Oakland is a city in the Bay Area of California in the United States of America. While it neither has the concentration of tourist amenities present in its glamorous neighbor San Francisco nor the suburban safety of sprawling San Jose to the south, the visitor can easily spend a few pleasant days here. The often negative opinions of those who have neither lived in nor even visited Oakland should not deter you from exploring what is the Bay Area's and probably America's most diverse city and undervalued cultural center. If nothing else, you can simply enjoy what Rand McNally rated as the best weather in the country. It is called "Oakland" due to the fact that it is heavily populated with Oak trees.
Travel guides to Oakland, by long-standing tradition, often start off with that quote by famous Oakland resident Gertrude Stein, who said of the city, "There is no there there." The quote takes Stein's rumination out of context, as she was describing how upon returning to Oakland after many years away, she found that the house in which she grew up no longer existed. Although Oakland is often overshadowed by tourist-friendly San Francisco across the bay, and politically famous Berkeley to the north, Oakland exemplifies both the best and the worst of the Bay Area in general.
For the visitor, "There" is most easily found in one of Oakland's beautiful neighborhoods and interesting, if somewhat eccentric, shopping districts. Oakland, like New York, is constituted of a number of very distinct, village-like neighborhoods, all of which play host to a heady mix of cultures and peoples.
Since the 1960's, Oakland has been a hub of radical culture, and is known as the birthplace of both the Black Panther Party and the Hell's Angels. Oakland's history in the arts and entertainment arena is notable as well, as Oakland has nurtured or been a second home to novelists Jack London, Gertrude Stein, Amy Tan, and Maya Angelou; actors Mark Hamill, Bruce Lee, and Tom Hanks; architect Julia Morgan, classical conductor Calvin Simmons, rapper Tupac Shakur, graphic-novel author Daniel Clowes, and many more notables in the liberal arts and sciences.
According to the 2000 Census, Oakland is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States (a title it shares with Long Beach, California) - with over 150 Languages spoken. Reflecting this, a number of annual events are held in Oakland, such as the Art & Soul Weekend (held on Labor day weekend), the Cinco de Mayo Fruitvale Festival Parade (early May), the Chinatown Streetfest (late August) and the Oakland Holiday Parade in December.
Oakland International Airport  (IATA: OAK) is served by many domestic and international carriers, including Southwest Airlines  and JetBlue. There is private shuttle service ($10-$25) to hotels in Oakland and San Francisco, and public transit service (AirBART , and AC Transit Route 50  or Route 805 ) to the Oakland Coliseum BART Station (which is adjacent to the similarly named Amtrak Capitol Corridor station).
Other air travel options include the San Francisco  (IATA: SFO) and San Jose  (IATA: SJC) International Airports. SFO, with its BART station, is the more convenient of the two. Those flying into San Jose might have to battle significant traffic, pay for an expensive van or taxi ride, or take VTA's Airport Flyer (Route 10)  to the Santa Clara Caltrain Station, then Caltrain to the Millbrae Intermodal Station, and then BART toward Oakland. (From SFO and Millbrae, BART provides direct service to West Oakland, Lake Merritt, Fruitvale, and Coliseum stations; those traveling to other Oakland stations, such as Oakland City Center/12th Street, must change trains no later than West Oakland.)
For private pilots, Oakland Airport (ICAO: KOAK) has a separate General Aviation area "North Field", essentially the equivalent of another airport to the north of the commercial facilities, with separate tower, taxiways, and radio frequencies. Its long runway is frequently used for jet travel, and Oakland makes a far better GA destination than San Francisco's (ICAO: KSFO) complex, heavily trafficked field.
Oakland is served by the regional rail system Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)  and the nationwide, long-distance rail service Amtrak , with the Bay Area's largest Amtrak station located in the neighboring city of Emeryville.
The following Amtrak lines serve the Oakland station at Jack London Square, an easy twenty-minute walk away from the center of Downtown:
Capitol Corridor (San Jose to Auburn via Sacramento). The route also includes a stop at the Oakland Coliseum/Airport Amtrak station, adjacent to the Oakland Coliseum BART station. The Oakland Coliseum/Airport Amtrak station has no station agents. Passengers may board the train and buy the tickets from the conductor at no surcharge.
