"Oakland - The Heart of the East Bay" Oakland by Karnubawax

Oakland Travel Guide: 248 reviews and 517 photos

From "The Simpsons" - after the family escape from Alcatraz by jumping into the bay...

LISA: C'mon! Let's swim to San Francisco!

HOMER: San Francisco? We're not MADE of money! Let's swim to Oakland!


When you think of the Bay Area - you probably think of two things... 1) San Francisco, and 2) everything else. Truth is, SF only holds 800,000 people, while there are over 7 million people in the Bay Area. Where are the rest?

The Bay Area is made up of three cities. The first is San Francisco, which you all know and love. The second is San Jose - a much larger city - encompassing such places as Campbell, Santa Clara, the Silicon Valley, and the rest. The last, and soon to be biggest, is the "East Bay," often mistakenly referred to just as "Oakland."

The East Bay is actually several cities that have grown together to form a megalopolis. It spans the entire east side of San Francisco Bay - nearly 40 miles - from Hercules in the north down to Milpitas (and the San Jose city line) in the south. Oakland is the "downtown" of this mega-city, and is home to some of its' worst slums, as well as some of its' most exclusive enclaves. Some cities of the East Bay are worth visiting, while most are just fairly boring suburbs. In the former category, Berkeley is a vibrant, bustling, yet still mellow city chock full of oddities - human and otherwise! Oakland proper is a surprisingly clean, pleasant place to spend time; it's been vastly cleaned up in recent years. For a truly wierd experience, you can take a hike on the Albany Bulb, located in the City of Albany, behind the Golden Gate Fields race track.

No doubt you've probably heard of Oakland because of its' high murder rate. Relax. Almost all of Oakland's murders (like those in most American cities) are drug- or gang-related, and occur late at night in neighborhoods you're not likely to even see, let alone be in. I don't know Oakland well enough to tell you which neighborhoods to avoid, but you don't have to know Oakland at all to know the usual rules for avoiding crime in American cities - don't go in parks at night, stay on well lit streets, don't hang out in industrial areas where no cops are, and don't make yourself an easy target. Tell your kids not to dress "ghetto." And finally, trust your instincts - if you don't think a neighborhood is safe, go somewhere else.

  • Intro Updated Aug 12, 2006
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