Welcome to Backpacker’s Boutique. Every Sunday, this spot will feature a new travel blogger. Some weeks it will be a really fun interview about packing, fashion, and fitness so you can snoop inside their bags & lives a little bit and other weeks it’ll be a detailed luxury guide to a city the featured blogger/expat knows very well. E-mail me if you’d like to be featured.
A Luxury Guide to Oakland California
Tell us a little bit about who you are and what makes you an expert on Oakland.
Hello everyone! My name is Heesun and I’m a co-founder of the travel blog, MeWantTravel. I’m from the exciting, metropolitan city of Oakland, CA. After having spent over 20 years here, I’m excited to share with you tips on what to do in Oakland and how you can make the most out of your trip to the Bay Area. Oakland might not be the first place you think of when you think of “luxury travel,” but with the increased amount young professionals seeking rent refuge from the high prices of SF, Oakland has steadily become more gentrified and offers more amenities than it did 10 years ago. Keep on reading to see what it has to offer you!
What 5 star hotel is the best in Oakland?
Waterfront Hotel is located on the Oakland waterfront and it’s the best due to its location, courteous staff, and spacious rooms with views of the San Francisco Bay. Its close proximity to Jack London Square’s fine dining, cinema, and nightlife combined with the kayaks and boats available on your doorstep make it a destination hotel.
image source: Gabriel Millos
Are there any fun activities for the adventurous traveler?
For the caffeine addict, I would highly recommend taking a tour of the cult favorite, Blue Bottle Coffee, at their Oakland location. The tour comes with a private tasting so you can sip their delicious coffee and learn more about the roasting process at the same time! For those seeking more adventure, you can venture out to Lake Merritt and take a gondola ride or rent your own boat.
Where are the best hang outs during the day in Oakland?
To hang out in Oakland, I’d recommend heading over to Lake Merritt where you can relax on the grass or take a walk around the lake. If you’re looking for something indoors, you can go to Awaken Café, which offers craft beer, wine, and coffee.
If you have a big date night, what are the most delicious restaurants in Oakland and what are their best dishes?
With Oakland being such a foodie city, it’s difficult to choose just a few restaurants that offer delicious food. If I had to choose, I would recommend Homeroom for their bomb mac n’ cheese options, the sampler at the Laotian restaurant Champa Garden, or buttermilk fried chicken at Hopscotch.
all three photos above via Tony Webster
Let’s talk desserts- what place makes the best?
After a day of exploring, you might be craving something sweet. Head over to Fenton’s to get a sundae (this is the ice creamery/restaurant featured in the Pixar movie Up) or attempt the Split Challenge, where you try to finish the Banana Special and if successful, you win a shirt and bragging rights!
Tell us all the hot shopping spots; who’s carrying the trendy local designers in Oakland?
If you’re a shoe addict like me, you can visit SoleSpace, which offers premiere lifestyle footwear and also doubles as an art gallery and holds events for the community like album release mixers. If you’re looking for unique home décor, you can visit Atomic Garden which is located in North Oakland. Esqueleto offers stylish, one-of-a-kind jewelry and just might have that necklace you’ve been searching everywhere to get!
If you’re in the market for a new pair of denims, you’re in luck! Maple Street Denim is a locally owned, independent, woman-owned business. Their focus on quality and fostering personal relationships with their customers sets them apart from your typical department store shopping experience.
What are a couple of the best salons and spas in Oakland?
When the mood to get pampered strikes, I like visiting Bisou Nails in North Oakland. They use completely natural and organic products and are known for their excellent gel nail art and custom designs. In addition to manicures and pedicures, they also offer eyelash extensions and waxing.
Time for a great sunset view… where would you go?
For the best sunset view, I would head over to the neighboring city of Berkeley and head to the Lawrence Hall of Science. From its vantage point high above the hills, you can see stunning sunsets and I’ve had many good conversations/Instagram photos from this spot.
Now that the sun’s gone down, fill us on the best places to go for some evening drinks or a great pre-gaming spot.
A great place to go for drinks, especially for you beer lovers, is The Trappist. They have an excellent selection of beers, ranging from Belgian, local, to specialty micro brews from the U.S. Another great place to grab some drinks is Make Westing, which is a gastro pub that also offers two indoor bocce courts. It’s located right next to Fox Theater, which makes it a perfect place to pregame before catching a live show.
If you end the night at a fancy club in Oakland, which one do you head towards?
For a luxurious night, I like to head toward Yoshi’s. Yoshi’s is one of the world’s most respected jazz venues and features a state-of-the-art sound system. It also has delicious Japanese cuisine and specialty cocktails, making it a perfect place to relax and enjoy yourself.
Heesun spends a ridiculous amount of time thinking about eating pho in Vietnam, swimming under the waterfalls in Thailand, and temple hopping in Cambodia. Heesun and her friend Sharon started a travel blog to share their love of travel and adventure, as well as tips on how to travel better, cheaper, and longer. In addition to travel, she is interested in healthcare and is currently completing her Master’s in Public Health at Yale University. To stay up to date on the latest tips on travel, follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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