Bars
Classic low ceilinged Cal dive bar with fabulous Ethiopian food delivered from across the street!
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One of the earliest micro breweries
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A punk rock music club where many Berkeley bands got started
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A hipster spot for meat lovers.
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See how St. George Spirits / Hangar One makes their famous spirits and liquors, made mostly with produce sourced directly from farms. You can tour St. George to learn how they make their libations then get tastes in their tasting room. Located in an old hangar, you'll have million dollar views of San Francisco as you taste. Have a designated driver!
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Craft beer, as local and artisanal as it gets!
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Coffee
Great food, warm cafe with strong coffee. Free WIFI.
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Famous specialty / gourmet food store you can stock up for meals, picnics or for take home local food souvenirs. The bakery has incredible pizza and cheese rolls for a quick snack and people watching on College Ave. as well as scrumptious desserts, cookies and breads.
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  • Cole Coffee
    307 63rd Street Oakland, California 94618
Famous for their strong coffee, a few pastries, and coffee beans. Always crowded and located in a nice walking area surrounded with beautiful trees.
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Fun old time ice creamery but definitely does not have the quality of some of the newer small ice cream joints around.
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  • Ici
    2948 College Avenue Berkeley, California 94705
If you scream for ice cream, try Ici which uses seasonal flavors and almost always has a line. Great home made candy too like passion fruit marshmallows.
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Sweet people and great coffee plus vegan sweets they make in house, on a nice row of shops and restaurants.
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The hip spot to get amazing gourmet filled doughnuts
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Cozy chocolate centric cafe with casual eats and wifi
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Local ice cream made while you wait like a science experiment!
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Blue Bottle Coffee's flagship cafe, perfect for socializing over coffee (no internet). Across from a high school, so not your typical Blue Bottle scene!
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A spin off of the Cheeseboard bakery, Arizmendi has superlative pizza - 1 kind per day, always vegetarian, always amazing. Mostly takeout, just a little seating. Great pastries and coffee too.
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Award winning third-wave, locally roasted coffee right next to the BART station along with great pastries from Starter Bakery and other local bakers.
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Famous croissants
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Philz coffee is a great place to work, nice bagels, pastries and good choice of coffee that is dripped individually.
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Truly craft ice cream that lovers of obscure and local ice cream and cookie flavors will love. It's near 19th St BART, across from UBER's future office.
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Wonderful artisan bakery with fresh croissants etc
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Bagel lovers can get their fix of authentic bagel at Oakland's own bagelry, where bagels are topped with plentiful onions, garlic or whatever you like. Authentic Bagel is a quick walk to Jack London Square from where you can ferry to San Francisco.
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Restaurants
Authentic Thai food at college town prices.
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  • Pizzaiolo
    5008 Telegraph Ave Oakland, CA 94609
Fabulous pizza and wine in a buzzing convivial restaurant, definitely a best of the bay that has had drawn kudos nationwide .
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Gets crowded but really awesome food, drinks (try the tamarind cooler) My real find is the basil chicken with coconut rice. YUM.
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An early gourmet food store with great souvenirs, a lovely bakery, a coffee place, and all the produce and meat and pasta you could want. (Produce is expensive though.)
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Pizzeria with a cult following - famous for their deep dish. When you say Oakland, people say Zachary's.
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Famous fried chicken sandwich, cookies, pies, and not a lot else! A must try. Sit outside at ironing boards as tables.
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High end authentic mexican with margaritas that will leave you happy. Great back patio.
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Great dinner scene, bar scene, and to die for pastrami sandwiches at lunch time. Business casual style.
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  • Crepevine
    5600 College Avenue Oakland, California 94618
Nice breakfast spot with outdoor seating. Crepes, omelettes ...something for everyone.
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Newish moderne noodle bar, good for simple fare
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  • Adesso
    4395 Piedmont Avenue Oakland, California 94611
Great mid-century style Italian restaurant, excellent drinks. Late night "happy hour" with free food.
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Great pizza, nice place for coffee or lunch or dinner with a hip and fun bar (huge bloody mary's) great buzz, outdoor patio. Not really kid friendly. Same owner as Pizzaiolo, another must.
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Really yummy affordable Ethiopian food, casual spot.
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Great local spot with energetic vibe, all the combos of mac n cheese made with local cheeses you can imagine + fabulous veges like spicy cauliflower and nice selection of local micro brew beers.
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AMAZING breakfasts, off the beaten path near I 80 and Emeryville. A long time place for great pancakes and eggs.
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Where California Cuisine began. There's a cafe where you can get a relatively affordable lunch or dinner, and the restaurant, which has a different prix fixe dinner nightly.
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Upscale Italian
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  • Ramen Shop
    5812 College Avenue Oakland, California 94618
The best gourmet ramen noodles you may ever have (although some say overpriced) and a great bar. Loud and buzzing, always a wait unless you get there early.
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Very popular and affordable fresh mex farmers market stand in a new casual restaurant
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Great seafood spot with a lower priced prix fixe menu that can even include chocolate souffle. Nice for casual dining and parties.
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  • Penrose
    3311 Grand Avenue Oakland, California 94610
Really great "hot" restaurant with fun cocktails and lots of Mediterranean / California inspired food by Charlie Hallowell
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  • Manpuku
    2977 College Avenue Berkeley, California 94705
Dirt cheap sushi in a basic, cozy spot -- your college sushi haven.
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  • Cosecha
    907 Washington St Oakland, CA 94607
Really fabulous authentic Mexican food made with local fresh ingredients. In a great airy spot, perfect for lunch especially Friday during the farmers market.
