Essential Oakland Experiences

8 May

Over the past week or so, I’ve started to realize that there are a lot of amazing things in Oakland that I haven’t experienced (and probably an equal amount that I have). With life as hectic as it is, I really don’t think I’ll get to most of these experiences anytime soon unless I make a list and commit to it.

I’ve already done some of these things/been to some of these places, but I plan to do them all over again and hope to make it through the majority of the list by the end of 2008. I’ll try to blog about all of them here. So here’s the list (in no particular order):

  • Checking out galleries at the Oakland Art Murmur
  • Seeing a movie on a couch at the Parkway Theater
  • Going to one of the farmers markets (Temescal, Lake Merritt, Jack London, etc.)
  • Seeing the sun set (or rise) over the shipping cranes
  • Seeing a show at the Paramount Theatre
  • Visiting the Oakland Rose Garden
  • Visiting the Oakland Zoo (I have mixed feelings about zoos, but I’ll put those aside for now.)
  • Visiting the Oakland Museum of California
  • Sitting through an Oakland City Council meeting
  • Visiting the Chabot Space and Science Center
  • Walking through various neighborhoods/business districts
    • Rockridge
    • Temescal
    • Uptown
    • Piedmont
    • Old Oakland
    • Jack London Square
    • Lakeshore
    • Park Ave
    • Fruitvale
  • Walking around Lake Merritt (believe it or not, I’ve never done this)
  • Going to an event at the Historic Sweet’s Ballroom
  • Going on one of the Oakland walking tours
  • Attending a neighborhood group meeting or forum
  • Seeing a show at Yoshi’s
  • Having a picnic in Joaquin Miller Park
  • Going hiking somewhere in the Oakland hills
  • Visiting Children’s Fairyland
  • Going to a fire arts event at the Crucible
  • Going to a neighborhood street fair

I’m sure I missed a lot so I’d love some help filling in this list. (Keep in mind that I purposefully kept restaurants off this list because the list would go on and on if I hadn’t.)

10 Responses to “Essential Oakland Experiences”

  1. Brick May 8, 2008 at 7:21 pm #

    When you go to Children’s Fairyland make sure to take a kid with you. I tried to go some years back when they featured the Androcles and the Lion puppet show, and they wouldn’t let me in without a child in tow. Fair warning.

    I look forward to reading about your experiences in all the places you visit.

    If you’ve not done so yet, I also recommend Shakespeare in the Park when they come to Lake Merritt, any of the Oaklandish Capture the Flag games, and boating on Lake Merritt. All of these are to me, particularly wonderful Oakland experiences.



    • Stephanie August 13, 2009 at 12:31 pm #

      I attempted to re-create a childhood memory and visit on Easter. No luck. No kiddies, no entrance. Oh, I was so disappointed.

      I was stunned to see Sweets Ballroom was open again. My Grandmother would take me on Sat. nights in the early 60’s. She was a champion fox trot dancer. I beleive the name of her dance group was The Smoothies. Such wonderful memories.

  2. Eric May 8, 2008 at 9:25 pm #

    Another great one to add will be seeing a show at the Fox Theater!

  3. V Smoothe May 9, 2008 at 12:39 am #

    This is a great list. Two of my favorite places to enjoy Oakland are the roof garden on top of the Kaiser Center garage, where I love to take a sandwich and a book for lunch, and Middle Harbor Park (conveniently served by the bus line 13), where you can enjoy beautifully manicured green space and gaze at container cranes at the same time.

  4. Becks May 9, 2008 at 9:00 am #

    Thanks for the suggestions!

    Eric – I had included the Fox at first, but, well, I guess I’m not very confident that it will open anytime soon considering the trend in downtown Oakland.

    I’ve never heard of Middle Harbor Park and will have to check it out. I’ve been hoping to take a friend’s nice camera down to the water so I can get a new picture for my blog.

  5. Kemi May 10, 2008 at 10:19 am #

    I love your list and I am happy to see I have done quite a bit of the things on there. What I’m looking forward to doing that I have not done yet is “Having a picnic in Joaquin Miller Park” and “Going hiking somewhere in the Oakland hills”. I live just off lake merritt. I did a couple of picnics on the lake in the clearing behind the blue boat house, but would like to picninc at Joaquin as well as hike. I’ve only ever hiked twice in California, once at Mt Tam and the other at Big Sur. I know absolutely nothing about Joaquin and would love to explore. Thanks for this posting. It reminds me to add this to my list of things to do in Oakland this summer. The list so far includes visiting the Chabot, and ironically picnicking. And now, hiking….

  6. Becks May 11, 2008 at 6:59 pm #

    Thanks Kemi. I don’t get to go up to Joaquin Miller that often, especially now that I’m carless, but it’s one of my favorite places in Oakland. It’s so gorgeous on a sunny day and I’ve been to two beautiful weddings there so I always have fond memories when I return.

    My jaw dropped a bit when I saw that you’d only been hiking twice in California. There’s tons of great places to hike in the greater Bay Area! I’m not as familiar with Oakland hiking but I know Tilden in Berkeley fairly well. My favorite place hands down to go hiking is up in Guerneville, though Headlands in Marin comes in a close second. And the Santa Cruz area has dozens of beautiful places to hike. Then there’s Point Reyes… really, I could go on and on. Can you tell I like the outdoors?

  7. V Smoothe May 12, 2008 at 11:16 pm #

    Middle Harbor Park is the best! I cannot recommend visiting more highly. It’s huge, beautiful, right on the Bay, and surrounded by cranes. Absolutely one of the highlights of Oakland for me.

  8. montclairoak May 13, 2008 at 7:54 pm #

    Greetings from Montclair, which is where we all know about the local hiking at the top of the hill (Skyline Blvd). The best start is Sibley, one of the East Bay Regional Park gems. That’s because it is a volcano, its easy and you get amazing views. After that one, go to Redwoods which is also nearby and devour the trees. This is particularly great when its hot outside.

  9. MoonSinger May 27, 2008 at 8:42 pm #

    How about a musical at Woodminster in Joaquin Miller Park?

    Have you been to the organ concert before the show at the Grand Lake theatre? I think it is Fridays and Saturdays.

    You could come hear Women and Song sing at the Chapel of the Chimes Mausoleum at 2 pm, Saturday, June 7, 2008. Free. It’s at the top of Piedmont Avenue just before the cemetery gates. Where else can you hear a Pagan choir sing in a Julia Morgan designed columbarium but Oakland?

    Touring the Mountain View cemetery is good too. (In Oakland at the top of Piedmont Avenue.) It was designed by Frederic Law Olmstead, who also designed Central Park in New York. The tour is good, or you can get the self-guided tour map. You’ve missed the Tulip Festival for 2008. One of my favorite memories is when the Victorian re-creation group showed up in full costumes for a “mourning event.”

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