Jack London Square in Oakland

Jack London Square in Oakland
Gertrude Stein may have famously said “There’s no there there” in regard to Oakland, but feel sorry for her: she died too soon to enjoy all of the fun available at Jack London Square in the city of Oakland. Named after the famous writer, this destination has hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, and activities all available in one small area. A day or evening spent here offers relaxation and fun!

Although Jack London Square is in the heart of Oakland, its position on San Francisco Bay means that opportunities abound to spend time with nature, particular with the ocean. Rent a kayak, a canoe, or a catamaran, a commune with the wind and the waves. For similar views with less effort, charter a yacht for a skippered or bareboat cruise. Or take some time to enjoy the view from land by walking or biking this part of the Bay Trail, a proposed 500 mile loop that will eventually circle the entire inlet. Depending on your interests, a few hours can easily turn into an entire day without moving the car.

More of a history buff? Then be sure to visit the USS Potomac and the Lightship LV 605, both docked here. Originally owned by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Potomac served as his personal yacht from 1936 until he died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1945. Dockside tours are available year-round; in the summer and on holidays, cruises offer the same tour information with a serving of adventure on the side. Please note that, due to its age, this attraction is not fully wheelchair accessible.

The Lightship LV 605 is a floating lighthouse open for visits on weekends (you need to email ahead and make a reservation.) Lighthouse lovers don’t need to know much more than this, but photographers should also take note: this vessel offers quite a few opportunities and challenges for those looking to hone their craft. As an opportunity to learn more about the United States’ nautical history, this attraction is well worth the time.

Music lovers will be thrilled to discover or re-visit Yoshi’s. Since 1977, this club has offered music by names both big and small. McCoy Tyner, Hiroshima, Wayne Shorter, and Tammy Hall have all played here; these days, the club hosts folk, R&B, bluegrass, hip-hop, and other genres as well. The food is good, and the bar offers a selection of sake, wine, and spirits; it’s the perfect place to spend an evening.

While you won’t have to drive after a night of drinking if you stay at the Waterfront Hotel, you will find the prices exorbitant (but keep in mind that most hotels in the Bay Area are quite pricey by the standards of the rest of the country). This boutique guesthouse offers nautical décor, a fireplace in the lobby, and many high-tech touches in the rooms. For those who want to be able to walk from the hotel to Jack London Square but can’t afford the Waterfront, the Courtyard by Marriott, the Inn at Jack London Square, and the Jack London Inn are all within half a mile. The Lake Merritt BART station, also less than half a mile away, offers connections to more hotels within the Berkeley and Oakland area.

Jack London Square, Broadway and Embarcadero, Oakland, CA.

USS Potomac, www.usspotomac.org

Lightship LV 605, lv605@uslhs.org

The Bay Trail, www.baytrail.org

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This content was written by Korie Beth Brown, Ph.D. . If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Korie Beth Brown, Ph.D. for details.