ADVENTURE: Exploring Oakland! Saturday morning eats at the farmers market and a one-of-a-kind hike through a cemetery // EATING: Grand Lake Farmers Market stands + Blue Bottle Coffee // CRAVE: Waffles at the Grand Lake Farmer’s Market
With all of the things to explore in San Francisco, the adventures that await you in Oakland can be overlooked. Here’s my guide to a perfect half-day adventure in the East Bay.
Getting to Oakland
If you’re coming from San Francisco, make the most of getting to Oakland by taking the ferry! You will get an amazing blast of fresh semi-salty air, and the cool wind will be a refreshing start to your morning.
You can catch the ferry at the Ferry Building or at Pier 41. Check ferry times for San Francisco to Oakland on the San Francisco Bay Ferry website.
Stop 1: Grand Lake Farmers Market: Breakfast of Champions!
Once you land in Oakland, grab an Uber or Lyft up to the Grand Lake Farmers Market at the intersection of Grand Ave & Lake Park Ave. The market happens every Saturday year-round from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. This is definitely one of the best farmers markets in the East Bay!
The market features over 40 local farmers, 30 specialty food purveyors, and a handful of local artisans selling different crafts, jewelry, soaps and more. Amazing items include organic fruits, vegetables, fresh pastries, homemade pasta, cooked rotisserie chickens, cheese spreads, fresh flowers, fresh-squeezed orange juice, olive oil, and jams to name a few!
Now here is the important part: do NOT miss the waffle food truck! Find the Waffle Mania truck and get a fresh, crispy waffle topped with powdered sugar, Nutella, or both (obvi).
The rest of the food stands have a great selection for your morning brunch. Grab items like crepes, Ethiopian food, roasted chickens, Himalayan wraps, Indian food, Thai food, and (perhaps most amazing) dim sum!
Stop 2: Work It Off! Hiking The Mountain View Cemetery
Now that you have had all of the foods at the Grand Lake Farmers Market, it is time for a hike!
You’ll need to grab another Uber and head up to the Mountain View Cemetery for your next stop.
Keeping within the city itself, the Mountain View Cemetery offers the perfect spot to walk around and explore. Hiking around a cemetery may seem weird to some, but this place is absolutely gorgeous.
The different tombstones and gravesites are breathtaking. Stop in the visitor’s office before you head out into the cemetery and pick up a map. You’ll be surprised at the number of famous, well-known people buried here (Ghirardelli’s grave pictured below!).
From the top of the cemetery you are offered sweeping views of Oakland and across the bay. Trust me, you will be sweating by the time you get up there!
Stop 2.5: Chapel of Chimes (Bonus!)
We stumbled on another gem after perusing the visitor’s guide tour map: the Chapel of Chimes.
The Chapel of Chimes is a mausoleum and above-ground cemetery — the largest one west of the Mississippi.
Pictures of this space don’t do it justice. Room after room was filled with walls made of glass cases and filled with urns in the form of metal sculptures, often books. Other walls were a rich, creamy marble and marked with the names of deceased individuals. You traverse a maze of rooms through stairwells and gardens that rise and fall over three floors. In the center of each room there are beautiful plants and peaceful fountains.
The way the rooms connected through small archways, you feel like you are navigating a secret, untouched labyrinth. If you have a moment, make sure to stop in this gorgeous space!
Stop 3: Blue Bottle Coffee
Now you may be a little tired from so much exploring and in need of a pick-me-up! Luckily for you, Blue Bottle Coffee is a quick 10-minute walk from the Mountain View Cemetery (head to the W.C. Morse location on Broadway).
Fun fact: Blue Bottle Coffee actually started in Oakland, despite the fact that San Francisco claims most of the hype around this coffee.
Choose from many amazing pastries and several types of coffee. I loved their iced coffee!
One of the best ways to get your coffee fix is to try a coffee sampler, savoring three of their different coffee varieties.
And there you have it! An amazing half-day adventure in Oakland filled with food and adventure.
Need more Oakland? Stay tuned for another biking and brewery-hopping adventure!