One day in Oakland itinerary – Top things to do in Oakland, California

Named after huge oak trees found in the area, the eighth-most populous city in California was molded by the gold rush of the nineteenth century and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake that led to large-scale migration and permanent settlement in Oakland. The city’s position during the world wars ensured that it had ethnically diverse groups settling there in search of jobs and social mobility. Today, however, its best part is downtown with numerous restaurants, bars, and vibrant nightlife. Indeed, your one day in Oakland is sure to be great.

One day in Oakland itinerary

What’s the best time to visit Oakland?

June, July, and August are the months when Oakland receives the biggest number of tourists. Keep that in mind if you’re planning a summer visit.

Oakland
Oakland, Author: xiquinhosilva, Source: Flickr

Fall and winter, on the other hand, are best avoided because the weather gets too cold and humid to enjoy your visit. However, if you are looking for a much more affordable trip, the fall is a much better choice because the prices are more affordable and there are fewer tourists, while the weather is still relatively nice.

A few facts about Oakland

Oakland is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the US, and this makes for a culturally rich experience of the cityscape.

Very famous celebrities like Tom Hanks, Tupac Shakur, and Bruce Lee are Oaklanders.

Sports can be viewed and enjoyed at the land of NBA’s Golden State Warriors as well as at the University of California.

Downtown Oakland at Dusk
Downtown Oakland at Dusk, Author: David Abercrombie, Source: Flickr

One Day in Oakland Itinerary

Follow this guide to enjoy your one day in Oakland as we show you the top sights and things to do on your one day in this wonderful city. In case you’re looking for an alternative way to explore Oakland, though, this govt website will come very handy.

Start exploring at the Jack London Square

Jack London Square is situated at the south end of Broadway, across the Oakland Estuary. This is the ideal place to start your day because of the scenic maritime view. Pack a little box of fruit and a sandwich to munch on as you take everything in.

Jack London Square, Oakland
Jack London Square, Author: Allie_Caulfield, Source: Flickr

Try getting here on a day when musical events and the farmer’s market are scheduled for an extra amazing experience.

Oakland Farmers Market
Oakland Farmers Market, Author: Neil Conway, Source: Flickr

Among the many food and view attractions in the area, do not miss the 90’s Experience Museum. An immersive experience for all, your senses will be invited into the decade of superstars and super experiences that find sanctuary in this Oakland institution.

Visit the Temescal neighborhood for lunch

With a ten to fifteen minutes’ car ride from Jack London Square, you can reach the Temescal neighborhood.

Temescal, Oakland
Temescal, Author: Robert Prinz, Source: Flickr

A visit to this place will open your eyes to the possibilities of cohabitation. A space for all – the new rich, the young students, the wanderers – it is also known for wonderful pizzerias and other restaurants serving all kinds of dishes,

You want to visit Bakesale Betty for a line that leads up to a smacking Fried Chicken Sandwich. And after this assorted lunch, if you are looking to take some time off and wash down the lunch, Temescal Brewing is a great place for a curated beer experience. as you get to choose from a range of beers on tap.

Bakesale Becky, Oakland
Bakesale Becky, Oakland

Join a Black History Tour

Your trip to Oakland will not be complete without experiencing the Black History Tours. Oakland is regarded as the birthplace of the Black Panthers during the civil rights movement, and these tours will help you understand history through landmark milestones and events as you look at the areas of importance, especially the original Black Panther headquarters and the Traffic Signal.

Cooling Down at Lake Merritt

A relaxing stop before reaching the end of the day’s trip should be Lake Merritt. Right at the center of Oakland, Lake Merritt gives Oakland its identity. Situated east of the downtown, the place is a testament to what can happen when urban civilization and nature co-exist.

Lake Merritt, Oakland
Lake Merritt, Author: InSapphoWeTrust, Source: Flickr

Surrounded by upscale buildings and a busy neighborhood,  Lake Merritt stands as a reminder that the land and the water are here for us to marvel at, even as we carry on with our busy lives. This tidal lagoon is also one of the oldest wildlife refuges.

