Are you planning a trip to California soon? Have you ever thought about traveling to a less popular destination than say, Los Angeles or San Diego?
People tell me that the East Bay and the San Francisco Bay Area, in general, are a must-see when you make your way to California. The people, the food, and the music are just the start of what California and East Bay have to offer.
I for one can’t wait until I book my trip to check out the world-famous San Francisco Bay Area and East Bay. There is an abundant history and culture that is built with and has come from the Bay Area. There are many cultural icons that found their voice which shaped the United States as we know it today.
Before you book that next trip to one of the more popular choices in California, check out this list of things of fun things to do in East Bay, you aren’t going to regret it!
Be sure to check out the great deals through Airbnb in the East San Francisco Bay Area.
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Table of Contents
- Best Things to do in the East Bay & San Francisco Bay Area
- 1. Chez Panisse
- 2. East Bay Farmers Market
- 3. Hiking Trails
- 4. Yoshi’s
- 5. Moe’s Books
- 6. Urban Wine Trail
- 7. University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley
- 8. Fenton’s Creamery
- 9. Anthony Chabot Family Campground
- 10. Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze
- 11. iFly Indoor Skydiving
- 13. Walnut Creek
- 14. San Francisco
- 15. Sonoma County
Best Things to do in the East Bay & San Francisco Bay Area
1. Chez Panisse
Starting as a small gathering spot for friends and neighbors fifty years ago, Chez Panisse is still open today. This restaurant is a true testament to time. The history that the establishment has seen over its many years is astonishing.
This restaurant is sticking true to its roots in today’s modern world. Serving a single set menu that changes daily, still highlighting local growers and ingredients that are in season.
The small organic farmers are still growing small batches of fruits and vegetables and raising small heritage breeds of animals.
Over time Chez Panisse has established a rooted network of ethical local suppliers, some of which include: ranchers, fishers, orchards, foragers, farmers, and homestead gardeners. These growers have practices in regenerative agriculture and take care of the land they harvest their food from.
This no-frills dining establishment is still as simple and no-nonsense as it was in the beginning.
With the freshest ingredients possible, the easy-to-choose-from menu is about as good as it gets. This is still a place to come and discuss, think, and simply be with friends, family, and the community.
Make sure to check out CityPass, to find all the best adventures that await in East Bay.
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2. East Bay Farmers Market
If you want to know where some of those fresh and locally, organically grown ingredients come from, make sure to check out the East Bay Farmers Market. This website tells you everything you need to know in order to visit one or many of the best local farmer’s markets in East Bay.
Food is one of the most important things we can put in our bodies, so we have to know it is safe for us to eat. Local farmer’s markets are one of the best ways of being able to know exactly where your food is being sourced from.
Follow this site and create the perfect way to spend your day by the water in East Bay.
See Related: Best California Road Trips
3. Hiking Trails
If you don’t want to spend all of your time in the city and come to California to get away from it all; look no further and explore the East Bay hikes. I have compiled a list of some of the best hikes that are known in East Bay. Get your hiking boots on and check out these East Bay hiking trails!
If you need help finding things to do, check out this great website to help you create the perfect day according to your preferences in East Bay.
- Lake Chabot Loop (Castro Valley)
There is a short loop that is about 3.5 miles from the Marina that offers views of the dam and the lake. Circle the entire lake with six different trails to explore for a total of almost 10 miles!
- East Ridge to West Ridge Loop (Oakland)
This amazing loop circles the amazing Redwood Regional Park of Northern California. See some of the beautiful redwood trees hidden in the ridge over downtown Oakland.
This little peaceful grove was once a bustling logging community in the mid-1800s and is now home to a hidden redwood forest.
- Flag Hill Trail (Sunol)
Climb up and out of the woods and gain a quick elevation. Watch your step as it is a steep slope with a lot of switchbacks as soon as the trail starts. But the top views are worth it where you can see across the entire valley.
You can see the reservoir, watershed, and sandstone formations with fossils from ancient seabeds, and possibly even spot a bobcat!
- Round Top Volcanoes (Oakland)
Within the Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve lies many secrets of the Earth. Not only is it a great place for bird watching, but geologists and scientists are drawn there due to the unique geology of the area.
Round Top peak is nearly a 2,000-foot elevation gain made up of 10-million-year-old volcanic rock which is the result of two faults that lie in the middle.
