History, Local, Momma

My Top 10 “Things To Do In Oakland” in 2016

Happy New Year!  2016…Holy Cow.

It is always interesting to turn our heads and hearts towards a new year.  A new year offers you a chance to reflect on where you are in life; it is an opportune time to consider any “course corrections” that may be in order.  2015 was a mixed bag for me.  It was full of challenging times as I continued to learn how to navigate being a mom to not just one, but two.  It was a successful year for me with my own eating and exercise hurdles.  It was the year that this website was born.

So what will 2016 bring?  I have never been one to set new years resolutions.  I often struggle with follow through, so quite frankly I don’t need to set myself up for failure.  Instead, I chose to think about what I know for the upcoming year.  So what are the things that I know about 2016?  I know I will turn 40 this year.  I know I will continue to be a mother to 2 small children.  I know that Oakland will continue to be my home.  I know that 2016 will likely be the year I have to start working again in some sort of capacity.  I know and feel confident that I will continue to grow my readership and following here at Oakland Momma.  Each of these things holds all sorts of exciting, scary, and challenging turns to navigate.  For now, as I ease into this new year, I am going to focus on the fun stuff.  Oakland as my home.  Oakland as the inspiration behind Oakland Momma and the key ingredient that will ensure continued growth for this blog.

I have been giving some thought to what I would like to do this year in my hometown.  I have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of learning about Oakland; from its history to its current landscape, I have fallen in love with it all over again.  So below are some things I hope to do this year.  I of course plan to share the experiences with all of you.

1.) Explore Knowland Park
Have you visited Knowland Park?  No, not the zoo.  The unspoiled sloping hillsides that are home to both ancient oaks and rare plant species, not to mention some stunning vistas and views of the Bay Area.  I haven’t been there.  I have been reading about the ongoing dispute over the zoo’s expansion into the upper slopes of the park and the impact this may have.  It has me interested to explore and check out this untouched nook of the city, before it may be forever changed.

2.) Visit Oakland’s “Historic Places”
If my sources are correct, Oakland has 53 places on the National Registry of Historic Places.  I have mentioned the American Bag Co. in my post about Oakland Supply Co.  I spent a lovely fall day at the Swan’s Market building which I highlighted here.  I hope to visit many more of Oakland’s historic places this coming year.

3.) Fairyland
My love affair with Fairyland will hopefully continue this year as my youngest turns 2 and can really start to explore the magical twists and turns of our hometown amusement park.  My dream for this year is to not only photograph it and learn more about its history, but I am crossing my fingers I might be able to get a little behind the scenes access as well.

4.) Ode to all things Fox, Grand and Paramount
These 3 amazing entertainment venues are the architectural beauties of our city.  So how ridiculous is it that I have never been to a show at the Fox?  I haven’t been in the Paramount since my high school graduation was held there in 1994.  I want to beg my city for forgiveness with visits, photos, and posts to document and honor these Oakland icons.

5.) Visit the Oakland History Room at the Oakland Public Library
Since my interest has continued to grow over historic tidbits about our town, I would like to visit this corner of the main library to see what other post inspiration I can dig up.

6.) Walk all the trails in Redwood Regional Park…as often as I can
I love Redwood Regional.  I particularly love the redwood groves of the French, Tres Sendas, and Starflower Trails.  There is no reason to cross the bay to visit Muir Woods when we have an East Bay version of it in our backyard, a less crowded one at that.  I have hiked numerous trail configurations in the park but would like to find time to do it more often, and to photograph and share as well.

7.) Visit Oakland Museum of California
This is another shameful secret.  I have not been to OMCA as an adult.  I have enjoyed the food and music filled fun of their Friday Nights, but I have not attended the museum since I was a child.  This is going to be corrected this month I hope, as I bring you a series of posts on OMCA, the White Elephant Sale, and hopefully a feature on Jingletown.

