Oakland’s Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, aka Visit Oakland, is investing big in its own brand new visitor center, mobile visitors’ center truck, new blog, and lots of (they hope) positive press, to get Bay area residents and those from other cities to come visit our city–at least for a concert, a show, or for the weekend. In 2012, 2.75 million visitors spent at least one night in Oakland, for a concert, a conference, a show, or a game — and the city would like to increase those numbers.

But since Oakland Local is both an online-only site and a community with a readership of many 22-45-year-olds who are probably the exact wired, energetic target audience Visit Oakland would like to attract, we decided to do a scan of the web and see what bloggers from around the country had to say about their visits to Oakland — and what they highlighted when they came and hung out in The Town.

1. Bloggers don’t worry about the crime
According to a recent SF Gate article, between Jan. 1 and Sept. 15 this year, 2,000 armed robberies and 4,700 auto break-ins happened in Oakland. This was a rise in armed robberies of 48% from 2012. However, the 30+ blog posts from 2013 we scanned never mentioned crime, fear of crime, or getting robbed (parking tickets were another story).

2. They come for the soul food, big time
Oakland is widely recognized as a foodie paradise. G. Garvin from the Food Channel is only one of many bloggers who sing the praises of eating in Oaktown. Some of the hot spots out-of-towners call out?

Pican and Souley Vegan have numerous fans who love to write about what they eat. Pican’s chicken and waffles, pork belly and smoked brisket meatloaf all get kudos. One eater says, “Shredded smoked brisket is bound together like a traditional meatloaf, and topped with a delicious cheddar aioli and a tomato jam, on a bed of corn. It is all the flavors you grew up knowing, but with a much more sophisticated flavor.”

The Souley Vegan fans are equally enthused, with hungry visitors loving writing about the “greens, yams, black eyed peas, grits, cornbread, biscuits and gravy, sandwiches, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, pies…” which some folks drive 115 miles just to savor.

3. They come to eat — everywhere
Commis, Tamarindo, and Legendary Palace are some other blogger faves that out-of-towners write about when they visit. Dim-sum eater Jinxi digs the salted pork feet, shrimp and dried scallop dumplings, Chinese broccoli and crisp roasted pork she says she can’t get in San Diego. And noodle lover Gary Soup compares his Oakland bowl of crispy beef and salty pork noodles with what he ate in Shanghai, and guess how we did?

4. They’re running — and biking — through our town
Oakland’s got game when it comes to running, as lots of bloggers share. It’s also a hella-friendly bike town, and lots of bike riders, car-free people, and racers come through.

5. They know that Lake Merritt is gorgeous
“It’s the jewel of Oakland,” is one of the phrases visitors take to heart. Walking around the lake, boating and the gardens are all experiences visitors adore.

6. Their kids have a blast
If you’re a family, Oakland’s down-to-earth style is a blast. As Moxie’s mom says, “I love its lack of pretense. I love its rough edges. I love the strong characters as defined by the neighborhoods within Oakland. China Town, Fruitvale (which is Mexican), Jingletown, Temescal, the Hills (rich, residential), Rockridge (white, yuplandish), East Oakland (the ‘hood), Lake Merritt, Jack London Square, Downtown and West Oakland.”

7. Everyone loves Fairyland
Local treasure or what? Bloggers rave about how fun it is. And how cool.

8. Our maker spaces and indie shopping wow visitors
Whether it’s North Oakland’s Temescal Alley or Old Oakland, bloggers like the places to shop, the cute neighborhoods with great coffee shops, and good artisan shops like Marion and Rose’s, and people want to check out Oakland’s blend of industrial recycling and crafting.

About The Author

Susan Mernit is editor & publisher of Oakland Local (oaklandlocal.com) a news & community hub for Oakland, CA. A former VP at AOL & Netscape, & former! Yahoo Senior Director, Mernit was consulting program manager for The Knight News Challenge, 2008-09; was a 2012 Stanford Carlos McClatchy Fellow; and is a board adviser to The Center for Health Reporting at USC, Annenberg School of Journalism. She has consulted with many non-profit organizations on strategy, product development and social media/engagement, including Salon.com, TechSoup Global, Public Radio International and the Institute for Policy Studies/Economic Hardship Reporting Project, led by Barbara Ehrenreich.

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