Oakland’s downtown is on the mend. Spend some time between Jack London Square and 14th Street along Broadway. There’s some great architecture here and a real sense of hope and progress. Unfortunately, that optimism is less apparent just up Broadway at 19th Street or so. The Paramount Theatre, which is in this area, is still worth the trip. It’s an Art Deco shrine and a great place to hear the symphony, see a classic movie, or hear a blues legend play (depending on the night).
Named for the famed writer, Jack London Square is a collection of restaurants, shops, and night spots right on the Bay. Visit Yoshi’s for a fusion of Japanese cuisine and live jazz, or take in a movie at Jack London Cinema. Other dining options include El Torito and Scott’s Seafood Restaurant. Don’t forget to stop by Jack London’s cabin. Brought to Oakland in 1970, London lived here in 1897 while gold prospecting in the Yukon.
If SF accommodations are a bit too pricey, you might look into this area. It’s still on the Bay and very accessible to SF. BART runs to 12th street, a quick cab ride or ten minute walk from the Square. Unfortunately, as of this writing, BART only runs until about 12:30 at night, a situation yours truly has been very vocal about remedying.