Guide to Downtown Oakland

Things to Do in Downtown Oakland

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Bounded by the Oakland Estuary to the southwest and Lake Merritt to the east, Downtown Oakland is a cultural destination in the Bay Area. A hot spot for creative expression, its multicultural legacy is a source of pride expressed through vibrant cultural events, independent businesses and its historic communities.

The African American and Chinese communities remain the biggest influence on Oakland’s downtown despite the city’s continual economic change. Hip new bars and restaurants have been popping up all over downtown, but the area’s older institutions remain the city’s brightest gems.

The Oakland Museum of California draws visitors from around the world with art, history, and science exhibits that tell the rich history of California. Food trucks serve gourmet grub and live entertainment in front of the museum every Friday night.

An energetic nightlife scene represents eclectic interests, with punk bars, hip-hop venues and upscale wine bars within easy reach of the Civic Center and Lake Merritt BART stations.

For an escape from the hustle and bustle of Broadway, Lake Merritt is the unofficial mind/body health center of the city. The lagoon and wildlife refuge hosts a large population of year-round birds as well as joggers, picnickers and drum circles. Sunset seekers enjoy the breathtaking views and Venetian gondola rides that set sale from its historic boathouse.

On the south end of Broadway, Jack London Square looks across the waterfront at its Alameda neighbors. This up-and-coming neighborhood is a go-to destination for excellent dining options, gourmet coffee and jazz music.

[Photo Credit: City of Oakland]

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Popular Things to Do in Downtown Oakland

American Restaurants

Tribune Tavern

401 13th St, Oakland, CA 94612

A place for people to mingle over happy hour drinks, lunch meetings, or dinner with authentic, nourishing comfort food a bar stocked with local beer & wine


The Layover Music Bar & Lounge

1517 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94612

The Layover has accomplished a bohemian sheik interior, circa 1970 Las Vegas glam. Featuring DJ line ups, live music and art this full bar creates one of the most comfortable spaces in the East Bay.

American Restaurants

The Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill

1520 Lakeside Dr, Oakland, CA 94612

Economy Hotels

Civic Center Lodge

50-6th Street, Oakland, CA 94607

American Restaurants

Flora Restaurant & Bar

1900 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

Housed in an Art Deco architectural gem in the Uptown district of Oakland. Flora serves a selection of new American dishes accompanied by an extensive menu of prohibition era cocktails.


Fox Theater

1807 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

One of Oakland's premiere concert venues, the Fox Theater hosts nationally and internationally known artists in a beautifully restored Art Deco theater.

Arts & Entertainment Venues

Paramount Theatre

2025 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

The Paramount Theatre is the home of the Oakland East Bay Symphony and, as one of the San Francisco Bay Area's premiere performing arts facilities, hosts a year-round schedule of popular music concerts, variety shows, theatre and, of course, movies.


Oakland Marriott City Center

1001 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607

With a stay at Oakland Marriott City Center, you'll be centrally located in Oakland, steps from Oakland Convention Center and minutes from Oakland City Center.

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Scenes from Downtown Oakland
Angelaphoto - Pig Face Cuban, Clove and Hoof, OaklandJerry Seinfeldline sight sasFour, mmm, F/A-18s? F-15s? F-22s? heading out to sea... DSC_0320 copyAlameda PointProtestor Holds Sign, Oakland Riots, 2010untoldphoto - old fire engine @ NASMural - Oakland, CA#ZeroVision 7VYC213YarnShimmy 8, Morcom Rose Garden, Oaklandsoft lavender [+2 in comments]Paramount