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The 7 Best Things to Do in Oakland This Summer

city and lake Meritt view in Oakland California

While Oakland may be considered San Francisco’s next-door neighbor, or the “Brooklyn of San Francisco,” the two cities are more like two different worlds. 

Oakland hosts its own separate history, cuisines, sights, sounds, and even social movements (it’s the birthplace of the Chicano and Black Panther movements). It’s also known as the “bright side of the bay,” as it’s home to some of the most gorgeous maritime views in the country.

As a local roofing company who’s proud to serve both residential and commercial home and business owners with local roofing services, we love and want to share our favorite Oakland pastimes. The city is full of unique and interesting things to do. Below are the seven best things to do in Oakland this summer:

1. Visit Lake Merritt

Lake Meritt bird's view of the city and lake

Lake Merritt is an idyllic place, referred to as the “Jewel of Oakland,” with expansive grassy lawns, lush groves of trees, picnic areas, and, of course, the lake itself, which is a large tidal lagoon right in the center of the city. Here you can enjoy a long list of things, including:

  • A three-mile walk or jog around the lake
  • Bird-watching
  • Rowing, Kayaking, Canoeing, and pedal boating
  • Gondola rides
  • Lakeside Park’s Children’s Fairyland
  • The Bonsai Garden
  • The very fragrant Sensory Garden, which features aromatic lavender, oregano, rosemary, and Grecian bay trees
  • The Edible Garden, which is chock full of organic vegetables
  • The Mediterranean Garden
  • A tour of the Camron-Stanford House
  • The Lake Chalet restaurant

Essentially, there’s a lot to do here, so you’ll likely want to come back and pass the time more than once!

Address: 568 Bellevue Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

2. Tour the Oakland Museum of California

The Oakland Museum is home to the rich heritage and emergence of culture that California has experienced over the years. The Oakland Museum features a range of engaging exhibits and extensive cultural collections and galleries dedicated to the arts, the state’s history, and even natural sciences. The museum’s primary focus is on the Oakland community and its social justice movements and political activism.

One of the main exhibits features a look into the Black Panther movement, illustrating the progress and power of anti-racist activism, and every Friday night between 5 and 9 pm, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the local entertainment, complete with live music and gourmet food trucks and more!

Address: 1000 Oak St, Oakland, CA 94607

3. Explore the Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park

The Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park  trees and sunlight

The Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park is a second-growth forest that was once cleared due to logging for timber during the mid-1800s. The preservation efforts made by Dr. Aurelia Reinhardt in the 1930s brought the redwood forest back to life by 1939, and it’s now the chosen place to enjoy peace, hiking, cycling, equestrian trails, and a fragrant scenery you won’t find elsewhere.

Address: 7867 Redwood Rd, Oakland, CA 94619

4. Hang Out at the Oakland Zoo

Located just inside the 490-acre Knowland Park, the Oakland Zoo is home to more than 850 exotic and native species. This includes natural habitats such as the African Savannah, tropical rainforests, and even the Australian outback. If you’re visiting the zoo with family, the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children’s Zoo allows the little ones to get up close and personal with the Otter Den and Lily Pad Pond. 

You can also get a bird’s-eye view of the California Trail via gondola ride, which is an educational area featuring a herd of bison, or the Sky Ride that carries you over the African Savannah and all of its inhabitants.

Address: 9777 Golf Links Rd, Oakland, CA 94605

5. Shop and Snack in Rockridge & Temescal

Oakland California Temescal city streets

The trendy Oakland neighborhood of Temescal caters to the city’s foodies as it’s home to an awesome dining scene that rivals Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. Telegraph Avenue is the main strip of this neighborhood between 48th and 52nd Street, featuring all kinds of ethnic restaurants, pizza spots, clothing boutiques, and artisan shops. You’ll also find the Temescal Farmers Market right on Temescal Alley every Sunday morning

The Rockridge neighborhood also features an excellent selection of restaurants along College Avenue between Floria Avenue and Bryant Avenue. It’s similar to the Temescal neighborhood in its artisan and boutique offerings, plus lots of bistros and independent coffee shops

Address: 5300 Claremont Ave, Oakland, CA 94618 (Temescal Farmers Market)

6. Learn at the Chabot Space and Science Center

If you’re planning to visit the Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, you’ll want to make time to visit the Chabot Space & Science Center, as it’s located right within the park. Here you’ll find fascinating exhibits that’ll educate you about our planet as well as the rest of the solar system and its many galaxies. 

The center also features plenty of interactive labs and research-level telescopes that’ll wow visitors of all ages. The center also hosts a 70-foot dome for its Planetarium, where you can sit back for an incredibly stargazing experience. There’s also an Observation Deck 1,500 feet above sea level where you can stop and admire the cosmos through various telescopes — including a historic instrument dating back to 1883.

Address: 1000 Skyline Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94619

7. Spend Time at the African American Museum And Library

people visiting Oakland’s African American Museum and Library

Oakland’s African American Museum and Library is a very unique place as it serves as a resource devoted to educating others on the cultural experiences of African Americans in Northern California and the Bay Area. There are over 160 collections documenting the stories of prominent African families and pioneers, as well as the history of their churches and social and political organizations.

The library portion of the museum was designed to provide students and researchers alike with an impressive 12,000 volumes of African American works regarding history and culture — all written by African authors. The library also features a section known as The Eternal Voices, which contains videos representing more than 80 years of African American history.

Address: 659 14th St, Oakland, CA 94612

So Much to Explore This Summer

It goes without saying— Oakland is full of things to do. Whether you’re looking for something educational, tastebud-friendly, or adventurous, you’ll never grow bored here — especially with San Francisco just minutes away.

Keep this list handy the next time you’re having work done on your roof. The expert roofing team at Bay Valley Roofing will take good care of your home while you’re enjoying what Oakland has to offer. Give us a call today to schedule your free roof inspection!

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