AC Transit Route 50  (day) and Route 805  (owl) provide fast, frequent, inexpensive, 24-hour bus service between the Oakland Coliseum area and the Oakland International Airport. Amtrak Capitol Corridor customers pay $0; ask your train conductor for a Transit Transfer. BART customers pay $1.50; take a BART-to-bus transfer from the white machine, before leaving the paid area of the BART station. The second part of either transfer is valid for a discounted return trip within several days. Otherwise, AC Transit's regular cash fare is $1.75.
AirBART is a direct bus shuttle between the Oakland International Airport and the Oakland Coliseum BART  train station. The shuttle costs $3 for adults and $0.50 for children, seniors and persons with disabilities. AirBART accepts fare payment in the form of prepaid BART tickets, available just inside the BART station's entrance; you can also pay by inserting two $1 bills into the machine on the bus.
From San Francisco, Highway 80 east over the beautiful Bay Bridge leads to Highways 580, 880, and 980, which go to east, west, and downtown Oakland respectively.
From Marin, Sonoma, and other counties along the northern coast of California, take US-101 to Highway 580 and cross the Richmond Bridge. 580 leads directly into Oakland.
Most northern entries to Oakland go through the heinous MacArthur Maze, a spaghetti-like mashup of four freeways trying to merge and pass each other. It's got terrible traffic during commute times (7AM-10AM, 4PM-8PM), so you might want to avoid driving on the freeways at these times.
Specific AC Transit Transbay bus routes  run between San Francisco's Transbay Terminal and different parts of Oakland. Some run as often as every 15 minutes. The Transbay All Nighter (Route 800)  serves (San Francisco's) Market Street, the Transbay Terminal, Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond. Additional All Nighter  routes link other areas with Oakland, after BART shuts down for the night.
Greyhound has a terminal conveniently located in downtown Oakland, on San Pablo Ave. near 20th St. It's notorious -- be careful.
The Alameda-Oakland Ferry  has departures from both Pier 41 and the Ferry Building in San Francisco, weekdays year-round and weekends except for mid-winter. Its Oakland terminal is at the foot of Clay St. in Jack London Square. (On summer weekends there are also trips to Angel Island , an island park in the middle of the bay, formerly an immigration station.)
The AC Transit  bus system service is a good way to get around if you're headed for downtown Oakland, Jack London Square, the Grand Lake district, or Temescal. Otherwise, depending on where you're going, it can seem like you're waiting for a long time for the bus to arrive. The AC Transit costs $2 for adults. Add $0.25 for transfers. BART provides easy access to the Downtown, Fruitvale, and Rockrdge areas, and makes for an easy day-trip from San Francisco. The last return train runs at about 12:15.
BART has 8 stops at major areas of visitor interest, which makes it perhaps the best way to experience Oakland. A majority of these stations are adjacent and of walking distance to popular neighborhoods, eliminating car and parking hassles.
Furthermore, BART stations are usually named after the neighborhood they are located in. For example, to visit the chic Rockridge neighborhood, exit the Rockridge BART station, conveniently located steps from this area. Same goes for the Fruitvale District (Fruitvale BART station). Lake Merritt BART station is only a block away from the Oakland Museum of CA. Chinatown is 3 blocks from the 12 Street/City Center BART station.
Those hoping to go to the hills are probably best off in a car, as bus service to these areas is sparse.
City of Oakland Walking Tours, (510) 238-3234, . 90-minute tours of downtown Oakland (including Chinatown) offered Wednesdays & Saturdays, May through October. Reservations are recommended but not required. Free.
16th street station in 2007 located in West Oakland
16th Street Station, viewable at 16th and wood in West Oakland. Erected in 1912, this once prominent train station has a great façade. Going inside it is officially off limits as of now due to reconstruction because it suffered significant damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.
African American Museum & Library at Oakland, (at 14th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way), . Check the AAMLO web site for information on special exhibits, programs and events, such as an African American walking tour of downtown Oakland.
