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Discover Alameda County's Surprising Treasures
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Discover Alameda County's Surprising Treasures

Here's your guide to Alameda County, rife with world-class restaurants, vibrant nightlife, chic shops, and cultural attractions.

Natasha Kouyoumjian

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5 min read

November 01, 2022

Disclaimer: California.com does not receive any type of compensation for reviewing any of the products or services mentioned in this article.

Home to a whopping 1.5 million population, Alameda County is largely an urban region spread across 14 cities. Reminding Spanish explorers of the road-lined trees, the Sycamore and Willow trees inspired the name Alameda – a grove of poplars. Characterized by its high diversity and rich culture, Alameda County has the 7th highest resident rate in the state and ranks 21st in the entire nation. But that’s not all Alameda is known for–the geographical location, magnificent sceneries, and diverse artistic lineage forge this tract into a social hub.

Where’s Alameda county?

Situated in the San Francisco Bay Area, Alameda County occupies most of the East Bay region. But the county didn’t start that way. Progressing from Native American tribal lands to Mexican ranches, over history the land was cultivated into farms and orchards, and finally, to commercial centers and suburbs. Today, the county is home to several major cities—including Oakland, Berkeley, Pleasanton, and Alameda—that are rife with bustling restaurants, shops, and cultural attractions.

What’s in Alameda County?

Aside from holding the county seat, Oakland is one of the major cities in Alameda County. Serving as a trade center for the Bay Area, the Port of Oakland is the busiest wharf in Northern California and the 5th busiest in America. While Oakland came to be known as a gritty, industrial city, it has undergone a revitalization in recent years, welcoming hip cocktail bars, chic boutiques, dynamic music venues, and fine-dining establishments. As a result, Oakland has gained national recognition as a top California travel destination, making National Geographic’s “Best Trips of 2019” and the New York Times “45 Places to Go” lists. 

In addition to its major pride cities, the County shelters significant national landmarks. Guarantee a trip to the paramount museum of the USS Hornet to explore this gallery famed for its leading recovery of Apollo 11. Bask in the presence of world-leading heritage as you admire the historic aircraft and exhibits of WWII artifacts. Take the time to explore the Alameda County metropolis, while a grasp of the steady population rise sneaks in.

Things to do in Alameda, CA

If you find yourself in Berkeley, CA, make it a point to check out the UC Berkeley campus as it is beautiful and full of culture.

Berkeley

Fun things to do in Alameda start at Berkeley. A socially liberal city, harboring the oldest campus in the University of California (UC) system, Berkeley is one of the major factors drawing in a substantial number of students, visitors, and even immigrants. Home to UC Berkeley, the city has a number of distinct neighborhoods and landmarks, making it a culturally stimulating environment for everyone. With the Berkeley Marina and Aquatic Park, the shops lining Telegraph Avenue, and the various breweries dotting its streets, Berkeley should definitely rank high on your traveling bucket list. 

If you’re visiting Berkeley, get ready to pamper yourself in first-rate restaurants. A chosen residence of culinary icons such as food author Michael Pollan, Berkeley is considered the leader of the modern farm-to-table movement. Feast your eyes on this foodie paradise as you enjoy North Berkeley’s particularly popular district, Gourmet Ghetto, and its concentration of well-known restaurants and food markets.

We recommend planning your trip to Alameda County around the Alameda County Fair schedule to catch this joyous event held in Pleasanton.

Pleasanton

Official host of the Alameda County Fair, this city is one destination you do not want to miss on your trip to Alameda. Lodged 25 miles east of Oakland, one of the wealthiest middle-sized cities in the United States boasts fantastic weather and a plentitude of landmarks. With the Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park made available for biking, hiking, horseback riding, and family-friendly activities, relish the perks of the luxurious feel this town has in store for you. 

Check out the fairgrounds where the annual most outlandish roller coasters, horse racing tracks, outdoor concerts, and mouthwatering fair-food experiences transpire. Pass by the Saturday farmer’s market to savor some fresh California produce. Ranging from delectable fruits to prime cuts, artisan almond butter, and cheese, as well as the fresh ocean’s harvest. Be sure to check out the Granizo Tile Art Mural situated on Main street’s Civic Park, and the Museum on Main (MoM) - featuring a library, a local museum, and travel exhibits, as well as a touch on the heritage of the area.

A different kind of island, the Island of Alameda offers a unique mini-escape to an unusual historic town.

Island of Alameda

Whether you’re thinking of hopping on that cruise ship, retiring on an island, or a simple change of scenery, this Alameda County destination is the elixir for your cravings. A locale in its right, the Island of Alameda is only accessible by water, tunnel, or bridge. Though it stayed fairly quiet in the 20 years after the Alameda Naval Air Station shuttered, the city experienced a sudden renaissance with its old-school arcades and World War II era aircraft carrier museum. Now sitting alongside more contemporary destinations - craft breweries, urban tasting rooms, art galleries, and studios make up Alameda’s booming food scene. Enjoy a broader range of newly established restaurants offering a taste of ethnicities from Ethiopia, Germany, India, and Lithuania.

Take a tour of this gorgeous wine country to unwind yourself amongst the glorious hills of Livermore Valley.

Livermore Valley

Though Alameda County is home to a wealth of metropolises, it offers more quaint escapes as well. For a truly relaxing yet fun getaway, make a day trip to Livermore Valley Wine Country. Featuring 55 wineries, the pastoral wine region is an assortment of breweries and taprooms. Check out the shops for goods at the numerous boutiques in historic downtown Livermore, and stop by for some steals and deals at the San Francisco Premium Outlets. After enjoying a busy afternoon at the largest outlet mall in California, fuel up with a decent dinner and a show at one of Livermore’s many standout restaurants and cultural arts centers.

Alameda County is home to the beautiful city of Oakland where you can enjoy the cozy feel of NorCal.

Oakland

A venerable and vibrant arts scene is the incessant charm of this special city in Alameda County California. Numerous galleries and museums stretch as you pass through downtown, Chinatown, Old Oakland, and Jack London Square. Accentuating exciting culinary scenes, the districts are embedded with restaurants serving a variety of flavorful soul food, from elevated French dishes to Filipino comfort fare. Historically a focal point of the West Coast blues and jazz scenes, Oakland is also home to musicians representing R&B, gospel, funk, punk, heavy metal, rap, and hip-hop. Be sure to catch a show, an Oakland must-see, on your visit to watch local musicians and big-name acts performing at venues around town - including the Paramount and Fox Theaters. And if you’re slaked with the concrete jungle, be sure to check out the beautiful Lake Merritt, the interactive Chabot Space and Science Center, and the expansive Robert Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve. Make the most of your time in this beautiful county, as you slowly start planning your move!

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