You could take part in recreational activities like acro yoga or boating if you have some extra clothes with you.

Lake Merritt, Oakland
Lake Merritt, Author: reverendlukewarm, Source: Flickr

Enjoy your Dinner

There are many restaurants near the lake where you can enjoy a scrumptious meal. Shan Dong Restaurant or Grand Lake Kitchen are both excellent choices for a lovely evening.

Shan Dong Restaurant, Oakland
Shan Dong Restaurant, Oakland

The first one does a great seafood platter and also has tasty Chinese dishes. It is extremely affordable and a testament to the diverse tastes present in Oakland. Grand Lake Kitchen is a great option if you are looking for a more gourmet option.

Grand Lake Kitchen, Oakland
Grand Lake Kitchen, Oakland

Where to stay in Oakland, California?

Oakland Marriott City Center

1001 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607

Oakland Mariott City Centre is a great hotel right in the city center, plus it’s right next to a BART station that can get you to downtown San Francisco. The establishment itself offers great modern rooms with coffee facilities, and there’s also a gym and a business center for your convenience.

BOOK A ROOM HERE

Best Western Plus Bayside Hotel, Oakland

Best Western Plus Bayside Hotel

1717 Embarcadero, Oakland, CA 94606

If you’d like to enjoy the Bay Area a bit more, come to Best Western Plus Bayside Hotel. This lovely-looking establishment will get you that along with spacious and very comfortable room, and there’s even a pool here from which you can enjoy a nice view of the ocean. Great breakfast, too.

BOOK A ROOM HERE

Hampton Inn Oakland Downtown

Hampton Inn Oakland Downtown

378 11th Street, Oakland, CA 94607

Another good choice in downtown Oakland, Hampton Inn Oakland Downtown is located in the city’s Chinatown and offers fairly reasonable prices. This is still a fairly new hotel with quite a modern design, and the place is absolutely spotless. The level of comfort is quite high, plus you’ll be happy to know that there’s a BART station very close by.

BOOK A ROOM HERE

Executive Inn & Suites Oakland

Executive Inn & Suites Oakland

1755 Embarcadero, Oakland, CA 94606

Executive Inn & Suites Oakland
With a stunning location, Executive Inn & Suites Oakland will win you over at first sight. It’s right by the water, and the views are amazing, especially at sunset. It also has fairly large rooms, free shuttle service to the airport, and a great outdoor pool. Add to that the very attentive staff, and you have an excellent place to stay in.

BOOK A ROOM HERE

Day trips from Oakland

Golden Gate Fields, Berkeley

Find out more about the famous American horse racing fields. This is a mere ten minutes away from Oakland and a fantastic way to explore something slightly different and maybe see these majestic animals firsthand.

Lake Chabot Regional Park

Half an hour away from Oakland, this park is a great idea for a day trip and a picnic, plus it’s a fantastic place for a fishing trip. A great way to spend your day with your whole family.

The Academy of Sciences, California

Also half an hour away. This is one of the largest museums around, and if you are a science nerd or someone who is moved by natural resources and documentation, you will not want to miss a visit to the Academy.

Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley

If you are a history aficionado or an appreciator of people’s movements, this avenue was the birthplace of many protests in the ’70s.

Wine Country, Napa Valley

The famous Napa Valley is just an hour’s drive away, and this place is so much more than a place where you can sip wine. Sure, the urban wineries around are important to visit, but the landscape will take your breath away.

Extra tips for visiting Oakland:

– You can use OakWifi for easy and free internet access.

– Stop for a show or some other program if possible. You won’t regret it.

– Carry water with you and many smiles as you discover the city!

Make sure you have everything you need

What to pack for your next trip?

Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.

Alan Oakman

Alan is an online STEM tutor, teaching K-12 students. His love for interdisciplinary education and everyday psychology has prompted him to start blogging. You can check out his blog and follow him on Twitter.

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