Take a date on a walk through the cemetery - no kidding.
Or, just walk the dog or jog to see some of the most spectacular sunsets over San Francisco... all among the well-manicured and maintained Mountain View Cemetery.
Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (whose other credits include New York's Central Park) designed the looping flows of road that makes the cemetery surprisingly intimate for something so vast.
Local historically important figures like railroad tycoon turned banker Charles Crocker are buried here, and the amount and extent of the artistic carvings abound. Special sections of the cemetery are dedicated to certain ethnic or religious groups. There's even a pets section.
Docent-led tours begin at 10am the second Saturday of each month and last approximately 3 hours
If you're going to be in East Bay and you like good cuisine, head for Berkeley.
Chez Panisse is the world reknowned Alice Waters restaurant in Berkeley.
Expensive but worth it. Make SURE you have a reservation, even for the Café.
A typical menu entry below (try not to drool..):
Wednesday, March 9 $65
Roasted line-caught striped bass with black olives and fennel oil
Potato cream soup with California caviar and fried leeks
Grilled duck breast with kumquat and tangelo sauce; white and green asparagus
ragoût with wild mushrooms and green garlic
Bittersweet, white, and milk chocolate ice creams with orange-almond tuiles
All the ingredients are the freshest, cleanest produce and protein available in Northern California. Alice Waters is in my opinion the Mother Theresa of good cuisine.
1517 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley, California 94709 right smack in the middle of Berkeley, but a little "off the path" for Oakland.
More than a restarant, it is an experience.
And don't forget to buy (and if you are lucky, have Alice sign) one of the excellent David Lance Goines posters.
Not really off the beaten path, but I really enjoyed a day of driving north from Oakland up through Napa Valley and on towards Mendocino.
I always take I80 North to Hwy 29 at Vallejo, then north on 29 through Napa and Rutherford, then west on 175 over to Fetzer Vineyard. 101 then gets you back down through Petaluma, Golden Gate and over the bay bridge to Oakland again.
It is a beautiful drive.
Locals will laugh as they know better places, but as a tourist I always stop at Niebaum-Coppola (used to be Inglenook) in Rutherford, then at Fetzer in Hopland and buy some Reserve.
Altamont Pass Wind Farm is one of America's oldest wind farms and is known as having the largest concentration of windmills in the world. Its 6,000 small 1970s-era turbines are old and outdated, but are slowly being upgraded with the larger, taller turbines that are safer for birds and more efficient energy producers.
The entire farm produces about 125 MW of energy, which averages out to a puny 20 kW per turbine... today's modern turbines produce from 700 kW to 5 MW each. For comparison, the hydroelectric plant at nearby San Luis Reservoir in central California produces 424 MW, and the Diablo Canyon power plant in in San Luis Obispo County has two units that can produce 1,100 MW each!
The Altamont Pass Wind Farm is located about 40 miles east of Oakland along Interstate-580.
By far the tallest peak in the East Bay area, Mt Diablo towers over everything around it. It was used as a reference point by explorers. This state park has numerous hiking trails offering great views. Unfortunately, I was there on a rather hazy day, so the view was not what I'd hoped.
Oakland's Chinatown is a nice place to visit, and though quite visible in Oakland, it is 'off the beaten path' for any San Francisco vacation. It is much smaller than the Chinatown across the bay (in San Fran), but it is also easier to maneuver and less crowded. Chinatown makes up a large portion of downtown Oakland. The street signs are in English & Chinese, there are fruit and vegetable markets on the streets, and Chinese shops and restaurants are all over. The popular Chinese-American novelist, Amy Tan, hails from Chinatown Oakland.
* Check out the mall on Franklin between 9th & 11th Streets for trinkets & stuff. There's also an Asian branch of the Oakland Public Library there offering many books & newspapers in Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese & more.
* Each Friday a Farmer's Market sets up off Broadway near 9th Street. The place gets really crowded - lots of Flowers, stuff to eat, and gifts to buy.
Drive up Boradway Terrace and view the contrast between the old, established homes in the Oakland Hills and the new ones built up after the devatsating fire of 1991 that destroyed about 3000 homes in Oakland and Berkeley. (Photo by Paul Kienitz, http://www.presol.com/~paulkienitz/px/)
The aircaft carrier USS Hornet had a distinguished record during World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam War. She also picked up the returning Apollo 11 and 12 astronauts in 1969. During World War II, her planes downed 1410 Japanese aircraft (more than any other carrier except the Essex), participated in numerous Pacific island-hopping campaigns, and attacked the battleship Yamato off Okinawa.
However, this is NOT the carrier that Jimmy Doolittle used to launch his famous raid on Tokyo in 1942; that ship was sunk off Guadalcanal. In fact, this one is named after that earlier vessel.
The guides give you a good look at Navy life during that period. However, the old warship's condition needs improvement, due to lack of money. She's at the old Navy base on Almeda Island, across from Oakland.
Oakland is home to a lot of hiking trails, from Sibley Volcanic to Redwood Trail. The East Bay Regional Park District operates more than 50 parks, 20 trails and 75,000 acres spanning from Berkeley to Oakland to Contra Costa County. For a list of parks and trailheads, visit the website listed below.
There is an aviation museum at the Oakland airport, which I hear is interesting (haven't seen it). The Oakland Museum is one of the best in Bay area. The Oakland zoo is very good and sometimes overlooked. Hiking in East Bay Regional Parks (Redwood, Joaquin Miller, Sibley Volcanic, Huckleberry) is overlooked by tourists. (Dogs OK if on leash in Redwood, off leash in Sibley)
while eating at this famous creamey and soda fountain landmark of Oakland, you can watch how they make their hand crafted ice cream via the transparent windows in the premises and see how your favorite ice cream is made.
Fenton's Creamery was already well known and was the favorite of east bay residents since the late 1900's as it was founded in 1994 and was a landmark in Oakland and east bay areas and it is claimed that they invented the rocky road ice cream of which the owners were friends with the founders of Dreyer's Ice Cream and they shared their recipe with them. But it's popularity skyrocketed even more when the creamery was featured in the pixar film "UP" in 2009 as the makers of the film were regulars of the place. Even the crosstown rivals at the west bay who love Mitchell's Ice Cream and Swensen's tried this ice cream parlor plus soda fountain and are now hooked to their creamy and delicious ice cream and sorbet flavors and the other snacks and sides being offered by this iconic ice cream parlor. It has the longest line and waiting time in the ritzy area of Piedmont avenue.
opens: 9:00 am to 12 midnight everyday
Address: 4226 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611
In the Regional Parks of the Oakland hills, there is quite a lot of natural beauty. A real surprise considering the dense urban concentration of people in the flat lands
A large old cemetary in the hills overlooking Oakland and San Francisco Bay, dating back to the 1850's (at least). Huge monuments to many of the famous names in Bay Area history are in this park.