The 6 Most Original Event Spaces to Visit in Oakland

Photo of Carly Salzberg
25 April 2017

If San Francisco is known for it’s glamorous google-glass wearing tech scene, then sitting six miles east, Oakland embodies its counterculture of distressed-jean hipsters thriving in an art and entertainment scene. The urban hotspot is made up of creative communities, with one of the highest concentration of artists per capita. Since rent is considerable cheaper here, young and emerging artists and entrepreneurs are responsible for some of the most original event spaces in the country. The following venues in Oakland represent independent businesses, community events, galleries, restaurants, retail shops and other institutions that give visitors and residents alike a taste of one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the U.S.

Vessel Gallery | Courtesy of Apples and Oranges Gallery

Vessel Gallery

Oakland Museum of California
Oakland Museum of California | © Allie Caulfield
Originally a horse stable, Vessel Gallery now stands as a historic, two storey spacious art venue where urban meets the barn in architectural design. Situated amidst Oakland’s Uptown district, the light-filled, mixed-use commercial gallery hosts fascinating exhibitions of emerging local and national artists. On the first Friday of every month, admission is open to the public between the hours of 3PM and 9PM as part of the Oakland Art Murmur (OAM), a non-profit that is responsible for organizing spectacular art walks in the city. On this day, the gallery becomes an exciting full house of artists and art lovers enjoying unique community dialogues about the imaginative space of visual, literary and musical happenings.

Oakland Museum of California

Museum, Art Gallery
Preservation Park
Preservation Park | © Daniel Ramirez
Located one block from the Lake Merritt BART Station, The Oakland Museum of California(OMCA) is known as a Bay Area gem for its interactive approach to illustrating the story of California and its people with rooms upon rooms of history at your disposal. On the first Sunday of every month admission is free, but every Friday night between 5-9PM, off 10th street you can eat your way through gourmet food trucks and dance through culture with a live band and your favorite local beer or wine specials. The OMCA partnered with Off the Grid, a diverse group of some two hundred food truck venues to create a fun, people watching event for all ages. Exhibits are open late and talented local artists are invited to sell their work while dance lessons are held in the amphitheatre. As if that’s not enough, for the little ones there is always a hands-on activity. This Friday, it’s making superhero masks inspired by the special exhibition, ‘Sunshine and Superheroes: San Diego Comic-Con’.

Preservation Park

Jack London Square Ferry Launch
Jack London Square Ferry Launch | © Darin Marshall
Stroll the quaint streets along Preservation Park and take in the Victorian-era restored houses that inhabit it. The park is an ideal oasis in the center of Oakland, making it perfect for a calm lunch date under a tree or a casual work conference outside the office. This place couldn’t be more sedative with its gentle sounds of fountain, and its simplicity old world charm. Preservation Park is lined with historical pre-industrial buildings, cobblestones, gas lamps in an elegantly trimmed landscape. On a typical weekend, the grounds give way to wedding parties and well dressed men and women grace the scene with style and pride.

Jack London Square

From the bustling Sunday farmer markets, and outdoor filmings, to kayaking and bicycling along the waterfront, the active energy at Jack London Square (JLS) makes it a travel destination for people all over the Bay Area and beyond. Located within the port of Oakland, along the scenic Oakland/Alameda natural estuary, JLS is home to quirky independent businesses like Plank, a funky restaurant with a patio beer garden of over 50 hand-crafted labels with 18 lanes of state-of-the-art bowling, interactive video games and bocce ball for entertainment. For a quicker bite, the square is usually crowded by a number of food vendors and food trucks to satiate diverse crowds. All in all JLS is a family-friendly outdoor hub of recreation in the heart of Oakland. There is always something to plan and enjoy.

Embarcadero West, Oakland, CA, USA

The Fox Theatre

Theater, Music Venue
Decades after it was built in 1928, the old art deco light board continues to advertise the Fox Theatre above the adjacent bar and lounge called, ‘The Den’. Today, the once flapper-era live stage theatre is now a widely beloved music venue in the Bay Area booking big-named bands like Social Distortion and Alice in Chains to singer-songwriters like Diana Krall. The interior architecture of this place is stunning and exudes a mystical vibe rich in color with an exotic mix of terracotta tiles, dizzyingly detailed paintings and golden deities reminiscent of a Brahmin Temple. Best of all the vintage theatre has full bars on both the first and second floor during shows.


Looking for a venue that will entertain you and make you sweat? With four full length regulation maple hardwood courts, Jamtown is the Bay Area’s premier basketball facility located in a easy-to-access city destination. Whether you’d like to schedule a pickup game with friends or head on down for an open shoot, three hours of ball time will only cost you eight dollars. The state-of-the-art facility is run by a dedicated staff, however, tournaments are often scheduled in advance, so go online or call to reserve your court ahead of time. Pick-up games and open shoot hours are limited to the slotted times at 12PM and 8PM Monday through Friday, and 9AM on Saturday and Sunday.

31 4th St, Oakland, CA, USA

Jamtown Panorama
Jamtown Panorama © Jamtown
By Carly Salzberg

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