Jack London Square, (west end of Broadway), . Open 24 hours. Oakland's principal tourist destination, Jack London Square has seen serious renovation over the years. Named after writer Jack London, the city's favorite son, the area was the original wharf district of Oakland and retains some of its maritime feel. The main attractions today are shopping and restaurants, though, and you may find yourself wondering how exactly JLS differs from a large waterfront mall.
Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak Street (at 10th; Lake Merritt BART station), (510) 238-2200, . W-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 12PM-5PM. A startlingly good museum dedicated to the art, history, and culture of California. The building itself is an admirable piece of architecture, and the exhibits are almost uniformly excellent and engaging. Well worth a visit. $8 ($5 for seniors and students; free second Su each month). Note that it is currently undergoing renovation with 3rd and 2nd level completely closed and with only 1st level open. Renovation is scheduled to complete at 2009 fall. Being both 2nd and 3rd levels are closed, it may be worth visiting only after the renovation.
Joaquin Miller Park, Joaquin Miller Road (entrance about 1 mile from highway 13), (510) 238-3481, . A beautiful park in the Oakland hills, made up in part of "The Hights", the old estate of California poet Joaquin Miller. The park has some of the few remaining old-growth redwood groves in the East Bay. Lots of hiking and bike-riding opportunities. Free.
USS Potomac, Water Street (adjacent to Jack London Square), (510) 627-1215, . Originally built as a Coast Guard Cutter, the Potomac was remodeled as Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidential yacht in 1936 and served in that role until his death in 1945. In 1941, a fishing trip on the Potomac served as a cover story for Roosevelt's secret meeting with Churchill in Newfoundland waters; this meeting led to the allied partnership during World War II and eventually to the formation of the United Nations. The ship is available for dockside tours We 10:30AM-3:30PM, F&Su noon-3:30PM. Historic cruises on the bay are available Apr-Oct Th&Sa; these must be booked with TicketWeb  or by calling (866) 468-3399.
Chabot Space and Science Center, 10000 Skyline Boulevard, (510) 336-7300, . Opened in August 2000, the new Chabot Space and Science Center is a state-of-the-art science and technology education facility on a 13-acre site in the hills of Oakland. Visitors can watch planetarium shows and/or Megadome movies, simulate space missions in the Challenger Learning Center, explore a variety of changing hands-on exhibits, observe the sky through the center's telescopes, and much more. In addition, the Science Discovery Lab (for children 7 and under and their parent/guardian) is fantastic.
Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand Ave, Oakland (near MacArthur Blvd and 580), . This beautiful Art Deco theater (built in 1926) shows first-run movies. It has a spectacular neon sign that is lit on weekends, and is famous for the ultra-liberal (and sometimes conspiracy-minded) weekly sign proclamations from the theater owner. At Friday and Saturday evening shows, an organist plays standards in the main theater.
Parkway Speakeasy Theater, 1834 Park Boulevard (near Lake Merritt), (510) 814-2400, . Oakland's Parkway Speakeasy closed its doors in May 2009. A second-run movie theater, the Parkway had two huge screens with large comfy couches to sit on. Best of all, they served pizza, salads, and beer that you could eat and drink while you watched the movie. There are community efforts to reopen the Parkway at some point in the future.
Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Avenue (downtown, near 19th Street), (510) 548-3010, . A former movie theatre, the Fox was built in 1928. It closed its doors in 1970 and stood empty until 2009, when it reopened as a 1,500 - 2,800 seat music venue, following a two-year, $75 million renovation. One block from the 19th St BART stop, the Fox Theatre is in the heart of Oakland's Uptown neighborhood, which is also being re-branded as the Arts and Entertainment district.
Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway (downtown, near 19th Street), (510) 465-6400, . This gorgeous Depression-era theater, completed in 1931, has been completely restored and is maintained in almost mint condition. It's worth just looking at the sculpture, the paintings, even the carpets. Shows include classic movies, concerts, and other live performances.
