Alameda is a city of about 78,000 people in Alameda County. Its geography is unique because the city spans two islands and part of the mainland; this is why it’s known locally as The Island City.
Despite the seemingly remote island location, Alameda is in a very central area. It’s near the major cities of Oakland and San Francisco in the San Francisco Bay Area, so the attractions and events of these places are easily accessible.
Alameda is home to its own attractions as well; these include a number of parks, art spaces, museums, and restaurants. There are many shopping areas in the city, including South Shore Center, Alameda Landing, Bridgeside Shopping Center, and the downtown district.
Alameda hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, including the Park Street Spring Festival, Park Street Art & Wine Faire, Park Street Classic Car Show, and the Sand Castle and Sculpture Contest.
Below are the 15 best things to do in and around Alameda, California.
1. Get a Taste of Local Culture at the Alameda Art Association Art Gallery
For more than 60 years, the Alameda Art Association Art Gallery has been encouraging residents and visitors alike to appreciate the world of art and inspiring them to get in touch with their own creative side.
The gallery showcases a variety of art across many different styles created by several artists. From time to time, the gallery also hosts art shows and other events.
2. Get Outdoors at Shoreline Park
Only a short distance from the hustle and bustle of Alameda, Shoreline Park is the perfect outdoor escape for anyone wishing to get away from it all for a few hours. It is situated near the shores of Lake Merritt Channel.
There are several paved trails suitable for walking and biking. As you make your way around this picturesque estuary, you’ll be able to take in the views of the cities across the water.
3. Alameda Museum and Meyers House
Visitors can learn about the history and culture of Alameda at the Alameda Museum. Founded in 1948, the local historical society has been collecting and preserving the city’s history ever since.
The exhibits feature artifacts and information about many aspects of the city’s past, including its geography, architecture, and people. Many of the exhibits are permanent, but there are some rotating ones as well.
After a visit to the museum, you can head to the nearby Meyers House and Garden to take a tour of this historic property built in 1897.
4. Enjoy Live Entertainment at the Altarena Playhouse
For more than 75 years, the Altarena Little Theater Company has been hosting top performances at the Altarena Playhouse. An array of shows are held throughout the year in the intimate theatre, including concerts, comedy acts, Shakespeare plays, and modern plays.
5. Enjoy Fine Food and Whiskey at American Oak
American Oak is an eatery in downtown Alameda focusing on American dishes and American Whiskey in a comfortable atmosphere with exquisite service.
On the menu, you’ll find a wide variety of delicious options, including starters, desserts, signature dishes, and main courses such as grilled smoked pork chop, flat iron steak, and the Kobe beef burger and fries.
American Oak also serves more than 120 different whiskeys with a focus on local options. Visitors can dine outdoors on a beautiful patio.
6. Spend a Day near the Coast at the Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach
If you’re looking for a quick getaway to the coast, look no further than Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach.
This beautiful sandy beach extends along San Francisco Bay for 2.5 miles. It’s a popular destination for people who wish to participate in various water sports, such as swimming, kiteboarding, fishing, boating, and windsurfing. Many people come to simply walk in the surf and take in the scenic views.
There are also several biking trails and picnic areas on-site, and visitors can learn about local marine life at the park’s crab cove and bird sanctuary.
7. Get a Unique Experience at the USS Hornet Museum
The USS Hornet is most widely known for its role in the Apollo 11 recovery mission. Today, visitors can head to the World War II aircraft carrier that is now the USS Hornet Museum and learn about this historic vessel.
You’ll discover many exhibits and artifacts, including retired aircraft and items related to the Apollo missions.
You have the option to explore the museum on your own or with a guided tour. If you want to get the authentic experience of what it was like for the crew on board the ship, you can book an overnight stay where you can sleep in one of the ship’s bunks, dine in the Crew’s mess and participate in flight simulations.
8. Explore Downtown Alameda
The downtown district in Alameda is a perfect place to spend a day. While it’s bustling and filled with interesting things to see and do, it’s not nearly as crowded and noisy as the downtown areas of the larger cities in the region.
As you make your way along the pretty streets, you’ll come across many restaurants, cafes, and quaint boutique shops. A variety of events also take place in the downtown area throughout the year.
Some of the historic buildings to watch out include the Masonic Temple, the Old Post Office, and the Alameda Theater.
9. Learn and Play at the Pacific Pinball Museum
Who knew that the simple game of pinball you played as a child had such a long and fascinating history spanning more than a century? It’s true – and this fascinating history is showcased at the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda.
Many exhibits are housed in rooms categorized by decade. They include machines from that decade along with the history of each one. In total, there are more than 1500 pinball machines on site, some from as far back as the 1940s. Around 100 of them are available to play on.
10. Sample Craft Beer at Alameda Island Brewing Company
At Alameda Island Brewing Company, visitors have the chance to taste local craft beer made right on site and see how that beer is made from start to finish.
This full brewery welcomes families and pets. The spacious tasting room is the perfect spot to kick back and enjoy some brews with friends.
During a guided tour, your knowledgeable guide will take you through the brewery’s inner-workings and provide you with a step-by-step breakdown of how the beer is made.
11. Walk Through History at the Alameda Naval Air Museum
Although the Alameda Naval Air Base ceased operation in 1997, visitors can visit the site, now home to the Alameda Naval Air Museum.
The base’s operations peaked during a unique time in history, and this museum showcases that history through a variety of exhibits that house photographs, original newspapers, documents, and artifacts. Learn about all the ships that sailed from the base, the people who worked there, and what life on the base was like.
12. Go Back in Time at the Alameda Theater & Cineplex
When you head to the Alameda Theater & Cineplex, you’ll see more than just a blockbuster film.
This historic property was built in 1932 and recently revamped to resemble its original splendor, which includes an interior Art Deco design. Walk into a two-story foyer complete with red velvet seats, gold trim, and an upper balcony. Even the outdoor sign and ticket booths are reminiscent of years gone by.
The theatre has a grill serving snacks and beverages, and various events are held throughout the year.
13. Sample Delicious Food at Off The Grid
Once a week, a unique mini-festival is held in Alameda. Food trucks from all around the San Francisco Bay Area arrive to share their unique fare with the masses, who gather to sample as much of it as possible.
Try out various cuisines, with delicious options such as Korean BBQ items and chicken curry burritos.