Back to list
8 of the Coolest Things to do in the East Bay
by Canvas • May 13, 2019

IMG_5674-ffbe41.JPG

The Coolest Things to Do in the East Bay

Now that you’re all set with your new Canvas car subscription, it’s time to hit the road. There’s only one question: where to go?

With summer on the way, there are plenty of opportunities for shopping, entertainment, sightseeing, and recreation in the East Bay area. Located on the east side of San Francisco, the East Bay and Oakland offer some of California’s most culturally rich and scenic attractions to suit almost any lifestyle or interest.

So jump in your new Canvas car subscription vehicle, head out to the East Bay and enjoy some of these charming sites!

Hop on the Oakland Ale Trail

Drinking Beer in Oakland is actually a thing. In fact, it’s such a thing that Visit Oakland, the East Bay’s top online tourist site, developed the Oakland Ale Trail, a route that takes you on a journey through the East Bay’s top 14 breweries. You can enjoy beer tasting at its best, as established brewers and newcomers alike offer flavorful combinations of traditional ales, IPAs, and lagers that reflect the diversity of the brewing community.

Almost all the breweries here welcome visitors and offer tours as well as free tastings. You can also hang out in the taprooms and sample all types of beer. Just make sure you bring a designated driver, because once you get started, you may not want the tour to end. Notable breweries include Ale Industries, Diving Dog Brewhouse, Drake’s Brewing Co., Federation Brewing, and Old Kan Beer.

For the ultimate experience, grab an Ale Trail Map & Passport. If you complete the entire tour, then you can redeem your passport for a free Ale Trail Growler!

Thrift the Bay in Rack City

If one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, then Rack City is a trove of thrift opportunities for shoppers who are addicted to great deals. To “Thrift the Bay,” as it were, means diving into thrift, vintage, second-hand, and consignment shops scattered throughout the East Bay. You can find anything you want if you are patient enough to dig for it.

Stores such as Crossroads Trading, Mars Mercantile, and Pretty Penny offer endless selections of clothing and accessories that range from ‘70s vintage to Faux-Hawaiian. The Good Stuff Thrift Shop is one of the nation’s leading carriers of vintage Polaroid cameras, Esprit Bags, and novelty books. There are also classic thrift stores such as Rags to Riches that carry eclectic, hard-to-find items that range from furniture to clothes and other household items.

Careful, though, or you may find yourself in a sudden bidding war as fierce as anything on eBay. Tourists may also want to check out Diamonds in the Rough, Hayward Eco Thrift, and Far & Few — all staples in the East Bay thrift community.

Do the Zoo in Oakland, California

No trip to East Bay is complete without a day trip to the Oakland Zoo. As one of Oakland’s most popular attractions, the zoo is home to more than 700 native and exotic creatures. You can learn about wildlife conservation, see unique wildlife, or participate in dozens of interesting interactive programs. The 525-acre park has something for everybody.

Zoo curators have organized the animals into geographic regions while fostering the perfect ecosystem for each animal. This allows all creatures to live in a real-world habitat as close to nature as possible. Some of the most popular attractions include the butterfly garden, endangered species exhibits, roller coaster, gondola ride, and the California trail. Native species include grizzly bears, gray wolves, and bison. Grab your tickets and visit the zoo daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Trek Through Redwood Regional Park

Are you looking for a place to just get away and relax for a few hours? Redwood Regional Park offers endless trails that wind through ethereal foggy forests. You can take in a spectacular view with a landscape that hosts gorgeous green ferns and massive 15-foot redwood trees. One of the best things about Redwood Regional Park is that it is not overcrowded. Crowds range from sparse to near-deserted in some areas. You can truly get away and experience some peace and quiet away from the bustling city.

The 1,830-acre park features lots of hiking trails for beginners and hard-core hoofers alike. Other attractions to look out for include eucalyptus and pine trees, varieties of wildflowers, native birds, newts, slugs, ladybugs, and other wildlife. There are also lots of opportunities to grab a picnic basket and blanket and just sit around enjoying nature.

See You at the Oakland Greek Festival – “Opa!”

There’s a saying in Oakland, “It’s great to be Greek, even if it’s just for a weekend.” The weekend in question is usually the third Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of every May. That weekend has been sacrosanct for Greek lovers since 1972, the year that the Oakland Greek Festival first introduced the concept of kefi, a feeling of joy and exuberance.

Festival-goers can enjoy a three-day extravaganza of food, drink, music, and dance in and around the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension in the heart of the Oakland hills. Church parishioners serve up Greek classics like gyros and souvlaki accompanied by Greek wine and beer. Musicians and dancers line the streets the entire weekend as attendees yell “Opa!” just before eating brandy-soaked fried cheese (just make sure you bring a designated driver!).

Observe the Whole Tri-Valley on Mt. Diablo

Overlooking East Bay and the entire Tri-Valley area is Mt. Diablo, the 3,849-foot mountain peak that grants you a wide-open viewing experience where you can catch San Francisco, Yosemite, and Lassen Peak just by spinning around. The Diablo Mountain Range and Park spans 20,000 acres. The designated wildlife refuge is home to sprawling foothills, waterfalls, and protected wildlife.

Historians and self-proclaimed archaeologists can also hunt for ancient aquatic fossils and bizarre rock formations that have mystified natives, settlers, and tourists for centuries. To make the most of your trip to Mt. Diablo, head to the Mt. Diablo Summit Visitor Center and grab all the informational literature you need. You can ask questions and discover some cool spots that other tourists may miss.

Catch a Movie in Jack London Square

There is plenty to do in Jack London Square. The historic landmark has been around since the mid-1800s. With its rich history as the heart of Oakland’s port operations, Jack London Square is a top draw for recreation, entertainment, and waterfront dining. Of all the activities in the square, however, few are as enjoyable as catching a flick in the stadium-style theater.

The theater offers easy-access parking. If you don’t want to drive, then you can hop on an Amtrak and arrive at the theater just in time to order your favorite snacks and drinks. Movie-goers can take advantage of $5 Tuesdays & Sundays.

Become a Pinball Wizard

The Pacific Pinball Museum opened nearly 14 years ago and has since become a cultural phenomenon in the East Bay area. Home to over 1,300 games that reach as far back as the 1940s, the museum has one mission in mind: to become the Smithsonian of the Pinball universe.

Visitors and pinheads can do more than just biff or nudge the ball — the latter results in a tile, game over. You can also see the inner workings of a pinball machine and learn how they operate. There are plenty of educational opportunities, as the museum strives to preserve this purely American game. The museum’s founders, Larry Zartarian and Michael Schiess, are considered the world’s leading authorities on pinballology and are on-site to answer your questions and give you tips on how to avoid the panic flip or getting the silver ball in the gobble hole.