Remember how Oakland won the title of "Most Exciting City"? Two more honors for the area have recently been brought to my attention.
1. TravelNerd, a division of NerdWallet, recently calculated the "Top 10 Urban Destinations for Nature Lovers." Criteria included parkland and weather. Between our lovely regional parks and our generally beautiful weather, we scored fourth place! San Francisco, at #2, was the only California city that beat us. Albuquerque and Washington, DC took first and third, respectively. To be fair, the list was compiled in San Francisco, so they might be a little biased (just kidding -- SF is a beautiful city that deserves the honor).
2. Best Colleges Online's list of "30 of the Most Amazing University Museums" includes UC Berkeley's Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. While that should come as little surprise, it's always nice when an East Bay staple scores a place on such a cool list. Even more impressive is that these 30 museums are from all around the world, not just the United States. Of course, there are lots of other cool museums in the area too...
What other (imaginary) lists do you think Oakland deserves to be on? Off the top of my head, I'd say "Most Diverse Food Scene."
Image courtesy of ~dgies on Flickr
That sounds vague, I know. Based on their criteria, though, it's easier to figure out how we won. For example, they take into account movie theaters per square mile -- and of course the East Bay has lots of amazing independent theaters. They also accounted for park acreage per person, and the area is full of gorgeous regional parks. Another category where I imagine we ranked pretty well is museums per square mile.
Check out the original article to see the rest of the criteria as well as the other cities that made the top 10.
What do you think of the article? Is Oakland really the most exciting city in America?
What's up with this heat? It feels like it's already late summer, even though it's not even quite May yet!
Personally I prefer cooler weather, but I'm trying to make the best of it. After all, strolling around Lake Merritt is much nicer in sunshine than in rain... at least if you remember sunscreen! The regional parks can also be really nice, especially under the shade of the trees.
Shopping at farmers' markets is another of my favorite summer activities. There's something wonderful about seeing all the produce gleaming in the sunlight.
What about you -- are you a sun person or a fog person? What are you favorite things to do on sunny days in the East Bay?
Image courtesy of Gretchen Holm.
This week is Oakland Veg Week, when Oaklanders can come together to pledge to go a week without eating meat (you can even opt to pledge to go vegan, if you want). For more information on the week, check out the official site. You can make a formal pledge there if you want, or simply follow the spirit of the week on your own.
In some places, this would be quite the challenge. Fortunately, there are lots and lots of options here. There are quite a few vegetarian restaurants in Oakland and in Berkeley. If you choose to go vegan for a week instead of just vegetarian, there are also plenty of vegan restaurants in both Oakland and Berkeley. Of course, if you enjoy cooking for yourself, you can buy ingredients at any of the wonderful local farmers' markets.
Know of any vegan or vegetarian restaurants not included on the lists? Have any thoughts about Oakland Veg Week? Leave a comment!
Image courtesy of Mental.masala on Flickr.
Enough about how great Oakland is for dogs... let's talk about cats! Are you a fan of funny cat videos? Can you spend way too long getting caught up in watching video after video of their strange antics? If so, you're in luck!
On Saturday, May 11, Oaklanders have the opportunity to check out the Internet Cat Video Festival. From 3 to 10 PM, a slew of cat-related activities will be available for you and a few thousand other cat lovers. You'll be able to buy cat-related crafts, buy pet products, listen to live music, and even adopt a new cat of your own. The main attraction will begin at 8:30 PM, when the Great Wall of Oakland will light up with plenty of favorite cat videos.
General admission tickets are $10 ($5 for those 16 and under), while VIP tickets (with reserved seating and other perks) run $75. Best of all, the proceeds from the festival go to support the East Bay SPCA.
For more information or to buy tickets, check out the event's official site.
I think my favorite cat video has to be "Les Chats Ninjas"... what's yours?
Image courtesy of m-king on Flickr.
Remember this dog from the Occupy Oakland protests? Turns out he's in the right place!
NerdWallet just came out with a list of the most dog-friendly cities in the country. Believe it or not, Oakland made it into the top 10 -- though just barely, in 10th place.
Maybe this shouldn't be too much of a surprise. Many of the parks in the area are dog-friendly. The Albany Bulb, in particular, is a popular place for dog walkers. And since so much of the city is walkable, it's easy to give your dog some exercise while walking to the store for groceries.
We all know Oakland is often overshadowed by San Francisco, and this time is no exception: SF scored second place on the list. Even so, it's great to see Oakland being acknowledged as the dog-friendly area it is.
Image courtesy of Oakland Local on Flickr.
One such opportunity that was recently brought to my attention is Civicorps, an organization that helps at-risk youth (of 18-24 years of age) achieve educational and life goals. There are several different volunteer opportunities through this organization, ranging from several hours a week to several hours a year. In other words, even if you're busy (and who isn't?), this group has an option that can work with your schedule.
Depending on which kind of volunteering you choose do, you'll be coaching students on academic subjects at the high school level, helping them prepare for tests, or even offering resume and cover letter assistance.
For more information, visit Civicorps' official website or contact the volunteer director, Shannon Bowen, at email@example.com. And if you want to volunteer, but this isn't quite what you're looking for, check out this list of volunteer opportunities in Oakland.
As you may know, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is about to become the world's largest light sculpture, which will stay in place for two years.
In case you haven't been keeping up with the details, the lighting will be tonight, March 5th, at 5:30 PM. So far the weather seems pretty nice, but that haze has me worried... let's hope it doesn't turn into thick fog by this evening!
Are you planning to watch? Have any suggestions on great vantage points?
Image courtesy of Praphulm on Flickr.
One of the things I love about Oakland is the frequency with which brilliant musicians play here. The Fox and the Paramount, in particular, tend to have great shows. Some of my favorites there have been Elvis Costello, the Decemberists, Paul Simon, and, most recently, Leonard Cohen.
Mr. Cohen and his wonderful band put on a breathtaking show last night. He sang everything from the required classics (Hallelujah, So Long Marianne) to some more obscure treats (such as Lover, Lover, Lover). He also performed several songs from his recent album, Old Ideas. Cohen's voice is as unique as ever, and has aged to fit the tone of his songs.
The lovely Webb Sisters enchanted the audience with their intricate harmonies (and judging by the chatter I overheard in the ladies' room after the show, no one was immune to their spell). Sharon Robinson delivered a stunning rendition of Alexandra Leaving, giving new life to the song. There isn't room here to properly appreciate each of the musicians, but suffice it to say they were all virtuoistic.
This may all seem like a cruel description on my part, since that show has come and gone. But don't worry, I'm not that mean -- you have another chance to catch the show this evening! Surprisingly, there are still some great tickets available directly from Ticketmaster.
Did you catch the show? Planning to go tonight? What have your favorite performances in Oakland been?
Image courtesy of Gretchen Holm.
While working on a piece about parks in the East Bay, I was reminded of just how much natural beauty we have to explore. I grew up traipsing through many of them, but still feel like I've only scratched the surface of the vast parks in the area.
Personally, I'm partial to Wildcat -- especially up by the sanitarium and a bit higher, where the hills get incredibly windy -- but have lots of fond memories of Oakland's redwoods and the kids' activities in Tilden.
What about you -- which East Bay park is your favorite? Why? And, if you don't mind sharing, which parts specifically? There's so much parkland it would take a lifetime to explore properly, but if we share suggestions we can at least see many of the highlights!
Image of Wildcat hills courtesy of ~dgies on Flickr.