Oakland stands out as an important industrial port city in California and as one of the most important centers of African-American culture. With its large downtown area and its industrial charme, Oakland reminds somewhat of older industrial cities in the east coast like Pittsburgh or Baltimore.However, Oakland's diversity––one of the most racially and ethnically diverse cities in America–– its strikingly creative, and multiracial "hipster" culture, historically, often prescient, progressive politics, and its emerging status as one of America's leading culinary cities, all ensure its distinctness.
San Francisco International, +1 800 435 9736, (IATA: SFO) located about 10 mi (16km) south of the city is a major international airport, one of the largest in the world and has numerous passenger amenities including a wide range of food and drink establishments, shopping, baggage storage, public showers, a medical clinic, and assistance for lost or stranded travelers and military personnel. It is the major hub for Virgin America and United as well as a major international airport with direct flights to Asia, Latin America and Europe from airlines that include British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
Oakland International, +1 510 563-3300, (IATA: OAK) in the East Bay is the fourth busiest airport in California (following Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego). It provides flights and services to numerous destinations in the United States as well as Mexico,with a growing list of European destinations, including Scandinavia, Spain, Britain, and Italy. It is a major hub for Southwest airlines. Oakland Airport is easily accessible through public transit. The air train connects the local train BART to the airport.
Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International, +1 408 277-4759, (IATA: SJC) in Silicon Valley, about 1 hour south of San Francisco attracts Bay Area residents who find SFO to be inconveniently distant from their homes. Daily long haul destinations include Tokyo (ANA) and London (British Airways). Beijing (Hainan) and Shanghai (Air China) are served multiple times a week while Frankfurt (Lufthansa) is seasonal (summer). Oakland and San Jose tend to offer more discount airline flights, while San Francisco Airport attracts more international flights and can be more convenient for those staying in the city. Private pilots should consider Oakland (ICAO: KOAK) rather than SFO, as the separate general aviation field there is more accommodating to light aircraft.
BART - This is the local train that is used through the bay area, with at least 8 stops designated to the city of Oakland. For train schedule, ticket cost, see http://www.bart.gov/
AMTRAK - connects the city of Oakland to other cities across the US
Local bus system operated by AC Transit. Bus fares are $2.35 each way. There are value tickets (month pass) that can be purchased for $84.60 from most grocery retailers like Walgreen, Safeway, Lucky and Whole Foods. http://www.actransit.org/rider-info/fares-tickets-passes/
Another option of going to the San Francisco is through the ferry system. Oakland's port is located at Jack London. https://sanfranciscobayferry.com/route/sffb/oakland
Oakland is a friendly city that has multiple forms of transportations for all users - public transit, bikes (rentable for day or monthly use through Ford bikes(https://www.fordgobike.com/) and Lime bikes and scooters https://www.limebike.com/) and private automobiles
For public transit, it would be best to get a clipper card. This card allows you to reload, tap and go on busses, trains and ferries. There isn't any day, week or monthly pass available, but using your clipper card is best as it will save you a little bit of money opposed to using cash or credit to buy a ticket. Clipper cards can be bought at certain Walgreens and Bart stations (available at Lake Merritt, Embarcadero and Montgomery).
Downtown Oakland offers many interesting sights to visit. There are elegant high-rise buildings, but also beautiful traditional architecture in Old Oakland. There exists a fascinating old urban Chinatown in downtown Oakland.
A lively 100 year old neighborhood boardering the north of Lake Merritt that features the historic Grand Lake Theater and Morcom Rose Garden. Take a stroll down Lakeshore Avenue, with its charming string lights, coffee shops, restaurants, and thrift shops. Or walk down Grand Avenue and take a Bikram yoga class followed by a slice of pizza.
Ok folks there is great food here. Where to start: el farolito, burritos. Pho 84. Buttercup cafe. Ethiopian. Mexican. Arizmendi pizza/bread collective. Fist of flour pizza. Chinatown. At least a dozen foodie areas: rock ridge, uptown, laurel, diamond, downtown, jack London square, piedmont, Montclair, Fruitvale, Park Blvd, Broadway at 50th
There isn't that many budget options in the Bay Area in general. It is best advised that if you are looking for a good deal, you can explore Airbnb. This is a rental platform that allows home owners to rent their furnished rooms out to guest for a day, week, or month. Be sure to look at the reviews prior to booking. Ranges can be from $50 or more.
As in any metropolitan city it is best advised to be vigilant of one's surroundings while exploring the city. Oakland used to be a dangerous city filled with crimes, but in the last decade, the city has revitalized many areas attracting an influx of talents and companies to open and operate in the city. This city is undergoing gentrification, such that, the cost of living has increased changing the demographics of the city. It is a generally safe city to be in, depending on which districts you are in. Generally, the hills and areas around the lake is safe.
Oakland being in the Bay Area has a relatively high rate of homelessness. The rates are reducing according to the recent statistics. But it is still advisable to avoid the areas where there are homeless people.