Oakland is an amazing place to soak up great summer vibes. With a variety of events and activities happening throughout The Town  – there is something for everyone to enjoy. By day or by night, whether you’re looking to plan the perfect date, get together with friends or enjoy lots of family fun - Oakland is the place to be!

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This natural saltwater lake is a scenic gathering place right in the middle of town.
Just the facts

Who dwells here: Avid runners, young families, musicians, students, professionals
Main architecture: Art Deco to 1950s flats
Neighborhood giants: Lake Merritt
Where to mingle with locals: Every side of the lake

The vibe

Do you know those French impressionist paintings from the turn of the century? Lake Merritt could be a model for a 21st-century version. It has that Saturday-by-the-lake relaxed vibe. Geese quack, joggers loop the perimeter and rowers plunk their oars into the water. Add to that some barbequing, salsa dancing and sun bathing at Lakeside Park. Lake Merritt is perfect for a picnic, a paddle, or a stroll, this is where people come to just hang out.

The inside inside scoop

This is Visit Oakland’s version of Believe it or Not. But believe this. Lake Merritt was the United States’ first official wildlife refuge (in 1870).

If you only have three hours

Encircled by art deco buildings and 1950s flats, this saltwater and freshwater lake, fed by the estuary and bay, is the first official wildlife refuge in the United States. Take a gondola ride with Dolce Vita Gondola around the lake, watch some salsa dancing in Lakeside Park, or stroll part of the more than three-mile path at dusk to see the Necklace of Lights — ’20s-era lampposts and thousands of cafe lights — illuminate the water’s edge.

Visiting with children? Plan a visit to Children’s Fairyland, a whimsical 10-acre magical fantasy world where young children can create, imagine, play, and learn all day long, located on the shores of Lake Merritt. Or head to The Gardens at Lake Merritt, a hidden jewel in the heart of city, this seven-acre collection of themed gardens features a diverse array of flora ranging from bonsai to Mediterranean and edible plants, these gardens are a perfect place for an afternoon adventure or quiet walk. A visit to the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) should also be in your itinerary!

For lakeside dining and views, reserve a table at The Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill, Grand Lake Kitchen, or Sidebar. In the mood for a cold beer? Grab pint at Portal Beer Garden, we highly recommend their garbage bread.

How to get here

Freeway exit: From I-580 E, the Grand Ave/Lakeshore exit; from I-580 W, the Grand Ave. exit

BART stop: 19th St/Oakland for Grand Ave. (though you’ll still need to take a bus, or walk about two miles to access the heart of Grand Ave.)

Bus lines: NL, 12, 58L, 75, 805 (all-nighter)