Wednesday, July 17, 2013

35 Reasons You Need to Move to Oakland by Randy Nelson (Movoto) Part 2

11. Baseball Games You Can Actually Afford

Source: Flickr user Kai Schreiber

While we’re on the topic of sports, how cool is it that you can go to an MLB game—conveniently accessible by BART train, no less—for less than $20? In fact, tickets to some games can be had for as little as $2.

12. Oaklandish

Source: Flickr user Mary

“Oaklandish” is defined as “how we do it in Oakland.” It’s also a local brand and, well, movement that celebrates Oakland culture and “local love,” selling shirts and other goods emblazoned with an iconic oak tree logo. Additionally, Oaklandish hosts events, promotes civic pride, and supports local causes through grants and donations.

13. The Oakland Zoo Is Pretty Amazing

Source: Flickr user Anna Fox

Packing a lot into a relatively small (100 acre) space, the Oakland Zoo is regarded by many residents and visitors to the city as one of the best they’ve ever visited. It’s great for a day out with the family, or just visiting by yourself when you want to take in the wonders of the animal world.

14. MC Hammer Is An Official Tourism Spokesman

Not only does Mr. 2 Legit 2 Quit himself hail from Oaktown, but the rapper is actually an official spokesperson for the city, having written songs and created videos extolling the virtues of his hometown. Now that’s legit.

15. A City of Diversity

Source: Flickr user Debra Roby

One of the many things Hammer loves so much about Oakland is how diverse it is. You’ll find people and communities of all ethnicities, backgrounds, and origins here, plus everything they bring with them, including unique art and dining, along with other aspects of diverse international cultures.

16. Great Restaurants That Don’t Cost a Fortune

Source: Flickr user Mary

The international heritage of Oakland’s residents can be seen especially well in its restaurant scene, which offers up cuisine from pretty much every corner of the globe en masse. No matter that type of grub you like, you’ll find several options for it here. Not only that, but there are countless fantastic dining experiences to be had without breaking the bank. The city is just chock full of them.

17. Local History at It’s All Good Bakery

Source: Flickr user Kelish

The amazing 7Up Pound Cake and peach cobbler are the It’s All Good bakery’s culinary claims to fame, but this family owned and operated business actually has ties to Oakland’s rich history of social change, seeing as it’s located in the original headquarters of the Black Panther Party. Come for the delicious treats, stay for the history.

18. The Mountain View Cemetery

Source: Flickr user Daniel Ramirez

Now, you might be thinking, “How on Earth can a cemetery be awesome?” When it’s Mountain View. This place is not only absolutely gorgeous, serene, and perfectly maintained, but it’s also quite the history lesson. A veritable who’s who of famous Californians, from former governors and railroad magnates to the infamous Black Dahlia, are buried here, and regular tours are offered.

19. Urban Farming is a Fresh Idea

Source: Flickr user Irene Florez

Was that a… farm you just walked past? Yep. Oakland is a hotspot for urban farming, with entire communities coming together to plant and raise crops. It’s not just great for community building, but it helps kids (and adults) learn the importance of nature, healthy food, and working together.

20. The White Elephant Sale

Source: Flickr user Oakland Museum of California

Every year, the Oakland Museum Women’s Board hosts its White Elephant Sale, essentially a massive (I mean massive) rummage sale inside a huge warehouse. It’s basically the biggest garage sale you’ve ever seen, only with even more unique/weird stuff. Get there early and be prepared to spend money.

21. Print Is Not Dead

Source: Flickr user frankrolf

Put one foot in the door of Issues on Piedmont and you’ll be reminded that the printed page is far from extinct. This fantastic book/magazine store has hundreds of domestic and international periodicals, zines, and… yeah… tons and tons of magazines. The Oakland area has lots of independent bookstores, but this is among the very best.

22. The Mystery Gnomes

Source: Flickr user Eric

Look down there, on the truck of that tree. Is that a… door? About a year ago, the residents of Oakland started noticing hundreds of tiny painted wooden doors, gnomes, and mushrooms popping up all over the city. Where did they come from? Who put them there? No one really cares, because they’re whimsical and awesome. Even PG&E thinks so, deciding not to remove them from countless utility poles where they’ve taken up residence.

23. Even the Trash Cans Are Pretty

Source: Flickr user Connie Ma

If there’s a space in Oakland without a gnome nailed to it, there’s probably a mosaic on it. This includes many of the city’s trash cans. Local artists have gotten the go ahead to adorn the city with all sorts of murals, mosaics, and other urban art in a successful attempt to make it even nicer looking.

