Find Treasures at Adams Point
Shop, have fun with your family, and enjoy natural beauty.
Looking for an unusual gift? Try a gift membership at the Oakland Lawn Bowling Club.
Photo by istock
Bordered by Vernon Street, MacArthur Boulevard, and Lakeside Park, along Grand Avenue, this small slice of Oakland packs a lot of life. From the country’s first nature preserve to some of the city’s best people-watching vantage points, Adams Point offers recreation, dining, shopping, outdoors, and family fun.
Get moving with Lake Merritt Dance. This consortium of dance instructors uses the beautiful and historic Veterans’ Memorial Building as the permanent rental location, teaching a range of dance and movement classes during evenings and weekends. Instructors offer everything, including tango, salsa, zumba, experimental movement, tai chi, swing, and more. Scope out the calendar for an up-to-date schedule of class offerings. Dance is a great way to improve your physical and mental health, not to mention it’s super fun. Find contact information for different dance classes at LakeMerrittDance.comteams.com/wordpress, 200 Grand Ave.
What better time to invoke the magic of Children’s Fairyland than over the winter holidays? Each December, Children’s Fairyland hosts Fairy Winterland, a holiday celebration of Oakland’s many cultures including Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Diwali, and the Chinese New Year. From Dec. 14-23, park entrance is $10 for adults and $5 for children over the age of 1. Attractions include unlimited rides, performances by Storybook Puppet Theater, magic and entertainment acts, a daily visit from Santa, holiday-themed arts and crafts, and a festival of lights parade starting at 6:15 p.m. each day. Bundle up the family and enjoy warmhearted holiday whimsy. 699 Bellevue Ave., 510-452-2259, Fairyland.org.
Take in the natural beauty of Oakland at the Gardens at Lake Merritt. Free and open to all, the gardens opened in 1958 and span 7 peaceful acres bordering Lake Merritt, the country’s first National Wildlife Refuge. Bird life and local wonders abound in the multiple gardens. Visit a bonsai tree over 1,600 years old at the bonsai garden, see the trial gardens where master gardeners provide educational workshops in April, experience the soothing Japanese garden, wander through the palm garden, explore the sensory garden, and walk through a sacred torii gate garden to leave behind the stress of daily life. Docents are available to guide and answer questions. Winter hours are 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri. 666 Bellevue Ave., GardensAtLakeMerritt.org.
Give the gift of family owned and roasted coffee from 1888 Coffee Station. The Ruiz Galindo family grows and roasts this award-winning coffee, available by the cup at the shop or by the pound for stocking stuffers. Beyond gift-giving, there’s nothing like caffeine for surviving the holiday season. Join Adams Point locals at the walk-up window for a hot lavender latte or traditional coffee drink to revive your spirits on a chilly day. 246 Grand Ave., 510-338-3598, 1888CoffeeStations.com.
Stuck finding a present for the person who has everything? The answer is always lawn bowling. Gift a membership to Oakland Lawn Bowling Club, a sports and social club in Lakeside Park. Tournaments and member play happen year-round. If you’re looking for a fun activity to do while the family is in town, newcomers can explore lawn bowling with a free lesson for up to four people. 660 Bellevue Ave., 510-625-9937, OaklandLawnBowlingClub.com.
Find a wide range of metaphysical products at The Raven’s Wing Magical Co. The knowledgeable and friendly staff can direct you to gifts for those seeking to connect more to earth-based spirituality or the divinatory arts. Find an array of crystals and stones to help with everything from prosperity to anxiety to protection to love. There are tarot decks or specialty supplies for those interested in magic — including candles, cauldrons, incense, bells, herbs, and athames. You can also adorn the one you love with locally made earrings, gemstone rings, and pendants. 536 Grand Ave., 510-444-9355, TheRavensWingMagicalCo.com.
Join those in the know at Enssaro Ethiopian Restaurant. Always busy, this welcoming restaurant serves lunch and dinner and is the perfect antidote to a cold winter day. Rich and flavorful, the spice-packed dishes are suitable for the range of tastes in your family, including carnivores, vegans, and even a gluten-free injera option. Enjoy a full bar, Ethiopian coffee, or tej, a sweet honey Ethiopian wine. Choose the veggie or meat sampler so you can try a little bit of everything offer. 357A Grand Avenue, 510- 238-9050, Enssaro.com.
Sometimes, you just need ice cream to get through the day. When the urge strikes, Icey Cream offers ultra-creamy, super-rich scoops, crazy concoctions like ice cream donut sandos, and an assortment of macaroons under an awning of pastel pink stripes. No need to survive the holidays sans sugar. 346 Grand Ave., 510-444-1160, IceyCream.com.
Jong Ga House offers delicious Korean barbecue in the heart of Adams Point. Holidays are a fantastic time to enjoy this dish, as the large tables and interactive grilling at the table make it a fun activity for everyone. Arrive hungry and order all-you-can-eat barbecue, then grill up everything from boneless beef short ribs to baby octopus. Meals are also served with an array of banchan, tasty side dishes. The interior is as beautiful as the food, thanks to the traditional Korean design called Hanok. Word to the wise: Plan ahead with your reservations, especially if you’re bringing a group. 372 Grand Ave., 510- 444-7658, JongGaHouse.com.