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    Community Leaders Share Their Favorite Places to Go, Things to Do in the East Bay

    Ahead of Oakland Pride 2021, the San Francisco Bay Times asked local community leaders to list their top five favorite places to go and things to do in the East Bay.

    Joe Hawkins
    CEO and Co-Founder of the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center

    1. Lake Merritt – I love seeing our city’s ethnic and gender diversity on full display at the lake, and it’s where our center is located. Truly the jewel of Oakland.

    2. Go to an A’s Game – I used to take my son to A’s games when he was little, and now I look forward to taking my three grandchildren. The A’s have become huge supporters of the Center and our clinic is named after A’s alumnus, Glenn Burke, America’s first out gay major league baseball player.

    3. Eat at the Home of Chicken & Waffles – Jack London Square has many great places to eat and one of them is the Home of Chicken & Waffles. HCW was also established by a Black gay man (Derreck Johnson).

    4. Eat at Shakewell – Another gay-owned hot spot and consistent supporter of the Center. The food at Shakewell is fabulous!

    5. Eat at Arizmendi – Who doesn’t love Arizmendi? The pizza is delicious and they are another small business that has been a consistent supporter of the Center.

    LaTonya Lawson
    East Bay Resident and a Leader of Celebrity Cruises Region Team West

    1. Le Cheval Vietnamese Restaurant – For the food, cocktails, and those “extra-cleansing” toilets in the ladies room.

    2. Sundays in the Redwoods – Concerts that typically happen in October at the Woodminster Amphitheater.

    3. Lake Temescal – Where I used to chill on many a Saturday over the years.

    4. True Vine Baptist Church – Love the bible teachings by Pastor Zack and appreciate all that he does in the community.

    5. East Bay Agency for Children – Provides a safety net and social services for the well-being of children, youth, and families by reducing the impact of trauma and social inequities.

    Clara Yun
    Chef/Owner, Wanda’s Restaurant

    1. Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline – Hiking area with picturesque views.

    2. Port Costa – (A census-designated place in Contra Costa County) Warehouse cafe, The Dram Shop (Wednesday night bar at the Bull Valley Roadhouse), the Theatre of Dreams …

    3. Crockett – Bailey Art Museum, C&H Sugar factory, Crockett Historical Museum, Toot’s Tavern, Wanda’s Restaurant.

    4. Benicia – Park of Dreams, Benicia Peddler’s Fair, Red Door Escape Room (Concord)

    5. Point Richmond – Richmond Plunge, Keller Beach Park, Hotel Mac and Suites

    Peggy Moore
    Principal/Co-Owner, Hope Action Change Consulting; Former Senior Advisor to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf

    1. Red Bay Coffee – Black-owned community spot; great place to gather with friends and family. Their charcoal latte is a must have!

    2. The Women of the Black Panther Party Mural – A 2000-square-foot masterpiece installed on a private home in the heart of West Oakland; shout out to all the powerful women that brought this dream into real time.

    3. The Carroll Manor Rooftop – And that’s just for those who know! (So secretive we could not find a url for it!)

    4. Z Café & Bar – Our home away home; where Hope (Peggy’s wife) and I celebrated our wedding reception when it became legal in 2013 and just about every family celebration to date.

    5. East Bay Church of Religious Science – My spiritual home and a place where all are welcome; founded by Reverend Elouise Oliver.

    Jeff Myers
    Board President and Co-Founder of the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center

    Besides the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, my top 5 favorite things in the East Bay are as follows:

    1. Visit Shakewell Restaurant – The food is exquisite, great customer service & atmosphere and it’s gay owned. They have been supporters of the Center since its inception.

    2. Visit Caña Restaurant – It’s another great establishment with delicious Cuban dishes, very friendly environment. It’s located next to the Center and draws a very diverse clientele.

    3. Lake Merritt – This is where I go on the weekends for walks, bike rides, picnicking with my partner and friends, or just to mediate. It’s the place to visit if you’re looking for a very diverse crowd of Oaklanders and visitors, music, performances, food vendors, and beautiful views of downtown and the Oakland Hills.

    4. Jack London Square – It’s another one of my favorite places to hangout on the weekends for brunch while watching the sailboats cruise by. They are many wonderful restaurants and shops.

    5. Oakland Museum – I love visiting this establishment for the Black History and Pride exhibits, and, of course, the classic period arts and artifacts.

    Kin Folkz
    Founder + commUNITY Development Co-Director, The East Bay LGBTQ+ Healing Arts Center
    Founder/Director, Spectrum Queer Media

    1. Joaquin Miller Park – Such a wild and wondrous stretch of Nature offering vistas and adventures for all ages. It also includes The Woodminster Amphitheater, a world-renowned open-air performance space infused with the wonderfully heady aroma of redwoods.

