50 Things to Do in Oakland Before You Die

50 Things to Do in Oakland Before You Die


San Franciscans have been known to stick up their nose at Oakland - often considered SF's grimy, suburban little sister. But anyone who's spent time in The Town knows it's got a vibrant arts culture, incredible foodie scene, and strong sense of community and history all to itself.

Oakland newbies don't be intimidated - pick a few of these Things to Do Before you Die for a guaranteed incredible day, evening, or night in the other city by the bay.


1. Take a tour (paired with a private tasting) of Blue Bottle Coffee's Oakland factory

2. Eat Dim Sum for lunch with a huge group at Legendary Palace in Oakland's Chinatown

3. See a scrappy band play live and load up on LPs at 1-2-3-4 Go! Records

4. Pack a picnic and take a trip to Lake Temescal on a sunny day for sunbathing, duck-feeding, and playing catch

5. Have a mac n' cheese party with your friends at Homeroom (order a bunch of different kinds and share them all)

6. Score awesome treasures at the yearly Oakland White Elephant Sale, which benefits the Oakland Museum of California

7. Nerd out over any kind of magazine you can think of at Issues.

8. Get your hair did and browse the rock n' roll infused vintage duds at Down at Lulu's

9. Hike among towering redwood trees in Redwood Regional Park

10. Tailgate with Banjo Man and then sit behind the bleacher drummers at an Oakland A's baseball game

11. Grab a quick lunch at Market Hall then window shop through Rockridge

12. Join the after-church crowd for a huge, homemade breakfast at Oakland classic ButtercuP Grill and Bar

13. Eat a fried chicken sandwich and strawberry shortcake on old ironing boards from Bakesale Betty's

14. Go on a self-tour of Montclair Village's "Storybook Houses" including their library and firehouse

15. Hike the surprisingly beautiful Mountain View Cemetery

16. Take a perfectly cheesy gondola ride on Lake Merritt or rent your own watercraft

17. Get a straight razor shave at Temescal Alley Barbershop

18. Experience the Raider Nation Black Hole during a game at the Oakland Coliseum

19. Find a kid to accompany you to Children's Fairyland

20. Explore Oakland Museum's incredible Early Landscape Painting collection

21. Bike Mandela parkway and get a table at Brown Sugar Kitchen for a soul food breakfast

22. Spend a summer afternoon in the beer garden at Classic Cars West, sipping local brews and checking out groovy wheels

23. Visit one of City Slicker Farms' community markets to see Oakland's urban farm boom in action

24. Fulfill your childhood comics fantasy and buy yourself a treat at Dr. Comics and Mr. Games

25. Take a metal forging class at The Crucible


26. Hit up either the Oakland Art Murmur's First Fridays (or more mellow Saturday Strolls) monthly for a dose of top-notch art, mingling, and drinking

27. Drink a a freshly squeezed greyhound at Café Van Kleef

28. Go to a Golden State Warriors game (before they relocate to SF in 2017)

29. Sample the incredible selection of beers at The Trappist in Old Oakland

30. See a live show or movie at Oakland's art deco masterpiece the Paramount Theatre

31. Catch an independent film at the iconic Grand Lake Theater - bonus points if you're showing is in the "Egypt Room" or you go on Wurlitzer night

32. Try the hand-made Sesame Paste noodles from Chinatown's Shan Dong

33. Try neighborhood favorite Laotian Fried Rice Ball Salad (Nam Kaow) at Champa Garden

34. Before catching a live show at the Fox Theater, sample gastro-pub food while playing bocce ball at Make Westing

35. See stand-up at The New Parish (bonus points if it's a Dave Chappelle show)

36. Chow down at a whole hog dinner at Oliveto

37. Try a homemade tonic cocktail along with fabulous pizza at Boot and Shoe Service

38. Stand in line on the red carpet at 1 a.m. waiting to eat Chicken 'n' Waffles at Home of C & W

39. Get your groove on at underground Air Lounge on a Saturday night

40. See a cheap show, ogle all the vintage barbies, and drink stiff cocktails at the Stork Club

41. Brave the sketchy 'hood and gorge on late-night tacos at Sinaloa taco truck 

42. Watch sunset from atop Skyline Boulevard then stargaze on a clear night from Chabot Space and Science Center

43. Throw a penny into Jack London's Cabin and then slip around the slanted floor at the historic Heinold's First & Last Chance Saloon

44. Glow under the red lights at The Ruby Room

45. Visit the Mormon Temple during the holidays for an epic light show.

46. Feel like a kid again with a massive Black and Tan at Fentons

47. Drink a Mai Tai and sing a solo at the piano bar at The Alley on Grand Ave

48. Watch fireworks from Grizzly Peak

49. See a classy burlesque show at The Uptown

50. Gird your loins and go see an underground show at Ghost Town Gallery in West Oakland

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