Visit Oakland

Participating Kind Hotels

Local Impact Partner

Kind Factors

Discover Oakland

It is high time we welcome you to explore the city on the other side of San Francisco Bay which is bustling with diverse cultures and forging the charge in urban sustainability and social change. Located on the east side of the Northern California Bay Area, Oakland is bordered by 19 miles of coastline to the west and rolling hills to the east. It’s no secret its roots run deep and in Oakland, you’ll discover a diverse community, artistic vibe, Art Deco gems, beautiful scenery, locally-owned shops, urban farms, multi-cultural cuisine and civic pride. In fact, you will find prideful locals around every corner and down every side street.  Like many great cities, Oakland is a sum of its parts. It’s a city with many Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), women, and LGBTQ+ owned businesses. Throw into the mix of hipsters, hip-hop artists, young families, passionate activists and grassroots entrepreneurs, all in the collection of 18 eclectic neighborhoods that make up Oakland.

A few of the notable hoods are:

Downtown Oakland is a vital crossroads, where all the cultures meet, eat and sleep. It is full of art deco gems awakened by a new generation of architectural preservationists. Many murals around the streets tell the stories of the people and of their plights. 

Uptown is Oakland’s buzziest hood du jour. Billed as the arts and entertainment district of Oakland, it fulfills its promise with a heavy helping of new restaurants, indie boutiques and bars. You’ll find must-see art deco masterpieces, the Fox and Paramount theaters in this district, and art galleries run by the artists themselves popping up in brick warehouses to add flavor.

Smack dab in the center of it all is Grand Lake-Merritt, designated the U.S.’ first official Wildlife Refuge in 1870. Here is where greater Oakland comes to chill or activate the sweat glands. The 3.1-mile Lake Merritt Loop can be walked, jogged, paddled, peddled or gondola-ed. There’s always something going on at Lake Merritt, so check out events, nature gatherings and recreation opportunities to keep your calendar full of things to do.

Jack London District (yes, the writer lived in a Yukon cabin here) and Jack London Square is a waterfront mixed-use catchall offering Bay views, energetic nightlife, shopping, and European style walkways where you’re sure to hear nightly live jazz dancing on the bay breeze.

KONO (Koreatown/Northgate) is a thriving mix of cultures not to be missed. This neighborhood features a large and active arts community, vibrant nightlife and strong ties to the Korean community. Visitors and residents can easily explore KONO by foot and car, or can take advantage of the recently constructed designated curbside bike lanes.
In West Oakland the roots grow deep. Nicknamed the “Harlem of the West,” it wasn’t too long ago names like Aretha and Billie soulfully belted out tunes on the 7th Street strip. These days, the district is driven by grassroots activism and is experiencing an all new heyday both artistically and socially. Dilapidated Victorian mansions, once the home of sea captains, are being spit shined. Colorful street art decorates businesses and the civic pride runs high.

In West Oakland the roots grow deep. Nicknamed the “Harlem of the West,” it wasn’t too long ago names like Aretha and Billie soulfully belted out tunes on the 7th Street strip. These days, the district is driven by grassroots activism and is experiencing an all new heyday both artistically and socially. Dilapidated Victorian mansions, once the home of sea captains, are being spit shined. Colorful street art decorates businesses and the civic pride runs high.

Fruitvale is an urban stretch at the base of the Oakland Hills that birthed the Chicano Movement in the late 60s and 70s. These days, this vibrant neighborhood is mostly half Hispanic, with the culture and flavor intact. Here, you’ll find a welcoming atmosphere and the city’s highest density of taco trucks. 

What Makes Oakland So Kind 

You know the saying, “it takes a village?” Oakland’s ethos of urban sustainability is championed throughout the town by each individual and collective community doing their own part to keep Oakland thriving. The spirit of a city that birthed the Black Panther Movement in the 60’s is still alive and well, you see it in community activism and social justice. It is displayed all over the city in murals and storefronts, even the professional soccer team, the Oakland Roots SC has formed its own non-profit, Justice Front, and is the first soccer team to join Common Goal, donating 1% of player and coach salaries to fight inequality. Be sure to check out a game when you visit and root on the Roots!