Print the self-guided volcano tour to get all of the facts about this amazing area. At one of the stops, there is a labyrinth at the base of the quarries that adds a certain mystique to the hike.
Learn about the ancient history of the area and enjoy a beautiful sunny hike with a view of rolling hills at the top of the peak. Make sure to rest your head in comfort after a long hike. Book now through Marriott.
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Beginning in 1972 as a small sushi bar, Yoshie Akiba and her two best friends, built one of the most successful jazz clubs in the entire world. This is the place you have to go if you are trying to get incredible food including sushi (of course) and an array of other options from both the land and sea.
Accompanied by the smooth background sounds of all types of jazz from different musicians from across the country.
This award-winning venue includes a 310-seat live performance stage equipped with a massive, technologically advanced sound system. This gigantic building takes up 17,000 square feet in Oakland’s Jack London Square.
East Bay has great public transportation methods such as city buses, light rails, heavy rails, and bikes. Find all maps and schedules here.
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5. Moe’s Books
Moe’s Books has been open since 1959, providing customers with valuations of rare and collectible books. They range from a variety of different subjects and expenses. The staff has over a combined 75 years of experience with appraisals and evaluations of a number of different rarities.
Now grown into a 4-floor shop, Moe’s is a sight to see. This massive collection of books is something you have to see yourself. There is at least one book for everyone who walks through the doors.
They are one of the country’s largest buy-and-sell shops, with every genre imaginable. This is a great option on the list of things to do in East Bay this weekend.
If you’re into rare books make sure to spend the extra few dollars with your American Express Platinum to ensure you get the rarest options in print.
See Related: Best Road Trip Books for Kids
6. Urban Wine Trail
Do you want to make your own walking tour, on your own schedule? Does your vision of a walking tour involve wine and food? Stop what you’re doing, because I’ve found the ultimate walking tour for you.
Urban Wine Trail is a unique self-guided walking tour that lets you explore Oakland’s fine wine scene. These aren’t the fancy wineries you’re thinking of in Sonoma or somewhere like that. These wineries are based out of renovated warehouses, serving wine that is first-class.
Being so close to wine country allows these wineries to source some of the freshest, richest-tasting grapes in the world. Of course, don’t forget to try some of the shops and food establishments along the trail. Oakland is a huge city with a ton of culture to offer!
There are seven different wineries along the trail, each with its own unique craft, and unique processes on how they make their wines. Every wine you can imagine, from Tempranillo and dessert wines to lesser-known wines to Zinfandels. There is wine for everyone!
Not to worry, if you’re not into wine check out the East Bay breweries on the Oakland Ale Trail. Here you can learn about the many different types of breweries around the area, as well as other craft beer locations and destinations in Oakland.
After a long day of drinking different wines and walking all over town, make sure to rest your head at one of the many different hotels in East Bay. Book now with Kayak.
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7. University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley
This massive botanical garden is located at the University of California Berkeley and is one of the most diverse landscapes in the entire world. There are over 10,000 different species of plants, many of which are ultra-rare and endangered.
The Garden is home to nine different regions from all over the entire globe, along with a big collection of native California plants. The Garden was established in 1890 and its living collections are valued and studied by researchers from all over the world for research and conservation purposes.
Reservations and tickets are required to enter the botanical garden. It is important to call or schedule a reservation online because walk-ins are not permitted and you will not be allowed in without reservations and tickets.
Make sure if you’re flying to California and planning on staying there for at least a few days, to use this website to ensure you make the most out of your trip to earn airline miles, hotel points, and dining rewards.
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8. Fenton’s Creamery
Fenton’s Creamery was founded all the way back in 1894, and since then has stood as a staple in the Oakland neighborhood from the very beginning. Seeing that Fenton’s has been featured on the History Channel, the Food Network, and USA Today must mean the ice cream is something truly special.
Fenton’s tries to preserve the heritage that has been left behind by generations of family members that have continued to run the creamery.
They try to stay true to the roots and produce every small batch of ice cream with the tradition passed down by generations. They really do put their time, skill, and passion for ice cream into every batch and into every scoop.
There is also a second location north of the East Bay if you are looking to adventure further out! This is considered by locals and travelers to be one of the best things to do in East Bay.