Children's Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Avenue (enter via Grand Ave near Lake Merritt), Oakland, CA 94610, (510) 452-2259, . Mixed seasonal hours, almost always open on weekends. Amazing, dynamic playground and destination for children, right on Lake Merritt. Please note that only adults with children can enter. Make sure you get a Magic Key.
The Oakland Raiders (NFL), Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, 7000 Coliseum Way (connected to Coliseum BART) (510) 569-2121, . Known as "The Team of the Decades," The NFL's Oakland Raiders have a long tradition of victory, commanding the fierce support of Oaklanders and enjoying a large fan base across America. Be sure to enjoy the famous pre-game tailgating scene in the Coliseum parking lot, as well as the Black Hole of hard-core fans in the endzone section. Most home games are not sold out, so it should be possible to buy tickets up until game time. However,
An A's game at McAfee Coluseum
Oakland Athletics (MLB), Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, . In their third home after Philadelphia and Kansas City, the A's have done what their cross-bay rivals have not: bring the World Series trophy to the Bay Area. With nine trophies to their name, and four in Oakland, they are one of the most successful franchises in baseball. While they are not currently considered a playoff contender, the AL West is the smallest division, so a playoff appearance is always possible and the competition goes down to the wire. The A's also have the best deal in baseball: $2 tickets and $1 hot dogs for nearly every Wednesday game. During the rest of the week, tickets are a great deal, too, ranging from $9 to $55. The cheap tickets sell out quick, so buy a day or two in advance. In the baseball configuration, McAfee Coliseum has the odd distinction of having the most foul territory of any MLB field, and by a large margin.
Golden State Warriors (NBA), Oracle Arena (adjacent to Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, connected to Coliseum BART), . After a sensational run to the playoffs and an historic victory in the first round in the 2006/2007 season, the Warriors are the hottest ticket in the NBA right now. They play a fast, loose, and fun type of basketball, a departure from the stereotypical NBA team. After moving from Philadelphia to San Francisco, the Warriors settled in the East Bay and won their second championship in the 1970's. With their recent successes come a declining availability of tickets. Prices are on the lower end for the NBA ($15 to over $250), though cheaper tickets sell out for most games and all tickets sell out for big games up to a week before.
Oakland Zoo, 9777 Golf Links Rd (Exit off I-580), ☎ (510) 632-9525, . 10AM-4PM daily. The mission of the Oakland Zoo is to inspire respect for and stewardship of the natural world, while providing a quality visitor experience. At the Oakland Zoo, you can explore together, learn together, and have fun together.$10.50 for adults, kids and seniors $7. (37.75,-122.15)
The Hat Guys, 1764 Broadway, (510) 834-6868, . The type of classic men's hat store you can't find anymore -- except here. First-class service and a contagious passion for hats. The largest inventory of hats on the West Coast -- hats in all sizes and hats for women and children, too.
College Avenue is well-known for its shopping and food. Easily reached from the Rockridge Bart station , one can enjoy delicious food hailing from various continents, take in a yoga class, go book shopping at friendly independent book stores, buy artisan crafted jewelry, treat oneself to gourmet chocolate and sweets, or take a break with a pint and some pub grub. Family friendly and easily reached, College Avenue is a destination for many Oaklanders.
Downtown Oakland contains some excellent Asian foods that are as authentic as anything else you'll find in the Bay Area.
Restaurant Peony, (2nd Floor of Pacific Renaissance Plaza, 388-9th Street, between Franklin and Webster), (510) 286-8866.  Serves Cantonese-style dishes and dim sum. One of the most popular Chinese restaurants on the East Bay. Big crowds on Saturdays and Sundays.
Golden Lotus, (at Franklin and 13th). Serves vegetarian Vietnamese food, considered by some to be some of the best vegetarian food in the Bay Area.
Shanghai Restaurant, (on Webster between 9th and 10th). Serves Shanghai-style food that rivals the best you'll find in Shanghai. The decor is minimal but the staff is friendly. Xiao Long Bao (Steamed Dumplings) and Si-chuan style shredded pork are two highlights
Battambang, (on the corner of Broadway and 9th). Serves Cambodian cooking. The food is excellent but the portions are slightly smaller than might be expected.
