Most people would not consider Oakland, California to be a top tourist attraction, but there are, in fact, many areas and events in the city that people of all ages would find interesting. Oakland can offer much of the same fare as its neighboring, much more popular, city of San Francisco — sporting events, culture, a symphony orchestra, museums, and art galleries.
Getting to and from Oakland is not a difficult task. Oakland is accessible by way of two major airports (Oakland International and San Francisco International), and Amtrak train stations in Oakland and Emeryville.
Getting around the Oakland area is easy. AC Transit, the local bus service, as well as the Bay Area Rapid Transit, service nearly all of the city (BART also services the San Francisco airport), and make it easy to get to and from nearly all of the attractions, especially if you're staying in or near the Downtown area.
If you have kids, Children's Fairyland is a must. It offers kid-friendly rides, shows, and events. After visiting Fairyland, Walt Disney was inspired to create Disneyland. It might not have Fantasmic or Tomorrowland, but Children's Fairyland jam packed full of park space and rides like a miniature ferris wheel, train ride, and a carousel! For information on when the park is open, and admission prices, you can visit www.fairyland.org
Adjacent to Fairyland is Oakland's beloved Lake Merritt. Many people walk, jog, and bike around the perimeter, and there are also park areas along the lake shore where you can have a picnic. Yet another fun thing to do around Lake Merritt is to rent a boat. Several boat types are available for affordable rental. For prices and information, you can take a look at http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/opr/s/boating/OAK029815. You can also bring your own small, non-motorized boat and get a $2 permit to boat on the lake for the day.
Within 10 minutes or less of Lake Merritt is the Oakland Museum of California. This multi-story, newly redesigned, museum houses exhibits on California's history, art, and natural sciences. Also, there are many interactive displays that let people touch and feel items of interest, or engage their creativity. You can walk through at your own pace, and take all the time that you like to enjoy the three galleries. The museum has a cafeteria and an outdoor garden area, perfect for having lunch after exploring all the interesting displays inside! More information is available at www.museumca.org
In the Downtown Oakland area is Art Murmur — an event in which art galleries are open for free on the evening of the first Friday of each. During this time, the streets are closed to traffic to allow pedestrians to access the vendors and street performers. It's like a huge monthly street party in Downtown Oakland, though you can also elect to spend most (or all) of your time inside the galleries. The art galleries are now also open every Saturday from 1pm to 5pm.
All in all, there is a lot to see and do in Oakland, even more than I've mentioned here — more things to look into include Chinatown and the Oakland coliseum. Oakland also gives you the ease of visiting San Francisco without the high prices of staying in a major SF hotel. So why not make your next trip be to the beautiful city of Oakland, California?
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