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Top Recommended OAK Airport Layover Activities:
1. Oakland Museum of California
1000 Oak St, Oakland, CA 94607 · 510-238-2200
OAKLAND. This museum, formed in 1969, provides a forum for California's history, art, and environment. The facility's broad focus includes everything from modern paintings to Harley Davidsons. The lower area details ecosystems and the environment, with dioramas illustrating significant aspects. The second floor addresses history, culture, and technology, while the third offers an excellent collection of paintings by California artists. Well-organized, informative, and a pleasure to wander.
2. Western Aerospace Museum
8260 Boeing St, North Terminal Oakland International Air, Oakland, CA 94614 · 510-638-7100
Not just for aviation buffs, this museum is different from most in that it is located in an old hangar instead of the typical air-conditioned, stuffy building. The people who work here do it because they love it, and their passion for flying is obvious as they guide you to different kinds of blimps, helicopters, and planes, including a low-flying aircraft used in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Visitors are encouraged to climb in and explore. Video displays and kids' activities are available. ADMISSION: $4; $2 more for outside exhibit
3. Jack London Square
311 Broadway Ave, Oakland, CA 94607
Jack London Square is the undisputed cultural heart of Oakland and is the best place for visitors to take in the city's top shops, boutiques, restaurants, and attractions. Located on the water, this is the best place to people-watch and to soak up local color, as a diverse group of people can always be found wandering, socializing, or hurrying by. The Square's namesake Jack London had a Yukon cabin during his days in Alaska, and it's on display here near the water. With various bars and cafes, from fine dining to saloons, you are sure to find something here.
4. Pardee Home Museum
672 Eleventh St, Oakland, CA 94607 · 510-444-2187
This majestic Victorian home, surrounded by a beautifully landscaped green, is reminiscent of an Italian villa and is one of the most famous architectural and historical treasures in California. The exterior is just the beginning, however; inside is a massive collection of artifacts and objects d'art from around the world. The museum was once the home of former Governor George Pardee, whose wife collected the fantastic array of objects. This is one of the most extensive collections of Victoriana and Pacific Rim artifacts in America. ADMISSION: Adult $5, Child (under 12) Free; Free to Friends of the Pardee Home.
5. Oakland Zoo
Hwy 580, off 98th and Golf Links Rd, Oakland, CA 94605 · 510-632-9525
In the vast hills outside Oakland, this award-winning zoo has more than 300 types of animals living in carefully-recreated natural habitats. The African savannah exhibit is particularly popular, with African plants and a waterfall providing a home for meerkats, monkeys, and hyenas. Children are entertained in their own zoo and with a section of rides, including an old-fashioned carousel. Adults enjoy the Sky Ride, which offers scenic panoramas of the bay and the surrounding hills.
Top Weekend Getaways And Day Trip Excursions:
1. Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco, CA
One of the most famous bridges in the world, this "Bridge That Could Not Be Built" spans 6450 feet across the waters between San Francisco and Marin County. Completed in 1937 at a cost of $35 million, this impressive achievement can be seen from many points on either side. Wonderful views of other great sites can be seen from the bridge. Try autombile access at US-101 or Lincoln Boulevard ($3 toll, southbound only) or pedestrian access on the east sidewalk 5am-9pm daily. Visitor center, pavilion and free parking at the San Francisco end (415-921-5858).
Beach St and The Embarcadero, Pier 41, San Francisco, CA · 415-705-5555
During the 34 years that Alcatraz served as a prison, only a handful of its inmates were well-known; most were simply high-risk escapees and troublemakers. Still, the prison plays strongly in national memory, thanks largely to Al “Scarface” Capone, Robert “Birdman” Stroud, “Doc” Baker, Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Floyd Hamilton. An average stay on “The Rock” lasted five years, and although liberties were abbreviated, prisoners were afforded magnificent views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. Ranger-guided tours of the island are available, as is a self-guided audio tour.