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Classic breakfast / brunch spot
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This spot is now called Golden Squirrel and has a great foodie menu that is also kid friendly, with plenty of beers on tap (not for the kids) ;)
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  • FuseBox
    2311 Magnolia Street Oakland, California 94607
Hip Korean restaurant
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Classic restaurant cafe with middle eastern food (lots of great filo pastry dishes) and outdoor seating on a lovely part of College Ave in Elmwood
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Wonderful organic bakery with one pizza flavor today, always vegetarian
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Hamburger restaurant that's very popular with families
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  • Calavera
    2337 Broadway Oakland, CA 94612
A hot new upscale Mexican restaurant featuring authentic recipes and a great selection of cocktails. Sunset Magazine highlighted Calavera as a top new restaurant in Oakland.
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Drake's Dealership has a beautiful patio and an indoor sports bar with locally made craft beer, great burgers and other food and generally a really fun scene in a former car dealership in the heart of Oakland's hot Uptown area.
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Kid-Friendly
Fun train ride in the hills for kids and adults
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If you're lucky enough to visit the Berkeley Rose Garden when the roses are blooming, you'll be immersed in a multi-color experience in this ampitheather shaped rose garden that's home to many a wedding. There are several lovely tennis courts attached to the rose garden so bring a racquet and lob some balls! Bring kids and yourself across the street to Cordonices Park and try out the cement slide which defines good old fashioned fun. I love bringing cheese and bread from the Cheeseboard up to these parks for a delicious picnic.
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Many Oakland residents have not been to this little gem of a rose garden, tucked just one block off of Grand Ave and a block from the award winning Camino restaurant as well as the very popular Ace Hardware Garden Center, which is its own little sanctuary. The rose garden has beautiful architectural features and stairways along with pools and some grass, making it perfect for exercise, reading a book, or proposing to your loved one. Even when roses are not in bloom it is a little magical spot, just a few blocks to Lake Merritt.
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Sightseeing
Really great hilly cemetery off of Piedmont Ave for a walk, with historic mausoleums, amazing history statuary and incredible views.
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You won't believe how close to the city are when you get to the top of Grizzly Peak and drive into (or bike into) Tilden Park. The oak-filled park has lots of hiking trails and spots to have BBQs. You can pull over on the road and take some great shots of San Francisco.
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Lake Merritt is the jewel of Oakland, with lovely views of the lake and beyond. It's a 3 mile walk around the lake. Especially on a Saturday when the farmer's market is happening near the Grand Lake theater, it's a lovely way to start the day. The Lake Chalet is a nice spot to get bites and drinks and overlook the lake too. Enjoy!
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Stores
A must go for low cost designer clothing hounds - trust me!
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  • Oaklandish
    1444 Broadway Oakland, California 94612
The place that made Oakland's de facto cool logo - Oaklandish is a great place to get Oakland - ish souvenirs and t shirts
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For little notions and kitchen stuff. Cute local souvenirs too
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Good Vibrations is famous for its woman-friendly shopping experience, with helpful staff who will help you find romance-inducing supplies. You can figure out the rest. ;)
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The ultimate toy store is packed with stuffed animals, games and every wonderful toy you can imagine. The window displays are of the creativity you usually only see in Europe during the holidays, little wonderlands of animals, spaceships and whatever theme the Sweet Dreams team has dreamed up. Down the block the Sweet Dreams clothing, gift, jewelry and candy store has the perfect gifts for grown ups. This locally owned store is a real gem!
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Whether you're dying to find cheap holiday decorations from last season, towels, a gift or kitchen accessories, the Crate and Barrel Outlet will surely load you up with something, even if you didn't know you knew it. This outlet was one of the first stores on Berkeley's iconic Fourth Street which is full of designy shops, many independent, with some of the good chain makeup and clothing stores as as well as an Apple store.
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Whether you're looking for homeopathic remedies made with the best herbs, roots and spices or want to load up on aromatherapy supplies, the light filled rustic Homestead Apothecary store will reinvigorate your senses. They have occasional classes in really awesome topics like herbal makeup. The store is part of Temescal Alley, an adorable row of utterly hip and homemade stores along with a popular barbershop.
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Groceries
FABULOUS food to buy and eat prepared food from farmers and food crafters. A vibrant scene with great Highwire coffee too! One group of Airbnb guests loaded up on foods and drinks from the market before heading up the coast for the rest of their trip. They loved it!
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  • Trader Joe's
    5727 College Avenue Oakland, California 94618
Need I say? TJ's is right by Rockridge BART and so convenient to your Airbnb home. Load up on food for while you're here and for your travels.
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  • Safeway
    6310 College Avenue Oakland, California 94618
It's the biggest nearby market
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Famous grocery store with an eye popping array of produce at amazingly low prices
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One of the Bay Area's great authentic farmers markets where you will find a mix of organics, Southeast Asian vendors with produce like fresh peanuts and lemongrass, and prepared food. Near great lunch spots so perfect to shop then eat!
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Great place for wine from around the world for all budgets. They are very friendly and will give you good advice. They often have evening tastings.
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Arts and Entertainment
This iconic historic movie theater is located just a hop from the freeway and from Lake Merritt. They have great ticket prices and you can admire the historic theater as you soak in a movie. Go for drinks or dinner after (or have lunch before and catch a matinee).
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I've traveled to museums around the world and the Oakland Museum is one of my favorites, with a variety of California history, art and crafts. The Dia de los Muertos exhibit around Halloween is a must see!
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Other
Just a few blocks from my Airbnb is the Rockridge BART stop which is surrounded by great restaurants, bars, cafes, bakeries and even a Trader Joe's! It's a direct line into and from San Francisco making this beautiful part of Oakland a great BART stop for your adventuring.
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