If you’re asking where the art is in Oakland, well, it’s everywhere. Apart from great museums that celebrate its rich culture, like the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA), the African American Museum & Public Library and the Chabot Space & Science Center, the streets of Oakland are filled with more than 1,000 murals, making the city itself a museum. One group, The Community Rejuvenation Project, has over 150 murals in the Bay Area. They are behind the famed Alice Street mural. This colorful expansive mural depicts historical figures and events representing “a fusion of the past, present and future communities of this particular neighborhood". Three Thirty Three Arts is another group of artists beautifying Oakland by painting murals in various parts of the city. Here’s a map and guide to Oakland’s notable murals. Oakland is also full of amazing art exhibits and hybrid galleries that double as retail shops, barber shops or bars, and we think you should check them all out. Oakland Art Murmur is an organization that aims to connect the public to Oakland’s eclectic art scene, so be sure to check out their First Fridays to get an inside look at Oakland’s emerging artists.

Oakland’s artistic beauty doesn’t stop there – some of the best examples of Art Deco, Victorian, Arts & Crafts and Millennial Modern are peppered throughout the city. Take a free walking tour or see a show at one of Oakland’s restored Art Deco theaters, The Fox, The Paramount or Grand Lake Theater. For more spectacles, head to Preservation Park, a gated area that preserves 1800’s era Victorian Mansions. Free 90-minute docent-led walking tours allow you to tour the restored neighborhood's stately Victorians, landscaped gardens, and the Pardee mansion.

Now we’ve proven Oakland is a town that dazzles the eyes, but its rich cultural heritage is sure to dazzle your tastebuds, too. Oakland’s emerging culinary scene is inherently vibrant, flavorful and Afrocentric. Some of our favorites are The Cook and Her Farmer in Swan’s Market, Old Oakland's historic community market. They proudly work with local organic farms to source produce and proteins and also fosters creative growth and development for future cooks and farmers. Another of the abundant of black female-owned businesses we love is Kubé, and artisanal, vegan, full-fat coconut ice cream “womanfacturer” and social enterprise. She hires formerly incarcerated men and women, and donates the coconut shaving biproduct from her “nice” cream to make mulch in the Planting Justice farm in east Oakland. Here’s a list of more Black-Owned Eateries we highly recommend visiting. Also not to be missed, the Chicano vibes are strong in the vibrant Fruitvale District. Here you can stuff yourself silly taco-hopping at the city’s highest density of taco trucks. Another notable bite for Oakland is that the plant-based food scene here is hitting hard. So, the Oakland Vegan Trail should be on every plant-based foodies itinerary (like, at the top of it). Here’s a map of the famed trail in all its glory.

No trip to Oakland would be complete without sampling the abundant bounty of fresh fruits and California produce at any of Oakland’s popular Farmers Markets. On Sundays, Temescal Farmers Market is a foodie paradise and the market at Jack London Square also offers up some of the best scenery in the city. On Fridays, the streets of Old Oakland turn into a party as vendors and musicians bring cultures and food together. Speaking of farming, Oakland’s Urban Farming scene is thriving. One such, City Slicker Farms, has been at the forefront of the 21st-century sustainable urban farming and food justice movement, gaining national recognition as a leader in supporting low-income communities of color to grow food in the city. In the past 20 years, they have built over 400 backyards, and community gardens, produced 300,000 pounds of nutrient-rich food, and trained thousands of community members in organic gardening methods and environmental stewardship. 

Ways to Do Good in Oakland

Kind Travelers can also Volunteer at a Community Garden with the City of Oakland Community Gardening Program. Simply show up and get to work gardening and meet great people in the process.

Be sure to plan a visit to the Oakland Zoo, managed by the Conservation Society of California, a 501 non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of wildlife both locally and globally.

If there’s a budding street artist inside you, the Community Rejuvenation Project helps cultivate community through art and has painted over 100 murals in the city. Needless to say it’s a great way to cut your teeth or simply help beautify the city of Oakland.