3. Oakland A's at the Coliseum
7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland, CA 94621 · 510-638-0500
The hometown team the Oakland A's is one of the most popular attractions in the city. The huge Network Associates Coliseum recently received a $200 million facelift, making games here even more enjoyable. The A's and Raiders both play here, making this a great entertainment venue year-round.
4. Oakland Ballet
130 Linden St, Oakland, CA 94607 · 510-286-8914
The well-regarded troupe performs at the eye-popping Paramount Theatre, a refurbished Art Deco treasure that seats 3,000. In the autumn, area arts' patrons fill the seats for performances by what the New York Times called "one of America's most interesting companies." Performances run the gamut from historic master works such as Revel's "Bolero" to newer material such as Loring's "Billy the Kid."
5. Oakland Symphony
2025 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612 · 510-446-1992
The Oakland Symphony performs at the delightfully Art Deco Paramount Theatre, and the classical and choral concerts have received wide acclaim. The symphony performs complex works such as Rachmaninov's "The Bells" and Leshnoff's "Hadran," which is based on the Talmud and the composer's visit to Israel. Shows often include full orchestras, chamber music, and choral sections, and the Symphony Chorus is well known for its high level of talent and expert direction.
6. Summer Sounds at City Center
Thirteenth and Broadway, Twelfth St BART Station, Oakland, CA 94607 · 510-628-8490
City Center is a professional and retail center that also has a square perfect for staging summer concerts. Convenient to the Bay Area Rapid Transit, people come here to this clean, attractive fountain-lined area in the middle of the urban landscape to enjoy good weather, good music, and the company of many area professionals. A great see-and-be-seen spot. The music is typically jazz or blues but also features Mexican, Latin, and Cajun. ADMISSION: Free
7. Lake Chabot Regional Park
999 Redwood Rd, Oakland, CA 94619 · 510-562-7275
A short drive from downtown Oakland, this park offers mile after mile of trails for lovers of the outdoors. The 5,000-acre park is perfect for mountain bikers and hikers, and the popular bike loop is 12.4 miles of rugged trails. Whether you want to camp on a mountaintop or try horseback riding by the lake, you will find it here. Boat rentals, a fishing hole, and even a golf course mean there is certainly something for everyone.
8. Lake Merritt Park and Wildlife Refuge
552 Bellevue Ave, Oakland, CA 94610 · 510-238-3739
In the urban jungle of downtown Oakland, visitors and residents have found comfort and beauty in the serene Lake Merritt for over a century. The Lake Merritt Park and Wildlife Refuge makes the most of this natural beauty, providing a sanctuary for the birds and waterfowl that inhabit the lake and educating visitors about them. This is also a center for sporting activities, including sailing, canoeing, and jogging along the lakeshore. Fairyland, a kid's amusement park, is also located here (see Family Friendly for more).
9. Redwood Regional Park
7867 Redwood Rd, Oakland, CA 94619 · 510-635-0138
This 1,836-acre forest of redwoods in the Oakland Hills includes hundreds of majestic trees that reach more than 150 feet into the sky. The hiking trails are well marked and graced with numerous scenic vistas. Different trails offer different sights; for example, Fern Trail is lined with (what else?) ferns, and Stream Trail follows (can you guess?) a peaceful stream. The French trail is lined with some of the tallest redwoods in existence. Nature lovers should not miss this stop.
10. Robert Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve
6800 Skyline Blvd, Oakland, CA 94611 · 510-562-7275
Volcanic debris has formed vast mountains in this park, which covers 660 acres in the Oakland Hills. One of the most famous peaks is Round Top, which is made up of lava and other materials from a volcano that is said to be 10 million years old. Millions of years of erosion and shifting deep within the earth have exposed layers of geology that are amazing to look at and fascinating to learn about. In the spring, wildflowers bloom and add to the beauty of this preserve and give the hiking trails added bursts of color.