Essential Oakland Experiences

I recently wrote a blog post listing some of what I consider to be essential Oakland experiences. I added to that original list some suggestions provided by my blog readers, and now I intend to go through the list and blog about each of these experiences. As I blog about them, I’ll update this page with links to the corresponding blog posts and it will be easy to tell what I’ve done because I’ll mark them in bold and move them to the top of the list.

This list is still in progress so feel free to suggest anything else I should check out.

19 Responses to “Essential Oakland Experiences”

  1. Kathryn Doyle August 13, 2008 at 12:47 pm #

    You may want to check out the list of “100 Things to Do in Oakland” at the Oakland Convention and Visitors Bureau:

    Number 80 on the list is “Trace your family history at the California Genealogical Society.”

    The California Genealogical Society and Library is open and free to the public every first Saturday of each month. We will be sponsoring several free beginning genealogy programs in October – National Family History Month.

    Please visit our blog at – recently honored as one of the best at All Top:

  2. Joan September 17, 2008 at 10:17 am #

    Seeing an African/African Diaspora film at the Parkway. Films made by independent African American filmmakers, films from the African continent and films from other areas of the African Diaspora. It is the longest running series of its kind in the country. Only in the O and only at the Parkway.

    First Sundays of each month, except February. 2 P.M.

  3. annalee allen January 13, 2009 at 4:22 pm #

    May i recommend the city’s free walking tours of downtown? There are three tours coming up, for Black History Month, Jan 24, Feb 7, and Feb 14. Visit for more info. In May we start again with weekly tours, including Chinatown, Jack London Waterfront, Uptown, and more. The hot line number to call is 238-3234

  4. Heavenly April 11, 2009 at 8:01 pm #

    Omg you never walked around Lake Merritt!? When I was going to Laney I always find myself walking around or half way walking around the lake.

    It’s really good exercise, especially after a yoga class. Laney have really good exercise classes and they are affordable.

  5. Quercki M. Singer April 16, 2009 at 5:34 pm #

    Now you will have to add going to a show at the Fox.

  6. Kathryn Doyle April 27, 2009 at 1:35 pm #

    Enjoy the REAL GREEK EXPERIENCE – three days of Greece by the Bay! Fabulous Greek food, drink, music and dance and much, much more.

    Friday, May 15, 2009: 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.
    Saturday, May 16, 2009: 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.
    Sunday, May 17 2009: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. (or come earlier to experience our liturgy service at 10 a.m.)

    FREE ADMISSION for EVERYONE on Friday, May 15 10 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Sunday 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

    Download $1.00 off COUPON at our website.
    Ticket Info: $6.00 for adults, 12 and under FREE

  7. hedera August 6, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    You mention shows at the Paramount but you don’t mention the Paramount Classic Movie series, which is now back on. It’s the best $5 Friday night experience you can get, complete with organ concert, Dec-O-Win, and a cartoon and newsreel, plus seeing the great movies on the big screen. Even if they’ve raised the price, it’s a great deal.

  8. newoaktown December 25, 2009 at 3:34 am #

    i’d add…

    – chinatown eats
    – ethiopian eats
    – lake merritt horticultral garden
    – see show at FOX Oakland
    – clubbing @ somar bar
    – luka’s, mua, for food
    – check out JLS at night (see ships dredging harbor)
    – gondola and pedicab 🙂 rides
    – merritt bakery & restaurant for late night chow
    – giant burger or ahn’s burger for a ‘real big burger’
    – bike around oakland
    – take ACTransit somewhere
    – start your own biz
    – start your own (haha, maybe not) nonprofit
    – eat at fentons or ici
    – see a show at Scottish Rite temple
    – do OPD ridealong
    – google “oakland police foundation”
    – not only attend a neighborhood meeting or do some ‘city repair’ of your own, but attend a city council or committee mtg
    – guerrilla garden city land
    – visit alameda and think “oakland 2020 AD”

  9. newoaktown December 25, 2009 at 3:38 am #

    — and top priority may be LEARN SAILING. your life might depend on it at some point? 😉

  10. B January 18, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    There’s one place most people have never heard about but probably has the best fried prawns and fish in all of Oakland and beyond… trust me, it’s worth it. Go to Number 1 Seafood on 38th and MacArthur, right next to the Ace hardware store. If you like fried fish and prawns you need to go here. Much better than the overpriced seafood place on Telegraph in North Oakland.

  11. Jessica Rothhaar May 22, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

    I’d add:

    * Drink a beer at Heinold’s First & Last Chance Saloon in Jack London Square on a sunny day — the oldest pub in Oakland, and a wonderful landmark for Jack London-iana

    * Spend a lazy summer Saturday at the Grand Lake Farmers Market and strolling along Lakeshore between Peets & Arizmendi — the quintessence of Oakland, a diverse, vibrant community all enjoying each other’s energy.

    * East Bay Open Studios preview at Pro Arts

    * Oakland Museum Society’s annual White Elephant Sale! Everyone I’ve ever taken has loved it, the biggest, best organized city-wide yard sale you’ll ever see.

  12. David Alger June 24, 2010 at 7:01 am #


    How about coming to one of Pan Theater’s improv shows? We’ve been practicing and performing improv in Oakland since February of 2002. We’re currently at 2135 Broadway (yes- we’re on Broadway.) Bring a copy of this post to the show for free admission to any Awkward Face show (


  13. oranckay July 8, 2010 at 1:23 am #

    Hello. Nice stuff. But re this post – have you anything, anything at all to suggest seeing that’s south of Lake Merritt and not in the hills? Anything at all in East Oakland?

  14. kaila August 15, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

    I would add walking in the East Lake Neighborhood (E. 14th and E. 12th near Clinton Park) and also going to the sunday flea market at the laney parking lot.

  15. Hilary June 8, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    Swimming at Lake Temescal! Once the warm weather hits we spend lots of time there.

    Swimming at Mills College pool and Temescal Pool are also favorites.

    And Oakland Parks and rec does “Dive in Movie Nights” at some of the other public pools.

  16. Lyn November 11, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Come and see the landmark 16th Street Train Station in West Oakland. All Aboard II community celebration at the hosted by BRIDGE and RAILS. Sunday, November 13, 2011 from 1 to 4 p.m. Location: 16th and Wood Streets, Oakland. Free admission, station tours, live music, local food trucks and kids’ activities; all ages welcome! More info:

  17. newoaktown February 4, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    visit the wineries and distilleries of oakland or set up your own

  18. Brian Walls September 13, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    I second the Laney flea market on Sundays… we call it “church” because it’s like a ritual for us. I also think Middle Harbor Park is one of the best spots in Oakland. You can watch container ships come and go and see the giant cranes in action. And a picnic at one of the illuminati’s top row tombs at piedmont cemetery!

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