Grand Av & Park View Ter, Oakland, CA 94610, USA
We kick off our tour today on the north shore of Lake Merritt, which gives this area of Oakland its name. This area has been a hub for entertainment and recreation for over a century! This shoreline, which bulges out into the water, is called Adams Point and is almost entirely occupied by various parks and public spaces. Immediately to your right, you can’t miss the storybook magic of Fairyland. Opened in 1950, it was one of the first themed amusement parks to appear in the United States. Fairyland is a storybook-themed park with close to 60 fairy tale sets, kid-sized rides, and adorable animals. Fairyland’s Open Storybook Puppet Theater holds the title of the oldest continuously operating puppet theater in America! In addition to rides and playsets, Fairyland has acres of beautiful gardens to explore, making it the place to be for a fun family outing. The amusement park is fun for all ages but is especially enjoyable for visitors under 8. Speaking of beauty in nature and amusement, the Bonsai Garden, a free-admission, volunteer-run botanical garden, is coming up on your left. The Japanese-style garden has over 100 miniature Bonsai trees. This peaceful space is perfect for quiet contemplation and reflection In many cultures, the Bonsai represents harmony, balance, patience, and in some cases, luck. In any case, Lake Merritt’s neighbors are lucky indeed to live so close to this beautiful garden. Continuing down Bellevue Avenue, you’ll pass the Oakland Lawn Bowling Club on your left and the Rotary Nature Center on the right. The Nature Center is the headquarters for North America’s oldest government-run wildlife refuge. Lake Merritt was established as a sanctuary for migrating waterfowl in 1870, decades before the creation of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. At the end of the road, turn right on Grand Avenue. The Oakland Pergola and Colonnade was designed in 1913 by architect Walter Reed. The beautiful structure rests at the end of Lake Merritt's eastern arm, the perfect location with picturesque views of the lake. The Pergola's renovation took place in 2007 as part of the Oakland Trust for Clean Water and Safe Parks. It’s a popular spot for photographers, especially in those magic moments before dark. There is nothing better than watching the sunset from between the columns of the Pergola as the city's lights reflect over the water. Keep heading up Grand to pass under the freeway and enter Grand Lake.
3247 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610, USA
Grand Avenue is the main thoroughfare of the Grand Lake Neighborhood, with a vibe of laid-back nightlife that provides constant entertainment. A diverse collection of restaurants gives the area an exciting atmosphere for locals and visitors alike. One standout on Grand is the upscale Almond and Oak. Focusing on seasonal and market-driven food, the inspired dishes are deceptively simple and highlight distinct flavors of fresh ingredients. Almond and Oak is also a great place to stop by for weekend brunch. If you are looking for a place to chill and relax after a long day of exploring, try Heart and Dagger, the neighborhood's lakeside saloon. They have an outdoor patio with highly coveted seating on beautiful evenings. They are open until 2 am every night, so feel free to stay awhile. Over on Lakeshore Avenue, a block east, you’ll find Arizmendi Bakery, a black-owned, worker-owned establishment. They specialize in artisan bread, gourmet pizza, morning pastries, and fresh soups and salads. They have a rotating bread schedule, so you can enjoy something new every day of the week. Up ahead, you’ll make a right onto Wildwood Avenue to continue toward our next neighborhood. However, if you were to turn left at that same intersection you’d happen upon one of Grand Lake’s most beautiful attractions. The Morcom Rose Garden first opened in the late 1920s, and the roaring spirit of that decade can be found in the thousands of exotic roses, which can be viewed in full bloom from Mother's day through October 31st. Keep following Wildwood through Grand Lake’s residential neighborhoods to get a feel for the cozy neighborhood vibe of the area. Wildwood doesn’t exactly go straight, so make sure to listen closely to the GPS directions to follow its twists and turns. I’ll pick back up with you at our next stop.
306 Wildwood Ave, Piedmont, CA 94611, USA
Our next area, Piedmont, is actually incorporated as its own city, completely surrounded by the City of Oakland. Having just passed one of Piedmont’s three elementary schools, you can see Piedmont Park stretching out on your left. The park has a paved trail perfect for walking and is an ideal spot for picnics and dog walking. Visitors love it for its free two-hour parking and beautiful fountain. The creek that runs through it is a popular spot for four-legged community members to cool off in the summer. The north end of the park is bordered by Piedmont's Unified School District, whose athletic facilities make up a significant chunk of the park itself. Being its own city, Piedmont has its own distinct school district separate from Oakland, making it a desirable place to raise a family. They have three elementary schools – Beach, Wildwood, and Havens, the graduates of which move on to Piedmont Middle. Piedmont offers two High school facilities, Piedmont and Millennium. Learning doesn't just stop once you graduate high school in Piedmont. Adults also have the opportunity to take classes at the Piedmont Adult School. The Piedmont Adult School offers community classes, such as cooking and computer classes. Piedmont also offers a free High school Diploma Program that allows you to study at your own pace to achieve a degree for greater academic and career success. The adult school offers free programs for adults 55 and over to provide creative retirement for enrichment and community connection. As you’ll see as you drive down Highland Avenue, Piedmont is almost entirely residential, with tree-lined streets and single-family homes. Next, we’ll see the more commercial side of town, where you’ll find the restaurants and shops that sustain the locals.
