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Plan your day at Lake Merritt In Oakland

Lake Merritt – Oakland COMPLETE Guide 🌟🙋 [2024] | Plan Your Day [Info, Tips, Data]

Last Updated on: 19th November 2022, 04:22 pm

Lake Merritt In Oakland Overview

Lake Merritt is a staple in Oakland, CA. With 155 acres to explore, it’s 3.4 miles in circumference and a beautiful place for families. It has plenty of spaces to make memories, from the local gardens, jogging or hiking paths, a grassy area for picnics, the local library, a boating center, tennis courts, and so much more!

Since there are so many fun activities, you can’t get to them all in one day. To help you plan your day, this ultimate guide will cover what you need to do at Lake Merritt.

History Of Oakland’s Lake Merritt

Back in 1869, Dr. Samual Merritt donated a total of 155 acres to the city so a dam could be built at the 12th Street Bridge, which helped to create the lake. The area was named Merritt’s Lake, but later it was renamed Lake Merritt. Now, it’s a go-to place and one of the best places to spend the day by yourself or with your family.

Where Is Lake Merritt? | Lake Merritt Hours & Location

There are a couple of ways to get to Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA. The most common method is by car, and if you’re coming from the I-580 E, you’ll want to take the freeway exit Grand Ave/Lakeshore, but if you’re coming from I-580 W, you’ll want to take the Grand Ave freeway exit.

If you’re taking the BART (a rapid transit system in the bay area), you’ll want to stop at 19th St/Oakland for Grand Ave, and then you’ll either have to grab a bus or walk a couple of miles.

Lastly, there are a couple of bus lines that you can take, and those include the 12, 58L, 805, and 75.

  • Address: Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA
  • Hours: Monday through Sunday from 6:00am till 9:00pm
  • Parking Information: Lakeside Parking is available, but there is a fee, and depending on the day or time of year, it can differ. Monday through Friday for 2 hours, it will be $2, or you can do a day pass for $10. Saturday through Sunday & for Holidays, a day pass is $5.
  • Lake Merritt Map

Lake Merritt Activities

  • Bird watching
  • Canoeing, rowboating, kayaking, and pedalboat rentals
  • Visiting the Cleveland Cascades
  • Various Parks like Pine Knoll Park & Lakeside Park
  • Exploring the 18th Street Pier
  • Hiking
  • Swimming – this is one thing you can’t do

Lake Merritt Amenities

  • Barbecues
  • Firepits
  • Restrooms
  • Parking
  • Nature Center
  • Garden Center

Are Dogs Allowed In Lake Merritt?

Good news for all you dog lovers! As long as you keep them on a leash, you can bring your furry pet to the surrounding areas and some designated parks of Lake Merritt. But it’s essential to note that you can’t take them everywhere. There are designated parks that allow dogs on a leash, but there are still areas that don’t allow dogs. Don’t worry, though, because there are still plenty of places in Lake Merritt to explore with your furry sidekick.

Lake Merritt Oakland Events

Lake Merritt has endless fun and unique spaces throughout Oakland and is a great place to make memories. Some of the events throughout the year include: Bird Watching, Oakland Turkey Trot, and Weed Warriors (volunteering to keep the grounds looking nice). For the rest of the events, click here.

Bonsai Gardens

Volunteers manage the Bonsai Garden in Lake Merritt, and it’s home to some of the most beautiful and important bonsai plants in the entire United States. This family-friendly garden is home to the historic Daimyo Oak Tree, and it was presented to the US Ambassador back in the 1860s during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.

This tree is estimated to be 1,600 years old and is a permanent collection of the garden. There are close to 100 different bonsai plants that are on display, and it changes throughout the year with the seasons, so make sure to check it out during the fall, winter, spring, and summer months.

Bonsai Garden Activities

  • Autumn Lights
  • Exploring the different plants

Bonsai Garden Admission

  • Entry is free to stop on by!

Bonsai Garden Hours & Address

  • Address: 650 Bellevue Ave, Oakland, CA 94610
  • Phone Number: (510) 763-8490
  • Hours: Tuesday-Friday from 11:00am till 2:30pm, Saturday from 10:00am till 3:30pm, and Sunday from 12:00pm-3:30pm

Oakland Museum of California

The Oakland Museum of California is the perfect place for people of all ages, and it’s a place where you can enjoy the beautiful pieces of art that move you and make you stop and think. There are designated play spaces for young children so that you can bring them along too. This museum is on a mission to celebrate the diverse cultures that are throughout the state of California.

