The Bay Area

We’ve compiled the best of the best in The Bay Area - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Café Van Kleef


    Long before Uptown got hot, the late Peter Van Kleef was serving stiff fresh-squeezed Greyhounds and booking live music at this funky café-bar that crackles with creative energy—there's still live music every weekend.

    1621 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, California, 94612, USA

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon.
  • 2. Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon

    Jack London Square

    Arguably California's longest continuously active saloon since it opened in 1884, this watering hole, built from the hull of a flat-bottomed stern-wheeler, is where young Jack London got his start as a writer. Historic photos and artifacts hang from the crooked walls and ceilings, which have been atilt since the 1906 earthquake. Get a peek at the slanted bar, where beers on tap and bottomless stories of Oakland history abound.

    48 Webster St., Oakland, California, 94607, USA
  • 3. Paper Plane

    This cocktail bar with a stunning brick back bar easily competes with the best in the Bay Area. Cocktails are creative and compelling, frequently incorporating atypical ingredients like Thai tea or a syrup made of pepitas (pumpkin seeds). The short food menu revolving around spruced up comfort food is less inventive than the cocktails but far more interesting than standard bar grub.

    72 S. 1st St., San Jose, California, 95113, USA
  • 4. The Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse

    Since 1968, the Freight has been a venue for some of the world's finest practitioners of folk, jazz, gospel, blues, world-beat, bluegrass, and storytelling. The nonprofit grew from an 87-seat coffee house to a thriving, nearly 500-seat venue in the heart of Berkeley's Arts District. Many tickets cost less than $30.

    2020 Addison St., Berkeley, California, 94702, USA
  • 5. Viridian

    Some of the most innovative, pristine cocktails in the Bay Area are at this neon-lit, energetic bar. Bar Director William Tsui previously worked at fine dining juggernaut Lazy Bear in San Francisco, and that high level of meticulous technicality and ingredient sourcing is abundantly clear here across the bay. It's almost unfair that the food menu, nodding to several Asian cuisine elements with a California touch, is so great as well. The narrow space gets packed quickly.

    2216 Broadway, Oakland, California, 94612, USA
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  • 6. Brotzeit Lokal

    Jack London Square | Brewpubs/Beer Gardens

    If you want a water view with your brew, head to this spot east of Jack London Square and enjoy a bretzel and obatzda (a soft German pretzel with Bavarian cheese dip), a selection of local wurst, or some Wiener schnitzel with your German or Belgian beer.

    1000 Embarcadero, near 8th St., Oakland, California, 94606, USA

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.
  • 7. Brotzeit Lokal

    Lake Merritt

    This tucked-away German biergarten is in Oakland's Brooklyn Basin along the waterfront Bay Trail, with lovely views of the marina, estuary, and Coast Guard Island. Known for its select German beers and delectable Bavarian dishes, including sausages, schnitzel, and homemade spaetzle, this family-friendly spot is especially popular on nice days.

    1000 Embarcadero, Oakland, California, 94606, USA
  • 8. Buck Wild Brewing

    Jack London Square

    This chic taproom is California's first 100%-gluten-free brewery, specializing in craft beers made without rye, wheat, or barley. The brewery also has tempting gluten-free fare such as quesadillas and fish tacos.

    401 Jackson St., Oakland, California, 94607, USA

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues.
  • 9. Dutch Goose

    For a true taste of Peninsula life, visit this longtime locals’ favorite for burgers and beers on a fun patio or inside the well-worn restaurant space. There's always a lively game of pool going on and any Bay Area sports team will surely be on the TVs. Families, beer league softball teams, and many other regulars (including several celebrities who live nearby) come by for fun parties or a quick pizza dinner. The deviled eggs are not to be missed.

    3567 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park, California, 94025, USA
  • 10. East Bay Spice Company

    This creative establishment pairs Indian food with excellent cocktails that are given a fun twist, often with atypical spices, liqueurs, and spirits. Try the "East Bay Indica" which partners mezcal and tequila with lemon and tamarind syrup.

