Alameda is a small island neighboring Oakland and is the epitome of small town charm. With beautiful residential neighborhoods, a bustling place for mom and pop shops, perhaps the most gorgeous movie theater in the Bay Area, and a beach that’s perfect for a day off, it is home to some hidden East Bay gems that are definitely worth a day trip. If you’re looking for a new city to explore for an East Bay Day, or are itching to extend your time on the island after the very popular Antique Flea Market that happens every first Sunday of the month, here are the top things that you have to see!
Where to Shop:
Pippa and Co. is an explosion of color, fun, and everything you need to throw a festive party. From cute cards to hand painted wrapping paper, the most beautiful party poppers and paper plates, and gifts, you’re guaranteed to leave feeling happier than when you came in. They sell giant globe balloons with custom tassels for your next event and even hold workshops and so be sure to stop in.
Pippa and Co. – Photo By Sabrina Bot
Also Park Street, Alameda’s main drag, you’ll find Daisy’s, a cute gift store that is a one-stop-shop gift destination. Looking for a great card, beautiful linens, or unique soaps? This is your place! They have a wide range of color-coded cards, ribbons, washi tape and everything else to package up the perfect gift.
If you are enjoying your Alameda day with young children, then head to Twirl. It has everything from an indoor tree house designed and built by the owner, paint corners, quiet reading cubbies, and so much more to keep tiny busy-bodies…happily busy.
What to Eat:
Pappo is directly across the street from the movie theater and is the intimate dinner spot is perfect for date night. With a casual, rustic ambiance, it has an elegance to it, plus the food is delicious. Order the burrata caprese salad and the housemade gnocchi with squash, sage cream sauce and cherry tomatoes. They also have expert wine pairing knowledge so take advantage and enjoy a perfectly paired wine with your meal.
Alameda is home to residents who have been there their entire life. The old saying goes, “once Alamedians, always Alamedians.” And where do they frequent? The answer is Ole’s Waffle Shop, an old time diner with a line out the door. They serve the best hash browns and waffles, and the restaurant has a classic old-school charm. Looking for a newer spot that is popular with the younger generation? Check out Little House Cafe for breakfast. A small colorful house, packed with a tasty menu and outdoor seating, it is perfect for brunch!
Where to Toast to The Good Life:
Perhaps the biggest hidden gem is the Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge. Gaining popularity, swarms of people are now traveling to Alameda to check out this festive spot. Paper umbrellas and vines hang from the ceiling, rum-filled punches and cocktails are aplenty, and off an unassuming neighborhood street, this place feels like you just walked into another timezone or decade. And you’ll want to stay.
Pick up a bottle of wine at Alameda Marketplace, and stock up on cheese while you are there. In this multi-vendor and open market, you’ll find everything you need for an amazing picnic. After grabbing goodies from Feel Good Bakery, building your own salads, and choosing from an assortment of cheese and smoked meats, take your treats and head to the beach!
What to Explore:
Did someone mention beach? Alameda’s long beach strip overlooks the San Francisco Bay and is the perfect place to hang out with the kids and build sand castles. The beach also hosts some of the best windsurfing in the area. Unlike San Francisco beaches, Alameda’s Crown Memorial State Beach has calmer and sunnier weather, so you can leave your wool sweater at home.
If you’re into decor or antiquing or just want to experience the biggest antique fair west of the Mississippi, seriously, mark the first Sunday of every month on your calendar. Hosted on Alameda’s Naval Base, the antique fair is home to hundreds of vendors that drive with their treasures from up and down the state. You can find everything from mid-century modern furniture, to crystal chandeliers, French glassware and silverware, antique jewelry and anything else you can think of!
Go explore the East Bay’s island city and tell me about your favorites!
Photos by Oakland-based photographer, Chloe List.