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Top Things Oakland's Known For

View of the San Francisco bridge leading to Oakland

Oakland is the largest city in the East Bay, the third largest in the entirety of The Bay Area, and the eighth largest in California (by population). Here are a few famous landmarks, attractions, themes, and facts that have put Oakland on the map.

Lake Merritt

Smack dab in the center of Oakland and cherished by residents for its natural beauty, Lake Merritt is notable for being one of America’s first official wildlife refuges. It's been a National Historic landmark since the early 1960s. With an area of approximately 155 acres (63 hectares), its shoreline is followed by a walking path that stretches about 3.4 miles. A tidal lagoon, Lake Merrit is connected to the San Francisco Bay via a channel and tidal gates, allowing for a mix of salt and freshwater in the lake.

Jack London Square

A popular waterfront destination in Oakland, California, famed Jack London Square is known for its vibrant mix of dining, shopping, and entertainment options. Named after the famous author Jack London, who spent much of his youth in the area, the square also features historical landmarks and scenic views of the Oakland Estuary. Redevelopment has influenced its progress as of late, and there are big future plans for this area to thrive as Oakland continues marching toward the future.

The Fox Theater

Over on Telegraph Avenue, you’ll find the historic Fox Theater, a 2,800-seat concert venue that was once a movie theater. It's a masterpiece of early 20th-century archiecturer, with an intricate terra cotta and tile facade and opulent Art Deco and Moorish Revival interior. It served this role faithfully from 1928 to 1970, and after a bit of repair work in the 2000s, re-emerged as the bustling performance venue we know today.

Oakland Museum of California

One of the grandest museums you’ll find in The Bay Area, the Oakland Museum of California is unique in its integration of art, history, and natural sciences, with extensive collections that offer a comprehensive look at the state's cultural and natural heritage. Its popular Friday Nights at OMCA program complements museum attractions with live music and food trucks.

Cultural Diversity

Oakland is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States, with a rich cultural tapestry reflected in its neighborhoods, cuisine, and festivals. Oakland was also the birthplace of the Black Panther Party, which played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement and advocacy for African American rights.

Redwood Regional Park

Just a few miles outside of Oakland, you’ll find this grand and inviting forest. It’s known, of course, for the towering redwood trees that are common here, though the 1,800-acre region also includes evergreens, chaparral and various grasslands as well. Due to its location and elevation, Redwood Regional Park experiences a unique microclimate that supports the growth of its redwoods - some of which are more than 150 years old.

Paramount Theater

A stunning example of Art Deco architecture with intricate mosaics, gilded details, and a grand marquee, the Paramount is one of the most impressive movie palaces of its time. Notably, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977 and still hosts a wide range of performances, including classic film screenings, concerts, and Broadway shows.

Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate

Built in 1899, the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate is an exquisite example of Neoclassical Revival architecture, set on a picturesque 50-acre property. Noteworthy for its inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, the estate also features a 37-room mansion with original period furnishings and beautifully landscaped gardens that host numerous public events and private functions throughout the year.

Chabot Space and Science Center

The Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland boasts one of the largest research-level telescopes regularly open to the public, offering breathtaking views of the night sky. Additionally, the center features the Bill Nye's Climate Lab, an interactive exhibit designed by the famous science educator to engage visitors in understanding and combating climate change.

Eli’s Mile High Club

Established in the mid-1970s, Eli's Mile High Club has a long history as a staple in Oakland's music and nightlife scene. Initially a legendary Blues establishment, Eli’s Mile High Club is now a venue with more of a
rock and punk persuasion. It's always been a great place to catch a live show, and makes for a great spot to spend an evening on the town. Oakland is known for its vibrant music scene in general and contributions to jazz, blues, funk, and hip-hop. Other music venues such as Yoshi's Jazz Club and the Fox Theater continue to foster a dynamic and diverse musical culture.

Tech and Innovation

Oakland is part of the greater San Francisco Bay Area, known for its proximity to Silicon Valley and its growing tech and startup community. Its tech scene has seen significant growth, attracting prominent companies such as Pandora Media and Blue Bottle Coffee's tech operations, which have chosen the city for its vibrant culture and diverse talent pool. Additionally, the presence of co-working spaces like Impact Hub Oakland and Kapor Center for Social Impact fosters a collaborative environment for startups and entrepreneurs.