The Greenest, Most Picnic-Worthy Parks in Oakland
Today it's supposed to reach a high of 75 degrees in Oakland; so, no one would blame you if you went for a very long walk, or even called in "sick" tomorrow. We have to milk these glorious days for everything they’re worth (before the spring gloom sets in); so, grab a bottle of wine, a baguette, some cheese, and a blanket and stake out your own little slice of heaven at one of these picnic-perfect Oakland parks.
Your initial reaction might be to stay clear of a picnic with the dead, but Mountain View Cemetery is one of the most picturesque parks in Oakland, with plenty of space for the living and deceased alike. In fact, most Oakland resident treat the huge space like a neighborhood park, anyway. The historic, non-profit cemetery, nestled in the Oakland hills, has many beautiful gardens, fountains, shady trees, and rolling hills to choose from for your romantic outing. Come here at sunset, and you'll be hard pressed to find a better panoramic view of the bay. 5000 Piedmont Avenue.
Did you know that you can hike a volcano in the middle of Oakland? One of the area’s highest peaks, Round Top is made up of lava and volcanic debris from a 10-million-year-old inactive volcano! This isn't your typical picnicking spot (it's not that flat) but it's beautiful just the same, and you'll find picturesque hills, strange rock formations, and a labyrinth to lay your blanket beside – just watch out for the cows. On Skyline Blvd., just east of Grizzly Peak Blvd.
Head to Lake Merritt if you want to enjoy prime people watching and bird-watching with your dinner plans. There are a lot of varied settings to choose from around this Oakland fixture. Sit closer to the intersection at Grand and Lakeshore for quick access to coffee, other dining options (in case your sandwiches don’t turn out so well), and a clear view of the circus people and slack rope walkers. Or plop down on the other side of the lake – near the convention center – for amphitheatre seating, nearby restrooms, and a gorgeous views of the lake and the Grand Lake Theatre's historic sign. Even better, on Friday nights stop at the food trucks at Off the Grid at the Oakland Museum of California first and then cross the street to the lake for a quick-and-easy picnicking option.
Named after the “Poet of the Sierras” – who coordinated the planting of 75,000 trees in the hills of Oakland – Joaquin Miller Park is the perfect escape from the bustle of the city. The 500-acre park boasts majestic redwood groves, lush creeks, colorful meadows, a man made waterfall, and an abundance of California golden poppies. Be on the look out for rare plants like the Oakland star tulip, pallid Manzanita, and leatherwood, and you might even see wild turkeys, quails, fox, deer, or skunk hidden among the groves. In the summer Woodminster Amphitheatre hosts musicals under the stars, so you can plan some lively entertainment along with your picnic. Look out for Les Mis, and Catch Me If You Can this summer!
A hidden redwood forest lies just a few miles from downtown Oakland and you'd never know it unless you've visited this magical land. For the more adventurous group, pack your picnic and your hiking shoes and explore the dense forestry. In the 1800s this park was the site of the city's logging industry, but thanks to modern protection laws, now you're bound to see some furry critters along the trails.
Have your own favorite grassy spot? Let us know in the comments.