How to Spend 36 Hours in Oakland, California

If you’re planning a trip to California, don’t overlook the vibrant and diverse city of Oakland. While often overshadowed by its famous neighbor, San Francisco, Oakland has its own unique charm and attractions to offer.

In just 36 hours, you can experience the best of this city’s culture, cuisine, and natural beauty. Whether you’re a foodie, art lover, or outdoor enthusiast, Oakland has something for everyone. In this guide, we’ll show you how to make the most of your 36 hours in Oakland, California. So pack your bags and get ready for an exciting adventure!

Day 1: Morning

Start Your Day at Alem’s Coffee for Breakfast

When visiting Oakland, California, kick off your morning by heading to Alem’s Coffee for a delicious breakfast. This unassuming café serves incredible East African dishes alongside its strong and reliable coffee beverages. Be sure to try their Shihan Ful, a vegetarian stew with fava beans, which comes with two large loaves of bread. The cozy atmosphere and friendly staff make it a great way to start your day in Oakland.

Explore Jack London Square and The Sunday Farmers Market

After breakfast, take a stroll to Jack London Square, a vibrant waterfront area named after the renowned author Jack London. This area offers an array of activities, including waterfront restaurants, bars, and shops. Don’t miss the Sunday Farmers Market, which takes place from 9 am to 2 pm. Enjoy browsing the fresh produce while listening to live music in the background. It’s a perfect way to immerse yourself in the local culture of Oakland.


Day 1: Afternoon

After exploring the vibrant streets of Oakland in the morning, it’s time to venture out and enjoy some of the natural beauty that surrounds the city. Here are two great options for spending your afternoon:

Visit the Point Reyes Lighthouse for Stunning Views

A visit to the Point Reyes Lighthouse offers breathtaking views of the coastline and the opportunity to spot whales and other wildlife. The trail is a relatively easy 1.75-mile round trip hike, making it accessible for all skill levels. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning scenery!

Picnic at Lake Merritt and Enjoy the Wildlife

Lake Merritt is a beautiful park located next to downtown Oakland. It offers a peaceful and scenic setting for a relaxing picnic. Take in the views of the lake, watch the wildlife, and enjoy some delicious food surrounded by nature. Don’t forget to bring a blanket and your favorite snacks for a delightful picnic experience.

With these activities, your afternoon in Oakland is sure to be filled with adventure, natural beauty, and relaxation.

Day 1: Evening

After a day of exploring the cultural richness of Oakland, California, it’s time to unwind and experience the city’s vibrant nightlife. Here are two options to make the most of your evening:

Head to Roses Taproom for Drinks and Local Atmosphere

If you’re a beer enthusiast, Roses Taproom is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a wide selection of craft beers. With its cozy ambiance and friendly staff, this spot offers a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. Whether you prefer hoppy IPAs or rich stouts, Roses Taproom has something to satisfy every beer lover’s palate.

Experience the Vibrant Nightlife in Downtown Oakland

Downtown Oakland is known for its lively and diverse nightlife scene. From trendy bars to live music venues, there’s something for everyone. Explore the downtown area and hop from one bar to another, soaking in the energetic atmosphere and enjoying the local music talent. Don’t forget to check out popular spots like The Alley, a piano bar with a unique karaoke-meets-cabaret experience.

Make the most of your evening in Oakland by immersing yourself in its vibrant and dynamic nightlife. Whether you choose to enjoy craft beers at Roses Taproom or explore the downtown area, you’re sure to have a memorable evening in this exciting city.


Day 2: Morning

Discover the Cultural Diversity at Fruitvale District

Start your second day in Oakland by exploring the vibrant Fruitvale district. This neighborhood celebrates the city’s cultural diversity and is known for its rich Latino heritage. Take a leisurely stroll through the streets and immerse yourself in the colorful murals, charming shops, and delicious eateries that showcase the area’s unique character.

Have Brunch at Taqueria Campos for Authentic Mexican Cuisine

For a delightful brunch experience, head to Taqueria Campos. This family-owned and operated taqueria in Oakland’s Dimond District has been serving up delicious Mexican cuisine since 1997. Indulge in their mouthwatering selection of tacos, burritos, and other traditional dishes that will transport your taste buds straight to Mexico. Don’t miss their authentic tripe soup or ant larvae – lesser-known Mexican delicacies that you won’t find everywhere.

After a satisfying meal, you’ll be ready to continue your 36-hour adventure in Oakland.


Day 2: Afternoon

Take a Stroll Through the Mountain View Cemetery

For a serene and picturesque experience, take a leisurely walk through the historic Mountain View Cemetery. This beautifully landscaped cemetery, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, features stunning trees and tombstones of influential residents of California. You can join a free docent-led tour to learn about the cemetery’s fascinating history and architecture.

Explore Unique Shops at Temescal Alley

Afterward, head over to Temescal Alley, a charming pedestrian alley filled with unique shops that feel like they jumped off Etsy’s home page. Browse through boutiques that offer handmade crafts, jewelry, and home decor. Stop by Book/Shop, Marisa Mason Studio, and Curbside Creamery for a one-of-a-kind shopping and dining experience.

Don’t miss a chance to experience the local culture and support independent businesses at Temescal Alley.


Day 2: Evening

Looking for some entertainment on your second day in Oakland? Look no further than the iconic Paramount Theatre. This beautiful venue hosts a variety of performances, from concerts to Broadway shows, and is known for its stunning Art Deco architecture. Catching a show here is sure to be a memorable experience.

After the show, head over to The Alley piano bar, a well-loved Oakland institution. This classic piano bar has been around since 1960 and features the talented Rod Dibble on the keys. Enjoy live music and sing along with the crowd for a fun and lively evening. Don’t forget to try their famous Greyhound cocktails!

With these evening activities, your 36 hours in Oakland is sure to be a memorable and enjoyable experience.

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