakland Airport, you’ll be close to the airport and within a five-minute drive of San Francisco Bay. Make yourself at home in one of the 360 air-conditioned rooms featuring docking stations and flat-screen televisions.

Hotel Highlights: Spend some time in the outdoor pool or fitness center. Additional amenities at this hotel include complimentary wireless Internet access, an arcade/game room, and gift shops/newsstands.

Grab a bite at Sports Edition Bar Grill, one of the hotel’s two restaurants, or stay in and take advantage of the room service. Snacks are also available at the coffee shop/café. Wrap up your day with a drink at the bar/lounge. Buffet breakfasts are available daily from 6 AM to 10 AM for a fee.

Interested finding a hotel in Oakland? Check out bonwi.com for more hotels and use your Bonwi points to use during another stay