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What Can I Do for Free in Oakland, California?

There are thousands of miles of hiking trails around Oakland.
Oakland sits on San Francisco Bay.
Farmer's markets are a popular stop in Oakland, California.
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  • Written By: Diana Bocco
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 July 2014
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If you are looking for things to do for free in Oakland, California, you certainly are in the right city. The city is home to many parks and outdoor areas that can enjoyed year-round for free. While rides and attractions are sometimes paid, the beauty of the city's parks is available to everyone who wishes to stop by.

One of the most interesting things you can do for free in Oakland is to visit Jack London Square, which houses a reconstruction of the famous hut once owned by Jack London. The small cabin is centered in the square and is a great way to start up your exploration. The square features dozens of statues of wolves, which are connected by a set of wolf track tiles relating the history of the area and the life of the writer.

During the summer, Jack London Square offers some of the best outdoor shows that can be found for free in Oakland. Concerts, farmer's markets, and fireworks displays attract many visitors from surrounding areas. The USS Potomac, the presidential yacht of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is set against the background of the Jack London Square, and can be visited for a small fee. Even if you don't want to pay for it, taking photos with the yacht in the background is still a popular pastime.

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Joaquin Miller Park is another great place you can visit for free in Oakland. With thousands of miles of tracks open for hiking and biking, the park is a popular attraction. The park's Woodminster Amphitheater and Cascade offers visitors a chance to enjoy music and performances, at times for free.

Lake Merritt is another favorite of those looking for things to do for free in Oakland. The park is surrounded by 126 lampposts and is a favorite place to stroll at night. During the day, visitors come to the park for hiking or to enjoy the bird population, especially Canadian geese and pelicans. The Lake Merritt Bird Sanctuary, created in a man-made island situated right in the middle of the lake, allows walkers to get a great view of the birds without disturbing them.

Chinatown is a great place to enjoy for free in Oakland. Annual cultural events and fairs are held on the streets, and many buildings are decorated in palace styles. Even if you don't want to stop by to try the many shops and eateries in the area, walking around Chinatown is an experience in itself.

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Discuss this Article

afterall
Post 4

I have to plug for Chinatown here. Every city's Chinatown is unique, and while there is a lot of junk, you can also find traditional food inexpensively, especially good since I know many California, and specifically Oakland, restaurants are known for being pretty expensive.

accordion
Post 3

@popcorn- I didn't realize couch surfing had gotten popular in the US! I've been living in Europe for a little while and I know it can be really common here, especially for people under 30 or so, to couch surf with acquaintances or friends of friends. I like the idea that I could also try it in touristy places in the US, too, to save money that way and really see the area.

popcorn
Post 2

If you are a savvy traveler you can stay for free in one of the lovely Oakland homes. A big trend these days is to try couch surfing with a local so you get a real feel for the Oakland neighborhood you are in.

The whole couch surfing thing is about making friends and shouldn't just be used for free accommodation, but that certainly helps. You can do your research on one of the many couch surfing sites, and make sure you feel comfortable with the whole thing. As Oakland homes for sale are expensive, and hotels as well, couch surfing might be a good choice for your budget.

manykitties2
Post 1

Oakland, California is a gorgeous city and if you are looking for things to do for free you should checkout some of the different neighborhoods Oakland has to offer. While most people head to Chinatown, the rest of the city has so much to offer as well.

One thing I always tell my friends to do if they are visiting Oakland is to go on the Jack London walk through the Jack London Square. This is probably the most famous site in all of Oakland.

All you need to do is follow the wolf tracks and it's like taking a walk through history. Plus, there is Jack London Market you can also explore.

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