Just the facts
Main strip: Embarcadero >> Who dwells here: Lawyers, VCs and politicians enamored with Bay views >> Population: 3,000 >> Founded: 1850s >> Main architecture: A combination of warehouses and storefronts from the 1880s to 1980s >> Neighborhood giant: Jack London Square >> Well-known icon: The signature cranes in the distance at the Port of Oakland >> Where to mingle with locals: Beer Revolution, Chop Bar, Blue Bottle Coffee
Location. Location. Location. That’s Jack London’s selling point. It’s got Bay views, the call of seabirds, and the ferry as public transit. Enjoy the peace of the waterfront, or head a few paces onshore and down European styled walkways to a booming bar and restaurant scene, including The Fat Lady, The Night Light and BBQ joint Everett & Jones. Music can be heard almost every night of the week at Yoshi’s, the famed spot in the Bay Area for jazz and dinner. Tucked within these modern-day diversions and loft-style living are serious old-school stops. California’s second oldest bar, Heinold’s First and Last Saloon, opened in 1883 and is still lit by gas (author Jack London wrote here). Or just look for the writer’s Yukon cabin—a replica built from the original boards.
The inside inside scoop
Guided moonlight and sunset tours by kayak launch from Jack London Square’s California Canoe & Kayak.
If you only have three hours
Wine country is so 2010. Two words: Urban wineries. There are about a half dozen in this arts and entertainment district.
Discover a jazz great at Yoshi’s Oakland, which opened in 1972 as a jazz-dinner venue; it has hosted Max Roach and Dizzy Gillespie.
This outdoors emporium is home to a sailing school, the floating White House (the U.S.S. Potomac) and the Bay Voyager excursion boats, along with bike rentals and kayak lessons. And you can have the best of both worlds — the district is also a foodie mecca with Haven, Nido, Forge and Lungomare, just to name a few.
Get your artisan eatery on with stops at nationally known brands, founded right here in Oakland. Blue Bottle a required stop for coffee connoisseurs, and those with a sweet tooth must grab one (or 12) Miette pastries.
How to get here
Freeway exit: From San Francisco, take 1-80 E, exiting at Broadway/Alameda from 1-880 S; from Berkeley, take 1-580 E/1-80 W, exiting at Broadway/Alameda from 1-880 S
BART stop: 12th Street/City Center (you will need to walk at least 12 blocks from Downtown Oakland or take a bus)
Bus lines: Take the free Broadway Shuttle along Broadway from Uptown to Jack London Square
Train: Travel by train to get to the heart of Jack London Square with Amtrak
Ferry: Take the ferry from San Francisco or Alameda to Jack London Square via the San Francisco Bay Ferry
Where to stay: The 145-room Waterfront Hotel channels the nautical vibe of Jack London in its décor. Additional waterfront hotels along the estuary include the Best Western Plus Bayside Hotel, Executive Inn & Suites and Homewood Suites by Hilton.