Parks / Squares, Oakland
This is a great, small zoo that can be enjoyed in it's entirety in about half a day. There have been constant improvements made over the past several years (perhaps longer), most recently the excellent expansion of the Children's Zoo, where you'll find climbing structures, sheep and goats in the petting area that you can brush, as well as lemurs, enormous fruit bats, giant tortoises, alligators, bunnies, otters and more. In the main zoo highlights include giraffes, lions and tigers, elephants, and a fun meerkat display with a plexiglass-ended tunnel for kids that brings them right into their world.
Be prepared to walk some steep hills to get around and bring sunblock on a clear day. You can take the sky ride (not unlike a ski lift) above the park to see great views of the animals. Younger kids will also enjoy the amusement park with quaint rides, including a charming merry-go-round and a small-scale "steam" train that takes visitors for a short ride around the park and back.
Oakland is a rough town, but Jack London Square is an island of tranquility in this not-so tranquil place. This small roughly 7 x 2 block area has a lot of activities jammed into a compact space. Located along the water front it has Oakland's passenger ferry port connecting it to downtown San Francisco. It also has an Amtrak station, and the Bart station is a bout 10 blocks away.
For dining, you can chose from 15 to 20 restaurants including sushi, Italian, pizza, BBQ (Tony Roma's) and of course local seafood. Attractions here include a beautiful marina, a state-of-the-art cinema, a farmers market, several museums, a floating lighthouse, FDR's presidential yacht, a 188-year old Coast Guard vessel, and a beautiful pedestrian-only plaza connecting it all. Your hotel options are limited to a standard Best Western, a nice Courtyard by Marriott, the trendy Waterfront Plaza, and the budget Jack London Inn.
Because this area is named after Jack London, you should try to learn a little of the local history. Heinold's Saloon, in continuous operation since 1883 was a place London frequented in his youth; it has also survived numerous earthquakes with a sloping floor to prove it.
The novelist Jack London grew up here, listening to tall tales in the local saloons. One of them, Heinhold's, is still there. In addition, the square has monuments to Jack London, and to Buck, the dog in his novel The Call of the Wild. One point of particular interest is the cabin where he spent the winter of 1897-98, brought here from Alaska.
Today, it is a thriving tourist and shopping center with several top-notch restaurants and nightclubs. The best live music in the bay area is at Yoshi's. Check out the former presidential yacht Potomac. The square also has a Barnes and Noble and Beverages and More.
There is regular ferry service to San Francisco and Almeda. Perhaps best of all, Amtrak has a station right on the Square, with daily service to Sacramento.
Very attractive urban park, with hiking trails that run the entire circumference, plus Venetian-style gondolas and migratory birds. Also on the lake is a community center and the University of San Francisco.
This is a section of 19th-century Victorian homes, located near downtown Oakland. Most serve today as headquarters of business and non-profit organizations. Guided tours are available; call the number below.
My hangout in Oakland, the area of Jack London Square has lots of clubs, restaurants, bars, etc.
It is also very enjoyable, peaceful and relaxing to walk the piers and docks along the channel / bay, day or night and gaze across the bay.
Safe, fun, enjoyable, and lots to do.
(See Nightlife and Restaurants)
Everything you ever wanted to know and then some at this original little "cabin" bar in Jack London Sq.
Heinold's sits in its original location since it was built in 1883.
It is made from the timbers of a whaling ship. It actually has a real connection to the writer Jack London Square was named after.
If you want to enjoy a couple of beers and learn all about Jack London, this is the place.
the only place I visited in Oakland was the ferry landing and Jack London Square. The Square is the place to be in the evening, restaurants are around every corner and it's a pleasant place to stroll and window shop. There are tributes to the great author of "Call of the Wild" Jack London; his statue, a statue of his dog and the "Last Chance Saloon" .
Okay, I used to think that Jack London Square was touristy. That was before I lived in Oakland. Now that I don't live in Oakland, I miss it. I miss the square. The cool Barnes & Noble, drinking my coffee on the veranda overlooking the square & the sailboats, the trains constantly roaring behind me.
On Sunday there is an open Farmer's Market. Live music almost every weekend.
You probably couldn't spend a whole day there, but there's always cool stuff to see at the square. Here are my favorites:
* The Cinema - nice theatre, stadium seating
* Yoshii's Sushi & Jazz - a great sushi restaurant & probably the premier Jazz venue in the greater SF area.
* Kincaid's Seafood - it's a chain restaurant, but one of the best seafood restaurants I've been too.
* Jack's Bistro - haven't eaten there, but there's a really nice cafe & there is live music now & then. Saw a great Latin Jazz act there on a Friday night.
* Barnes & Noble - miss hanging out at the cafe.
* Heinold's First & Last Chance - this is one of the smallest bars and the floor is tilted, so either way you're walking drunk. Jack London used to drink here, this place is that old.
Not much that is unique. It does have shops, restaurants, clubs and the like. It is named after the author of 'The Call of the Wild'. The hero of that book of course was.....Jim (James) Thorn!