Explore Oakland, CA, where historic charm meets modern culture. From diverse neighborhoods to iconic landmarks, the city offers unique experiences at every turn.

Nestled in the heart of the Bay Area, Oakland, CA, is a city bursting with creativity and diversity. From the vibrant street art and eclectic music scene to the delicious food and bustling farmers markets, there’s always something new to discover in this dynamic city.

Whether you’re searching for apartments in Oakland, homes for sale, or even rental houses in the Oakland area, this Redfin article will be your guide. Additionally, locals will likely find some hidden gems to explore in their beloved city. Here is Redfin’s list of the top 17 things to do in Oakland, CA, for both newcomers and long-time locals alike.

1. Visit one of Oakland’s lakes

Between Lake Merritt and Lake Temescal, there’s plenty of exploring to be done in Oakland. Lake Merritt is a beautiful urban lake located in the heart of Oakland. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll around the lake, rent a paddleboat, or have a picnic in one of the many designated areas. The lake is also home to a variety of bird species, making it a great spot for birdwatching.

If that doesn’t sound appealing, take direct advice from a local and explore Lake Temescal. “I would recommend checking out Lake Temescal, it’s a family-friendly reservoir that’s very convenient to get to and park,” shares Leon from Piedmont Family Spa. “Activities include jogging, summer swimming, picnic, fishing, and there is a club house to charter events. Also check out the nearby Grizzly Peak which has multiple hiking trails with breathtaking views of the city and bay.”

2. Take a stroll down Piedmont Avenue

If you’re interested in experiencing Oakland through the cuisine, consider exploring Piedmont Avenue. “Get a taste of Oakland sampling delicious restaurants on the highly walkable Piedmont Avenue. Start at the top of the avenue to take in breathtaking views from Mountain View Cemetery. Walk to the end for delicious dining at the Wolf, Pomella, or Doña,” recommends Hana Levin, certified massage therapist and founder of Melt Massage, a massage studio that specializes in a four-hour massage.

3. Visit Mountain View Cemetery

While on Piedmont Avenue, spend some time exploring Mountain View Cemetery to take in the history and the views. “It’s one of the largest green spaces in Oakland, with paths, beautiful sculpture, fountains, and great views of the entire bay from up on Millionaire’s Row,” shares Stacie Willoughby of Spectator Books, a local bookshop on Piedmont Avenue. 

“Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and featuring the resting places of Mac Dre, the Black Dahlia, and Julia Morgan, among many others, it’s a must-visit if you’re in the town on a Saturday or a Wednesday, the only days it’s currently open to sight-seers. For an added bonus, both Morcom Rose Garden and the world-famous Fenton’s Creamery are close by! 

4. Enjoy a private whiskey tasting

If you’re a proper whiskey fan, consider adding a whiskey tasting to your to-do list. Whiskey Tramp, a blog that focuses on whiskey and the experiences around sharing the drink, recommends a tour at Wright and Brown Distilling. “We’ve recommended Wright and Brown Distilling before and they offer private tasting sessions for $50 per person Fridays and Saturdays. Tastings are a great opportunity to understand the distilling process and get a chance to try their offerings in various ways,” shares Whiskey Tramp.

oakland california skyline and bridge at night

5. Explore Joaquin Miller Park

For a more demanding but rewarding activity, consider climbing the stairs at Joaquin Miller Park. Climbing the stairs at Joaquin Miller Park presents a unique experience in Oakland due to its combination of natural beauty and physical challenge. 

“Nestled in the Oakland Hills, the park provides stunning views of the city skyline, the bay, and surrounding forests,” shares Vetiver, a wellness center in Oakland that specializes in therapeutic bodywork. The stairs wind through lush vegetation, adding an element of serenity to the workout. Additionally, the stairs themselves present a demanding ascent, making it a favorite spot for fitness enthusiasts seeking a rigorous workout amidst breathtaking scenery. This blend of natural beauty and physical challenge makes climbing the stairs at Joaquin Miller Park a distinctive and rewarding activity in Oakland.”