Breads of India, (on the corner of Clay and 10th). Serves Indian food.
The Grand Lake neighborhood contains an eclectic mix of restaurants, from high-end to drive-thrus.
Mezze, 3407 Lakeshore Ave., (510) 663-2500.  High-end Mediterranean cuisine, with a good bar and occasional live music.
Spettro, 3355 Lakeshore Ave., (510) 451-7738.  A neighborhood favorite, with cuisine ranging from Italian to Mexican to Thai. Order the Coconut Lime Mussels, and save some rosemary rolls for dipping. No corkage fee.
Mijori, 3260 Grand Ave., (510) 465-8854. One of the best Japanese restaurants in the Bay Area. Usually a long wait for a table on the weekend.
Miss Saigon 3345 Grand Ave., (510) 835-3474. Great family-run Vietnamese restaurant with good food at good prices, and a ridiculously good beer selection. Local delivery, but it's always better fresh out of the kitchen.
Michael Mischer Chocolates, 3352 Grand Ave., (510) 986-1822.  Incredible gourmet chocolate and gelato.
The Piedmont Avenue neighborhood is a foodie's delight. From gourmet Bay Wolf and Jojo to Baja Taqueria great food abounds.
Bay Wolf Restaurant, 3853 Piedmont Ave., (510) 655-6004, . A Bay Area tradition for almost thirty years, Bay Wolf offers an elegant and relaxed setting in which to enjoy fine cuisine inspired by the regions of the Mediterranean.
Fentons Creamery and Restaurant, 4226 Piedmont Ave., +1-510-658-7000, . M-Th 11AM-11PM, F-Sa 11AM-midnight. This hundred-year-old ice cream parlor is a cornerstone of Oakland culture -- one of those places that East Bay folks point to as making the region special. Huge bowls of ice cream and sundaes of various sorts are served in this always-crowded eatery. Sugar-amped kids roam the aisles all day and into the evening, and although the place attracts a cannabis-enhanced college crowd towards the end of the night, it always has a sweet and wholesome atmosphere. $5-15 (large sundae or entree).
Baja Taqueria 4070 Piedmont Ave. 510-547-2252. An avenue institution with lines sometimes out the doors for their great and innovative Baja style seafood and other Mexican food. The fish tacos are legendary and the lobster burritos hit home like nothing else. Service is fast and friendly. The portions are big and the prices are reasonable. Try the agua frescas too.
Le Cheval, 1007 Clay Street, (510) 763-8957. Dinner nightly, lunch on weekdays. Outstanding yet very affordable Vietnamese cuisine (in a Chinese-ified style) makes this currently one of Oakland's trendiest restaurants. VERY attractive hostess. Closes 9:30PM.
Caffè 817, 817 Washington Street (in the Ratto's building), (510) 271-7965. Mo-Sa breakfast & lunch. Stylish Italian caffè where patrons line up patiently for capuccini, chorizo & eggs, polenta, fresh fruit granola, panini sandwiches & salads.
New World Vegetarian, 464 8th Street (off Broadway), (510) 444-2891. Lunch & dinner daily. Completely renovated in spring 2003, New World Vegetarian offers an eclectic and broad array of sumptuous and satisfying vegan dishes -- Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, Chinese, American, even Brazilian.
TJ's Gingerbread House, 741 5th Street (a few blocks from Old Oakland), (510) 444-7373, . Tu-Sat breakfast, lunch & dinner. TJ's calls itself "a fairytale come true" -- and chef/owner/diva TJ Robinson's Cajun/Creole specialty dishes will not disappoint. If you're headed for TJ's for dinner, call ahead for reservations and order your entree at least a day in advance if you're going to have the cherry duck, sauteed quail, pheasant bon temps, squab cassoulet, rabbit piquante, or Dungeness stuffed crab in seashell. Be sure to try TJ's world-famous sassy cornbread and leave room for dessert! Location closed December 2007. Currently boarded up and for sale (06/29/09).
