In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, designer Emma Robertson offers us a glimpse into the best of Oakland.
5 Things: Oakland
My name is Emma Robertson and I’m a Bay Area graphic designer and art director. I’ve lived in the East Bay for about two-and-a-half years now—I started out in Berkeley, and have now landed in Oakland. My fiancé is currently getting his PhD from Berkeley, with about a year left, and we aren’t sure if we’ll stay in the area or move away once he’s done— so I’m currently in a state of trying to do anything and everything I can while I’m here!
This place is truly one-of-a-kind. The weather is magical—constantly providing a fresh, cool environment to run around in. I’m also incredibly inspired by the vegetation—not just in the bay, but in California, in general. Between the natural beauty, the hustle and bustle of being in a big city, and all the cool cats that reside here, I’m incredibly satisfied!
Cholita Linda is my absolute favorite spot for lunch or dinner. It’s within walking distance of my apartment and is surrounded by lots of fun shops. No matter what time of day, this area is always high energy and lots of fun. (Also, if you’re a fan of fish tacos, go right now!) Another spot that really stands out to me is Souley Vegan, a small spot in Jack London Square that serves a vegan take on Louisiana-style soul food. Mmmmm! It’s close to the water, so you can get it to go and enjoy a great view of the bay.
Temescal Alley, 49th Street between Telegraph Avenue and Clarke Street
If you’ve read any articles about Oakland this year, you’ve most likely heard about Temescal Alley. It’s a one-stop shop for basically anything you could want during an afternoon of shopping—ice cream, coffee, vintage clothing, a hair cut, plants, jewelry, herbs, anything! A few other great spots that are outside of the Alley are: Oakland Surf Club, Issues, Hawthorn Boutique, Umami Mart, and Lost & Found.
Since our apartment is tiny (and our guest room is now my office) we aren’t able to easily host friends and family when they come to visit—so usually, I recommend renting an Airbnb space up in the hills. Everything is quieter and more lush up there, and the roads are small and windy and create this amazing viewing experience as you make your way up to the top. Each turn provides a new and different view of the bay—it’s magical. There are lots more animals and vegetation up there, too—it’s got a woodsy peaceful vibe.
Lake Merritt, 568 Bellevue Avenue
My fiancé and I are big bike riders, so we love exploring the bay on two wheels. We recently rode the bike route on the new Bay Bridge, which has a designated path where you can walk or ride. There are benches and look-out spots that allow you take breaks and enjoy the view. I’ve lived in a lot of cities over the past few years, and none of them are as bike-friendly as Oakland or Berkeley! Also, Lake Merritt is a wonderful spot for a picnic, a walk, or a public nap if you need a break. There’s a walking path around it that draws people to the area so it’s always very busy and full of energy—plus, there are lights strung around the entire lake, so it gets very moody and romantic around sun-down.
Big Baggu, $12
Definitely bring layers! BUT. I’m happy to share that the East Bay is always 5-10 degrees warmer and sunnier than San Francisco. Also, I never go anywhere without my Big Baggu—a lot of spots in Berkeley and Oakland require you to pay for bags when you’re shopping, so it’s nice to have one packed down in my purse. It comes in handy when I run quick errands or make an unexpected shopping stop!
Also, if you want to invest in a great resource, check out This is Oakland: A Guide to the City’s Most Interesting Places. It mentions everything above and MORE.
Thank you so much, Emma! Best wishes for your upcoming wedding—which I believe is right around the corner! (Thank you to Shoko Wanger for her help with this series.) Photos by Ashley Batz for Emmadime.