Oakland or Bust - Where My Story Begins

I’m excited to be returning home to Oakland, California for the weekend. It's a quick business development trip for Hair Fairy but I'm looking forward to spending time with my sister, nieces and friends I grew up with. I’ve lived in Seattle longer than I lived in Oakland but I still think of it as home.

I moved away from Oakland when I was 18 to go to the University of Washington and save for one summer, I never moved back. I was drawn to Seattle for its natural beauty and cultural “coolness” – grunge music was at its height and Microsoft was the tech behemoth making Seattle a hub for tech innovation. Starbucks was still a local coffee chain and I would bring a bag of beans down to my parents for Christmas as it was a novelty! Amazon didn’t exist yet.

Gawd I’m old.

Anyways, Oakland at that time was not hip. Not. At All.

San Francisco and even Berkeley eclipsed Oakland in the cool department. But I carried my Oakland heritage like a tough girl badge of honor. It was fun to see how people responded when I told them where I was from. And when I returned to Oakland and rode BART or jogged around Lake Merritt remembering my days on the crew team, I appreciated the beautiful, diverse "rough around the edges" city that it is. 

I miss it.

Now Oakland has come into its own. I read a New York Times article about Oakland being to San Francisco what Brooklyn is to Manhattan. WOW. 

There’s a company called Oaklandish that has all Oakland-inspired apparel. One of their most recent designs has a sweatshirt that says, “Oakland, where my story begins”. That sums it up for me.

Oakland is where my story begins.

Here’s a run down of where I plan to go and do while I’m there:

Claremont Hotel

YES! I’m staying here and I’m GIDDY about it. The Claremont is a grand hotel in the foothills of Berkeley (within blocks of Oakland). Whenever I’m in San Francisco or flying into the Bay Area, I look for the big white structure in the hillside to get my bearings. I have never been inside the hotel so I anticipate feeling like Eloise at The Plaza.

Peets Coffee on Domingo

Before they sold gourmet whole bean coffee in grocery stores, my dad and I would go here every weekend to get the weekly supply of coffee and an espresso brownie to share. Peets is in Seattle now and every time I go in one, I feel like a little kid.

Sweet Dreams

I love shopping on College Avenue and Sweet Dreams was within walking distance of my aunt and uncle's house by the Cal campus. My cousins and sister would walk down and buy giant jaw breakers, licorice ropes and gummie bears and walk back loaded with sugary loot!

Ruby’s Garden

My aunt suggested I go here and drop off a Hair Fairy sample. From her previous posts on Facebook shopping here, I know I’m going to go gaga over their selection and will likely pick up a few Christmas gifts while I’m there.

Creative Growth Vice + Virtue Holiday Show

Creative Growth Art Center serves adult artists with developmental, mental and physical disabilities, providing a professional studio environment for artistic development and exhibition. Their Holiday open house on Friday will feature art for sale by their resident artists, live music and yummy treats! 

Leslie Evers

Leslie is a long time friend of my cousin and has created a line of classic yet modern women’s wear. She designs many of her own fabrics and works with local manufacturers. I can’t wait to buy something special here. For myself. Lesley, please open a store in Seattle!

Oakland Supply Co.

This is a new concept shop I heard about on Facebook featuring American and locally made products, perfect for more Christmas shopping. Just looking at their website/tumblr page gives me ideas. It also gets me to Jack London Square and the waterfront. 

 Any place else I should not miss while I'm there?