Date Nights, Happy Hours, Fun Casual Dinner Spots, First Date Bars, Coffee Dates Anniversary Ideas + Places To Meet Singles. Things To Do In Oakland, Berkeley & Alameda
As a professional photographer who was born in Oakland, I have scouted many areas for photoshoots, lifestyle images, branding sessions and backgrounds for headshots and portraits. It’s my job to create photos with the best conversation starters and iconic locations that invite people to learn more about my clients. Click here for press coverage in the NYTimes, SFGate, ABC7News & more. Here are a select few of my favorite places in and around the East Bay for restaurants, bars and other outdoor date ideas.
Check this list to see if places are requesting proof of vaccination or recent negative covid test for indoor dining/drinks.
East Bay Date Spots & Ideas: Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda
Oakland has seen a renaissance in nightlife, beer and restaurants like no other place in the Bay Area. Berkeley is great for younger crowds from the UC Berkeley campus. These two areas along with others have catapulted the East Bay as a destination for all to experience. The East Bay Area offers an incredible number of options for dates and interests of all kinds and is now a destination for people in SF and Marin as well as the South Bay.
In the past 5 years, there have been a number of places that have surfaced around the area as well as existing businesses that have catered to a growing younger demographic of customers as well as those eager to explore places around them that crave fresh food, more craft beers, quality cocktails and social environments. Add to that some incredible hiking trails and amazing views outdoors and there are plenty of options at your fingertips to enjoy your day or evening.
In terms of density, you will be hard-pressed to find more accessible things to do and see than around the UC Berkeley Campus, Uptown Oakland and Jack London Square areas of the East Bay. Each has its own charm and distinct flavor but these are the top areas to explore and wander if you are unfamiliar with or new to town or want options for a long day date.
Fun Things To Do In Berkeley, Alameda, Oakland And The East Bay
As an online dating photographer and consultant, I have helped clients plan first dates to provide good first impressions. Here are a few of my favorite places around Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda for dates and meeting singles. Scroll to the bottom of the page for San Francisco, Marin, Napa and Sonoma date ideas. Please note there are many places I recommend that are more unique, romantic – these are exclusively available for clients.
*NEW* Wondrous Brewing, Emeryville
Newest brewery to open in the East Bay. Brewer/Owner Wynn came from Sante Adairius and is a highly respected person in the industry. Outdoor seating is available and expect food options from nearby partners soon.
Drake’s Dealership, Oakland
Fun brewery and restaurant with outdoor seating, heat lamps and food good enough if you are not a beer fan.
Jack London Square, Oakland
Great place to go for a walk along the water. You have Blue Bottle Coffee, Plank (bocce ball, bowling, beer garden), as well as a farmer’s market and my favorite East Bay beer bar in Beer Revolution.
UC Berkeley Botanical Garden
Beautiful garden on the UC Berkeley campus great for a late morning or afternoon stroll. Continue the walk around campus on a weekend ideally in the fall when the ivy and fall colors are gorgeous.
Berkeley Rose Garden
Free and beautiful in the springtime. Walk a mile down the road to grab some tasty pizza slices from Cheeseboard pizza afterwards.
Spacious Mexican restaurant with outdoor seating, firepit and fun lay out. Look out for their late night menu specials.
Friday Night @ Oakland Museum (OMCA)
Off the Grid makes Friday nights at the Oakland Museum a fun place for all ages. Live music, drinks, food trucks – what else do you need?
Redwood National Park, Oakland
Beautiful outdoor hikes at this spacious park is a must for outdoor enthusiasts looking to escape the city’s noise, crowds and distractions.
The Cat House, Oakland
Stylish interiors, fancy drinks, cozy environment with vintage accents. For a sophisticated yet approachable bar, check out this unique space in the East Bay.
Faction Brewery, Alameda
The best views of any brewery in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nothing beats a beer in the sun on a warm day.
St. George Distillery, Alameda
Gin? Yes please! If you are a gin fan or don’t like gin, this is the place for you. Take a tour and check out some incredible gins at this distillery tour. Reservations are highly recommended as tastings and tours are limited to small groups.
Pro-tip: Head to Faction Brewery next door for a post tour beer with a view of San Francisco
Blind Tiger, Oakland
Craft beer and cocktails at this Emeryville institution is a must. Indoor and outdoor seats and limited bar bites make this a great place for a low-key drink but without sacrificing quality.
Beautiful large but cozy jazz bar and live music venue. Find other music like Cuban salsa, R&B and more here. Check the calendar for performances and last minute deals.
Albatross Bar, Berkeley
Old dive bar with darts, pool table and fireplace. It doesn’t get more relaxed and chill than this place.
Albany Bulb, Albany
Quirky burning man-ish sculptures next to Golden Gate Fields. Dog friendly and great views of Marin and San Francisco.
Rare Barrel, Berkeley
My favorite brewery in the East Bay, Huge industrial doors for fresh air, interesting and delicious vegetarian bar bites and incredible selection of sour beers and a few non-sour, guest beers.
Pro-tip: Try the Ensorcelled dark sour beer.
Lake Merritt Walk, Oakland
Check out this walk around Lake Merritt (about an hour give or take). Start off at Equator Coffee and take a stroll around the lake.
If you really want to impress your date, book a dinner here.
Grizzly Peak, Berkeley Hills
This is an incredible view of San Francisco but at night, it is problematic to break-ins and armed robberies. This is a place to get cozy and see some of the best views in all the Bay Area.
San Francisco – Alameda Bay Ferry Ride
Used mostly as a commuter vessel, these ferry rides are a great way to get an amazing view of San Francisco and the skyline in a way so few get to see. The rides drop you off at the Ferry Building with great bites, local farmer’s markets, beautiful architecture, lots of outdoor seating and restaurants and so much more.
La Santa Torta, Oakland
So not quite a destination spot but it is in JLS next to many great breweries, outdoor walks and coffee shops. This taco truck serves the best quesabirria tacos I have ever had. A great spot for a quick bite as you explore street art and views from Jack Lond Square.
Gangnam Tofu Korean Cuisine, El Cerrito
This is not a place I recommend for a fancy dining stop for a date but if you love tofu, fried chicken or good Korean food (which the Bay Area lacks) this is a good spot to check out if in the area.
Cheeseboard Pizza, Berkeley
If you don’t like this place, we cannot be friends. This veggie only pizza is so good that meat lovers crave this place. One style a day (posted online) this place is known for amazing ingredients. The Berkeley Ghetto Gourmet neighborhood is a great place to explore on foot and you can also check out nearby Saul’s Deli for some additional options down the street.
This izakaya-style Japanese restaurant is fantastic and I would go more often if I lived in the East Bay. Lines can be long for this popular destination but it’s well worth the wait.
Sobre Mesa, Oakland
Tropical cocktail bar and restaurant serving Afro-Latino small plates.
Low Bar, Oakland
Approachable, upscale dive bar with Mexican bites from sous chef of Hopscotch
About Eddie Hernandez
Eddie Hernandez is a dating consultant & professional photographer based in San Francisco, servicing clients in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and beyond as featured in the NYTimes, SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle.
In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice, date planning, screening profiles, ID'ing red flags, offline techniques for meeting people organically, naturally.
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