    2134 Oxford St., Berkeley, California, 94704, USA
  • 11. Federation Brewing Company

    Jack London Square

    Part of Oakland's Ale Trail, the brewery has a convivial tasting room in the Jack London District with plenty of games for extended sipping of their pilsners, saisons, sours, and hoppy IPAs. Their outdoor seating area includes booth areas made of repurposed shipping containers. The taproom hosts live music and events a few nights a month, so make sure to check their calendar.

    420 3rd St., Oakland, California, 94607, USA
  • 12. Fox Theater


    This renovated 1928 theater is a remarkable feat of Mediterranean Moorish architecture and has seen the likes of Willie Nelson, the Magnetic Fields, and B.B. King. The venue boasts good sight lines, a state-of-the-art sound system, brilliant acoustics, and a bar with food.

    1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, California, 94612, USA
  • 13. Friends & Family

    This fantastic woman- and queer-owned bar-restaurant has an excellent compact food menu, standout cocktails, a chic interior design, and one of the best patios in the city. The house margarita is an intriguing must-try drink with mezcal and lemon instead of lime and tequila. Other drinks have eyebrow-raising elements that truly work like melon-infused gin or a coconut water popsicle. The grilled cheese and carrot cake are best in class for those comfort food staples.

    468 25th St., Oakland, California, 94612, USA
  • 14. Haberdasher

    This sharply dressed speakeasy is one of the South Bay's gold standards for craft cocktails. Drinks are intricate without being fussy, and the bartenders are always quick to offer insight into what cocktails might fit your taste. The cozy, low-ceilinged space is filled with velvet curtains and plush booths, continuing the 1920s feeling.

    43 W. San Salvador St., San Jose, California, 95113, USA
  • 15. Half Moon Bay Brewing Company

    This beloved gathering spot was one of the originals of the Bay Area craft beer scene and continues to be a popular spot for a pint or a full meal. Not surprisingly given the locale, there's a popular amber ale named for Mavericks, along with the Bay Area's favorite pumpkin ale in the fall. The food menu is definitely more exciting and seafood-focused than your average brewery fare.

    390 Capistrano Rd., Half Moon Bay, California, 94019, USA
  • 16. Hop Dogma Brewing Co.

    The coast has a small but impressive roster of craft breweries, and the best of them is this IPA specialist. The charming taproom and its front patio offer flights and full pours of the beers produced in-house. Beyond the hoppy beers, the brewery also serves a range of styles, from cucumber wheat beers to vanilla coffee stouts.

    270 Capistrano Rd., Half Moon Bay, California, 94019, USA
  • 17. Line 51 Brewing—The Terminal Taproom

    Jack London Square

    This bright, airy, 7,500-square-foot brewery and taproom is a tribute to its early history, when the brewers hauled their kegs on public transit line 51 to their warehouse. Now, Oakland Ale Trail explorers can enjoy freshly tapped beer from a vintage 1971 AC transit bus that serves as a refrigeration unit for their brews. Fermentation tanks are on full display: the owners are passionate about their Red Death ale, IPAs, Short Dog ale, and porters.

    303 Castro St., Oakland, California, 94607, USA

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues.
  • 18. Loma Brewing Company

    Many baseball fans make the trip to Los Gatos just to visit this brewery owned by former MLB infielder Kevin Youkilis. However, the brewery deserves many accolades in its own right for producing some of the top beers in the South Bay, such as the hops-packed Greek God of Hops, a double IPA that riffs on Youkilis’s nickname in the book Moneyball. At this family-friendly brewpub, everyone can enjoy refined pub grub with or without the house beers.

    130 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos, California, 95030, USA
  • 19. Low Bar

    Unique cocktails; casual eats; and a fun space with plants and lots of natural light makes this one of the most compelling bars in Uptown Oakland. Cocktails have creative elements, like a spiced grapefruit cordial in the mezcal-based Deadbeat Summer.

    2300 Webster St., Oakland, California, 94612, USA
  • 20. Mountain Winery

    This gorgeous property is centered around the summer concert series at its beautiful amphitheater. Many notable musicians, often popular singers and groups from past decades, make a stop here. The winery was built by the iconic Paul Masson (one of the true pioneers of California wine in the late 19th century and early 20th century) and tastings are held each weekend.

    14831 Pierce Rd., Saratoga, California, 95071, USA

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