Lake Merritt is a 3.4 mile natural lake located in the heart of downtown Oakland. Locals consider it the crown jewel of the city and dub the string of lights surrounding the perimeter of the shoreline the “necklace of lights.” It’s a unique salt and fresh water lake that connects to the Oakland Estuary and Pacific Ocean.
On any given day and time, you’ll see runners, walkers, bikers, and families spending time around Lake Merritt.
Surrounding Lake Merritt are several great attractions for people of all ages, including many family friendly activities. Dining and shopping options are plentiful to ensure a full day of enjoyment in the neighborhood.
Lake Merritt Wild Life Sanctuary (600 Bellevue Avenue
X) – Lake Merritt serves as a stop-over location for thousands of migratory birds annually and was declared a National Wildlife Refuge in 1869. Today, there are five man-made islands that serves as nesting spots for birds, which visitors can observe on the northeast side of the lake.
Lake Merritt Boating Center (568 Bellevue Avenue) – Rent a variety of boats, sail boats, and kayaks, and canoes with the family! Kids especially love the pedal boat rentals on the Lake.
Children’s Fairyland (699 Bellevue Avenue) – Sitting right on the boarder of the neighborhood is this iconic Oakland attraction. It’s a storybook theme park that has been open for 60 years and was an inspiration for Walt Disney’s Disneyland.
Gardens at Lake Merritt (665 Bellevue Avenue) – This hidden gem is a community-driven garden maintained by almost entirely of volunteers. Visitors love learning about the different types of plants in the facility and walking through the bonsai garden located within.
Cathedral of Christ the Light (2121 Harrison Street) – This Catholic church is the first cathedral built entirely in the 21st century. Its modern design has been recognized with architectural awards.
Oakland Museum of California (1000 Oak Street) – Dubbed “the museum of us,” this unique and interactive museum showcases the history, culture, art, environment and politics that make up California’s diversity. This month, check out the exhibit on artist Roy de Forrest, artist Math Bass and the Imperial Court SF and their weekly food and music event, Friday Nights @ OMCA, from 5-10PM.
Segway of Oakland (212 International Boulevard) – Cruise around Oakland in style with Segway of Oakland. Take a tour around Lake Merritt and see the city from a new perspective in half the time!
Gondola Servizio (1520 Lakeside Drive) – Explore Lake Merritt on an authentic Venetian gondola while being serenaded by an Italian gondolier! It’s a romantic and fun way to take in the lake on a sunny afternoon.
Lake Chalet (1520 Lakeside Drive) – Sip on a cocktail on the docks at Lake Merritt! This iconic restaurant was formerly a boathouse and now serves as the go-to spot for lakeside dining. A favorite of local Oakland celebrities and athletes, now’s the time to enjoy your meal (or happy hour!) at this prime location.
Portal (1611 2nd Avenue) – Bring your friends and enjoy a meal at this casual restaurant and outdoor beer garden. Come on the weekends and enjoy a brunch with bottomless mimosas, perfect for a relaxing summer day.
PieTisserie (1605 2nd Avenue) – This cute local pie shop serves their iconic desserts and other baked goods. In addition to a rotating selection of pies, check out the small baking classes as well, perfect for a date night activity!
Gastropig (2123 Franklin Street) – The breakfast sandwich gets the honor it deserves with the newly opened Gastropig. Dedicated to quality ingredients and fast service, their famous #baconslut sandwich has already developed a cult following in the short time since its debut.
The Terrace Room (1800 Madison Street) – Floor-to-ceiling windows facing Lake Merritt provides diners with a one-of-a-kind panoramic view of the lake. Sitting elevated from street level, your sightline is unobstructed and especially gorgeous at night. The art deco décor and delicious local and organic dishes make this perfect spot for Mother’s Day brunch.