The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Oakland, San Francisco

You’ve only got a limited number of days on your trip to Oakland, so why not make the most out of it? As a local, I decided to pen this guide to help you plan your trip to Oakland so if you’re new to town – don’t worry!


I have broken down the best palces to visit into different sections, either click on one of the links below or scroll down to read them all.

Best Places to Eat

Best Places to Visit

Family Friendly Experiences

Best Bars in Town

Best Scenic Views

Best Places to Eat

There are tons of places to eat at, as you would expect, but it’s definitely not easy to choose just one. Instead of taking your chances, take a look at these options first.


Are you a fan of Korean food? If you are, there’s no better place to go than FUSEBOX. I know it might seem a little intimidating at first with the little signage and a bit of a dive feel, but this Korean place has some of the most delicious spicy chicken, mushroom salmon noodles and even delicious homemade kimchi.


Okay, if you’re not a fan of spicy food, try Hopscotch. This place is sometimes forgotten with all the shops clustered around it, but it’s perfect for a nice relaxing dinner or lunch. As a small diner, you can find so many options, from homemade donuts and custard cream to Japanese American cuisine.

Wood Tavern

For a little more variety, I personally love to visit Wood Tavern when I’m in Rockridge. It’s so easy to find even the most traditional foods, like burgers, but you can also get pasta or gnocchi. Go in for lunch or for dinner and be careful to make a reservation, or just hang out at the bar!

Best Places to Visit

Oakland has certainly become a very popular destination to visit in the past few years with all of the locally-made foods and diverse population. Look forward to the street fairs and summer festivals when you visit and keep these places at the top of your list.

Jack London Square

For a relaxing atmosphere, take a look at the beautiful Jack London Square. The neighborhood is the historic home of author Jack London, so in the center, you can see a replica of his log cabin. It’s so beautiful that tons of people dine in the area, or just take a walk around. Sit outside and watch the boats come in, or try the nearby Farmers’ Market on Sundays.

Oakland Museum of California

I’m such a history buff so you can be sure I’ve visited just about every museum in the area. There are few that compare to the Oakland Museum, though, with the extensive exhibits and appealing information that’ll tell you all about the Oakland community and California state in general. Even items related to political activism are displayed and on Fridays, you can mingle with the local community as well!

Family Friendly Experiences

Sometimes, it can be a little difficult to plan a trip with your kids in mind. In order to help everyone have fun, I’ve found lots of activities that the entire family can have a great time doing.


The exhibits at the Exploratorium are perfect for all sorts of kids out there and yes, that includes you adults that are still kids at heart! Take your kids to visit all the amazing exhibits to learn about electricity, earthquakes and tons of other things. You might be the adult, but you’re sure to have lots of fun, too and your kids won’t be bored either.

Submarine Tour

Especially for your kids who are interested in the water, they might like to take a look at a real submarine. Tour this intact vessel that acts in part as a San Francisco Museum. Older kids might like something like this a little more, but you can certainly make this quite the adventure.

San Francisco Cruise

If your kids aren’t into museums, take a little cruise around the bay instead with a San Francisco Bay Cruise! You’ll be able to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, too, all while seeing the city from a completely different point of view.

Best Bars in Town

Okay, I’ll admit: Oakland is not necessarily the best drinking destination. You won’t find a whole bunch of bars spread around, but if you do want to go drinking, I know just the right places.

McNally’s Irish Pub

For a comfortable night out, go to McNally’s. You’re not going to find anything super fancy, but you will find good drinks, good company and a relaxing jukebox to listen to. Just sit next to the fireplace and get comfortable for the evening.


For a feeling just like the South, take a look at Pican. This southern food destination has some great bourbon, with a happy hour of whiskey cocktails that you can’t find anywhere else.

Plum Bar

Plum Bar is just a little fancier but still intimate and cozy at the same time. The meticulous cocktail menu is to die for and with a happy meal that includes not only fries and a burger, but a shot of bourbon, too, you’ll be more than happy that you visited!

Best Scenic Views

I know that after a long day of exploring, sometimes taking in the views is just what you need to unwind. Not all visitors know about these places, though, so I’ll keep you completely up-to-date on the best views around.

The Lake Chalet Seafood Bar and Grill

To take in the view, you need a good meal. Try getting some lunch at The Lake Chalet Bar while viewing the beautiful lake opposite you. The colorful and calming patio is perfect for some time outdoors.

Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve

For those of you hikers, you can actually take a hike out on these scenic mountains. While you hike, you’ll be able to see the best views not only of the mountains, but of the city itself.


It would be nice if you could stay in Oakland for longer, but unfortunately, all great trips must come to an end. Take it from a local and have a look at these great places to eat and relax while you’re in Oakland. When you do have to go home, you’ll wish you could come right back!