Oakland Museum of California Activities

  • Off The Grid Friday nights at OMCA
  • First Sundays
  • Kid Nature Playspace

Oakland Museum of California On Display

  • Angela Davis
  • Hella Feminist
  • Remembering Hung Liu
  • Gallery of California Art and California History
  • California Natural Sciences

Oakland Museum of California Admission

  • The cheapest form of admission is by doing a self-guided group. You are required to reserve a timeslot, and there is a registration fee of $15. After you reserve the desired timeslot, a sales coordinator will contact you for the rest of the payment.

Oakland Museum of California Hours & Address

  • Address: 1000 Oak St, Oakland, CA 94607
  • Phone Number: (510) 318-8400
  • Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 11:00am till 5:00pm (except on Friday they are open till 9:00pm)


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Snow Park

Named after Henry Snow, the park is a staple in the Lake Merritt area and helps to create the contemporary renaissance aspect of Lake Merritt in downtown Oakland. It has beautiful views of the water and has something for everyone. Whether you have young kids, want to practice self-care, or spend time with your significant other or friends, Snow Park is a fun place to spend your day.

Snow Park Activities

  • Picnics
  • Play structures for kids
  • Practicing your putting
  • Hang out with friends and family members

Snow Park Amenities

  • Bathrooms
  • Picnic tables
  • Playground area for ages 5-12 years old
  • Putting green
  • Tot lot for ages 2-5 years old
  • Dogs allowed on a leash

Snow Park Hours & Address

Lake Merritt Amphitheater

One of the main things to do at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater is to attend a live event, but it’s also great to go during the day, eat your food and have a waterfront view of the breathtaking Lake Merritt.

Lake Merritt Amphitheater Activities

  • Live music and shows
  • A scenic lookout

Lake Merritt Amphitheater Admission

  • If you would like to attend an event, you will need to purchase a ticket online, but it’s free outside of events.

Lake Merritt Amphitheater Address


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Pine Knoll Park

Pine Knoll Park has beautiful views of the lake and is a perfect place to unwind from a busy day at work or have a picnic with the people you love. It’s even said to be one of the best places to watch a fall sunset because of the lake and downtown views. And if you love to try some local food trucks, there are also plenty of food and product vendors in the area.

Pine Knoll Park Amenities

  • Grassy areas
  • Park benches
  • Beautiful and scenic views of the lake

Pine Knoll Park Dog Access

Yes, dogs are allowed. Recent changes to the law now allow dogs in Pine Knoll park if you keep them on their leash.

On a side note, in addition to Pine Knoll, dogs are also allowed on a leash in Joaquin Miller Park (but not in the amphitheater), Leona Park, Dimond Park, Knowland Park, Montclair Railroad Trail, Mosswood Park, Jefferson Square Park, Snow Park, and Athol Park. For more information about additional dog-friendly parks, click here.

Pine Knoll Park Hours & Address

Children’s Fairyland

For the past 71+ years, Children’s Fairyland has been a place where kids can truly be kids and use their imaginations. Their storybook sets are famous and a staple in the city of Oakland, and according to their website, they are on a mission to create a “timeless reminder of the joys standing three-feet tall.”

Children’s Fairyland Attractions & Activities

  • Storybook Sets like “The Old Lady In The Shoe,” “Jack & Jill,” and “The Alice In Wonderland Tunnel.”
  • Take your turn on the rides
  • Visit the Gardens
  • Eat at the Johnny Appleseed Cafe
  • Visit the animals (Donkeys, ponies, sheep, ducks, and so many more)

Children’s Fairyland Admission

For guests aged 1 to 100 years old, admission to the Children’s Fairyland is only $15 for a day pass. If you plan to come often, then a yearly membership is a better way to go. There are four levels of memberships:

  • The Fairylander: 1 named adult
  • The Magic Key: 2 named adults
  • Willie The Whale: 3 named adults
  • The Jolly Trolly: 4 named adults
  • Wishing Well: 3 named adults plus 1 unnamed guest admission (good for each visit)

In addition to the adults, each membership allows you to bring up to three kids.

Children’s Fairyland Hours & Address

Address: 699 Bellevue Ave, Oakland, CA 94610
Phone Number: (510) 452-2259
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday from 10:00am till 4:00pm


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A post shared by Children’s Fairyland (@fairylandca)

Lake Merritt Oakland Map

Check out this map to find Lake Merritt attractions and other fun local activities.

Are you ready to experience Lake Merritt for yourself? This Oakland oasis is perfect for tourists and residents. If you’re ready to call the Oakland, CA, area your home, AMS Relocation is here to make your transition seamless. Call us at (650) 284-2931 to receive a free estimate!




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