Good dates, I think, are about good views. You want to look out on the same thing with your special person. Cities like Oakland, which have both pockets of density and surrounding open spaces, have taught me that sometimes the people are themselves the views.
You can go to a festival and find that the pulsing mass of humanity before you is as great to behold as any lake or sunset. This is a list of incredible views in Oakland: the nature kind and the people kind. All of them are best reached by bike. Because catching a great view is a full body experience. Like dating.
Attending this monthly party (even once) is enough to convince your roommate that your Downton Abbey addiction does not make you antisocial. This is the best sensory overload one could ask for: lights, chanting, booze, endorphin-driven camaraderie and so, so many bikes. You may want to lock up somewhere half way through so you can just step back and take it all in.
This place is the kind of beautiful that makes you want to drink tea and divulge secrets. The old world romance of the garden is incompatible with a car, and nearby street parking is difficult, so come here by bike.
This seems like the kind of thing that your parents make fun of you for when you tell them you are moving to the East Bay – "Really, a bike music festival?" Yes. This historically SF-based festival has come to Oakland! The music is great, the conversation-starting food options are on point (think pedal-produced ice cream) and the whole event, which features speeches and info-booths about climate justice, doubles as a "climate rally" (I learned this phrase after moving to the Bay Area.)
This list would not be complete without a shout out to the quotidian (for many) joy of Lake Merritt. This small lake, which is nestled in the region of Oakland that shares its name, can be easily accessed from downtown Oakland and most parts of the city. The path around the lake makes for a lovely walk or bike ride, and I love to picnic near the lake at dusk, when the "necklace of lights" around the lake’s perimeter come alive.
If bike trails were dogs, the San Francisco Bay Trail would be the golden retriever. Take the trail from Jack London square to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. You will be rewarded with panoramic bay views worth drooling over.
I spent the whole of first Friday looking for churros, and I’m happy about what I found instead: three drum circles (replete with dancing children), local art (from rock posters to paintings) hole in the wall galleries, Oakland based bands, and a little boy excitedly managing the porta potty bathroom line (people were tipping him, and he seemed genuinely surprised by this.)
This is a great spot for picnics, frolicking, water-gazing and whatever else people do in Nicholas Sparks novels. The lake is an easy bike-ride from the Rockridge area, and (apparently) the nearby Lake Temescal beach house is a popular wedding spot.
Cemeteries as beautiful as this one make for surprisingly great date spots. This cemetery is ideal for those interested in the history of California (many famous California figures are buried here) and for those who just want to take in an incredible view of the San Francisco bay while surrounded by dead people. Mountain View is an easy bike ride from downtown Oakland, and something about this carefully designed place might make you want to stay longer than you’d planned.
This park is slightly difficult to reach from central Oakland, but the journey is worthwhile. Redwoods make you want to be better. I have no other way of saying it without lapsing into the kind of language you’d find in a sneaker ad, so I’ll stop there. See the East Bay’s only redwoods by biking along a one mile paved trail in Redwood Regional Park. I can’t recommend it enough.