Be sure to pick up some of the over 1300+ heirloom varieties for your garden at Planting Justice. They employ previously incarcerated people and give them the skills and resources to cultivate food sovereignty, economic justice, and community healing.

Mindful Adventures

Oakland has been deemed one of America’s most bike-friendly cities. What better way to explore Oakland’s many eco-conscious pockets than to rent a bike. Bay Area Bikes can be found in two locations, in Jack London Square and Uptown. Bicycles are allowed on ferries, AC Transit buses and BART trains—check the websites for routes and any excluded times. In addition, Bike East Bay was founded in 1972 (as the East Bay Bicycle Coalition) an organization dedicated to promoting bicycling as an everyday means of transportation and recreation. Today, Bike East Bay works with 33 cities throughout Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, Caltrans, BART, AC Transit, and other government agencies to improve conditions for people on bikes. Lime scooters and bikes are abundant in the city for more planet-friendly ways to scoot around.

To get out and explore on foot, Oakland offers magnificent hiking in the foothills and Dr. Aurelia Redwood Regional Park lets you stroll between giant Redwoods. Here’s a list of some of Oakland’s best hikes. There are also miles and miles of Intertrails to explore between the region's state and regional parks.

Let’s be real. We know spending our visiting dollars helps sustain the local economy and we want to look good doing it. Oakland’s fashion denizens and tastemakers sport everything from high-end designer goods to funky looks pieced together from whatever’s on hand. These days, several Oakland-based designers are at the forefront of the slow-fashion movement, which calls for conscious consumerism, reduced waste, and using natural fabrics. If you’re visiting Oakland and want to indulge in some retail therapy and are also concerned with the effect fast fashion is having on our planet, check out these six local designers.

Getting There

By Air

The Oakland International Airport (OAK) is the Bay area’s second-largest airport. It is a breeze to navigate—it’s served by the BART to OAK train, Lyft/Uber/rideshare, van shuttles, limousines, taxis and public transit buses. The airport is known for having some of the nation’s best on-time arrivals and departures, meaning you’ll have plenty of time to spare to explore Oakland. Some popular airlines that fly directly into OAK include Southwest, Alaska, Hawaiian, Volaris, American, Delta, JetBlue, Spirit & more. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is roughly 20 miles from Downtown Oakland, while Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) is 40 miles south. 

By Water

Take in panoramic views as you cruise on the water and under the Bay Bridge to various SF Bay Ferry terminals. Board at Jack London Square, and relish the ocean air on your face during the half-hour trip to San Francisco, Oracle Park, and more. 

By Rail 

Travelers can reach Oakland by train at Amtrak’s sleek modern station in Jack London Square. Ride the San Joaquins route from the Central Valleys. Oakland is also a stop on the Capitol Corridor line, providing frequent connections between Sacramento and Silicon Valley.

Regionally, the sustainable, all-electric Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system offers daily-direct service to and from the East Bay and San Francisco, including both Oakland and San Francisco International Airports.  The SFO station in International Terminal G is easy to get to. The new BART to OAK station is conveniently located in the parking lot right across the street from Terminal 1. The Broadway Shuttle or “the Free B” offers fast, free connections from BART, San Francisco Bay Ferry and Amtrak Capitol Corridor to downtown Oakland offices. Hop on and hop off the Shuttle wherever you see a sign with the green “B on Broadway” logo.

By Bus

The AC Transit bus system includes citywide transportation and Transbay connections to San Francisco. A Greyhound bus terminal can also be found near Downtown Oakland.

By Car

Oakland is the hub of many of the Bay Area’s most commonly used interstate highways, providing a great base for exploring nearby cities such as San Francisco and Berkeley, Napa and Sonoma County wine regions, and Northern California getaways to Tahoe and Yosemite. If you’re traveling by car, driving to Oakland is a cinch, with multiple points of access along the I-880, I-580 and I-980. In addition to car rental offices located at Oakland International Airport and the Oakland Convention Center downtown, short-term rentals are available through City Car Share and Zip Car.