Oakland travel information
OAKLAND is one of the busiest industrial ports on the West Coast. 10 miles E of San Francisco, Oakland is very different from its sister city across the bay. Originally it was made up of only a few ranches and farms, but it developed very quickly after the last mile of transcontinental railroad track was laid down and when major shipping ports appeared.
Oakland's reputation as a predominantly working-class city has faded in the past few years as the city has experienced a rush of new residents and businesses that made it more crowded and expensive and now its future seems more promising.
The majority of Oakland residents are proud of their city especially of neighborhoods like: Rockridge, Piedmont Avenue, and the lively Grand Avenue, and see it as a terrific travel destination.
The climate is often sunny and mild when San Francisco is cold and dreary, and there's great hiking in the redwood-and eucalyptus-covered hills above the city.
A half-mile north up Broadway from the waterfront downtown Oakland lies between Grand Avenue on the north, I-980 on the west, Inner Harbor on the south, and Lake Merritt on the east. Between these landmarks are the massive green space of Frank Ogawa Plaza that offers a good place for people-watching, the City Hall, the Oakland Museum, Jack London Square, and several other sights.
Jack London Square, an aseptic collection of national chains that have nothing to do with the writer, is the place where you'll find a tiny bar built in 1883 called Last Chance Saloon. Here London did some of his writing and most of his drinking; the corner table he used has remained exactly as it was nearly a century ago and the collection of yellowed portraits of him on the wall are the only genuine thing about the writer you'll find on the square. The square fronts the harbor, housing a complex of boutiques and eateries as well as a more locals-friendly farmers market. You can listen to live jazz at Yoshi's World Class Jazz House & Japanese Restaurant which serves some fine sushi.
Along with Jack London Square, the lakes and parks are Oakland's main tourist attraction. Children, and not only, will enjoy Lake Merritt which is a wildlife refuge that is home to flocks of migrating ducks, herons, and geese. If you want to picnic, feed the ducks, and escape the fog, surrounds the lake, the 122-acre Lakeside Park is the place. For more active people the Municipal Boathousein Lakeside Park offers the possibility to rent sailboats, rowboats, pedal boats, canoes, or kayaks. A wonderful romantic atmosphere is offered by experienced gondoliers that will serenade you as you glide across the lake. Once home to the "Poet of the Sierras," Joaquin Miller, the park that bears its name is the most easily accessible of Oakland's hilltop parks.
If you enjoy entertainment indoors go to Oakland's Paramount Theatre. Built in 1931, it's the city's main performing-arts center, an outstanding National Historic Landmark and an example of Art Deco architecture.
Whether you like action on water, strolling along the waterfront and beautiful parks or enjoy the performances at the fantastic Oakland Paramount Theatre, they're all great reasons to spend your time exploring one of California's largest and most ethnically diverse cities.