With more than two full months to go until Labor Day, it's not too late to plan a getaway—especially if it offers fewer travel miles and more sightseeing, like a staycation in a Bay Area city you've been meaning to explore in more depth.
With the BARTable Summer Sweepstakes running now through July 31st, here's a few tips for planning your own eventful, yet rejuvenating, staycations in Oakland and Berkeley.
First up, Oakland.
First Fridays: Rain or shine every first Friday, art galleries and small businesses throw their doors open for an evening of free exhibitions and special events. And to make strolling between participating venues a pleasure, Telegraph Avenue between Grand Avenue and 27th Street become a pedestrian-only street festival—where local food and drink is never out-of-reach. Or, if you don’t get a chance to join the scene that is First Fridays, Oakland Art Murmur’s Saturday Stroll (1-5pm every Saturday) is a great alternative. A bit quieter and more art-focused than the monthly street festival, guests can view current exhibits at participating galleries and often catch artist talks, receptions, trunk shows and more. Find all the details on the Oakland Art Murmur website.
Oakland A's: Thanks to Coliseum Station, the A's home turf is just a 10 minute BART ride from Downtown Oakland. There, on top of the action on the field, you'll find a sea of professional tailgaters, a wide selection of snazzy A's gear, garlic fries and, four times a year, spectacular fireworks shows.
While in town, don't miss the urban oasis that is Lake Merritt. Sitting right on the edge of downtown, the heart-shaped lagoon is a refuge for wildlife and locals alike. You'll find a 3.4 mile paved path, perfect for walking or jogging the perimeter, kayaking and plenty of open space for lakeside lounging under city views. Major attractions surrounding Lake Merritt include Children's Fairyland, the Bonsai Garden and Lake Chalet on the dock.
Another great place for a stroll: Rockridge. Less than 15 minutes on BART from the city's center, this charming residential neighborhood just below the Oakland Hills is packed with local boutiques, independent bookstores, cozy cafes and a variety of restaurants. Pick up some locally made souvenirs and a slice at the famous Zachary's Chicago Pizza.
If dining your way through Oakland is a top priority, California’s most diverse city won't leave you disappointed. Many local favorites are easily accessible from downtown. Our top three recommendations:
- TrueBurger, one of the country's top 50 burgers
- Trappist, a craft beer bar with 25 taps and more than 100 bottles, plus gastropub fare, and once home to a 1920s speakeasy
- Swan's Market, a food hall featuring 10 different local vendors inside a historic, 100-year-old building in Old Oakland
Over in Berkeley, there's just as much to see, do and taste in one weekend.
If you haven't yet explored the oldest campus in the UC system, embrace your role as a tourist and start at UC Berkeley. You can join a public tour or take advantage of the university's app and maps for self-guided discovery. If you're going it alone, be sure to swing by the Campanile, aka Sather Tower, the third-tallest bell and clock-tower in the world. For just $3 you can go all the way up to the viewing platform for picturesque views of the Bay.
Next, take a walk down Telegraph Avenue, which sat at the center of the 1960's counterculture and free speech movements. From Bancroft Way to Parker Street, the iconic avenue is lined with bookstores, cafes and vintage shops and emits the worldly, welcoming vibe Berkeley is still known for.
With many theaters and museums stationed near BART stations, exploring the city's diverse cultural institutions also takes little effort.
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive: While perusing landmarks around the UC Berkeley campus, be sure to stop by BAMPFA to take in the museum's striking architecture, exhibitions critiquing the world's cinema past and present, and make your own artwork.
Shotgun Players: A hop and a skip from Ashby BART, Shotgun Players prides itself on making cutting-edge and accessible contemporary theater that speaks to a changing world. The company's current and upcoming shows explore humanity amid gun violence, technological advancement, sexual harassment and war.
Berkeley Repertory Theatre: Just two blocks from the Downtown Berkeley BART Station, this Tony-award-winning company presents new works that often land on Broadway in New York City.
And of course, a bite of Berkeley's farm-fresh cuisine is a must. A few centrally located staples:
- Cancun Sabor Mexicano, where the crown jewel is an expansive salsa bar
- The Five, where Cal-American cuisine and craft cocktails are served in an elegant room with towering ceilings and a grand chandelier
Chez Panisse, the Shattuck Avenue bungalow where owner Alice Waters put California cuisine on the map back in 1971
Ready for your own staycation? Check out the East Bay prize packages BARTable is giving away to two lucky locals. Then, head over to bart.gov/staycation to vote for your favorite—or all of your favorites—by July 31st. BARTable will choose five winners at random and announce their names at bart.gov/staycation on August 1st.
Good luck and happy local travels!
BARTable Summer Sweepstakes: East Bay Prize Packages
2 nights at the Oakland Marriott
4 tickets to Children's Fairyland
4 Oakland A's tickets (choice of one weekend home game in August or September)
2 $30 BART tickets
Prize Value: $1,157
Visit Berkeley Staycation
$100 gift card to Corso
Prize Value: $806
[Editor's Note: This is a sponsored article written by freelance writer Brittany Hopkins.]
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