206 Moraga Ave, Piedmont, CA 94611, USA
One of Piedmont’s largest green spaces, the Piedmont Cemetary stretches out to your right. In 1863 the Mountain View Cemetery was established by a group of East Bay pioneers. They still operate the cemetery today. The area doubles as park space, with a dedicated walking trail that winds its way through the cemetery hills and offers stunning views of the city. Adjacent to the cemetery, Claremont Country Club is also a must-see. This 18-hole course was redesigned in 1926. The Club’s other amenities include seven tennis courts, two outdoor pools, and a fitness facility. The architecture of the clubhouse is Tudor-style, constructed in 1929, with renovations throughout the years. Up ahead, you’ll make a right at the end of Moraga onto Pleasant Valley Avenue. Besides scenic cemeteries and beautiful country clubs, Piemont has a beautiful park that used to be a rock quarry. Dracena Quarry Park, just a few blocks away on your left, spans 8 acres with a large lawn, dog run, and playground. The playground has a climbing wall for future rock climbers to enjoy. There’s also a unique picnic table carved from a massive tree stump. Pleasant Valley Avenue crosses over Piedmont’s two main commercial streets. Piedmont Avenue, which you’ll see first, is a great place to grab a cup of joe, with no fewer than five coffee shops along its seven-block length. This is also where you’ll find neighborhood essentials, like banks, dry cleaners, convenience stores, and the local cinema. The end of the road crosses the border back into Oakland. That’s where you’ll find the Kaiser Permanente Hospital, a megastructure that covers multiple city blocks. The other commercial street in Piedmont is called Broadway – that’s where you’ll be turning right. Shortly after, you’ll make a slight left onto College Avenue into the Rockridge neighborhood – I’ll pick back up again there!
5305 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618, USA
Located along Oakland’s border with the City of Berkeley, Rockridge is a quiet neighborhood made up of single-family homes. Take a right on Manila Avenue, and keep an eye on your GPS. You'll be taking another slight right on Monroe and driving through the Piedmont Golf Course to cut over to Broadway Terrace. College Avenue, which you’ve been on for a short while, is Rockridge’s main drag which winds its way up to the University of California At Berkeley, lined with restaurants and shops along the way. If you’re interested in those points further north, feel free to come back and take our tour of Berkeley's many neighborhoods! Shopping highlights along College Avenue include Maison D'Être, an upscale boutique for home goods and decor, and Pavé Jewellers. If you’re looking for a cup of coffee and comfort food, the Rockridge cafe is a great place to stop in, serving delicious waffles and other all-day breakfast items. Rockridge’s restaurant scene has recently exploded. In 2013 alone, a dozen new eateries opened, such as the Ramen shop, which specializes in organic and sustainable noodle dishes. Lovers of Italian cuisine can head to A16 Rockridge, famous for its take on southern Italy’s culinary scene, or Enoteca Molinari, which offers a taste of Tuscan food alongside Italian wines and custom cheese and charcuterie boards. Another popular landmark here in Rockridge is Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream Parlor, which opened in 1928 and launched the famous nationwide brand. Dreyer’s is credited with inventing the Rocky Road flavor on this site in 1929. Broadway Terrace takes you uphill into an area known as Upper Rockridge. From here on out our tour will mostly consist of residential areas, so we’ll be focusing on the parks and community amenities that make the eastern limits of Oakland such an enticing place to live.