6. Visit the West Oakland Farmers Market

Located in West Oakland, The West Oakland Farmers Market is a vibrant year-round community hub that offers a diverse array of fresh, locally grown produce, artisanal goods, and delicious prepared foods. “West Oakland Farmers Market is a wonderful thing to experience on a Sunday afternoon,” says Traci “B-Love” Bartlow, owner of B-Love’s Guest House, a boutique hotel created with the intention of wellness and creativity. “At the market, there’s delicious California produce from local farmers, crafts makers, a great selection of prepared food, and the live performances seal a beautiful vibe and community sharing. It’s located in a growing corridor that includes businesses like Kowbird and BANDALOOP Studios that I also enjoy.”

7. Listen to some West Coast blues icons and newcomers

For live music lovers, experiencing Oakland’s community through music is an essential part of visiting the city. “I would recommend Blue Mondays at Eli’s Mile High Club,” says Jen Apodaca, founder of Mother Tongue Coffee. “One thing that sets Oakland apart from other cities is its dedication to community, and Monday Blues Nights at Eli’s Mile High Club should not be missed. You can see West Coast Blues Icons perform alongside talented newcomers and the audience is a true representation of Oakland’s diverse community. It’s a great opportunity to meet and dance alongside your new neighbors.”

8. Partake in the city’s favorite pastime of roller skating

Roller skating is immensely popular in Oakland, with the city hosting several meet-ups during the week. “Oakland is one of the epicenters of the roller skating revival of the 2020’s; our town is full of creative weirdos who love to move their bodies in expressive ways,” says Marlo Miller, owner of Banana Yoga. “My personal favorite spot to skate is Brooklyn Basin, where they host a monthly Rolling with the Homos event, a free drag show on wheels. There’s also Panther Skate Plaza at DeFremery Park every Thursday night for a more community oriented skate night (with free skate rentals).”

Dwight D. Eisenhower highway at sunset

9. Explore the Oakland Museum of California

The Oakland Museum of California is a renowned cultural institution that showcases the art, history, and natural sciences of the state. “A great way to experience Oakland is to immerse yourself in the city’s rich cultural offerings at its world-class museums and galleries,” shares Blys, a mobile wellness center that features in-home massages, beauty, or wellness treatments. 

While exploring the museum, visitors can experience a diverse range of exhibits, including contemporary art, historical artifacts, and interactive displays that highlight the rich cultural heritage of California.

10. Visit Jack London Square

Jack London Square is a vibrant waterfront district that offers a variety of dining, shopping, and entertainment options. Visitors can take a scenic walk along the waterfront, dine at one of the many restaurants, or catch a live music performance at one of the local venues.

11. Take a tour of the USS Potomac

The USS Potomac, also known as the “Floating White House,” was once the presidential yacht of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Visitors can take a guided tour of this historic vessel and learn about its fascinating history and significance in American politics.

Oakland billboard at a concert hall

12. Visit the Chabot Space & Science Center

The Chabot Space & Science Center is a premier destination for astronomy and space exploration enthusiasts. Visitors can explore interactive exhibits, attend planetarium shows, and even observe celestial objects through the center’s telescopes.

13. Explore Redwood Regional Park

The Redwood Regional Park is a serene natural oasis located just a short drive from downtown Oakland. Visitors can hike through the park’s lush redwood forests, enjoy a picnic in the scenic surroundings, or simply take in the beauty of the towering trees.

14. Visit the Oakland Zoo

The Oakland Zoo is home to a diverse array of animal species from around the world. Visitors can observe wildlife in naturalistic habitats, participate in educational programs, and even take a ride on the zoo’s historic gondola for a unique perspective of the park.

Palm trees in Oakland

15. Explore Oakland Chinatown

Oakland Chinatown is a bustling neighborhood filled with vibrant shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions. Visitors can sample authentic Chinese cuisine, browse through unique shops, and experience the rich cultural heritage of the local community.

16. Visit the Paramount Theatre

The Paramount Theatre is a historic Art Deco masterpiece that hosts a variety of live performances, including concerts, theater productions, and film screenings. Visitors can take a guided tour of the theater to learn about its rich history and architectural significance.

17. Enjoy a meal at the Michelin-starred restaurants

Oakland is home to several Michelin-starred restaurants that offer exceptional dining experiences. Visitors can indulge in world-class cuisine and savor the flavors of the city’s diverse culinary scene.

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