Community, Local, Restaurants & Drink, Walks & Hikes

My Top Ten Things to Do in Oakland this Summer

Hello Summer!  Warm Days.  Long Nights.  The smell of the BBQ.  Eating outside.  Fingers sticky with watermelon; or an ice cream cone.  There are so many things about the hottest of seasons that make memories so fond.  Just last night my daughter and I enjoyed the longest day of the year taking a walk in flip-flops, picking blackberries, returning home to enjoy ice cream and slices of stone fruit pie on the back porch.  As you look forward to these next couple of months, before Labor Day unofficially draws this time of year to a close, consider any one of the below as a great way to enjoy summertime right here in The Town.  I know I will be crossing many of them off my own list, and hope to create lots more memories for the bank.

A summer musical at Woodminster Amphitheater
The Woodminster Amphitheater is celebrating fifty years of their summer musical series this year.  I grew up nearby and have never enjoyed a show under the stars on a warm summer evening.  I have been lucky enough to receive an invitation to opening night of Shrek The Musical and I can’t wait to attend.  Future shows this summer also include Chicago and La Cage Aux Folles.  Visit for more information and to buy tickets online.

Grab a picnic table for Friday Nights @ OMCA
This wonderful weekly celebration at OMCA has been a family favorite of ours for quite some time.  A huge selection of Off The Grid food trucks, live music, kids crafts, beer & wine, and half-price museum admission are reasons you should make it one of your favorites too this summer.  While certainly not a necessity, did you know you could reserve one of the picnic tables in the garden or near the koi pond, giving you a dedicated place to park yourself all evening?  Just $25 reserves a table for eight.  This does take a bit of advance planning, the tables book up in advance.  Take a look at their reservation link for more information, located here.
P.S. Don’t forget to check out their new Warriors Pride Exhibit!  Next year dubs :o)

Hike the trails in Anthony Chabot Regional Park…to Lake Chabot
I have not done enough hiking this year.  It was a goal I had laid out at the start of the year, and I need to bring it back to the forefront.  Anthony Chabot Regional Park is an area I am not too familiar with.  While I associate the name with Lake Chabot, located in Castro Valley, the park actually begins in Oakland.  I have come across a few articles about the fourteen mile hike you can do from Oakland to the lake, and it seemed like a great goal to try to achieve this summer; perfect for a bit of “me” time.  I do think I will arrange for the family to meet me for a picnic at the lake, and then a car ride home :o).  See this article for more details.

Enjoy outdoor beer gardens…as much as possible
On Saturday we made an impromptu visit to the new Temescal Brewing on Telegraph Avenue and had a great time sipping a beer in their outdoor beer garden.  We brought the kids, who were happy to munch on free popcorn and sip the chocolate milk the brewery has on hand, while my husband and I chatted and enjoyed the gorgeous weather.  So I would like to repeat that as much as possible this summer.  Playing corn-hole at Lost & Found is on my to-do list, as is a trip to Drake’s Dealership and Telegraph Beer Garden.  I suspect Temescal Brewing will be a regular haunt for sure.  While it was great to be able to bring the kids, I hope we can fit in a few visits “sans kids” as well.

Nighttime star gazing at Chabot Space & Science Center
Did you know that from 7:30pm-10:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays you can visit the Observatory Deck of Chabot Space & Science Center to check out the stars through their three telescopes?  Named Rachael, Nellie, and Leah, the trio is located in the rolling roof observatory and offer 180 degree views of the sky.  A fun fact: Leah is the original telescope donated by Anthony Chabot is 1883.  How cool is that!?  And it’s free!  Note: the telescopes do not open until it is dark during summer.

Watch the dance battles at Art & Soul
I love to watch people dance.  I should re-phrase that; I love to watch people who dance WELL.  I am not one of those people.  So checking out the epic dance battles at the 16th Annual Art & Soul Festival on August 20th & 21st is on my list of summertime to-do’s.  I recently watched my son stare in amazement at a break dancing battle during the Jack London Night Market, so I think he would love to come too.  Maybe he will learn to dance better than I can.  Did I mention the Oaktown Throwdown BBQ Competition will be in effect during Art & Soul as well?

Watch a movie outside
We live in the Redwood Heights neighborhood and every summer I see the emails come out about the summertime “Movie in the Park” series, held at the Redwood Heights Community Center.  Movies begin at dusk, and this season they have family friendly classics such as Finding Nemo, Big, and Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back on the schedule.  Popcorn, hot dogs, and drinks are sold.  The movie series is also a way for the Redwood Heights Recreation Center to collect donations of canned goods, so bring a can along.  Please note that alcohol and dogs are not allowed in the park.  Check here for details on the schedule; movies are always shown on Friday evenings.
Another great option is Jack London Square’s Waterfront Flicks series.  While not all movies are kid-friendly, it is a great option if you are looking to spend some time outside on a Thursday evening.  Movies are shown on the Ferry Lawn and begin at sundown.  Don’t forget your blankets and chairs!

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site Musical at Fairyland
If you have a child, particularly if you have a little boy like I do, you may have more than one copy of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site.  At one point, we had three.  The Bay Area Children’s Theatre is putting on a wonderful adaptation of the book this year, in musical form.  To bring it home for you, it is being held at Children’s Fairyland.  Need I say more?  I’ll be grabbing tickets for a morning show and I can’t wait to tell my son about it.  The show begins June 25th and runs to July 31st.  You can find out more information and buy your tickets here.

Dinnertime Picnics…with sandwiches
I love having dinnertime picnics in the summer.  Sometimes its as simple as a blanket, a baguette, a pack of salami, and a container of fruit.  If I have time to throw together a pasta salad or a sandwich, even better.  I once made fried egg sandwiches and wrapped them up to-go and they were delicious.  This year I hope we can make this a weekly tradition.  Spots we have visited in the past are Robert’s Park and the lawn of Dracena Quarry Park in Piedmont.  This year I would love to try one of the meadows at Mills College, a grassy patch along Lake Merritt, a spot with a view in Mountain View Cemetery, and on especially hot evenings maybe the shady groves of the Big Trees redwoods in Joaquin Miller Park.  Where will you lay down your blanket this summer?

Sounds of Summer Family Music Festival on The Green at Mountain View Cemetery
An annual event held at the beautiful Mountain View Cemetery, their summer music festival is a great way to be outside, eat good food, listen to great music, and enjoy a local treasure…all at no cost to you.  Mark your calendars for Sunday, August 14th from 10:00am-4:00pm.  A dance floor is set-up and bouncy houses are on hand for the kiddos.

So I think I have filled up my calendar for the next couple months.  How about you?  I would love to hear any other ideas you have for hot summer days and nights here in Oakland, so please share!

Enjoy :o)


Photo Credits:
Top Row (left to right): Star Gazer by John Martinez Pavliga via flickr / Woodminster Amphitheater Summer Musical at Night courtesy of Woodminster Amphitheater Publicity & Marketing / Anthony Chabot Regional Park by Ferrous Buller via flickr
Middle Row (left to right): Beer at Temescal Brewing by Adrienne Schell / Summer Sun, Winter Shadow by Laura Brunow Miner via flickr / Waterfront Flicks by Sarah Yang via Instagram / Redwood Trees in Joaquin Miller Park by Ernesto Andrade via flickr
Bottom Row (left to right): Garden Courtyard of OMCA by Melinda… via flickr / Promotional image of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site The Musical supplied by Bay Area Children’s Theatre, photo by Melissa Nigro / Art & Soul Festival Sign (with crops) by Andres Herrera via flickr / Summer time and the living is easy… by Scott Schiller via flickr



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