7 Best Parks & Natural Attractions in Oakland (2023)
Oakland is a diverse city an ideal NorCal destination where you can find an abundance of nature. Not the high elevation mountains, but this city is blessed with small rolling hills, multiple parklands, unique preserves, and Nature centric spots where you can just relax, admire, and enjoy. Oakland’s beauty and tranquillity are well known, and even the neighbors across the Bay consider it as their weekend getaway spot.
The City limits of Oakland have an abundance of trails, gardens, parks, and the Huge Lake Merritt. No matter which part of nature excites you the most, you can seek the diversity in Oakland, and once you are done, your heart and desires will indeed get fulfilled. Even after residing in the city of Oakland, if you haven’t explored the magnificence, you will surely miss out on something great. Here’s our list of 7 Best Parks & Natural Attractions in Oakland. Have a look and add them to your itinerary.
7 Best Parks & Natural Attractions in Oakland
Joaquin Miller Park
Joaquin Miller Park is a heavily wooded 500 acres park named after a Californian Poet and writer, Joaquin Miller. This vast parkland has 21 well-maintained and marked trails accessible for both humans and animals. Inside the park lies the preserved Joaquin Miller house along with a statue of him on his horse. However, similar statues are spread all over the park but aren’t in their best condition. Miller Park is also home to the Woodminster Amphitheatre, featuring 2000 plus seats. During summers, amateurs, and professional musicians, and even comedians come and perform here. Nearby the Amphitheatre lies one small but functional Cascade with a beautiful little pond underneath.
Planning a visit at Joaquin Miller Park is always thoughtful in case you want to enjoy the views of nature overlooking the Bay, however, do carry a map as with lesser marks, you can easily get lost.
Redwood Regional Park
Redwood Regional Park is a preserved blessing of nature in Oakland featuring the dense groves of redwoods and sequoias. This extensive parkland has trees that go more than 150 feet, making it look dramatic, surreal, and unique than the regular parks in the city. This popular park is famous for natural hiking, archery, and horse riding amongst locals. For picnic and overnight camping lovers, the park offers 4 designated picnic spots and various well-maintained camping areas, all of which are available under reservation. All these areas are accessible and convenient for physically abled individuals as well. Nearby the Stream Trail, only a quarter-mile downwards, is a small but pretty play structure for kids free from reptiles and local wildlife of Redwood.
You might encounter some rare wildlife like Alameda striped racer snake and the golden eagle; thus, always watch your steps and be cautious. However, the park is also filled with furry rabbits, raccoons, and deer, and while walking down the trails, you will find a lot of them.
Lake Merritt’s Bonsai Garden
Lake Merritt’s Bonsai Garden is a small Japanese-style garden with over 100 miniature bonsai trees. The garden is noted as home to one of the finest and most extensive collections of Bonsai in America. The garden is operational every Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday, and Bonsai lovers from all over the world are present here all throughout the year. Admission to the Bonsai Garden is free; however, you might require to wait for your turn or go back disappointed as the operators do not allow floods of people inside the garden during crowded days. Though, as it is an all-volunteer garden, you can even become one and get a chance to maintain and spend some quality time around this great collection of Bonsai. The garden has been open to the general public since 1999, and people here often come to soak in the tranquillity, positive vibes, and freshness of Lake Merritt.
Even though the Bonsai Garden is situated in Oakland’s heart, the area is still quite serene and free from the hustle and bustle. Some of the Bonsai trees here date back their origin to the 1700s. A walk down to this unique world is undoubtedly a delight in Oakland.
A famous human-made lake near Oakland, the Lake Chabot lies in the city limits, but is a little far away from the center. This human-made lake covers about 317 acres with a small Island in between. Lake Chabot is though not alone here but the adjoining regional park draws equal and even greater interests of the individuals. The lake and its park combinedly offer several recreational opportunities, including hiking, cycling & biking, picnicking, overnight camping, and fishing. However, due to levels of mercury found in fish caught here, fishing is not encouraged. There are some dedicated areas for boat tours and boat rentals that are available at an affordable rate. However, again due to the blooms of toxic blue-green algae in the lake, boating or coming in contact with lake water during summers and falls is strongly discouraged.
The park region near Lake Chabot also features a few small but maintained golf courses, a small restaurant, and a café where you can stop and munch.
Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve
A Natural preserve in the Oakland hills, the Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve is one of the must-visit places when in the city. It is a vast and beautiful 241 acres wild forested zone that offers interactive and non-strenuous hiking opportunities in the Oakland hills. The preserve is operational all throughout the year from dawn to dusk; however, due to sensitive plant habitat, dogs and pets aren’t permitted here. Several self-guided loop trails along with stands and signs explain what plant or rock you are looking upon. There are several benches where you can just sit and relax. Here you can encounter quite a wide variety of local plants along with some rare species found in East Bay.
The Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve is one of the famous parks in Oakland where you can head to behold the beauty of nature, inhale some fresh air and just relax and rejuvenate.
Mountain View Cemetery
One of the most scenic picnic spots and the popular Natural attraction in Oakland, the Mountain View Cemetery is noted amongst the most stunning cemeteries to visit in California. The cemetery is spread over 226 acres and is home to various notable burials of politicians, officials, artists, and several people who played an essential role in history. However, its beautiful setting makes it one of the favourite spots amongst local cyclists and picnickers, offering incredible views and lavish landscaping of San Francisco, Oakland, and Bay. There are several sculptures, rolling hills, wild turkeys, and tulip spreads that are indeed a delight to the eyes.
Cemeteries aren’t usually the first choice for tourism draw, but if you fail to visit the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, you surely missed something exciting and extraordinary.
Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve
On the east of Oakland lies the humongous 928 acres of Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, a beautiful park and a site of an ancient volcano. From Oakland, you can enter it via Skyline Boulevard and seek multiple trails, picnic spots, camping sights, however not much of it is maintained. Considering that, the experience here might turn a little raw and rough than what of planned. Most of the accessible path has network coverage, restrooms, and several resting benches. Birdwatchers from Oakland, Alameda, San Francisco, and Contra Costa are often present here and some local geologists and researchers.
You might encounter multiple cows, buffaloes, deer, and locals’ animals roaming freely around. Sibley Volcanic is one great place to explore during any season, and if you are a resident of Oakland, do consider covering the region.