\ Oakland: Recreation - Sightseeing, Arts and Culture, Festivals and Holidays, Sports for the Spectator, Sports for the Participant

Oakland: Recreation


Historic buildings in Oakland include the Camron-Stanford House, a beautifully restored Victorian house on Lake Merritt. The Pardee Home Museum is an historical treasure in the heart of the Preservation Park Historical District. Dunsmuir House and Gardens features 40 acres of hills and gardens that are the site of public events. The Greek Orthodox Church of the Ascension is a modern Byzantine architectural gem, with icons painted on the dome; the church is nestled in the Oakland Hills. The Morcom Amphitheater of Roses provides a stunning horticultural display of more than 8,000 rose bushes surrounded by Mediterranean architecture. The landmark Paramount Theatre is a restored 1930s movie palace that still hosts a variety of arts events.

Popular entertainment and amusement sites include Children's Fairyland, a three-dimensional theme park with more than 60 sets recreating nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and legends; and the Western Aerospace Museum, displaying aeronautical artifacts and housing an aircraft library and gift shop. The Oakland Zoo in Knowland Park is home to 440 native and exotic animals and an African Lion Exhibit; its Children's Zoo is expected to open in 2005. Curious persons of all ages are welcome at the Chabot Space and Science Center which completed its new facility in January 2000 and features a planetarium, observatory and exhibits.

Another popular spot is the Jack London Square and Village, which was once the stomping grounds of the city's most colorful literary figures. It houses many quaint shops, restaurants, and a Farmer's Market along its scenic Boardwalk. The Presidential Yacht Potomac, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "floating white house," hosts dockside tours and history cruises from its port at Jack London Square. Several museums are part of the Jack London Square complex including the African American Museum and Library, Lightship Relief floating lighthouse, the Museum of Children's Art, and the Oakland Museum of California. The Oakland Museum of California is lauded for its displays of California art, history and natural science. The Ebony Museum of Art at Jack London Village displays and sells African American art.

Arts and Culture

The Oakland East Bay Symphony presents symphonic music during its November through May subscription concert series, which is presented at the Paramount Theatre. The Symphony also provides accompaniment to performances by the Oakland Ballet. The Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts (the former Alice Arts Center) is home to the Oakland Ballet, Citicentre Dance Theater, Dimensions Dance Theater, Oakland Ensemble Theater, and Bay Area Blues Society. Oakland Ensemble Theatre, the city's only professional resident theater, produces contemporary, insightful works from an African American perspective. Blues, jazz, and gospel concerts are promoted by the Bay Area Blues Society. Woodminster Summer Musicals are performed July through September in the open-air Woodminster Amphitheater in the scenic Joaquin Miller Park in the Oakland hills.

New to the Oakland civic center area are the Craft & Cultural Arts Gallery and the Oakland Art Gallery which opened in 2001. Samuel's Gallery features a large collection of cards, prints, posters, and original graphics by African American artists.

Festivals and Holidays

The African Cultural Festival, popularly known as "The Africans are Coming," features dance in its many African forms performed by five sub-Saharan repertory companies. Oakland celebrates its birthday on May 4th with its annual Celebration in the Plaza, featuring live music with guest performers, famous Oakland celebrities, living history exhibits, walking tours, food booths, and art exhibits. Oakland's rich Spanish heritage is saluted at the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration which includes a parade and many festival activities. June's Festival at the Lake is a multi-cultural festival that features entertainment, arts, children's activities, an international food fair, and community programs. August's Chinatown Streetfest with its arts, food and crafts of the cultures of China, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and others, celebrates the city's Asian community.

The first week in September is the date for the Art & Soul Festival with more than 150 artisans displaying their music and crafts at multiple stages around the city. Another annual fall occurrence is the Black Cowboy Parade downtown, always held the first Saturday in October. The holiday season is greeted by a Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration, a parade of lighted yachts at Jack London Square's waterfront and a holiday parade sponsored by the Oakland Tribune .

Sports for the Spectator

The National Football League's Oakland Raiders play at Network Associations Coliseum, also home to the Oakland Athletics of major league baseball's American League. The National Basketball Association's Golden State Warriors play at the Oakland Arena. The Oakland Banshees play women's tackle football. Sears Point International Raceway in nearby Sonoma offers a wide variety of motorsports events year round. The excitement of thoroughbred racing is offered at Golden Gate Fields in Albany, only minutes from Oakland.

Jack London Square hosts many shops and restaurants along its Boardwalk and contains artifacts from the authors life.
Jack London Square hosts many shops and restaurants along its Boardwalk and contains artifacts from the author's life.

Sports for the Participant

Joaquin Miller Park offers 10 trails featuring spectacular views of the entire Bay Area. Joggers enjoy the 3.18-mile jogging path that encircles the shoreline of Lake Merritt. Surrounded on three sides by Lake Merritt, 122-acre Lakeside Park offers picnic areas, putting greens, lawn bowling, boat rentals, and Japanese and herb gardens. The Redwood Regional Park and Roberts Regional Recreation Area covers more than 2,000 acres in the city of Oakland and Contra Costa County. They include an amphitheater fire circle, horse and hiking trails, picnic and play areas, volleyball court, exercise course, and heated outdoor swimming pool. The Temescal Regional Recreation Area's 48 acres including a 13-acre lake provide swimming, fishing, picnicking, and a children's play area. Willows Skate and Surf in nearby Alameda offers roller skating, skate boards, and surf boards. Ice skating is available seven days a week at the Oakland Ice Center. Oakland's three municipal golf courses, Metropolitan Golf Links, Lake Chabot Golf Course, and Montclair Golf Course, accommodate avid and beginning golfers alike. Oakland also maintains 59 outdoor tennis courts and 7 public outdoor pools located throughout the city.

Shopping and Dining

Boutiques and specialty shops offering men's and women's apparel, household goods, toys and ethnic gift items are featured at Jack London Village. Other shopping areas include the City Center downtown, Rockridge, Piedmont Avenue, Lakeshore, and Grand Avenues. City Center is a popular pedestrian plaza with a mix of shops and restaurants. The Oakland Artisan Marketplace is open Fridays in Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza and Saturdays and Sundays in Jack London Square. One of the oldest and most culturally diverse markets in the city is the Old Oakland Farmer's Market, open year-round on Fridays downtown where shoppers find Asian produce, fresh flowers, potted plants, herbs, bakery items, fresh fish and seafood, and wild game and poultry.

The Jack London Square is home to a variety of restaurants in a wonderful waterfront setting. Unusual fare and cuisine from around the world is offered at 12 eateries on the Square. Restaurants include specialties such as Mexican, Indonesian, Cajun, Northern Italian, Greek, Japanese, sushi, seafood, and classic American cuisine. From upscale to modest, Oakland has offerings for traditionalists as well as adventurous gourmets.