24. Montclair’s Storybook Houses

Source: Flickr user Chris Cochems

Going back to gnomes, and in the vein of Fairyland from earlier, Oakland’s Montclair district has some of the most utterly charming homes you’ve even seen. They look like something straight out of a storybook. You can have a great afternoon just strolling and looking at these architectural wonders.

25. Picardy Drive’s Winter Wonderland

A different sort of fantasy land, Picardy Drive has plenty of amazing houses to oggle at, but it’s probably best known around the country for its yearly display of Christmas Lights. If you’re here during the holiday season, you really shouldn’t miss it.

26. The Crucible Art Collective


If you’d rather make art than look at it, check out The Crucible. This artists’ collective has classes on metalworking, glassblowing, and tons of other ways to unleash your pent up creativity.

27. NIMBY Space

NIMBY stands for “Not In My Backyard” and is a place where DIY artists, makers, hackers, and other creative folks can rent space to do what they do best—without driving their neighbors crazy, hence the name. It’s also a venue for all sorts of crazy events, and in the past has hosted the Death Guild’s recreation of Thunderdome of “Mad Max” fame. Yours truly will never forget that night.

28. The Chabot Space and Science Center

Looking for a different type of space? You’ll find it at the Chabot Space and Science Center, an observatory and planetarium in the Oakland Hills. There, you can learn about space, look into space, or just take in an awe-inspiring view of Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, and beyond, day or night.

29. The Grand Lake Theater and its Mighty Wurlitzer

Source: Flickr user Hitchster

If stars of a different sort are your thing, the majestic Grand Lake Theater is can’t-miss. Not only is its restored Art Deco interior jaw-dropping, but this place has a beautiful sounding Wurlitzer organ that rises out of the orchestra pit before some showings, on which live music is played. It’s truly a unique moviegoing experience.

30. The New Parkway Theater

An even more unique (and unusual) movie watching experience can be had at the recently reopened Parkway Theater, where traditional theater seats make way for couches and armchairs, and adult beverages are on the menu. It mainly shows documentaries, in addition to art house movies, indie flicks, and cult classics.

31. The Paramount and Fox Theaters

Source: Flickr user Alejandro De La Cruz

In addition to many smaller clubs, Oakland has two world-renowned live venues, the Fox Theater and the Paramount Theater. Featuring stunning restored architecture, they both play host to big-name music acts, while the Paramount is also used for ballet, theater, and comedy shows. There’s just something about seeing an awesome band or other live event (I saw Devo at the Paramount) in such an amazing setting that makes it even more memorable.

32. Souley Vegan

Source: Flickr user George Kelly

Oakland has plenty of options for vegetarian and vegan cuisine, but one of its most unique by far is Solely Vegan—a vegan Soul Food restaurant. Enjoy your crispy tofu “catfish” while watching a continuous loop of old Soul Train episodes playing in the background at this Jack London Square fixture.

33. Better Deep Dish Than Chicago

Source: Flickr user LWY

I’ve heard transplanted Chicago natives freely proclaim that the deep dish pies at Zachary’s Chicago Pizza on College Avenue are the best they’ve ever had. I unfortunately don’t have the ability to make that comparison for myself, but their pizza is amazing—and plenty of other folks think so too, meaning this place is pretty much always busy. But so, so worth it.

34. Bakesale Betty Chicken Sandwiches OMG

Source: Flickr user _e.t

Add this to the list of food in Oakland worth waiting for. Bakesale Betty is renowned for their fried chicken sandwiches, which people happily wait in block-long lines for. They’re a fantastically crispy, spicy treat that you get to eat while sitting at an old ironing board turned table. It sounds gimmicky, sure, but the food doesn’t lie.

35. Beer Revolution

Source: Flickr user Luiz Eduardo

Anyone who’s over 21 and looking to wash all this awesome food down should absolutely not miss Beer Revolution. This Jack London Square favorite doesn’t just have beer—it has all the beer and then some. I’m talking 48 beers on tap at all times (regularly rotates) and hundreds of others in bottles. The only problem is deciding what to try. I’m going to end this list here, but I could easily keep going for dozens more—and then some. What I’m hoping is that you’ll help us expand this small snippet of what makes Oakland so awesome by adding your own recommendations, favorites, and hidden gems in the comments section. And if you’re looking to make the move to Oakland, Movoto Real Estate can help. Can’t wait to see what you’ve got!

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