8.) The Bonsai Gardens at Lake Merritt
I hope to spend more time exploring The Gardens At Lake Merritt this year, and in particular I want to enjoy its littlest members.  Did you know that the bonsai collection found there is quite well renowned?  There is a tree estimated to be over 1,600 years old.  Another was given as a gift to the US Ambassador to China from the Japanese government during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.  Pretty cool huh?  I plan to check it out this year.

9.) Explore Oakland’s Murals and Mosaics
I had hoped to do a post on Oakland murals this year, but time got the better of me.  As I am sure many of you were, I was saddened by the death of Antonio Ramos, the young artist killed while working on a mural project on West Street.  It inspired me to learn more about organizations that commission such works, such as Attitudinal Healing Connection and Community Rejuvenation Project.  The mural projects underway in our city are quite amazing and I hope I can visit many of these masterpieces in the coming months.  In addition, I am curious about the mosaic art found on trash cans around our neighborhoods, so I plan to explore this as well.

10.) Attend Urban Path Walks and explore Oakland’s “Secret Stairs”
I had hoped to attend one of the sponsored walks hosted by Oakland Urban Paths last year, but again, time got in the way.  This group works to raise awareness about Oakland heritage through walks around our city.  I hope to put many of these on my calendar this year.  I also picked up a copy of Secret Stairs East Bay a few months ago and plan to explore some of the historical staircases on my own as well.

So that is 10, but it appears I can’t count because I had one additional “top pick” on my list.  While technically not in Oakland, I would really love to visit Jack London’s Ranch and State Park up in Glen Ellen.  I hope to pair it with lots more info and history about this well known Oakland author.

So these are a few things I have up my sleeve for 2016.  Of course there are lots of other ideas brewing as well.  Any Oakland favorites you would like to see highlighted?

I hope your 2016 is off to a good start!



Photo Credits:
Top Row (left to right): Knowland Park by Mack via Flickr.  Greetings from Oakland Postcard, source unknown.  Fairyland by Todd Lappin via Flickr.  Grand Lake by Hitchster via Flickr.
Middle Row (left to right): Oakland And Environs (taken at Oakland History Room) by mk30 via Flickr.  Redwood Regional Park French Trail by Miquel Vieira via Flickr.  Oakland Museum of California by Thomas Hawk via Flickr.  Lake Merritt 12-27-12 (Bonsai Tree) by sfbaywalk via Flickr.
Bottom Row (left to right): Butterfly by Brooke Anderson via Flickr.  Trestle Glen Stairs by Adrienne Schell.    Mural at Peralta & 19th by Sonny Abesamis via Flickr.  A tree at Jack London Ranch State Park by harminder dhesi via Flickr.


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  • Reply Lacey January 26, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    I recently visited OMCA with my four-year-old and it was wonderful. Most of the exhibits have something interactive that you can touch and there were so many things to interest both of us. I don’t know if I was just lucky, but is was also mostly empty on our Saturday visit.

  • Reply For Your Weekend January 22, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    […] 10 things to do in Oakland this year […]

  • Reply Jenna January 22, 2016 at 9:40 am

    I second Audrey’s suggestion of Cornerstone Sonoma. I’ve been several times (it’s always changing), and it’s truly a unique and inspiring space.

    I haven’t spent much time in Oakland but hope to spend more this year. So many fun things to do on your list!

  • Reply Oakland’s Old Neighbor…Brooklyn?? – Oakland Momma January 19, 2016 at 3:17 am

    […] a recent cold & drizzly Saturday morning I checked off my first goal on my “Things To Do In Oakland in 2016” list.  I attended a walk hosted by Oakland Urban Paths through the streets of what was once a town that […]

  • Reply Audrey @ The Thrifty Traveler CA January 6, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Great list! You will love Jack London State Park. We had a wonderful trip there last year that the whole family enjoyed. You may have already been, but Cornerstone Sonoma isn’t too far from the park and it’s great for kids (and adults).

    • Reply oaklandmomma January 6, 2016 at 12:25 pm

      Thanks Audrey! I haven’t been to Cornerstone Sonoma but will keep that in mind for when we make the trip…Happy New Year!

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