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Three Reasons to Cross the Bay Bridge

Lake Merritt's Bonsai trees are gorgeous.

The East Bay is huge and spans several worthy cities and towns, but this weekend it's all about Oakland. Head eastward for a great sampling of everything that makes Oakland cool: Fantastic food, cool music, and the great outdoors.

Eat Real Fest Quite possibly the best food festival in the food-obsessed Bay Area, the Eat Real Fest brings together food trucks, farmers, and local vintners and brewmasters for a weekend full of tasty noshing. Better yet, entry to the festival is free, no dish is more than $5, and the weekend is full of great free seminars and demos as well, from a cheesemaking class to a workshop on raising backyard chickens. Throw in live music and put it all outside in Jack London Square and you've got yourself the makings of an awesome East Bay party.

Lake Merritt Bonsai Garden The Gardens at Lake Merritt is a fantastic little haven tucked into the Grand Ave. side of Lake Merritt. There are wildflowers, palm trees, and even a small redwood grove here, but the most impressive part of the gardens is the ultra Zen bonsai garden, created and cared for by local bonsai masters and only open during limited hours (10-4pm Saturday, noon-4pm Sunday).

Animal Collective at The Fox One of the greatest things about Oakland nightlife is its fantastic live music venues and The Fox--with its Art Deco style and amazing acoustics--is one of, if not the, best concert hall in the East Bay. This weekend experimental psychedelic pop band Animal Collective performs songs from its ninth, and arguably best, album Merriweather Post Pavilion, as well as its new disc Centipede Hz.