    2. The Oakland Pride Run + Queer Bay Cruise – A great annual back2back Spectrum Queer Media fundraising event held each year in September.

    3. Miss Ollies Restaurant + Bar – A yummy Caribbean island getaway in the heart of the city with the sights, tastes, and sounds curated by celebrated chef and owner, Sarah Kirnan. Stop by and grab some saltfish, ackee, red snapper, and a sorrel!

    4. The East Bay Queer Arts Center – The Bay Area’s first art, innovation, and tech hub led by Black and Indigenous Trans and Queer folks for marginalized LGBTQIA+ people in particular and ALL people in general.

    5. Yoshi’s Jazz Club – Jazz aficionados flock to this magical place to be encircled by premiere musicians while enjoying delicious culinary treats. It is also a great after-work spot to unwind at!

    Barbara Jue
    Co-Founder/Board Member, Lavender Seniors of the East Bay

    1. Lake Merritt Neighborhood – It includes Children’s Fairyland, one of oldest theme parks here. It is said that Walt Disney was inspired by Fairyland to build Disneyland.

    2. Oakland Museum – It hosted an LGBTQ+ exhibit not long ago.

    3. (and 4.) Grand Lake and Lakeshore Neighborhoods and Shopping District – These are near the Oakland LGBTQ Center. While the Oakland Pride Parade has been cancelled, there will still be stationary events on both ends of Lake Merritt celebrating Oakland Pride.

    5. The Terrace Room at The Lake Merritt – Very Art Deco.

    Judy Young
    Executive Director, UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health

    1.  Jack London Square – Nice place to walk, watch canoers & kayakers, explore the farmers’ market on Sundays, and take the ferry into San Francisco.

    2. Alameda Beach (aka: Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach)

    3. NIDO’s BackYard – Great food, wonderful staff.

    4. Emeryville Marina: Nice place to walk & to see the sunset.

    Tom Thompson
    Events & Project Manager, San Francisco Business Times

    1. The Port Bar in Oakland – Have a drink and catch a sidewalk drag show on the weekend.

    2. The World Famous Turf Club in Hayward – Have a chill night on the back patio listening to local bands.

    3. Out of the Closet on East 18th Street in Oakland – Browse for a good book to read before heading to a picnic on the Lake.

    4. Home of Chicken and Waffles in Oakland – End your evening here after a show for a late night snack.

    5. Sunday Brunch at Berkeley Buddhist Temple – Some of the best Thai food around and super affordable.

    Melanie DeMore
    Vocal Activist

    1. (and 2.) One of my favorite places to go is the Oakland Museum of California – There’s the permanent collection of the Black Power Movement (created following the widely-popular 2016 exhibition All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50) and a wonderful exhibit featuring Dorothea Lange: Photography as Activism. I am a proud member of the museum and the African American Museum and Library at Oakland.

    3. (and 4.) For music, you can’t beat Freight and Salvage in Berkeley or La Peña Cultural Center.

    Lisa Lowe
    Executive Director, California Revels

    Here’s a list from California Revels:

    1. Oakland Zoo – Fun, learning, and exercise for all ages.

    2. Ardenwood Historic Farm – Nature and local history, all in one place.

    3. Freight & Salvage – Music venue supporting outstanding talent.

    4. Children’s Fairyland – Wonderful park for kids to have a good romp.

    5. Le Bateau Ivre – Charming French restaurant with live music.

    Aarin Burch
    President/Founder, Laurel Burch Studios

    1. Joaquin Miller Park – For nature lovers. Beautiful all year round.

    2. Brooklyn Basin – Outdoors fun right next to the waterfront.

    3. Fourth Street Berkeley – Great shopping, good eats, awesome vibe!

    4. Laurel Burch Studios – Bold, bright artist-designed apparel and home goods.

    5. Gilman Brewing Company – Bay Area’s best craft brewery with taprooms and restaurant.

    6. Picante Berkeley – Delish Mexican restaurant, drive through available. Let the fiesta begin!

    Kamika Dunlap
    Chief Strategist, Communications at the Women’s Foundation California

    1. Bay Farm Island – Scenic walking or biking trail in Alameda with great views of the San Francisco skyline.

    2. Old Oakland’s Farmer’s Market – Continuously held at the same site on Fridays and featuring culturally diverse produce with live music from local artists.

    3. Tilden Regional Park Steam Train Ride – Scenic miniature train ride near Berkeley along the Redwood Valley Railway; open year-round.

    4. Greenbelt Trail Head – Attractive wooded canyon suburban trail in Hayward with beautiful Redwoods and Eucalyptus trees.

    5. Brooklyn Basin – With lots of smooth asphalt and open space, the Oakland waterfront is great for roller skating or rollerblading.

    Published on September 9, 2021