Supreme Vegan, 906 Stanford (at Market), (510) 655-0132. Lunch, weekend brunch & dinner; Cooked and Raw foods, soul food, sandwiches, smoothies, juices (try their own brand of ginger drinks), soups and salads, and lunch and dinner specials. Friendly and relaxed neighborhood hangout serving a variety of innovative foods made to order. Southern-influenced cooking, but there's a variety on order.
West Oakland has some great, homey places for breakfast and lunch.
Pretty Lady, 1733 Peralta St (between 17th St & 18th St), (510) 832-1213. Go for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. Korean American diner with a friendly staff. The only seating is bar stools.
Brown Sugar Kitchen, 2534 Mandela Parkway, 510-839-SOUL (7685) email@example.com. Serves breakfast and lunch. A home cooked soul food restaurant with a great wine selection. On sundays they are usually packed. 
SadieDey's Cafe (formerly tumble & tea cafe) 4210 Telegraph Avenue, 510-601-7378. www.sadiedeyscafe.com The Gal at at SadieDey's Cafe ( named for her 2 inspirations, Sadie age 3 and Deylan age 4) has infused the comfortable atmosphere of an yummy cafe with the excitement and variety of a play space. Toddlers can slide, climb, jump, build, role play and pretend cook in the safe play area while parents look on with their cappuccino in hand or play along in their socked feet. Not only do they offer no-reservations-necessary play times, they also host movie nights, parent education lectures and workshops, sing-alongs and story times. Mother's Helpers available 10-2 every day!
Located in a residential neighborhood, you will find this cozy restaurant that has a flair of Southern Asia flavors. The mix of Vietnamese, Lao, Thai and Mien cuisine makes this restaurant a unique one. Make sure to get an order of Pad Thai, the best in Oakland!
Oakland's vibrant Latino community, a 10 block strip located on International Boulevard adjacent to the Fruitvale BART station, is a host to some of the best (and most inexpensive) Mexican food in the Bay Area. Although the recently built "Fruitvale Village" shopping area next to the BART station has several new restaurants, they are probably worth visiting. If one prefers real local flavor, one should visit the following:
Essential eateries are:
San Jose Taqueria, corner of International Blvd and 35th Avenue.
Widely regarded to have the best tacos, but offers a wide array of options (burritos, enchiladadas, tortas, etc) and dinner plates. Most items are less than $5, have medium-large portions, and have generous ingredients (dinner plates are less than $10 and are "a la carte"). Another plus is the free self serve restaurant-made tortilla chips and delicious salsa and guacamole. Plenty of room to sit inside this historic and creatively decorated restaurant, or sit outside on the patio and enjoy the sunshine. Good for lunch or dinner, and open until 10PM.
Taqueria La Costa, corner of International Blvd and 37th Avenue.
A small, outdoor patio restaurant that features seafood but has the regular fare of typical Mexican restaurants. All items are less than $5 and are generally spicy, so make sure you request no salsa or jalapenos if that is your preference. A former burger joint turned-taqueria, this eatery is good for lunch and best enjoyed in fair weather with a refreshing agua fresca, as tables are exclusively on the outdoor patio. Open until 7PM.
El Gordo, corner of International Blvd and 40th Avenue.
Could be considered the best taco truck in Oakland, with fare that by far beats any restaurant. Their burritos are over 12" and unbeatable. Contrary to popular belief, taco trucks (especially this one) are sanitary and have much better food than what one can usually find in standard restaurants. As there is no where to sit, one must eat food standing next to the taco truck (which is the option of many workers who have lunch/dinner there) or eat elsewhere, preferably on a bench in the pleasant "Fruitvale Village" adjacent to the Fruitvale BART station 5 blocks west.
Saigon Wraps, located inside the Fruitvale Transit Village.
This is home of the original Banh Mi Sandwich. The restaurant's origins and claim to fame is that they introduced banh mi sandwiches to California in the early 80s. The $2.50 sandwiches are cheaper than many taco-truck burritos.
A Cote, 75478 College Avenue, (510) 655-6469. Lunch & dinner; Charming small portion French meals in great ambiance.
