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Oakland is an urban metropolis of over 400,000 residents. The city is conveniently situated between San Francisco and Berkeley, and its many neighborhoods are worth a stop for anyone in the area.
The north end of downtown Oakland, which runs along Broadway and Telegraph Avenue from the 19th Street BART Station in the south to 27th Street in the north, is home to two stunning Art Deco theaters, a wide array of art galleries, and countless new restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. The Fox Theater and Paramount Theatre regularly host live performances, attracting a diverse assortment of big-name acts. The Uptown Nightclub hosts up-and-coming bands, while the Stork Clubis known for its cheap drinks and feisty entertainment. Oakland Art Murmur is a popular gallery event the first Friday of every month, and a portion of 23rd Street is closed off to street vendors and performers.
Not far from the Berkeley border, you'll find the Temescal district, a popular destination for students attending California College of the Arts and young adults. The area is filled with restaurants, cafes, bars and shops appealing to the 20-something crowd. Dona Tomas is a favorite for a remix of traditional Mexican fare, while Bakesale Betty is known for it's fried chicken sandwiches. Tara's Organic and Scream Sorbet offer homemade ice cream in an array of flavors made of local ingredients from the farmers market.
This attractive, family-friendly neighborhood is situated along College Avenue near the BART station of the same name. Aptly named, College Avenue connects UC Berkeley to the north with California College of the Arts to the south. Most businesses here are locally owned, non-franchise shops and restaurants. Highlights include Market Hall, Zachary's Pizza, and a handful of unique bars. The rich community history also extends to architecture; the College Avenue Presbyterian Church was designed by Julia Morgan, for example.
Not to be confused with the small town of Piedmont, which is completely surrounded by the city of Oakland, Piedmont Avenue is a bustling business district located a short distance from Rockridge. Piedmont Avenue is home to a diverse array of restaurants and shops, including upscale offerings like César and family-oriented selections like Fenton's Creamery. Other highlights include the beautiful, Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Mountain View Cemeteryand the tiki-themed Kona Club.
Picture the history of Old Oakland as you walk down the streets, lined with Italianate-style Victorians. This neighborhood was the terminus for the Central Pacific railroad in the 1860s, which created a busy commercial district with offices, hotels, saloons and offices. The rich ornamentation of the buildings are still intact today.
Up in the Oakland Hills, Montclair is a unique neighborhood that feels more like its own small town. Located off of Highway 13, Montclair is a popular place to go hiking in the nearby Redwood Regional Park. The Chabot Space and Science Center is another highlight of the area, where visitors can learn about the Universe and Planet Earth. The storybook library in Montclair was also designed by famed architect Julia Morgan.
Lake Merritt/Grand Lake
The crown jewel of Oakland, Lake Merritt is a walkers' and joggers' paradise. The Necklace of Lights was graced with significant sidewalk and trail improvements and the opening of the attractive Lake Chalet restaurant (housed in the lake's former pumping station) in 2009. Lake Merritt itself is not considered a neighborhood, and in fact the lake is surrounded by several distinct neighborhoods of varying character and quality. While Lake Merritt BART Station offers convenient access to portions of the lake (e.g., Lake Chalet) as well as the fascinating Oakland Museum of California, the northern end is easier to reach by bus or car (or a hearty walk from 19th Street BART Station). The primary business district in the area--Grand Lake--is in fact not immediately adjacent to the lake but rather a block north along Grand and Lakeshore Avenues. The stately-but-surprisingly-modern Grand Lake Theater is a neighborhood institution known both for its history and the owner's political activism.
Jack London Square
Situated on the waterfront, Jack London Square is just a short ride away from San Francisco by ferry. The area has several newer condominium complexes and a quickly growing restaurant and entertainment scene. Popular destinations include Yoshi's for live jazz and restaurants like Everett & Jones (BBQ) and Souley Vegan (vegan soul food). A stroll along the water is a great way to spend the afternoon, and don't forget to kayak too!
When you arrive in Fruitvale, you'll immediately notice the Latin American influence of the area. Restaurants and shops have a strong Mexican flare, including ice cream shops with flavors like queso, chipotle or rose petal. A notable destination in the area is Peralta Hacienda Historic Park, which tells the history of Native Americans and early Spanish settlers. The neighborhood is accessible by Fruitvale BART.
At the heart of the commercial district, Downtown Oakland is busy with office workers during the day. Groups from out of town frequent the Convention Center for meetings and events, which is conveniently located near 12th Street BART Station and situated near Old Oakland and Chinatown. Free lunchtime music draws crowds on Wednesday afternoons.
Oakland's Chinatown is one of the largest pan-Asian communities in the U.S. Today, the area serves as a working business district with shops, restaurants, banks and services. Enjoy cheap Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches at Cam Huong restaurant, or get a taste of some dim sum at Legendary Palace.
Many of Oakland's hotel properties are located near the Airport, making it a convenient destination for overnight travel. The O.Co Coliseum/ORACLE Arena is home to top entertainment, sports games and other big performances, and the Coliseum BART stop connects directly to the Coliseum. East Bay Regional Parks trails also line the area, including Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline.