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    What to see in Oakland and how to get around San Francisco

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    Martí Micolau

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    Northwest of San Francisco, beyond the Bay Bridge, it is located Oakland, a city that, with its 400.000 inhabitants, is among the largest and most important in the bay. Due to its proximity to San Francisco, Oakland is one of the best and most balanced choices if you have decided to sleep outside the city center in the hope of saving something on the very high price of the hotels in the city: thanks to the lines of the BART, the city is well connected with San Francisco, which is easily accessible in less than 20 minutes. If you haven't already asked yourself the problem of staying overnight, I suggest you read our articles on where to sleep in San Francisco and where to sleep outside San Francisco: you will find valuable advice on the pros and cons of each area both in the city itself and in nearby locations.

    Ma Oakland it is not just a mere point of support! Over time, the city has developed its own charm: neighborhoods full of life, various tourist attractions and services of all kinds. Let's find out what to see in Oakland and how to get around San Francisco.


    • Things to see in Oakland and what to do
      • Jack london square
      • The port and the USS Potomac
      • Chinatown e Old Oakland
      • Oakland Museum of California
      • Lake Merritt
      • Oakland Zoo e Fairyland
      • Oakland Parks
      • Chabot Space and Science Center
    • Connections between San Francisco and Oakland
    • Where to sleep in Oakland?
    • Is Oakland Dangerous?

    Things to see in Oakland and what to do

    A navigable lake even on a gondola, a lively harbor, historic theaters, great museums, a planetarium, a zoo and a children's park, a vast gastronomic offer and excellent craft breweries, hill hikes or kayaking trips: Oakland it can really surprise everyone! Here's what to see in the Downtown and tourist districts of the city:

    Jack london square

    For lovers of literature, the starting point for exploring the city can only be Jack London Square. After that, you can go on a pilgrimage to Webster Street, where the famous is located Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon, venue inaugurated in 1883 where the writer created his works. Do not miss a photo near the statue of White Fang and the Jack London’s Cabin, the reconstruction of the hut described in the stories about the Klondike gold rush.

    The port and the USS Potomac

    From Jack London Square I recommend that you take a walk in the area called Pier and to go and see the USS Potomac, the Floating White House inhabited by the President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was on this boat of about 50 meters that in 1941 the president organized a secret conference to draw up the basic notions of the Atlantic Pact. Today she can be visited and open to the public. The Potomac Visitor Center is located at 540 Water Street and, should you be interested, you can pre-book a bay cruise aboard thethe only presidential yacht still in existence.

    Chinatown e Old Oakland

    Close to Downtown and within easy walking distance, you'll find two interesting areas of Oakland: Chinatown e Old Oakland.

    • Chinatown it's not as big as the one in San Francisco, but the special charm of the Chinese quarter is sure to grab you. On Friday mornings and early afternoons, don't miss the local market.
    • Old Oakland it is one of the historic districts of the city with nineteenth-century buildings and Victorian-style houses. Here you will experience the Oakland lifestyle of yesteryear… as well as a wide choice of restaurants and places where you can eat really well.

    Oakland Museum of California

    At 1000 Oak Street, at the intersection with 10th Street, it is located l’Oakland Museum of California (OMCA). The museum opened in 1969 and is dedicated to the history and art of California with a particular interest in the ecology and natural history of the state. This is one of the most interesting museums in the city and I recommend you to visit it. The closest BART stop is the Lake Merritt Station.

    Prices and timetables
    • Admission is $ 15.95 per adult, $ 10.95 for over 65s and students, $ 6.95 for 9-17 year olds, and free for children under 8.
    • Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, open from 11.00 to 17.00 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11.00 to 22.00 on Fridays and 10.00 to 18.00 on Saturdays and Sundays. Friday nights include music and events, as well as a discounted admission price.

    Lake Merritt

    Lake Merritt is Lake Oakland and is one of the most important and popular areas of the city. With a circumference of over 4 kilometers and lush gardens around it, this is the meeting place for joggers or cyclists, those who want to spend a family afternoon outdoors and those who love picnics in the countryside. On Saturday morning the Grand Lake Farmers Market it is a must for those who love markets. Also on the lake it is possible to row boat, pedal boat and even a gondola… that's right: there is a gondola rental service to navigate on Lake Merrit accompanied by Italian classical music!

    Oakland Zoo e Fairyland

    Oakland is also a child-friendly city. If you are traveling with your family you can choose to spend a day at the Oakland Zoo or, in the case of small children, a fairy land.

    • Lo Oakland Zoo it is located at 9777 Golf Links Road and is home to over 700 animals. The zoo is open daily from 10:00 to 16:00 and the ticket costs $ 20.00 for children aged 2 to 14 and for those over 65 while it costs $ 24.00 for people aged 15 to 64. Children under two and adults over 75 enter for free. As it is a little out of the way, you may want to visit if you have a car - in which case, please note that parking costs $ 10.00.
    • fairy land it is a playground for children with many rides, shows and even some animals. The puppet show Open Storybook Puppet Theater it is the oldest surviving puppet theater in the United States. The theme park is located at 699 Bellevue Avenue, practically on the lake: it is open every day from 10.00 to 16.00, weather conditions permitting. The entrance ticket costs $ 10.00.

    Oakland Parks

    Oakland is famous for its parks and the lush hills that surround the city center. The Oakland Hills they are easily accessible and have a beautiful network of parks, all free and generally very well preserved. Among these I point out:

    • il Redwood Regional Park (7867 Redwood Rd) is characterized by giant sequoias and paths often veiled by a thick mist that creates a very suggestive atmosphere. Entrance to the park is free and is open every day from 5.00 to 22.00. In this park there is also the Chabot Space and Science Center, which I'll talk about shortly.
    •  il Joaquin Miller Park, a park with trails for those who love hiking or horseback riding. The park offers panoramic views of Downtown and the bay, so much so that on clear days you can even see San Francisco. In the park you will find the Woodminster Amphitheater, an amphitheater that hosts concerts, shows and often successful musicals, including in the past "Chicago" and "Shrek the Musical".

    Other interesting parks are Temescal Regional Park, Huckleberry Botanical Regional Preserve, Anthony Chabot Regional Park and Wildcat Canyon Regional Park, ideal for picnics and birdwatchers.

    Chabot Space and Science Center

    Chabot Space and Science Center

    Il Chabot Space and Science Center it is located at 10000 Skyline Boulevard and includes a science museum, a planetarium and an astronomical observatory. Friday and Saturday evenings, weather permitting, it is possible to participate in event evenings to watch the stars with the telescope.

    Prices and timetables
    • The center is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10.00 to 17.00.
    • The entrance ticket costs $ 18.00 for adults, $ 15.00 for over 65s and children between 13 and 18, $ 14.00 for children between 3 and 12 years. The entrance ticket includes all the interactive exhibits of the center, access to the planetarium and observatory, the planetarium shows.

    Buy tickets for the Chabot Space and Science Center

    Connections between San Francisco and Oakland

    Oakland also has good public transport services to nearby cities. In particular, Oakland and San Francisco are well connected and you will have no difficulty in moving between the two cities.

    You can get to San Francisco from Oakland:

    • in the car: Traffic permitting, it will take you approximately 15 minutes via I-80 E. Remember that finding free parking, both in San Francisco and Oakland, is not easy.
    • com train BART: it will take you about 15-20 minutes on the yellow BART line to reach the stop Montgomery to San Francisco from the stop 12th Street, the best in downtown Oakland. The red line is less frequent but still takes the same time to connect Montgomery with 12th Street.
    • by bus: it will take between 20 and 30 minutes on the Greyhound line. The terminus are the San Francisco Bus Station at 200 Folstom Street and the Oakland Bus Station at 2103 San Pablo Avenue.
    • by ferry: it will take about 30 minutes from San Francisco Ferry Building to reach the terminal by ferry Oakland Jack London Square. Although they are less frequent, there are also departures from Pier 41 in San Francisco: in this case the journey is approximately 45-50 minutes.

    For travel within Oakland I suggest the Free Downtown Shuttle, a free bus running from 7am to 00pm that travels the entire city from north to south along Broadway.

    Where to sleep in Oakland?

    At the link below you will find some advice to find accommodation in the safest and most strategic areas of Oakland, in view of the visit of the city and, above all, of San Francisco.

    Where to sleep in Oakland to visit San Francisco

    Is Oakland Dangerous?

    We conclude the article by answering a question that many ask themselves when organizing their stay in this part of the bay: Oakland is dangerous? Understandably, this question arises because everyone knows the bad reputation of the most dangerous neighborhoods of San Francisco: it is natural that the doubt also comes for a practically peripheral city. Oakland is full of attractions and is a place where stimuli and things to do are not lacking, but as with any major city in the world it is essential to have a few more precautions and pay particular attention in the evening to spend your holiday safely and bring at home only good memories.

    Oakland's crime rate is quite high so if you decide to stay here I recommend you choose a hotel in Downtown or in any case in one of the tourist districts listed in this article, preferably close to the metro stop.

    Hotels available in the Downtown area

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