Once considered San Francisco’s ugly stepsister, Oakland is now the Cinderella of the East Bay. Last year, The New York Times shocked many by ranking the city no. 5 on its list of “The 45 Places to Go in 2012” (in between heavyweights London and Tokyo), beating out traditional California hotspots San Diego (no. 14) and Lake Tahoe (no. 30).  “New restaurants and bars beckon amid the grit,” touted the article, which was invariably followed up with a San Francisco Bay Guardian cover asking, “Is Oakland cooler than San Francisco?” and The Globe and Mail article calling it “the Brooklyn of the West.”

“Oakland has everything that San Francisco has—diversity, art and history, music, folksy neighborhoods, new and happening restaurants, night life, sports teams and venues, outstanding architecture, outdoor recreation and park lands, a world class science center just to name a few—but with better weather, at a fraction of the cost, lower density and a central location for jobs,” said local Coldwell Banker real estate agent, Leah Tounger. “Many people were outpriced in San Francisco, so they came looking at Oakland as an alternative and found it to be cooler in every way at a price they could afford.”

Tounger says many Oaklanders have found their commutes to work in downtown San Francisco take less time from Oakland. And each neighborhood within Oakland offers its own unique flavor, style and up-and-coming eateries and shops. From Rockridge’s famous restaurants and historic homes to the Montclair area with its hillside homes and stunning San Francisco bay views, there is something for every kind of homebuyer.  Even Uptown has “revitalized the center of Oakland with the Paramount Theater serving as a venue for all of the arts and the Fox Theater with live music and other entertainment. There are many new high-end apartments and condominiums in the area as well,” says Tounger.  With so many neighborhoods and things to do, Oakland is one place you will want to check out this year.


Fox Theater in Downtown Oakland

The Fox Theater in Downtown Oakland is a favored venue visited by many popular artists from around the World.

See: Every first Friday of the month, Art Murmur comes to life with a collection of galleries and artists displaying their work and wares in Uptown.


Do:  “One of Oakland’s best kept secrets,” says Tounger, “is the endless acres of the most beautiful park land filled with all types of wildlife and terrain. I spend many hours hiking and biking on the miles of trails  and have enjoyed the nearby resident stables for horseback riding.” On Saturday mornings, there is also the Lakeshore Farmer’s Market with farm fresh organic produce, artisan foods, flowers, and handicrafts mixed with live music and gourmet food booths. When you’re finished shopping for fresh goods, take a gondola ride on Lake Merritt, adjacent to the market.

Gondola ride on Lake Merritt

When you’re finished shopping for fresh goods, take a gondola ride on Lake Merritt, adjacent to the market.

Eat: Caña, one of the few Cuban restaurants in the Bay Area, takes traditional flavors and gives them a twist. Whether you prefer more casual outdoor dining or more formal dining indoors with Latin movies showing a large screen, Caña is a bright and vivacious eatery in Lakeshore. Order the empanadas or costillitas as appetizers, before moving on to the Cubano sandwich. And you must try their signature cocktail, “Some Like It Hot,” with tequila, serrano chile and lime.


The Claremont Hotel

The Claremont Hotel on the Oakland-Berkeley border.

Stay: The historic Claremont Hotel on the Oakland-Berkeley border “beckons like a gleaming white castle in the hills,” according to Fodors. Designated as an Oakland City Historical Landmark, the hotel boasts magnificent 1915 architecture, gorgeous bay views, luxurious suites and state-of-the-art spa facilities. Something to keep in mind when booking: some rooms on the spa side of the hotel have recently been renovated, and  some even offer spa tubs.

Live: Oakland is a great place to live, love and work. This newer 1998-built traditional offers four bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a front and level backyard for entertaining and play…and best of all? A location close to Montclair Village and Upper Rockridge.


1 cropped exterior 6102 Ruthland-BLOG

6102 Ruthland Rd.

Oakland, CA 94611