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Three Reasons to Cross the Bay Bridge

Hawker Fare is just one of the many restaurants participating in this weekend's Oakland Block Party. Photo via Sierra M. on Yelp

One of the best things about the East Bay isn't the plentiful parking or the warm temperatures, it's the community. Even the bigger towns of the East Bay–Oakland, Berkeley, Walnut Creek–aren't tourist attractions, they're just places where people live, and those people tend to get out and hang together. Here are three of the best ways to get a dose of East Bay community spirit this weekend:

Block Party! One of the best Oakland events to launch in recent history, the Oakland Block Party is back for a third year. A $20 ticket buys you four drinks at your choice of four Uptown venues (all the good ones are involved - Ozumo, Luka's, Pican, Somar, Era, the list goes on), while the $30 ticket includes 6 venues and the $40 ticket includes 8 (and a raised eyebrow). Proceeds go to benefit Oakland's public schools, which desperately need the support. The organizers are expecting at least 1,000 people this year, and if the popularity of the event in years past is any indication, it's likely to be even more than that.

Cool Alley Cats Stumble out of the back patio of Pizzaiolo or Dona Tomas, in Temescal, and you'll happen upon a handful of super-cute shops with an old-timey feel–there's a barbershop, a jewelry store, a couple of vintage shops, a dry goods shop specializing in canned and jarred local produce, and (soon) a baker specializing in artisan doughnuts. This is Temescal Alley, a collection of former carriage houses-turned-boutiques, inhabited by small local businesses deliberately chosen by the landlords to create a cool, creative vibe. It sounds unbearably hip--and it sort of is, but it's also a truly charming surprise off 49th St.

Sun, Sand, and Charity This Saturday is California's annual Coastal Cleanup Day, and the East Bay Regional Parks District is hosting cleanups at all of the area's beach parks. Whether you use it as an excuse to finally get out and see the giant dog park heaven that is Pt. Isabel, in Richmond, or to check out Crown Memorial State Beach on the charmingly vintage beach-y island of Alameda, come out and pitch in!