Once Memorial Day has come and gone, it effectively becomes summertime here in the Bay, despite what summer solstice sticklers might have to say about it. Along with BBQs, concerts, summer blockbusters and barefoot days, the summer season is a time to move slow and easy.

That said, there are also a lot of ways to actively celebrate the summer to the fullest here in our city.

We (and by “we,” I mean me and people I consulted who are in the know) have compiled a list of 50 things to do in and around Oakland this summer, in no particular order and by no means exhaustive. The following checklist includes everything from festivals to workshops to eating your way through the season — but more than anything, explore all that Oakland has to offer and generally embrace this coming summer with wide-open arms.


  1. Find new summer tunes on vinyl at the Beat Swap Meet, where you can spend an afternoon digging through the crates of record collectors and dealers from all over California.
  2. Have a blast at Art & Soul Oakland, where this year’s initial musical lineup includes Leela James.
  3. Spend a morning doing a trail run at Joaquin Miller Park, followed by a hearty brunch in Montclair.
  4. Go camping and backpacking right in your own backyard in the beauty of Oakland’s regional parks. Call ahead for reservations and recommendations. The East Bay Regional Park District is comprised of 112,000 acres, 65 parks and 1,200 miles of trail — there’s much exploring to do.
  5. Learn to identify and harvest local wild plant life. Oakland Local and ForageSF have teamed up to offer two Oakland Hills Wild Food Walks, followed by festivities at Two Mile Wines.
  6. Organize a BBQ/picnic and swim day at Lake Temescal.
  7. Indulge in a summer night food truck feast and quality time with the museum exhibits at Friday Nights @ OMCA.
  8. Let your inner child come out to play (and drink beer) at Oaklandish’s 3rd annual Fairyland 4 Grownups fundraiser.
  9. Design your own al fresco food and pub crawl around Old Oakland, starting with a pint on the outdoor patio at Beer Revolution and ending… wherever you end up. Consider follow-up beer stops at Rosamunde Sausage Grill and The Trappist.
  10. Learn a different kind of dance each Friday night at Jack London’s Dancing Under the Stars. For an especially packed Friday night, you could also hit up Art Murmur/First Friday and Jack’s Night Market beforehand.
  11. Love bikes? Or looking to love ’em even more? Show some two-wheeled love at the bike bonanza that is Jack London’s Pedalfest.
  12. Love Lake Merritt? Celebrate the grand opening of the Lake Merritt Boulevard at Love Our Lake Day. The surrounding streets will be car-free, leaving lots of room for walking, biking, running and dancing by the lake.
  13. Pet farm animals, stroll the Carnival Midway, eat fried stuff and bet on a horse at the 101st annual Alameda County Fair. And the Ferris wheel at night is always a must.
  14. Catch 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar and RaVaughn at this year’s KMEL Summer Jam.
  15. Spend a leisurely morning perusing the newsstand and sipping coffee at Farley’s East.
  16. Go to A’s games all summer long. Baseball, hot dogs, sunshine.
  17. Snuggle up at an outdoor movie by the waterfront, courtesy Jack London Square’s Waterfront Flicks. Screenings include The Dark Knight RisesLife of PiHitchcockBraveSkyfall and The Goonies.
  18. Sport your leather jacket to the outdoor sing-along Grease movie screening, also courtesy Jack London Square, and sing “Summer Nights” unabashedly at the top of your lungs.
  19. Get down to Redd Kross, Jonathan Richman and Shannon & the Clams as Burger Records throw their biggest Burger Boogaloo yet at the Mosswood Park Amphitheater.
  20. Shop often, and all season long, at Oakland’s many farmers markets to fill your kitchen and your belly with summer’s bounty.
  21. Learn to make cheese, butcher meat, roast coffee, can fruits and veggies, make jams and more with the Institute for Urban Homesteading and Happy Girl Kitchen.
  22. Get a teaser to September’s highly anticipated Mission Creek Oakland (MCO) Music & Arts Festival as Actual Cafe hosts an MCO music series on the last Saturday of each summer month. Free and all-ages.
  23. Take off on a weekend road trip. Oakland is within half a day’s drive from Pinnacles National Park, Harbin Hot Springs, Mt. Shasta, Lake Tahoe, Point Reyes, Monterey, Bishop and the Buttermilks, Yosemite, Big Sur, rafting on the Yuba River or swinging on a rope swing at Bass Lake.
  24. Monkey around at the Great Western Power Company climbing gym. The bouldering wall might inspire you to a perfect weekend climbing the rocks of the great outdoors.
