While often overlooked, the East Bay is a great place for day trips. You can spend the day among towering redwoods and rolling hills, explore the history and culture of its urban areas and so much more.
Along Oakland’s waterfront you can learn about the area’s past and enjoy food, shopping and entertainment at Jack London Square. Located at Broadway and Embarcadero, this is where the city began in 1852 when the wharf was used to ship lumber and supplies during the Gold Rush. A big attraction is the Jack London Cabin at Webster Street along the wharf. This is a replica built with logs from London’s original cabin that was located in the Klondike. Nearby is the First and Last Chance Saloon, a popular hang-out for London that opened in 1883 and is still an active watering hole. At press time, the saloon was closed because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Head through the Webster Street Tube to Alameda where the USS Hornet is permanently docked. This floating sea, air and space museum at 707 W. Hornet Ave. has amazing aircraft, World War II history and exhibits from the Apollo missions. The World War II aircraft carrier was used to pick up astronauts from the Apollo 11 and 12 missions, and it has several artifacts from them. Part of the museum was closed at press time because of COVID-19 restrictions. Check website for updates.
Not far from Oakland’s bustling downtown in the hills are towering redwoods and miles of hiking trails at Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park. The main entrance is at 7867 Redwood Road, but there are several other ways to enter the park. Its peaceful groves feature coast redwoods that are up to 150 feet tall. The park’s 1,833 acres also contain nearly 40 miles of trails, picnic areas, wildlife, grassy areas and a children’s play structure.
Another East Bay park to visit is Tilden Park in the Berkeley hills. While some of its attractions like the steam train, merry-go-round and Little Farm are not open during the pandemic, the area still has 39.41 miles of hiking and biking trails. Entrances to the park are off Wildcat Canyon Road and Grizzly Peak Boulevard.
The Oakland Zoo is one of the gems of the East Bay. Established in 1922, it is run by the Conservation Society of California. More than 850 native and exotic animals live at the zoo located at 9777 Golf Links Road. In recent years, the zoo added the California Trail where a gondola ride will bring you to an area dedicated to animals native to our state. At press time, the Oakland Zoo was operating at limited capacity and visitors needed to make a reservation. Check website for updates.
If you happened to be in the Hayward area, check out the Japanese Gardens. While it is small in comparison to the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco, this hidden gem is a quiet retreat with curvy paths, ponds, waterfall, turtles, koi fish and observation decks for sitting. The oldest Japanese garden in California, it formally housed Hayward High School’s agricultural studies program from 1913 to 1962. It’s located at 22373 N. Third St. near the Hayward Senior Center. It’s open 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. daily except for Christmas.
Located in unincorporated Alameda County within the city limits of Fremont, Niles Canyon is known for its heritage railroad and silent movie history. From 1912-1916 Niles was home to a silent movie studio and back lot where movies such as Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp were filmed. The area also has a lot of railroad history, and visitors can ride a steam train through Niles Canyon at different times of the year. Currently, limited capacity rides are available through May on Saturdays and Sundays. Online ticket sales are required. The railroad stations are located at 37029 Mission Blvd., Fremont, and 6 Kilkare Road, Sunol.
Sycamore Grove Park in south Livermore offers beautiful scenery for hiking, biking and picnicking. The 847-acre open space park is really nice to visit during the fall when the leaves are changing colors and spring when wildflowers begin to bloom. It’s open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to sunset. There’s a $5 parking fee. It’s located at 1051 Wetmore Road.