Soi Four: Bangkok Eatery, 5421 College Avenue, (510) 655-0889. Expansive selection of dishes at affordable prices especially given prompt service, simple and pleasant ambiance, solid wine by the glass list. A weeknight favorite. Seafood items among strongest on menu.
Rockrigde Longs Drugs Top Dog, Rockridge Mall, (510) 548-8453. This eccentric store is a know hang out of the hipster crowd,and trans gender community. Grab a lawn chair and hang out in this 24 hour store and chat it up with the locals. Discuss the "scene" with the college students from the CCAC. Hang out at the Tog Dog and enjoy the local fauna at the garden section of lawn.
To get the real essence of "Chinatown," Oakland rather than San Francisco is your best bet. There are innumerable places to eat, not only Chinese restaurants, but Japanese and some Vietnamese as well. Chances are, any place you choose to venture in will have inexpensive and great food.
Vien Huong Restaurant, 712 Franklin St
This is the best restaurant in Chinatown for a mix of Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine. Be sure to order a noodle soup and fish cake(with a sweet and sour salad)!
Shan Dong Restaurant
Although Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown has visited this place (a framed picture of him and the restaurant owner is proudly displayed), this restaurant has the characteristics of a local, "dirty but delicious" gem. Entrees are inexpensive and flavorful. Often crowded with local Chinese, and so when busy one may have to wait a while to get a table. And another note; that manager in the framed picture with the Mayor? Yes, that was the same man that led you to your table and gave you the menus.
San Antonio District
The neighborhood centered on International Blvd and 8th Avenue is not officially named "Little Saigon" but may as well be, as this area has predominantly Vietnamese shops and restaurants. As Vietnamese is the language of choice, it will take some creativity when seeking restaurants and ordering food, but it's well worth the effort for those unbeatable $2 French-inspired Vietnamese sandwiches and the infinite varieties of Pho.
Easy Lounge, 3255 Lakeshore Avenue (at Lakeside Drive, next to Arizmendi), (510) 338-4911, . The reigning see-and-be-seen king in Oakland.
Pacific Coast Brewing Company, 906 Washington St. (at 10th St. in Old Oakland), (510) 836-2739, . A popular brewpub.
Radio Bar, (13th Street between Broadway and Franklin). A small hipster bar with a cool DJ.
Ruby Room, (14th Street Between Madison & Jefferson, across from the Central Library). A larger bar with a similar ambiance to the Radio Bar.
Lucky Lounge, 3332 Grand Avenue. A more upscale bar with a mixed crowd of people.
Pat's, (on Franklin near the corner of 15th street). An ordinary after-work bar with a really cool Blues Open-mic night on Wednesday nights, hosted by the charismatic Bird Leg. If you like live music, this is a highlight of the Bay Area.
Cato's Ale House, 3891 Piedmont Avenue (near Montel street on Piedmont Avenue), (510) 655-3349, . A popular pub with a great local feel.
Best Western Airport Inn and Suites, 170 Hegenberger Loop, ☎ +1 510 633-0500 (fax: +1 510 633-1040), .
Best Western Inn at the Square, 233 Broadway, ☎ +1 510 452-4565 (fax: +1 510 452-4634), .
Courtyard Oakland Downtown, 998 Broadway, ☎ 510-625-8282, . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 12PM. Steps from BART subway, traveling to San Fran in mins. Property offers: outdoor pool, fitness center, & 3 meeting rooms.
Oakland Marriott City Center, 1001 Broadway, ☎ +1 510 451-4000 (fax: +1 510 835-3466), . Onsite restaurant, fitness center and heated swimming pool. Access to downtown shuttle system.
In past years, Oakland has enjoyed the dubious distinction of having one of the highest per capita murder rates in the United States. Although many parts of Oakland are considered generally safe, it is a good idea to exercise care and always be aware of your surroundings. Jack London Square and the hills east of Interstate 580 are the safest parts of the city. Downtown and Chinatown are safe during the day, but not necessarily at night. Most other parts of the city, including the vast "flatlands" between Lake Merritt and the San Leandro border, have a high crime rate and should be tread in carefully all times by tourists.