Like many San Franciscans, we spent years convinced the world ended at the Golden Gate Bridge. We knew the 280 freeway led to Google, and heard rumors about people with yards in the East Bay, but as far as art, culture, and politics were concerned, S.F. was the place to be. But in the last few years, more and more of the cool kids have been moving across the pond to Oakland, and for good reason.
Oakland muscled in on S.F.'s cultural turf last year with the monthly street festival First Fridays. Then -- beating us at our own game -- Oakland ranked higher than San Francisco on the Advocate's list of gay-friendly cities. Here are seven reasons we should all get down in the Oaktown.See Also:
7. Parking Spaces
Sick of driving around 16th and Valencia for an hour? Got a ticket for not curbing your wheels properly on a street with no incline? We feel your pain. In Oakland there is plenty of parking. Even on major streets like Telegraph. Plus, parking meters are still free on Sundays, unlike in S.F. Plus, unless you're in the Oakland hills, most of the city is flat. The only thing you'll need to curb is your enthusiasm.
6. Hip Hop that Don't Stop
Oakland has been a player on the national hip hop scene for years. Oakland rappers like Too $hort pioneered the use of independent labels and street corner hustle, and the hottest dance on Bay Area streets, turfing, comes from Oakland. The Dope City Saints run one of the best stages at First Fridays, and local heroes The Coup show that you can still bring the funk without misogyny and gangsterism. So pop your collar, lace up your sneakers, and ghost ride on over from the 'Sco to the O!
5. Old School Burgers All Night
We have plenty of late night burgers in San Francisco, but if you want fries, you're looking at $20 dollars plus tip. And that's after wading through a mosh pit full of drunk Ruby Skyers. At Giant Burger, quarter pounders are only $4 and they're open 24 hours. In fact you can get a burger, fries, shake, and apple pie for under $12. At 4 a.m.! Also noteworthy is True Burger -- get the bacon cheesy burger ($6.95) and one of their delicious shakes, which change regularly.
4. Real Yards
If you think that 12 foot slab of concrete behind your apartment building -- the one you share with three other households and 30 cats -- counts as a yard, you've been in San Francisco too long. In Oakland, a yard is what it's supposed to be: green grass, lush gardens, and even the occasional hammock. All for less than a studio in the Tenderloin.
3. Cheap Thrills
Oakland is awash in activities for the frugal. If the great outdoors is your thing, the hiking, bicycle trails, and lush greenery of Joaquin Miller Park easily rival Golden Gate Park. The crafty can take free or cheap classes in subjects ranging from Valentine's Day card making to girl-friendly skateboarding at the volunteer-run Rock, Paper, Scissors craft collective. And for the local history buff, Oakland's Museum of California specializes in the art, history, and natural science of the Golden State. General admission is only $12, with discounts for students and seniors.
2. Unpretentious Art Galleries
We love us some art galleries. But whenever we're in Union Square, they cast a sideways glare at our cheap tennis shoes and tattered jeans. Not so at the Concrete X Tarr on Telegraph. The doors were open, the beats were fresh, and the artists were friendly. The proprietor, Samuel Renaissance, said the gallery focuses on new, urban artists. "We like people to be able to see the present era that we're in. Culturally, politically, and economically." Word.
1. The Best Weather in the U.S.
According to the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, Oakland has the best climate in the U.S., based on climatological data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Oakland also has the same number of sunny days as Orange County -- without all the Republicans. The fact that the weather is better in Oakland won't come as news to Richmond or Sunset dwellers, but now, even Mission hipsters have a reason to be jealous of the East Bay.