I was in Oakland for a convention, and I was hoping to get some time to see the city as I had never really had the opportunity. When I had been in the Bay Area in the past, I had always been busy somewhere else. It didn’t seem like it was going to happen for the first couple of days I was there, but I suddenly realized that I had an extra day before my flight home took off. This was great news, except for one thing – I didn’t have a place to stay any longer, so I’d have to check out of my corporate hotel. That, as anyone who has traveled understands, can be a problem. I was sure there were plenty of Oakland hotels from which to choose, but I didn’t really know where to start on such short notice, but remembered hearing about an app called HotelTonight. I gave it a shot.
Boy, was that a find. Not only did it provide me with all sorts of choices for Oakland hotels, but it had me booked and ready to go within a couple of minutes. I could not believe how easy it was and I was ready to head over there immediately. I rented a car, put my things in and made the short drive to the hotel. I was happy to see that it was all I had hoped for, and the staff there were tremendously helpful. I wanted to see Oakland, but I wanted to see it as locals would live it. They gave me a lot of good tips. I was ready for my 24-hour adventure.
I started in the Civic Center neighborhood, as that wasn’t far from downtown. I immediately realized that I should just get out and walk, as the streets were made for it. I did so and took in an interesting mix of residential living and business hustle and bustle. I found this place called the Oakland Museum of California, and I spent some time here. It was unlike any museum I had ever seen. After that, I was ready for some coffee and I was off to my next stop.
Right next to the Civic Center neighborhood is Old Oakland, which as you have probably gathered is named as such for a reason. This was the first downtown Oakland, dating back to the time of the United States Civil War. I was stunned by the architecture more than anything else, as it almost seemed as though every building was and old Victorian. Before I knew it, I realized I was absolutely starving. That turned out to be good news, as there are restaurants galore here and based on the smells you’d have thought they were all destination spots. I ate a delicious lunch at a local joint and I moved on to the next stop, full and happy.
There’s another Chinatown in the Bay Area that may be more famous than the one that sits in Oakland, but this one dates back to the 1850’s. It’s also an area that is home to people from all over the Asian continent, so Chinatown presents an interesting mix of Asian culture, cuisine and customs. I stopped in a few shops to look at souvenirs, and it was clear that the people who put these together took them seriously. This was not a neighborhood trying to sell you whatever cheap thing you grabbed. I filled a bag for loved ones and headed out.
I wanted to see what the true residential areas of Oakland were like, so I drove into Piedmont. Piedmont is relatively small – about 10,000 residents, and it’s completely surrounded by Oakland. It’s also a beautiful area with lovely homes and family-type activities happening everywhere. This would be a place I’d consider living if I moved here, as it’s near just about everything you could want to access and it’s got a relaxed vibe that is likely what’s most inviting to its resident families.
I was up for a relatively short drive north to Berkeley. I had never seen this world-famous university or city, and I wasn’t sure when I was going to get my next opportunity. As soon as I got near the UC-Berkeley campus, I knew I had made a good decision. This was a place that was nothing short of breathtaking. Its beauty completely overwhelmed my senses. I spent a bit of time off campus as well, and all of a sudden it was dinnertime. If you can’t find something delicious to eat for dinner in Berkeley, it’s likely due to some unrelated problem. I enjoyed some of the freshest produce and meat I have ever tasted.
As I headed back into Oakland, I reflected on the day. I had seen a lot, walked and ate a lot. I had learned more about this place in one day by being here than I ever could have by reading about it or watching television. I was also thankful that I had found HotelTonight. Their choices for Oakland hotels were great, and the ease of their app is unmatched. What can take hours took only a few minutes, and I was almost immediately on my way to a day of exploration that tired me out in the best way possible.