Visiting Oakland; AKA Brooklyn by the Bay

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When thinking of destinations on the West Coast, people often think of the popular names: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego. San Francisco has often overshadowed its little rival across the Bay, but Oakland, California, is making a strong name for itself. Often referred to as the “Brooklyn by the Bay,” Oakland has become the go-to for young people looking to settle nearby, yet outside of the city. For those planning to visit California soon, take a look at some of the best that Oakland has to offer. 

Where to Stay

Waterfront Hotel

A boutique hotel in Jack London Square, Joie de Vivre’s Waterfront Hotel offers guests boutique room and suite accommodations. All accommodations at the property have flat screen TVs, iPod docking stations, a desk area, Pro Terra bath amenities, complimentary in-room coffee and tea, free Wi-Fi and complimentary wine and cheese hours during the week, among other amenities. A complimentary weekday shuttle runs service to downtown Oakland for hotel guests, though for those with a car valet parking is available. An onsite fitness center, heated pool, 24-hour sauna and a fireplace in the lobby offer guests a variety of options for relaxation. The hotel is also pet friendly, and will welcome your best friend with a dog bed, water bowl and treats.

The Washington Inn

An Oakland historic landmark, The Washington Inn has been renovated to incorporate authentic Italian inspired architecture and décor. Offering guests a variety of single rooms and luxury suites, accommodations at the Inn further emphasize the European feel. Suites at the property include all that a standard room does, with the addition of a parlor with a couch, second television, refrigerator, microwave and executive desk. Conference rooms and banquet facilities can accommodate up to 150 people. The Inn also offers in-house catering, available for meetings and special events on site. Seison Restaurant & Lounge is the restaurant available on site, popular with both visitors and locals alike. Offering seasonal Californian cuisine in an intimate setting, menu options often feature a variety of fresh produce, meats and sea foods complimented by local wines and a full bar.

Z Hotel Jack London Square

Also located in Jack London Square, the Z Hotel Jack London Square is another popular property offering 100 rooms to guests of Oakland. Many of the rooms on site offer balconies and city views, in addition to amenities like microwaves and small refrigerators. Located just steps from the local farmer’s market, Yoshi’s Jazz Club, City Hall and Downtown Oakland, the Z Hotel is a good fit for both the business and leisure traveler. The hotel offers amenities including the Buttercup Bar and Restaurant, onsite parking, an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness room, room-service, laundry and dry cleaning services, a business center and meeting facilities, a lounge area and a Zen Fountain for guests to unwind at.

Where to Eat

Restaurant Week

American Express is presenting this year’s annual Oakland Restaurant Week, from January 19-29, 2017. The optimal way to experience the ever-growing Oakland culinary scene, for 11 days restaurants in the city will offer special prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus, ranging in price from $20 to $50 depending on the restaurant and menu. Approximately 80 restaurants are participating in this year’s event, many of which are donating a portion of their Restaurant Week proceeds to the Alameda County Community Food Bank. No tickets or passes are needed to participate, guests are simply invited to dine at participating restaurants during the last week in January to take advantage of the prix-fixe menus. While reservations may not be required, they’re highly recommended due to high volume during Restaurant Week.

The Gatsropig

This new pork-centric breakfast sandwich spot recently opened in the heart of Uptown Oakland. What started as a collaboration between Ann Thai and Loren Goodwin, The Gastropig is quickly becoming the go-to place for quality, quick-serve breakfast sandwiches. Popular menu items include the #baconslut sandwich and a classic PB&J, all made from ingredients sourced from local purveyors. The hot spot also offers pastries from Firebrand Artisan Breads and coffee from Moschetti Coffee. The limited menu is designed to create continuity in perfect menu items across the board. Well-suited for the busy commuter, Gastropig sits two blocks away from the 19th Street BART Station. Though breakfast is served all day, the restaurant is planning on serving additional hot lunchtime options as well.

Curry Up Now

Curry Up Now marks the first East Bay brick-and-mortar location of the popular Bay Area family of restaurant and food truck group. Menu highlights range from $5.00 to $14.00, providing locals an authentic and unique source for Indian street food. The soon-to-open destination will include the chains quintessential food items like Bhel Puri (puffed rice, potato garbanzo mash and cucumber), Vada Pav (mashed potato fritter sandwiched between an Amul buttered bun), and Pav Bahji (a mash of cauliflower, beans, carrots and peas from the streets of Mumbai) among many other dishes. The new, 1800 square foot establishment will seat 50 guests in addition to a community table and sidewalk seating for another 16 patrons. To be located on San Pablo Avenue near 18th Street, the restaurant will be open daily for lunch and dinner, featuring late night hours for New Parish (the entertainment venue next door) events.