111 Buckeye Ave, Oakland, CA 94618, USA
Up ahead on your left, you’ll notice the line of houses gives way to a stretch of woodland with a few trail entrances. This is the southern end of the Lake Temescal Recreation Area, a beautiful spot to enjoy the outdoors hidden away in a secluded valley. I’ll tell you more about it in a bit, but first I have to let you know that you’ll be taking the on-ramp marked “Freeway Entrance” that’s coming up on your right. You’ll only be on the freeway for one exit – get off on Moraga Avenue to head East into our next neighborhood, Montclair. While you do all that, let’s talk about Lake Temescal. Lake Temescal is the centerpiece of the Temescal Regional Recreation Area. The park first opened to the public in 1936 as one of the district's first three parks. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout and catfish in the winter and summer, respectively. There’s also a sandy beach and designated swimming area, accessible for a small beach fee. Besides the lake, Oaklanders flock to the park to hike, picnic, and cycle across its acres of trails, woods, and lawns. The park also offers monthly seasonal events and is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
6180 Moraga Ave, Piedmont, CA 94611, USA
On your left, you can get a glimpse of Montclair Park, located here in the center of the Montclair Neighborhood. Despite being right off the Warren Freeway, Montclair retains its reputation as a quiet neighborhood, its wooded parks and streets nestled among the hills that make up the eastern edge of the city. Montclair park is where the neighborhood comes to play, with public tennis and pickleball courts, a playground, a small pond, and wide green lawns for picnics and games. Just down the street is Montclair’s commercial center, with restaurant offerings that include tacos, Thai, and sushi. Plenty of bars and coffee shops line the left side of Moraga and Mountain Avenue, the next block over. You’ll also find the local Safeway and Rite-Aid within the same couple of blocks. Soon our route will turn left on Snake Road and cut up through Shepherd Canyon Park into the neighborhood that bears the same name. But before we get there, two more things about this small walkable shopping area in the heart of Montclair: For lovers of fresh, healthy foods, this small town square is the site of the Montclair Farmers’ Market, held here every Sunday year-round. For folks with a craving for something a little sweeter, take a break from perusing the vegetable stalls and duck into Le Bonbon, a small candy store with tons of homemade and imported European-style chocolates and confections.
5921 Shepherd Canyon Rd, Oakland, CA 94611, USA
If you’re an avid hiker or outdoor enthusiast, the rest of today’s tour is sure to pique your interest. As we climb the hills to the edge of the city, the feeling of nature along the suburban streets becomes palpable. Shepherd Canyon Park, on both sides of the road, is 34 acres of land set aside for preservation. The park and neighborhood get their name from the Shepherd family, Oaklanders that resided on this land in the late 1800s. Today the park features trails for hiking and beautiful areas to explore. On Weekends the fields are filled with youth sports. There is also a small climbing structure and hillside paths with breathtaking sunset views. Speaking of enjoying nature at the park, the Montclair Railroad Trail is a 3.1-mile paved trail that begins in Montclair Park down the hill and runs all the way to the top of Shepherd Canyon. The trail is excellent for bird watching, road biking, and trail running. It can get a little crowded at times, but you can still experience moments of zen and calm during the less busy parts of the day. The trail is open year-round, and is particularly popular for dog walks! Another nearby place to get your blood pumping is at the Montclair golf course. It is a 9-hole par 3 course that opens daily from 10AM to 1 hour before sunset. It's a perfect location for beginner golfers to hone their skills. They even offer lessons every day of the week from their golf pros. Okay, folks! Just one more place to see on our trip. The route there will take you through the residential areas of Shepherd’s Canyon and the neighborhood known as Piedmont Pines.
9640 Skyline Blvd, Oakland, CA 94611, USA
We’re reaching the end of today’s journey, and I thought there’d be no better place to leave you than Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, a major perk for folks who live in Piedmont Pines and Oakland’s eastern suburbs. Sitting atop the ridge and expanding far into the valley beyond, the park has the largest population of remaining natural stands of coastal redwood on the East Bay. Continue on Skyline Boulevard and keep an eye on the left side of the road to see the Chabot Space Center. The Chabot Space and Science Center features interactive exhibits, planetariums, and a large-screen theater. With hands-on activities and access to three powerful telescopes, this place is a destination for amateur astronomers of all ages! Skyline Boulevard divides this massive swath of parkland into two sections. Reinhardt Park, run by the East Bay Regional Park District, extends for 1,800 acres on the left side of the road, while the area on the right is run by the City of Oakland. That area, dubbed Joaquin Miller Park, is enormous; it contains a multitude of hiking trails and paved multi-use paths for biking and running. This inspiring wooded park is named after California writer and poet Joaquin Miller. Miller bought the park in the 1880s and named it 'The Heights.' Creatives from all around the East Bay Area continue to find inspiration among the ancient trees that line the paths and valleys of the park. Who knows? Maybe a walk through the redwoods will inspire you, too. And with that, I’ll leave you to explore the rest of the area on your own! Thanks so much for joining me on this journey through Oakland’s best neighborhoods. If you’re feeling inspired to begin your search for a new home in the East Bay Area, or anywhere in Alameda or Contra Costa Counties, contact our local expert Barbra Brodrick by phone at 925-403-1213 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a wonderful day!