Everything you need to know about visiting the East Bay.
Long known as the lesser stepsister of the Golden Gate Bridge, the 8.4-mile-long San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is now ultra glam. The gorgeous eastern span replacement was the most expensive public works project in California history. The western span puts on a light show nightly with 48,000 high-performance LEDs, best viewed from S.F.’s Embarcadero. And traveling back towards the city provides an incredible panorama.
Once you cross the bridge, the road splits into three choices: Highway 80 is to the left (north along S.F. Bay), Highway 580 is the middle fork (east), and Highway 880 to the right (south).
Oakland: “Oaktown” has a quieter Chinatown than its neighboring city, but nearby Jack London Square is a vibrant shopping and dining area. The RingCentral Coliseum is a huge draw for Oakland Athletics games, outdoor concerts, and more, while the Oakland Arena hosts indoor concerts for up to 20,000 fans. One mile south is Oakland International Airport (OAK). All are also accessible from S.F. via BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit).
Lake Merritt is a great place for a 3.1-mile city walk, a trip in a Venetian gondola, or to shop for locally crafted foods and wares.
Trending restaurants include Brown Sugar Kitchen for chicken and waffles, Horn Barbecue for Texas-style meats, El Paisa for tacos, Lion Dance Café for a Singaporean-Italian blend, and Schwaramaji for Jordanian dishes.
Berkeley: A world-class institution, the University of California at Berkeley, was founded in 1868 and is best known as the birthplace of The Free Speech Movement in the 1960s. The Greek Theatre offers a beautiful venue for concerts with bay views in the distance.
While protesting may be a way of life in this city, so is enjoying fine quality food. Chef Alice Waters founded Chez Panisse on Shattuck Avenue in North Berkeley in 1971. By sourcing local ingredients, she’s credited with creating the modern Food-to-Table Movement in her flagship restaurant downstairs and a café upstairs.
Nearby is the “Gourmet Ghetto,” nicknamed for its multitude of ethnic restaurants, including The Cheese Board Collective, Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters, Grégoire Restaurant, Cha-Ya, Agrodolce Osteria, Cesar, and many more.
Livermore: At the eastern end of Alameda County, this city is home to 40 world-class wineries and well worth a day trip. Most oenophiles don’t know that Wente Vineyards, founded in 1883, is the country’s longest, continuously operated family-owned winery. In fact, 75 percent of California’s Chardonnay has been derived from Wente’s clone.
History: The East Bay region was originally settled by the Huchiun/Ohlone tribes, followed by Spanish and Mexican conquistador, before Americans settled in the mid-1850s.
Featured Photo: Ronan Furuta via Unsplash
What to Do in the East Bay
JANUARY: Concord’s Comfort Food Week runs the gamut of culinary experiences, but keeps it delightfully crowd-pleasing. You won’t regret postponing your January diet to indulge in this East Bay town’s unbeatable offerings.
FEBRUARY: During Black History Month, Oakland non-profit Black Joy Parade unites a diverse community by creating a space — its signature parade — to celebrate the Black experience and community’s contribution to history and culture.
MARCH: Concord’s Spring Brews Festival, hosted by The Brewing Network, is one of the best craft beer festivals in the Bay Area. Enjoy beverages from over 60 craft breweries as well as live music and great food.
MAY: Scintillate your palates with this culinary crawl (like farm-to-table trick or treat), one of Temescal’s most delectable annual events — Taste of Temescal.
JUNE: Relax by Lake Merritt and enjoy affordable activities and food, free music, kids activities, and dancing. There is something fun for everyone at Lakefest Oakland.
JULY: Art + Soul Oakland is the city’s biggest music festival. Peruse the artisan marketplace, a temping array of food booths, a world/urban dance stage, dance battles, mural paintings and an expansive children’s area.
AUGUST: The sidewalks of North Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto are the “canvas” of artists young and old, professional and greenhorn during the annual Chocolate and Chalk Art Festival. Artist registration is free and chocolate tasting tickets keep the antioxidant buzz strong.
SEPTEMBER: Celebrate LGBTQ+ communities in the most diverse city in the country, at the most diverse Pride celebration: Oakland Pride.
OCTOBER: A homey take on Oktoberfest, Oaktoberfest in the Dimond offers traditional, seasonal foods and some of the best Bay Area craft beers. Enjoy performances from cultural artist and entertainers and support mom and pop businesses.
NOVEMBER: The Unity Council Día de Los Muertos Annual Festival is a free, outdoor festival that brings over 100,000 people to the vibrant, culturally-rich Fruitvale neighborhood to enjoy world-class live music, family-friendly games, rides and activities, traditional Latin American artisans.
*Things change, please check in with the organizers of these events to make sure they are still happening.