What to Do

Trapeze Arts

Unleash your inner child for a day at Trapeze Arts, one of the only full time Circus Schools left in the United States. Since 1994, Trapeze Arts has offered guests approximately 10,000 square feet of padded space used for flying trapeze, trampolines, hoops, tissues, ropes, a tight wire, tumble tracks, unicycles, juggling equipment and more. Adults and children of all ages are invited to sign up and participate in a variety of ongoing classes, all available to those with no prior experience. Sign-ups are available for single classes or a series, depending on the length of your Oakland stay. For guests that want a more intimate experience, private lessons are also available in all disciplines. The space is also available for group classes and parties, as well as corporate event rentals and team building experiences.

Temescal Alley

Located just east of Telegraph Avenue at 49th Street in North Oakland’s Temescal District is the charming pedestrian alleys known as Temescal Alley and Alley 49. Offering guests a unique and carefully curated selection of locally-owned specialty shops, the Alleys are a great way to spend a morning or afternoon getting a local feel of Oakland. Eighteen shops sit in early 20th century structures, several of which at one point served as horse stalls and now feature artisan workspaces. Here, patrons will find one of a kind gifts like twee teapots, Southwestern and Mexican folk art, hippie-era inspired jewlery and handmade coat racks. Find hard-to-find books at Book/Shop or at Curbside Creamery, choose from nearly five dozen flavors that are vegan made with cashew milk.

Oakland Art Murmur

Every first Friday of the month, art lovers take to the Oakland streets during the Oakland Art Murmur evening art walk. Since 2006, Oakland Art Murmur (also known as The Art Murmur) has been organizing the free month art walk which features over 40 galleries, guided tours and a variety of other exclusive events. The street festival takes place Uptown, along Telegraph Avenue between Grand-27th.  The member galleries are open collectively from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Most of the member galleries also participate in the weekly Saturday Stroll, which is when galleries and mixed-use venues are open every Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.  Alongside Oakland Art Murmur’s First Friday gallery walk, a popular street festival known as Oakland First Fridays including street performances, food and craft vending, art installations and more is going on as well. For maps of the walk and a list of participating venues, visit The Art Murmur’s website, www.oaklandartmurmur.org

Coming Up

Oakland A’s Fanfest

On January 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Jack London Square, The Oakland A’s major league baseball team will be hosting its annual FanFest, presented by CSN California. Free to all fans, highlights of the fest include team introductions and a “state of the team” address by A’s president Dave Kaval; a player and coach question and answer session, player autograph sessions, player and coach photo sessions, World Series trophy photo sessions, memorabilia sales, food trucks, Stomper photo sessions, a kids area with interactive games and more. Manager Bob Melvin is scheduled to attend the event, along with approximately 18 of the A’s players.

Tourism Cares

For those looking to spend some time volunteering, Tourism Cares is hosting a trip to Oakland as part of its 2017 Tourism Cares for Our Cities program on March 23 and 24, 2017. Volunteers will work with local partners to fulfill the most pressing needs of Oakland and fully immerse themselves in the local Oakland experience. While learning about the history, culture and neighborhoods of Oakland, volunteers will meet with and work with locals in addition to helping keep volunteer-run gardens in shape, assisting iconic attractions with various projects and a variety of other social needs as well. Guests can register now at www.tourismcares.org./tourism-cares-for-oakland

Oracle Arena 

Home to the Golden State Warriors, the Oracle Arena hosts a variety of sporting events, concerts and more each month. Since undergoing a $100 million renovation, the Arena now sits on 132 acres offering 19,200 seats, 72 luxury suites and three executive clubs, as well as 10,000 on-site parking spaces. Managed by AEG Facilities, the Oracle and the Oakland Almeda County Coliseum are both easily accessible by highway and public transportation, as well as a pedestrian bridge which offers direct access from the Coliseum BART Station. In addition to myriad Warriors games, upcoming events at the Oracle include the PBR Velocity Tour on January 7, R. Kelly: The Buffet Tour on January 15, the Harlem Globetrotters from January 14-21, the Monster Energy Supercross on February 4, Disney on Ice’s World of Enchantment March 1 through 5, Jeff Dunham on March 10, Red Hot Chili Peppers on March 12, Panic! at the Disco on March 25, Lionel Richie and Mariah Carey on April 30, Bruno Mars on November 3 and many more.