While you’re traveling through the East Bay on foot, bike, or rideshare app, make sure to download Miles so you can earn points to redeem rewards for commute and travel.
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9. Anthony Chabot Family Campground
Anthony Chabot Family Campground is the perfect year-round getaway only 30 minutes from downtown Oakland. It overlooks beautiful Lake Chabot and is the perfect family-friendly East Bay campground.
The campground contains 53 drive-up campsites, 10 hike-in campsites, and 12 RV campsites. These are fully accessible hookups that include sewer, water, and 30-amp electrical outlets. All campsites including the RV sites have a picnic table and a fire ring attached with its own grill.
There are restrooms available that include hot showers. But who needs showers when they’re camping anyways? Firewood and charcoal are also available for purchase in case someone forgot to pack the fire fuel.
If you are looking for hiking and mountain bike trails, look no further because the campground provides miles of trails. Considered one of the best East Bay bike trails, is a beautiful trail that circles Lake Chabot, surrounded by trees and beautiful open water. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon in the great outdoors.
Do you need a place to stay while spending time in East Bay? Make sure to use this website to ensure a peaceful night’s sleep.
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10. Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze
Are you looking for fun things to do in East Bay this weekend? Test your mind’s limits in this whacky mirror maze. Black lights are set up in a literal labyrinth, making mirrors glow and reflect on one another making it look like an infinite abyss. It is nearly impossible to keep track of where you are going, making it very easy to get mixed up and lose your path.
This mirror maze is family-friendly! As long as your little one likes bright lights. Groups of eight are allowed, so join with friends and family to see if you can make it out in one piece!
The mirror maze is considered one of the best attractions in all of East Bay. There is a five-dollar ticket fee and a required reservation, once you have a reservation, prepare for the most fun you’ll have your entire trip!
See Related: Best Things to do in Northern California
11. iFly Indoor Skydiving
The trained instructors are both knowledgeable and helpful in assisting all ages and skill levels. Choose from a variety of different options for indoor skydiving experiences. Make your wildest dreams come true without ever having to actually jump out of an airplane 10,000 feet above the ground.
Choose from a variety of different options for all skill levels. There is a virtual reality flight that lets you choose to fly in a number of different settings including skydiving through Hawaii or Dubai and base jumping over the incredible Swiss Alps.
Do you or your children have a birthday coming up? Why not go to iFLY for an incredible, unforgettable experience? There are even flight schools for kids, and field trips available for schools.
iFLY also hosts All Abilities Nights for people who may have physical or cognitive challenges. The instructors and coaches at iFLY aren’t only intrigued by flying, they are there to make sure you are able to share that same incredible feeling of flying for the first time.
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13. Walnut Creek
Walnut Creek is a beautiful, tree-lined suburb located on the outskirts of San Francisco in the east of the city, bordered by lush natural areas. It represents a vibrant and charming downtown governed by the Walnut Creek City Center Association.
The Village at Walnut Creek is a planned community of 650 company owners and a number of structures in the city’s downtown area. The objective is to preserve Walnut Creek’s downtown attractive and friendly, while also encouraging tourism.
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14. San Francisco
San Francisco is the 13th most-populated city and a city-county region ranked only behind in population density in the city. The hilltop peninsula city is framed by San Francisco Bay and the downtown San Francisco skyline, which is Northern California’s most important cultural, economic, and financial center, with countless technology corporations including Airbnb, Amazon, and Uber.
The most famous attractions include the famous Cable Car Route, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz Island. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a nonprofit organization with a vast collection of contemporary immersive art.
The Ferry Building, Chinatown, and Little Italy are also favorite tourist destinations with historic buildings and excellent dining options.
See Related: Best Day Trips from San Francisco, California
15. Sonoma County
Sonoma County is a northern county of the San Francisco Bay Area located north of Marin County and comprises towns including Santa Rosa. This renowned county is recognized as a world-renowned wine-producing region in Sonoma Valley, which features 12 designated American viticultural regions.
Around the region, there are more than 475 wineries that may be visited for tours and tastings, and they can participate in many wine country excursions. The Pacific Coast Air Museum, the Sonoma County Museum, and the Museum of the Sonoma Valley are among the museums in town. The great Marin County is easy to access from East Oakland and the East Bay Area.