Joggers and power walkers charge along the 3-mile path that encircles this 155-acre natural saltwater lake in downtown Oakland. Crew teams often glide across the water, and boatmen guide snuggling couples in authentic Venetian gondolas (fares start at $60 per couple for 30 minutes; 510/663–6603, gondolaservizio.com). Lakeside Park, which surrounds the north side of Lake Merritt, has several outdoor attractions, including a small children's park and a waterfowl refuge. The lake is less an attraction than a pleasant backdrop to Oaklanders' everyday life. The nearby Grand Lake neighborhood, centering on the parallel commercial strips of Lakeshore Avenue and Grand Avenue, makes for good browsing and even better eating.