Oakland, California | 5 Things To Do In This Bay Area City!

Fox Theater Oakland

Oakland had a very bad rap for a long time. Six years ago on my way up to Canada, I stayed with one of my friends was living on the border of Oakland and Emeryville. I have spent a lot more time in Oakland since then and become more enamoured. I decided to share a few places I think that you should visit if you’re taking a trip to San Francisco or the Bay Area so you can see for yourself.





  • Flights: Find a cheap flight using Skyscanner or Momondo. I like these two booking sites because they both search all websites and airlines around the globe including budget airlines.


  • Accommodations: I use Booking.com or Tripadvisor to find the best rates on hotels. Hotels.com offers a free night after booking 10 nights.
  • Get up to $40 off your first Air Bnb stay by using this code!


  • Travel Insurance: Having gotten sick on my travels in the past, I never travel without being insured. You never know when something may happen. For my round the world trip and extended long-term travel, I use World Nomads. For other trips, I have used Roam Right and they cover activities like extreme sports.
Things To Do In Oakland #1 – Drink Coffee at Blue Bottle

If you’re a bit of a coffee hound like myself, head over to Blue Bottle which is an Oakland-based company. I really enjoy their New Orleans-style iced coffee. If you’re really into coffee, check their website here for cuppings and how to brew classes!

Blue Bottle Oakland

Blue Bottle

Book the best rates for your Oakland hotel with cancellation policy!


Things To Do In Oakland #2 – Eat Eat Eat Eat Eat 

Whenever I’m in the Bay Area, I sneak in a quick visit to Oakland to eat. I’m pretty obsessed with some of the restaurants in the area. I love the young entrepreneurial chefs who have opened places around town.

Here are a few of my favourites and recommendations:


After spending some time in the Basque region in Spain, I became obsessed with pintxos and Basque food. Duende gives you a taste of Spain. I actually just went to their “Bodega” next door and grabbed a tortilla or Spanish omelet and a cortado. The bodega is also a market and wine bar.


Spanish omelet at Duende

Hawker Fare

Hawker Fare is a Thai eatery opened by Chef James Syhabout, who also owns one Michelin-starred Commis. Don’t worry, Hawker Fare won’t break the bank with its delicious rice bowls and comfort Thai food. I love places like this and was happy to see that they also opened a location in San Francisco.

Hawker Fare

Thai iced tea of course

Hawker Fare

Blistered green beans

Hawker Fare Oakland

BBQ pork chop

Hawker Fare

Fried chicken rice bowl

Jules Thin Crust Pizza

I originally planned to eat at Ramen Shop one night. I had driven all the way from northern California and was set on a bowl of noodles. Sadly it was Tuesday and was closed. By then I was too hungry and lazy to try and find something else so I walked down the block and found Jules. It was actually pretty good.

Jules Thin Crust Pizza Oakland

Smitten Ice Cream

Smitten is made to order ice cream. You line up, order from the menu and they make it with liquid nitrogen from fresh ingredients right in front of your face. I love ice cream so this is my heaven.

Smitten Ice Cream Oakland

Mint chip ice cream

Other eats – Places I really want to try but have not yet

Brown Sugar Kitchen – Locally grown, organic and seasonal soul food. I heard the lines are long but a friend who lives across the road said it’s awesome.

Commis – Chef James Syhabout’s one star Michelin prix fixe restaurant

Ramen Shop – I have heard its good from Bay Area friends and was sad I went on a Tuesday and they are closed on Tuesday nights. Womp womp.

Shan Dong – Dumplings, noodles, dim sum, yes, please.

Air Bnb

Things To Do In Oakland #3 – Visit Lake Merrit

Walk, jog or cycle around this 3.4-mile lake and oldest wildlife refuge in the country. If you love gardens check out the rose garden or bonsai garden. With kids? Visit the splash pad or water park where the weekly farmers market is also held.

Lake Merrit Oakland

Lake Merrit, photo courtesy of Flickr

Things To Do In Oakland #4 – Visit Temescal Alley

Temescal Alley is a cute little shopping district of well-curated locally owned businesses and boutiques. The 18 shops are housed in what used to be horse stalls for horse-drawn trolleys.

Temescal Alley

Temescal Alley

Temescal Alley Oakland

Crimson was a super cool shop that sold botanicals as well as pottery and home goods

Temescal Alley

Loved the succulents at Crimson

Temescal Alley

Homestead Apothecary

Doughnut Dolly

Omg Doughnut Dolly! Handmade doughnuts that are filled with yummy goodness!

Doughnut Dolly

I had to have one!

Things To Do In Oakland #5 – See a show at Fox Theater

Fox Theater was originally a movie house until 1962 and then fell into disrepair. After a huge renovation, it was reopened in 2009 and now hosts live shows.

Fox Theater Oakland

Bonus! Events Worth Checking Out:

Off The Grid – Friday nights

Off the grid is a food truck festival that happens every week in the Bay Area. I went to one at Presidio Park in San Francisco and ate delicious food and had a great time with my friends. The Oakland Off The Grid is definitely on my next time list.

Oakland Art Murmur – Art walk on the first Friday of every month

I popped by artists setting up for Oakland’s monthly free art walk. A lot of great exhibits and spaces to visit here. If you love going to art shows and the like and it happens to be the start of the month, visit Art Murmur.

Have you been to Oakland? What are your favourite things to do?


5 Things To Do In Oakland

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