Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Oakland, California


Named after the leafy, oak trees found in the area, Oakland is a small city that just lies across San Francisco Bay that has slowly turned into a hip, and up-and-coming city in its own right.

What used to be a non-descript manufacturing city, it has slowly transformed itself in style over the years to be a melting pot of cultures, as it is home to a diverse population.

Fall in love with its vibrant fairs, summer festivals, multicultural music, mouthwatering food, and so much more. Here are the top-rated attractions in Oakland, California:

Oakland Zoo

The Oakland Zoo is found in the Oakland Hills, and here, you’d come across African tigers, elephants, and lions. What’s more, the facility itself is dedicated to wildlife education and conservation. It donates heavily to animal protection and conservation causes in the Bay Area, and internationally.

The most recent improvement is the Valley Children’s Zoo, a Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Room, Goat and Sheep Barn and Bug House. There are also other structures within the 3-acre land and an amphitheater.

You’re also sure that there’s always a fun event going on in the zoo, such as holiday lights, educational workshops, Halloween parties- name it!

Children’s Fairyland

The facility has been in operation since 1950, and has since billed itself as the “Oakland’s storybook theme park.” This park is even said to be Disney’s inspiration in Disneyworld.

This is a great way to describe an old-time whimsical amusement park just in the shores of Lake Merritt. Don’t miss out on the Open Storybook Puppet Theater, known to be the oldest operating puppet theater in the US.

If you’re traveling with kids, then Fairyland is definitely an attraction that you shouldn’t miss. Not only that it’s priced reasonably, but it’s also a great way to spend a pleasant time outdoors. It’s best to call ahead of time if the weather is a bit off because the park is usually closed if there are strong winds and rains.

Oakland Urban Wine Trail

Why still drive to Napa when you can go to the critically acclaimed local made wine of Oakland? The best part? It costs less than being in a fancy vineyard tasting room.

The Oakland Urban Wine Trail is slowly gaining visibility, and racking up praise from wine enthusiasts from all over the world. There are also different wineries found in the city, clustered in the inner neighborhoods of Oakland and Jack London Square.

Night Markets and Farmer’s Markets

Since Oakland is just near the bountiful Central Valley, it’s a haven for those who are looking for fresh, produce that is all locally sourced.

The city is often filled with above-average Farmer’s markets, which are usually open on weekends, scattered on its neighborhoods.

Catch the Chinatown Market every Friday mornings, and early afternoons, Lake Merrit Market on Saturdays, and the Temescal market during Sundays. These usually vary seasonally over time, so it’s best to check it beforehand.

Jack London Square

The Jack London Square is the heart of Central Oakland, and this beautifully landscaped waterfront district is filled with wine bars, venues, restaurants, and retailers. Designed for tourists and visitors, it’s central location serves an excellent staging ground for some of the city’s high profile events.

Check out the U.S.S. Potomac which is docked there, after you’re done during fun outdoor activities like kayaking and paddleboarding. You could also drop by Heinold’s First & Last Chance Saloon, author Jack London’s favorite bar, where very little has changed since the early 20th century. But of course, there are also cheaper places where you can look for drinks nearby.

Old Oakland

Old Oakland is the best place in the city to view Oakland in the past. The majority of this district is still filled with 19th-century buildings, beautiful Victorian ramblers, and red-brick stores that still managed to survive and still stands up to this day.

Oakland Art Murmur

If you happen to be in town on the first Friday of every month, then check out the US’ biggest and most eclectic art festival, the Oakland Art Murmur.

Starting from 6 pm to 9 pm, dozen of galleries Uptown, Downtown, in the Jack London Square and the West Oakland open their doors to showcase their art to the public.

The epicenter is found on the Telegraph sandwiched between the 27th and West Grand Street, where live performers, DJs and food trucks all come together.

The best thing about it is that you’re not required to buy anything- just maybe perhaps a reasonably priced food truck treats, to feel cultured here.

Lake Merritt

Lake Merritt is known to be Oakland’s jewel. You could drop by Grand Lake Farmers Market, and hang by the lake afterward. Here, you’d also come across local Oaklanders- from picnickers, bikers, joggers, paddle boaters, and even the brunch people who are just soaking in the sun.

If you want to get a more romantic take, ride aboard on one of the real gondolas from Venice together with an Italian serenade.

Morcom Rose Garden

While Lake Merritt is known to be the jewel, Morcom Rose Garden is known to be Oakland’s hidden gem. Between the months of May to October, thousands of exotic roses are in bloom in the area, giving your excellent photo opportunities because of the stunning backdrop.

The best time to visit is between late April and early May because the sun is fully out and the roses are in full bloom.

The Paramount Theater

The theater is founded way back in 1931, and this art deco landmark serves as a cultural and entertainment hub around town. Top comedy and music acts happen here regularly, and it is also known to be the home of the Oakland Symphony and Ballet.

Final Thoughts

Oakland will reward you with a wealth of experiences that you couldn’t find anywhere else. It provides an excellent home base for your trips around and beyond the Bay Area.

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