  25. Embark on an Oakland ice cream tour. From Fenton’s to Ici to Tara’s Organic Ice Cream, there’s no better season for finding your ice cream of choice.
  26. Go to weekend brunch at Mama’s Royal Cafe. Ask for a mug and sit outside in the sun, sipping your coffee, as you wait for your name to be called.
  27. Explore the wonders of the cosmos, and even have a family sleepover under the stars, at Chabot Space & Science Center.
  28. Freely roam the car-free Temescal District at the 10th annual Temescal Street Fair.
  29. Catch up on the work of local filmmakers as Temescal Street Cinema hosts free outdoor screenings of films like WONDER WOMEN! and Edible City.
  30. You can also find documentaries galore as SF DocFest shows East Bay screenings at The New Parkway.
  31. Roll with East Bay Bike Party, a guaranteed (themed!) party on wheels every month.
  32. Fly your own freak flag — or your octopus or giant fish kite or whatever — at the visually spectacular Berkeley Kite Festival.
  33. Take in acrobatics, taiko drumming, martial arts, vendor booths and delectable foodstuffs at the two-day Oakland Chinatown StreetFest.
  34. Buy new sunglasses and an old Polaroid camera at the Coliseum Swap Meet (seven days a week but varies with sports events), Laney College Flea Market (Sundays) or the Ashby Flea Market (Saturdays and Sundays).
  35. Learn something new at Workshop Weekend, be it 3D printing, baking bread, silkscreening t-shirts or all of the above.
  36. Take a jaunt down to the Gilroy Garlic Festival and don’t bother with breath mints.
  37. Savor the rich sweetness of summer fruit via the extensive pie menu at PieTisserie.
  38. Go to a drive-in movie.
  39. Before the drive-in movie, take in a minor league baseball game in Sacramento or San Jose, where it’s guaranteed to be warm at night.
  40. Visit the pop-up farmstand and/or pitch in at Sunday morning work days at Ghost Town Farm, Novella Carpenter’s urban homestead.
  41. Catch Oakland’s own Del the Funky Homosapien performing with Deltron 3030 at the 76th season of SF’s beloved Stern Grove Festival.
  42. Ride the ferry from Jack London Square to the SF Ferry Building and back.
  43. Make a reservation, pack a picnic and shuck your own oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co.’s farm in Marshall, Calif.
  44. Take leisurely early morning walks in Mountain View Cemetery.
  45. Swing yer partner at Queer Contra Dance, a beginner-friendly dance class that’s “a little bit folky, a little bit flirty, and a whole lot of fun.” All genders and sexual orientations welcome.
  46. Do the whole fried chicken sandwich, fresh lemonade, strawberry shortcake and ironing board shebang at Bakesale Betty.
  47. Soak in the summer and count the stars in a private outdoor hot tub at Piedmont Springs.
  48. Get a haircut, buy a succulent, shop for mid-century furniture, find your new favorite herbal tea blend and ingest a cream-filled donut on an afternoon field trip to Temescal Alley.
  49. Have a zoo day at the Oakland Zoo. For wilder adventures, support the zoo by attending their 21st annual fundraiser, Walk in the Wild, featuring nearly 100 breweries, bakeries, caterers and vendors.
  50. Bring a scavenger hunt checklist of knickknacks to the Alameda Point Antiques Faire, and try to not get lost.


Any other not-to-miss summer activities you would add to the list? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!


Oakland Social is a weekly arts and culture column devoted to upcoming events, new places, and narratives about going out in Oakland. Have ideas for what to cover? Contact goingout@oaklandlocal.com.

7 Responses

  1. joshua wyatt

    Wow I just fell in love with Oakland all over again, and now I can’t wait for summer!

  2. Marjorie Herman

    It looks like you forgot one: Host or Join your neighbors for National Night Out on Tuesday August 6th, Block off your street and just have a good time!

  3. Kathryn Doyle

    Find your family at the California Genealogical Society in Uptown Oakland. We’re open Thursday evenings through August at our genealogy research library in the historic Breuner Building at 22nd and Broadway. Or, join us for a free “Intro to Genealogy” class on the first Saturday of every month from 1-3 p.m. Visit the California Genealogical Society on the web at CaliforniaAncestors.org.

  4. Svea Lin Soll

    Awesome list, Bonnie! Not that this needs more press, but come out for the ART WALK portion of First Fridays, Friday, July 5, 5-8, then head to any number of excellent eateries in Uptown. Hatch Gallery will be open, located btwn Johansson Projects and Cerrito Contemporary at 492 23rd St. So worth a trip!


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