12 hours in Oakland
Taking a day trip to Oakland? Waste no time by following this guide to spending a jam-packed 12 hours in San Francisco’s neighboring city. You won’t regret it.
Fuel up for a full day of activities at Lois the Pie Queen. Their biscuits, fried chicken, and legendary pie will do the trick. Serving breakfast all day, the local eating institution — long run by Lois’ family — can’t be missed out on. Bring cash! If you’re not full from all that southern goodness, grab dessert at Curbside Creamery in neighboring Temescal Alley. If you are full and you’re visiting on a Sunday, then take a walk around Temescal Farmers Market.
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Now that you’ve eaten, you’ve got to see the sights. Visit one of Oakland’s most iconic and beautiful buildings, the historic Fox Theatre. Opened in 1928 and shuttered in 1966, the architectural masterpiece reopened in 2009 as an entertainment venue with Art Deco interior retaining its ornate glamor from the ‘20s. See if you can catch a show while you’re there.
Experience an authentic Venetian gondola ride through the heart-shaped Lake Merritt. You can choose between a 30- or 50-minute ride, invite up to 5 other people, and bring a bottle of wine on board at no additional fee (they provide glassware). They’ve mastered the art of the experience, having been there since 1999, but if you’d rather stay on land, check out the hidden Bonsai Garden.
Lunch: Everett and Jones BBQ or Shan Dong Restaurant
Choose between mouthwatering BBQ or hand-pulled noodles. Everett and Jones BBQ, established in 1974, offers the juiciest pork ribs, beef brisket, and homemade link, all served with potato salad and wheat bread. Shan Dong Restaurant contests such flavors with its handmade noodles, dumplings, and braised soups. We dare you to try their spicy sauces. You can’t go wrong with either choice, so shoot your shot and dig in.
This interactive museum houses the most unique and modern exhibitions on state art, history, and science. You can always expect something to be going on there, so try not to lose track of time. Currently on display is “The World of Charles and Ray Eames,” a collection of over 380 items made by the designer couple. On Friday nights, you can get half-price admissions for live music, food trucks, workshops, and dance performances.
Head to the Merritt College parking lot to catch the most magnificent sight of the sunset in Oakland. This secret spot on Oakland Hills opens up to a panoramic bird’s-eye view of the Bay Area where you can see the city during the day and the city lights and starts after dark. If you’re up for a little more activity, you can find several hiking trails into the undeveloped hills near the back of the parking lots.
Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon was built in 1883 out of the bones of an old whaling ship and has since become the famed “crooked sailor’s bar.” The inside of the bar — decorated with sailor’s caps, pictures, and letters — is actually slanted (from an old earthquake), so much so that you’ll feel like you’re sliding out of your seat. Grab a cup of local beer and hang out by the patio area where you can enjoy a nice view of the Oakland Bay.
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End your day with some good Mexican food and margaritas. Nido’s distinctive menu, made by Chef Jose Ramos, stands out from all the Mexican restaurants in the Bay Area as it incorporates purslane, tatsoi, and other esoteric Californian ingredients in the dishes. Treat yourself to plenty of margaritas and tequila cocktails for a fun, low-key, and fulfilling final meal in Oakland.
Oakland has its fair share of historical sites, architectural landmarks, and delightful eats. Twelve hours is not enough to discover them all. Live in Common MacArthur and our other coliving homes in the Bay Area to fully immerse yourself in all that the city has to offer. Claim your free tour.