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Looking out over the sparkling waters of Lake Merritt, chances are you'll catch a glimpse of an authentic Venetian gondola gliding around. This is the vessel of Gondola Servizio, which operates off the dock at the popular Lake Chalet restaurant and bar. Whether you're out for a special romantic outing (they even let you bring your own wine or champagne and provide glasses) or a daytime cruise with the family around the lake, a gondola ride is always a unique experience. Gondola rides are especially popular during sunset and at night when the lake's famous "necklace of lights" is illuminated and reflecting on the water.
This shallow, 195-acre (7,89,137 meter) lake is considered by many to be the heart of Oakland. Once an arm of the San Francisco Bay, it actually served as a sewer for a time before Samuel Merritt proposed a dam in order to clean up the lake and have it become the focal point for civic pride and recreation that it is today. As the lake was also a common place to see many migratory birds and ducks, the lake was turned into the first wildlife refuge in North America in 1870. In 1925, the lake's "necklace of lights" was installed, and still stands today making the lake beautiful during day or night. The lake provides many recreational opportunities, including boating, playgrounds, picnic areas and the legendary Children's Fairyland storybook park.
Splash Pad Park is located in the Grand Lake area and is a popular space for enjoying Oakland's beautiful weather and community. The park is the home of the Grand Lake Farmer's Market every Saturday throughout the year, will dozens of stalls full of farm fresh produce, flowers, artisanal food products and food trucks. When this highly popular event isn't happening, the park is a popular place for people to gather or people watch on the grassy knoll across the street from the historic Grand Lake Theater. The clean, pet-friendly park also has a fountain that is popular for a little splashing on hot days.
Mosswood Park is a favorite location for hipsters, families, kids and everyone in between on sunny Oakland days. The large park features a range of facilities, including a recreation center, baseball diamond, basketball courts, an amphitheater, picnic tables, BBQs and plenty of green grass to play around on. Any given day you can find the park packed with people playing sports and enjoying the fresh air.
The Morcom Rose Garden is a beautiful space of over seven acres located near Grand Avenue. Among the roses are interesting features like the amphitheater, which is frequently used for weddings, and sparkling fountains. Kids will love running through the rows among the colors and fragrances of the garden. Sunday mornings are popular with families at the rose garden who often bring breakfast or brunch picnics with them to enjoy in the garden.
Located close to the Port of Oakland, Middle Harbor Shoreline Park is an ideal haven away from the city noise and pollution. The stretch of green land and the scenic backdrop make for eye-pleasing sight. It also has BBQ pits, shaded picnic areas, and amphitheater and play areas for kids, so its a perfect place to visit on a dull Sunday afternoon.
This little East Bay lake in the Oakland Hills is still recovering from a fire that occurred in 1991, but is nonetheless in splendid condition for recreational purposes. The swimming area, open spring through fall, offers a lifeguard on duty in the summer, plus a snack bar and changing facility. Fishing is permitted year-round and the lake is stocked with catfish, rainbow trout, largemouth bass and more. Picnicking tables are found throughout the grassy areas of the park and a playground structure helps to keep children occupied.
Joaquin Miller Park is a 500 acre park located in the Oakland Hills. The park is full of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding and is a popular green oasis within the city. Visitors to the park love how they forget they're in the city. The park also has city provided barbeque pits for picnics, and dogs are permitted on-leash.
The Bay Area tourist may be surprised to learn that volcanoes once roared in the Oakland hills. This preserve, maintained by the East Bay Parks and Recreation Department, features Round Top, a peak made of ten million-year-old lava and volcanic debris that is one of the highest points in the Oakland hills. The park was one of the first three in the East Bay Regional Parks District, established in 1936. A visitor center at the park has self-guided tour brochures so guests can stroll the park and learn of its historic significance at their own leisure.
Redwood Regional Park is located in the hills of Oakland. It boasts the largest remaining natural strand of coastal redwood in the East Bay. Early mariners used to use these tall redwood trees to help them navigate the San Francisco Bay. Many locals enjoy hiking and biking around the available trails, which offers gorgeous scenery. In addition to the deer, rabbits and squirrels that roam the park, it is also home to rare wildlife species such as the golden eagle and the striped racer snake. The Roberts Regional Recreation Area, a park within the park, features a swimming pool and playgrounds. Throughout the park, you will find access to a well-maintained system of restrooms, water fountains and picnic tables. The Chabot Observatory and Science Center is one of the park's most prominent attractions.
The Oakland Zoo is home to more than 440 exotic and domestic birds, mammals, marsupials, and reptiles. Some of its attractions include a park with picnic facilities, an educational wildlife theater, a children's petting zoo, a carousel, a chair lift ride, and a miniature train. The zoo also offers group tours and a lecture series for adults in the spring.
Spread across 3314 acres (1341.13 hectares), Anthony Chabot Regional Park is a sprawling park with a horde of outdoor adventures for its visitors. Camping enthusiasts can choose from group camping, backpack camping to family camping at any of their camp-sites. Overlooking the Lake Chabot, these tents are the ideal base to explore the area and a wonderful getaway from the city life. Equestrian lovers will love the facilities at the Chabot Equestrian Center, while shooting fans can hone their marksmanship skills at the Chabot Gun Club. Survey their miles of trails by hiking, biking or riding to have a close encounter with nature. You can be sure of a memorable experience in this beautiful park.