Attractions Nearby Oakland, Day Trips and Excursions

(Oakland, California - CA, USA)

The westerly state of California is an especially sunny spot and Oakland is well-placed for day trips, being close to some of the biggest and best attractions that California has to offer. If you are vacationing in Oakland, then you simply have to head next door and across the bay, to pay a visit to San Francisco and admire its iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

For breathtaking golf courses, beaches and related coastal attractions close to Oakland, the Monterey Bay area is hard to beat and encompasses both Big Sur and Carmel by the Sea (Carmel). Wine lovers should head northwards and immerse themselves in the laid back culture of California's winemaking capital.


Berkeley lies at the very core of the Bay area and is just 10 miles / 16 km to the north of Oakland. This eclectic city is a popular day trip destination and neighbors Albany, Emeryville and Kensington. There are a number of reasons to visit the city, with the main attractions including the Berkeley Art Museum, Botanical Gardens, Indian Rock Park, Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley Marina and Pier, Tilden Park, and of course the acclaimed University of California (UC).

Big Sur

Boasting a spectacular Pacific coastal setting and no shortage of Californian sunshine, the town of Big Sur lies some 140 miles / 225 km to the south of Oakland. Most of the attractions around Big Sur are close to Highway 1, with beautiful sandy beaches such as those at Partington Cove and the Point Lobos State Reserve. Hiking, mountain climbing and many further recreational activities are always popular around the town, with endless possibilities at both the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

Carmel by the Sea (Carmel)

Carmel by the Sea is a charming, small town and is located within California's Monterey Bay region, being around 115 miles / 185 km to the south of Oakland and boasting some truly awesome coastal scenery. Something of a Bohemian retreat for San Francisco residents, Carmel is based around the centrally located Ocean Avenue, which is lined with shops and eateries, and leads to the main beachfront attractions. Particular highlights here include the Carmel River State Beach, the Clint Eastwood Mission Ranch, the First Murphy House, the Point Lobos State Reserve, and the rather impressive Carmel Mission (Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo).


Enjoying an enviable situation next to Monterey Bay and approximately 111 miles / 179 km south of Oakland, Monterey is home to one of America's most substantial marine sanctuaries. Settled towards the end of the 18th century, Monterey embraces tourism and features plenty of waterfront hotels to choose from, overlooking the bay, wharf and peninsula. Many families come here to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium alone, while the Baywood Cellars Tasting Room may well be of interest to grown-ups, offering a tempting chance to sample the famed local Californian wines.

Napa Valley

The epitome of wine production the world over, Napa Valley stands within California's famous Wine Country and is blanketed with endless vineyards, magnificent chateaux and wineries, and plenty of gourmet restaurants to go around. Napa Valley is situated roughly 38 miles / 61 km to the north of Oakland and apart from its 300+ vineyards and wineries, offers attractions including hot-air balloon flights, cruises along the Napa River, and close by, both the Sonoma Coast State Beaches and the Six Flags Discovery Kingdom theme park, where fast roller coasters and exciting rides await.

Palo Alto

Palo Alto stands at the northerly edge of the Silicon Valley and is just 30 miles / 48 km to the south of Oakland, where it has grown to become the epicenter of America's high-tech industry and is home to the esteemed Stanford University. This affluent university town is not without its share of tourist attractions though, with Palo Alto Cantor Arts Center on Museum Way standing out in particular, together with Baylands Nature Preserve, the Packard's Garage, and the NASA-Ames Research Center.

San Francisco

Many tourists choose to base themselves in Oakland and actually end up spending most of their holiday in San Francisco, since it is only 12 miles / 19 km away, and in good traffic, just over a 20-minute drive. San Francisco is almost entirely surrounded by water and is quite an unusual city, since many of its streets are incredibly steep and often offer tantalizing glimpses of the bayfront and the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. There are innumerable attractions in San Francisco , ranging from Alcatraz Island (The Rock in the Bay), the Aquarium of the Bay and the sea lions around Pier 39 / Fisherman's Wharf, to the Museum of the City of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Park and the annual Gay Pride celebrations each June.

San Jose

Although San Jose does suffer a little from being rather overshadowed by San Francisco and its other Californian neighbors, it is very much a tourist destination in its own right. There must be few places in the world sunnier than San Jose, and although the attractions may not be quite of the caliber of San Francisco, families will always enjoy spending time at the Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, playing on the enormous Monopoly board at the Guadalupe River Park, or visiting the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and Planetarium. San Jose State University (SJSU) is another highlight here and was founded as long ago as 1857. Located around 41 miles / 66 km to the southeast of Oakland, San Jose can easily be reached in under an hour by car.

San Leandro

So close that it is almost a suburb of Oakland, San Leandro is a mere 10 miles / 16 km away and to the southeast. San Leandro is a quiet and unassuming neighbor, with numerous cherry farms, regional parks, sandy beaches, oyster beds and a beautiful historic Spanish missionary ranch.

Santa Cruz

Sandwiched between northern California and southern California, Santa Cruz is to be found around 67 miles / 108 km to the south of Oakland and is therefore around one and a half hours away. Downtown Santa Cruz is central to city life and attractions, with restaurants, shopping and a vibrant nightlife awaiting visitors. Also popular with tourists and families is the Beach Boardwalk, the Mystery Spot, the Natural Bridges State Park, the Surf Museum and the Delaveaga Frisbee Golf Course. Close by are the Ano Nuevo State Park, the Big Basin Redwoods State Park and the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, where some awesome giant redwoods dominate the landscape.