This past week we embarked on an art trip to San Francisco’s Academy of Science to exhibit Alex’s installation. Which lead us to explore many of the Bay Area’s amazing cities and nature havens. We stayed with family in Berkeley and found ourselves drawn to the Oakland area and as a result discovered many lovely places around the Bay, a short commute outside of San Fran.
As usual we arrived up North to perfect weather, not those typical grey, cold and windy days you often hear about. The sun was shining and set the stage for picnic perfect weather and delightful nature explorations.
Haddon Hill Cafe in Oakland is a charming local neighborhood coffee spot. Bonus is that it’s located on a great street to park your car for free (shhhh!)while you grab your crack, I mean coffee, chat with the friendly locals, pet their pups and then get moving down to the lake a brief five minute walk.
Stroll with your cup of joe along the path that circles Lake Merritt. This path also leads you to Fairyland, a pre-Disney amusement park relic. Tickets are $10 for ages 1-100. This place is a fun experience for the lil’s, as a big kid I was disappointed that a few rides were closed (especially since there aren’t that many) secondly that the water and animals were missing from a few of the exhibits which made the park feel unkempt and half of the experience it could have been. However, Nova was charmed by the place and the fact that there is re-entry made it okay to spend the fee. After a train ride, sledding down Jack and Jill’s hill, hanging with goats and exploring miniature houses it was time for a nap. While Nova rested Alex and I declared it to be the best time for a picnic.
The Oasis Mediterranean Cafe on Grand Ave was an excellent option for grab and go picnic items. We grabbed a veggie platter and a few baklava and saught shelter under a tree offering a bit of shade and lake views. Funny how much this area of Oakland reminds me of Silver Lake back home in Los Angeles.
A few days earlier we found ourselves at Temescal Alley where we were charmed by the artisan shops, scent of espresso and ice cream cones. We enjoyed a scoop(well a few) from Curbside Creamery as well as a cappucino. I must admit doing this trip on jet lag has forced me to use caffeine as a means to keep up with my toddler. When I get back home I plan to detox in an effort to reset and kick my bad crack habit.
We enjoyed our time in the alley so much that we came back to set up Alex’s piece (The Metamorphosis Project), after a long stroll down Telegraph Ave where we checked out the scene at First Fridays. What fun vibes, full of art, dance, culture and loads of street food vendors. I must confess aside from juice and ice cream I really have trouble getting into street food, so we didn’t eat anything at the event but those who were eating really seemed to be enjoying their plates.
On our stroll back to Temescal Alley we missed the turn off by one block and luckily so, because we stumbled upon Ruby’s Garden who was having their launch party! They are a baby gear store selling both new and recycled items. The used clothes were in great condition and washed on site. We picked up a pair of shoes and overalls for Nova all under $20 and like new condition. The toys are green focused and the book area is a sweet place to cuddle with baby and read together.
I loved our time in Oakland and how close it was in proximity to heaps of fun things to do with Nova from fun playgrounds in Berkeley to Tilden Park to the plethora of fun and delicious attraction San Francisco has to offer. Oakland is full of families and looks to be a great area for those of us looking to live a city life, close to nature spots and focused on art, culture and affordable family living.
A few of our favorite spots in Berkeley:
Berkeley Bowl West is a new and notable grocery store. Like a Whole Foods but with even more local selections. Perfect spot to fill up on picnic goodies too. They even have a cafe adjacent to the market.
Vik’s is great for a variety of Indian dishes and even has a market connected to the cafe. I picked up some very fresh spices while there.
Nova loved the all wood community created playground suitable for toddlers and kids of all ages. Located at Aquatic Park in Berkeley, CA. Great spot to play, exercise and enjoy the sunset.
Tilden Park just over the hill is worth the short car ride. It’s such a fun place to explore nature, feed and pet farm animals, picnic, and even ride a mini steam train through the redwoods. Will surely be visiting this place again when I find myself up North.