5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

COMMENTS: 10

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

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
Emma Robertson

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!

EAT:

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

Cholita Linda, 4923 Telegraph Avenue, (510) 594-7610
Souley Vegan, 301 Broadway, (510) 922-1615

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.

SHOP:

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

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.

STAY:

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

Airbnb—Oakland

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.

PLAY:

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.

PACK:

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

travel  5 Things: A Travel Guide to Oakland

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.

P.S. More 5 Things Travel guides. And one weekend in Oakland.

Helping Karma happen
City Island
Haus Interior
Travelogue: Southern...
Napa: Lunch at Redd,...

Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

COMMENTS: 9

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings
family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings
family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

When stories aren’t enough, you need some activities in the back seat to keep little hands (and minds) busy. But too much time looking down (be it at a screen or a coloring book) can challenge even the toughest tummy.

We came up with a way to make (halloween-themed) window clings that could be used on the windows at home—and in the car!

Hudson was very curious about what people in passing cars thought of his creation. “What she say to my pumpkin?” he’d ask! 

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

You’ll Need: 

  • Contact paperfamily  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings
  • Sharpiefamily  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings
  • Acrylic paintfamily  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings
  • Paint brushesfamily  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings (and/or stamps, sponges, Q-tips… finger-tips)
  • Scissors
  • A surface for painting on, and some water/paper towels for clean-up.
  • Parchment or Wax paper (optional) to store your clings.

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings
family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

The key to this project is contact paper! Contact paper goes on and off glass easily, and can be used over and over again as long as you keep it clean. You can paint it, place stickers on it, or color it with indelible markers (like sharpies).  It’s incredibly versatile and easy to find. Once you have a roll in your home, you can make your own window clings—essentially reusable stickers—for any season.

How-to: 

1. Outline your images. You can free draw directly on the surface (non-sticky side) of the Contact Paper, but I find it easiest to outline images on the backing and then paint or color them in on the surface. In our case, I drew some pumpkins and spooky facial features (à la Mr. Potato Head) as well as some general monster shapes.

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

2. Paint (or color) the surface. Flip over the contact paper and use your outlines to guide you. Hudson filled in the pumpkins and the monsters, but I painted all of the features and accessories for the pumpkins for him to play with later. (He’s only three, so his art tends toward the more abstract.)

Older kids can do all of this themselves and may even prefer to use markers to color the images (it’s a faster process), but washable and non-toxic acrylic paint is preferable for most little kids.

The less paint you use, the more light will shine through and the faster the paint will dry. However, if you are going to decorate a pumpkin, like Hudson did, the face will show up best on a more solidly painted surface.

Note: Don’t worry if the color doesn’t follow the lines exactly. Because you will be cutting the shapes out with scissors, you can either cut along the lines or correct then.

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

3. Allow for drying time. Acrylic paint, if not too thick, dries pretty quickly—within maybe an hour or so.

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings
family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

4. Cut out your shapes.  In addition to the pumpkins and features for decorating them, I also cut the monsters Hudson painted into three pieces each—to be mixed up and recombined like a puzzle. (I drew the faces on with a pen, after the paint had dried.)

You can cut your shapes and apply them directly to a glass surface, or you can save them on wax or parchment paper for later. We stored ours in a shoebox, for bringing along on car rides.

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings
family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

5. Have fun! These are very easy to make, so don’t be afraid to get creative. Just keep in mind: for the image to be clear from both sides of the window, you’ll want to create something with a single layer. In the case of our car activity, because the face is stuck on top of the pumpkin, it will only be visible inside the car whereas only the pumpkin will be visible outside of the car.

Such a simple way to keep kids entertained—and looking out the window—in the backseat!

What are your favorite activities for road trips?

family  Backseat activity: Make your own Window Clings

This content was created in partnership with Ford to help make creativity a part of every drive.

Warm in the sun
Sakura Bloom Sling D...
A few family photos ...
Call to action: Ever...
Living Clean: Starti...