The Girlfriends Getaway Guide To Oakland
Like a good group of girlfriends, Oakland is as diverse, unique, and as exciting as you would imagine. That’s mostly due to the fact that the city, which was once an overshadowed stepchild to its neighboring city of San Francisco, has certainly changed over the years. (Bet Oakland wasn’t on your radar as a place for the perfect girlfriends getaway, right?) But Oakland now stands on its own, and if you don’t know, it’s now one of the most bustling cities in Northern California.
An exploding food and drink scene, culture, gorgeous weather, an array of bars and clubs (filled with fine men, I might add), and an influx of young Black professionals, have all helped put Oakland on the map as one of California’s most vibrant cities. Here’s why it’s time to pack your bags, gather up your girls, and head to this west coast city.
Where to Eat
Souley Vegan: Who says there are no tasty vegan food options? Souley Vegan owner Tamearra Dyson is intent on changing that notion. Dyson began selling vegan dishes in 2006 at farmers markets after a dozen years of vegan home cooking influenced by her grandfather’s Louisiana roots, fusing her love of healthy foods with a southern twist. After a lot of blood, sweat and tears, she opened her 106-seat vegan-only restaurant three years later and included gluten-free options as well. The menu covers all the soul food classics you’re used to, like black-eyed peas, okra, gumbo, and southern fried dishes, but Souley Vegan serves southern fried tofu in lieu of southern fried chicken.
Oeste: It’s clear women of color are on the come up in Oakland, and Oeste is a prime example. Sandra Davis, Lea Redmond, and Anna Villalobos are on a mission to change the bar and restaurant industry in Oakland with their latest project. A cafe by day and bar by night, Oeste Bar & Kitchen opened its doors just a few months ago, and in the words of DJ Khaled, “business is booming.” Their menu from chef Peter Jackson includes Southern and Latin American influences, with dishes like chicken and sausage gumbo and beef pastele with taro, plantain, and yucca masa. And if you make it after hours, be sure to try their specialty craft cocktails.
Brown Sugar Kitchen: Oakland’s extremely popular brunch destination from chef Tanya Holland (another Black woman y’all) is frequented by the likes of Ryan Coogler, Idris Elba, and almost all of the Golden State Warriors. But the place that we all once knew and love recently got an upgrade, making this one of Oakland’s top dining destinations to visit. The once traditional lunch and brunch restaurant will now be a dinner pop-up space which Holland also plans to transform into a test kitchen. She is also working on a counter-service oriented restaurant called Brown Sugar Kitchen Counter that she plans to open at San Francisco’s Ferry Building later this year.
The Butcher, The Baker & The Cappuccino Maker: Get your caffeine and dessert fix at this cafe. With two locations in Hollywood and USC Village, everyone from fashionistas to college students are fueling up on incredible ricotta pancakes, pork belly and buttermilk benedict, and fried chicken sandwiches. Don’t miss the mimosa flight, where you can mix your bubbly with strawberry, mango and passionfruit puree.
What to Do
Oakland First Fridays: This street festival may be centered around community, but in a word, it’s also lit. Every first Friday from 5 PM to 9 PM, Oakland’s cultural art community gathers to experience street artists, food vendors, performers, dancers, live painters, DJ’s, poets, literary events and more (think First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum, but on the West Coast). If you’re looking for the pregame for your Friday night out, this is the place to be.
Lake Merritt: Less than a mile from Jack London Square Station is a beautiful lake offering casual weekend vibes a la food, sun, and cocktails. Walk or run the 3.5-mile route around the lake or rent a canoe, kayak, pedal boat, or rowboat. Not to mention, you can even make believe you’re in Venice with gondola rides that take you around the lake.
Trap Art Oakland: With a burgeoning arts scene, it’s no surprise Oakland is becoming the epicenter of up-and-coming Black artists, but Trap Art is for us, by us. A curated art party featuring cocktails, good vibes, good music and young Oakland urban professionals, this scene is an experience like none other. Lucky for you, if you’re not making it to Oakland anytime soon, Trap Art will be taking its show on the road this summer.
Fridays at OMCA: The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is one of the top-rated Bay Area museums to explore California art, history, and natural sciences. Every Friday, food trucks line up at OMCA for a family-friendly take on a festive night market, with the best in Bay Area curbside cuisine, drinks at the Blue Oak beer garden, live music, and dance lessons. Dance the night away while enjoying food, beer, and wine to a live DJ, Bay area style.
Where to Stay
Oakland Marriott City Center: Want amazing accommodations and stunning views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge? Marriott Oakland City Center Hotel is situated right in the heart of Oakland, making it the perfect location for all of Oakland’s hotspots. Just around the corner from the District (a great spot for late night drinks and partying), walking distance from OMCA, and Oeste, not to mention many other attractions, Oakland City Marriott has everything just footsteps away.
Claremont Spa & Club: Located high in the Oakland Hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay, Claremont Spa & Club is where you and your girls will want to stay if you’re looking for a spa retreat mixed with a bit of luxury. Entering the resort feels like stepping into an English estate and it offers everything from aquatic activities to tennis and wine tastings on its expansive grounds.