In case you haven’t heard, Oakland, California, is hella awesome! Rach’s bud Brittney Cade shared with us how this sister city to San Francisco is a worthy destination unto itself.

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WHAT TO DO

Oakland Museum of California

A masterpiece of late-1960s design, OMCA has "a cool lawn area and art that's vibrant and daring," says Cade. Go on Friday nights for the half-price admission, food trucks, and 10 p.m. closing time. 

oakland museum of california
Credit: Photo courtesy of the Oakland Museum of California

Lake Merritt

Walk the three-mile loop around this picturesque lagoon (or run it, as Cade's husband, Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt, does), take a gondola ride, or just explore shops in the area. If you have kids, don't miss the retro Children's Fairyland amusement park. 

woman with bike at lake merritt
Credit: Photo courtesy of LakeMerrit.org

Oakland First Fridays

This street-art crawl is "so colorful and hipster-chic," says Cade. Start at West Grand and Telegraph Avenues and eat, drink, and walk your way through blocks of street performances, food trucks, and people-watching opportunities. 

group of first friday attendees
Credit: Photo courtesy of Delvon Hogg

Grand Lake Theatre

Built in 1926, the Vaudeville theater–turned-cineplex—complete with organ preludes before Friday and Saturday night shows—pairs blockbusters with architectural opulence. "It's like stepping back in time," says Cade.  

grand lake theatre
Credit: Photo courtesy of Grand Lake Theatre

Mercy Vintage

Find pieces like a Céline silk set, Valentino stilettos, and 1980s novelty tops at this decades-spanning shop. "The owners, Karen Anderson Fort and Rachel Cubra, have such a unique eye," says Cade. "I always find a treasure there!" 

mercy vintage in oakland
Credit: Photo courtesy of Mercy Vintage

WHERE TO EAT

Shan Dong Restaurant

Visit Oakland's Chinatown to gawk at its colorful murals, then join the queue at Shan Dong Restaurant for hand-pulled noodles, succulent pork dumplings, and crisp onion pancakes. Totally worth the wait. 

Commis

Oakland's only Michelin-starred restaurant, this eclectic New American spot (striped bass with chicory, slow-poached eggs with dates) is splurge-worthy dining at its best. You can reserve a table in the dining room or sit at the kitchen bar like Cade does: "That way, you can watch what the chefs are doing." 

WHERE TO STAY

Waterfront Hotel

The upscale Jack London Square hotel features nautical vibes (oar-printed wallpaper, compass-patterned carpets), a heated pool and bay-facing balconies. Easy ferry access into San Francisco and a free shuttle to public transit (BART) are a boon to those exploring the city without a car.