It’s spring break time for Oakland Unified schools, so we’re recommending a few adventures this week for families that will get the kids off their screens, out of the house, and into the great outdoors. For those without school-aged kids, read on—we’ve got a couple of recs for you too. 

Our arts and community reporter Azucena Rasilla is out this week, but you can send her your suggestions for upcoming events or favorite activities around town that you’d like to see included in future roundups, by emailing her at azucena@oaklandside.org.

Get to know Knowland Park

A view of the rolling hills at Knowland Park in Oakland. Credit: Our Oakland (Creative Commons)

At roughly 400 acres in the East Oakland hills, Knowland is one of Oakland’s largest city parks. Its panoramic bay views are breathtaking and make for spectacular sunset viewing. You may also get lucky and spot some of the local wildlife—gray and red foxes, California quails, and even mountain lions have been known to inhabit the park’s rolling grassland hills, which stand in contrast to the redwood, pine, and bay tree forests that make up much of the rest of Oakland’s hilly areas. But not all of the animal sightings at Knowland are in the wild. The park also encompasses the Oakland Zoo, and visitors to the western portion of the park can take a trail right down to its perimeter fence. On the other side is the zoo’s grizzly bear exhibit, and if you time your visit right, you can often catch a glimpse of these magnificent animals that once roamed the same hills as a native species. Seeing them unexpectedly from afar while hiking Knowland is a thrilling experience.

Joseph Knowland State Arboretum and Park, 9777 Golf Links Rd. Visitors can enter the park from Snowdown Avenue and several other dead-end streets off nearby Malcolm Avenue.

Take a stroll at MLK Shoreline Park

Birdwatching at MLK Regional Shoreline Credit: Ilana DeBare.

It’s safe to say that Lake Merritt is our city’s most popular park for residents looking to take a shoreline stroll. But don’t sleep on Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline, a 749-acre waterfront park in East Oakland, that features a mostly flat and paved pedestrian pathway extending along most of the northeastern shoreline of San Leandro Bay. Despite its size, MLK Shoreline is surprisingly easy to miss due to its location adjacent to Oakland International Airport and industrial parks. But once you’re there, you’ll be greeted by fresh air, salty marshlands, and a broad pathway that’s usually uncrowded and equally inviting to cyclists, joggers, walkers, and baby strollers. Bring lunch and picnic on a bench or lay a blanket out on one of the area’s grassy knolls. Walk or bike east on the trail to encounter large wooden lookout structures—a big hit with kids who like to climb—where you take in impressive views of the bay. The shoreline, part of the East Bay Regional Park District, also offers excellent bird watching—so consider bringing binoculars. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline, 1 Swan Way (Take the Hegenberger exit off Interstate 880 and head west. Turn right on Doolittle, and another right on Swan.) For more information and a full list of park entrances, click here.

Take a boat out on Lake Merritt

Oaklanders touring Lake Merritt on a paddleboat. Credit: Jacob Simas

Everyone’s been to Lake Merritt. But have you ever been on Lake Merritt? The city of Oakland allows you to do so, in a variety of ways. The Lake Merritt Boating Center, operated by Oakland Parks and Recreation, rents paddleboats, rowboats, canoes, and kayaks, with no certification required. If you’ve never done it, you’ll be amazed by how quickly the trappings of the city recede as you float into the tranquility of Oakland’s famous lagoon. You may even catch sight of a bat ray or salmon, which sometimes make their way to the lake from the bay through the Oakland estuary. If sailing is more your style, you can do that too—but you’ll need to pass a sailing test first (the Boating Center offers classes). 

Lake Merritt Boat House, 568 Bellevue Ave., Monday-Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekends 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Boat rentals range from $15 to $24 per hour. For more information, click here.

Oakland A’s season-opener watch party at Line 51

Major League Baseball is back after a labor dispute between club owners and the players union resulted in a 99-day lockout, and the Oakland A’s are set to open their season this Friday, April 8, with an away game against the Philadelphia Phillies. Local fans have plenty of reason to feel soured on this season: A’s ownership continues to threaten a move to Las Vegas if they don’t get their West Oakland ballpark plan approved, and in the meantime, they’ve overseen a firesale of the team’s top talent this past offseason. But for die-hard A’s fans, hope springs eternal, and the beginning of a new year is always a cause for celebration. Fans can gather and watch the opener on any one of six different screens (inside or out on the patio) while enjoying $5 pints and $20 pitchers at local brewery Line 51, which is hosting a watch party.

Line 51, 303 Castro St., 12 noon to 3 p.m. Register here to attend.

Flamenco at Duende

Duende in Uptown. Credit: Sarah Han

After a hiatus, Spanish restaurant Duende is bringing back its flamenco dinner shows, in partnership with Theater Flamenco of San Francisco. The special dinner-and-show packages will take place in the restaurant’s mezzanine, and ticketed diners will get to see up-close performances by guest artists Juan Siddi and Jorge Liceaga as they sip on sangria and enjoy favorites like paella and patatas bravas. 

Duende, 468 19th St. April 7, June 9, and August 11, dinner at 6:30, show at 8 p.m. Ticketing information here.

Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly described Knowland as the largest city-owned park in Oakland. Joaquin Miller Park is larger, with 500 acres.

Jacob Simas is Managing Editor of The Oaklandside. He joined us from Univision, where he led social-impact initiatives and established the Rise Up: Be Heard journalism training program at Fusion for young people and community organizers in underserved areas of California. He was a senior editor and director of youth and community media at New America Media, where he led a community news network that amplified student and youth reporting in California news deserts. He is an advisory board member for Youth Beat, a graduate of UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and a former producer with KPFA's First Voice apprenticeship program.