dynamic & surprising! a Tour of Oakland & Berkeley
Ranked Number 5 of "The 45 Places to Go in 2012" by TheNew York Times--Oakland!...who knew? Well, we did. We live here and have been offering tours of our hometown for a decade. A great day can begin with a stroll through the Bay-side Jack London Square shopping and restaurant district…perhaps you've arrived there by ferry from San Francisco; continue via Oakland's own, thriving Chinatown to the newly renovated and superb Oakland Museum--really one of the best art plus California history plus natural history museums in the West! You may also want to visit Victorian "Old Oakland," City Centre, and Preservation Park, an interesting re-creation (using actual historic houses) of our 19th-century past—on our way to Lunch. Oakland has come out from San Francisco's shadow as an exciting dining destination in its own right--in fact even our food trucks have made national top lists. BTW we host the hugely successful Eat Real Festival, and Project Bandaloop, its dancers flying off The Great Wall of Oakland...don't know what that is? Then that's why you've got to come!
Your afternoon can begin with a drive (or walk) around beautiful Lake Merritt, with a stop at the nation's oldest wildlife sanctuary (for migrating birds); continue up to the panoramic view from the Mormon Temple, and a drive through the former firestorm area where new dream homes command precipitous vistas of the Bay. Moving past the Claremont Spa we arrive at world-class "Cal" (the University of California at Berkeley), Stanford's grand rival and home and host of the continuing Free Speech movement…closing the day with a quiet moment in the spectacular Berkeley Rose Garden and,or an exploration of Fourth Street, a corridor of unique boutiques. You may also plan to end the day with dinner at another of the area's many outstanding restaurants (e.g. Alice Waters' Chez Panisse, birthplace of "California cuisine") and,or a romantic cruise in an actual Venetian gondola under Oakland's Necklace of Lights. Whatever your final itinerary, these two communities will surprise and charm you.
If you're a fan of Art Deco, you must not come to the Bay Area and miss the magnificent ParamountTheater in downtown Oakland: if you can't make the free Saturday tour, then go see a show there...a dazzling lobby...even the restrooms are special. The Oakland Zoo has moved to the forefront of the nation's animal sanctuaries, especially with a new gondola ride to their new California Trail wildlife space...go for the views if nothing else. And there's the beguiling Chabot Space and Science Center up close to the stars in the Oakland Hills.
You saw "Black Panther," the top-grossing movie? It was directed by an Oaklander (Ryan Coogler), and its story begins in Oakland. Kamala Harris, Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Tupac Shakur, Bruce Lee, Isadora Duncan, Julia Morgan, Angela Davis, Ron Dellums, Maxine Hong Kingston, Rod McKuen, Jessica Mitford...they were all born and,or grew up or currently live in Oakland. Native-born daughter Gertrude Stein famously said of Oakland, "There's no there there" ....well, she was wrong :-)