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Our final events roundup of 2022 includes holiday adventures that you can enjoy this week and up until the New Year. 

We are sticking to activities that you can enjoy outdoors as the county is currently experiencing a winter COVID surge. If you’re looking for the latest public health guidance, you can read our recent interview with Dr. Joanna Locke from the Alameda County health department, who shared advice about testing, masking, and more. The federal government is once again offering up to four free at-home tests per household. Kaiser patients can also order up to four at-home tests per month that can be mailed or picked up at a local Kaiser pharmacy. 

No matter how you celebrate the holidays, we hope you’ll find some magic in this week’s list of activities. We’ll be back with more local events beginning on Wednesday, Jan. 4. 

If you have an event that you’d like me to consider for this roundup, email me at azucena@oaklandside.org. If there’s an event that you’d like to promote on our calendar, you can use the self-submission form anytime by clicking the events tab on our homepage. 

Hike your way through the redwoods

View of Redwood Regional Park. Credit: Azucena Rasilla

While many animals fly south or burrow into the earth when winter approaches, ladybugs prefer to hunker down together in plain sight, including at one of Oakland’s local parks. To catch a glimpse of the ladybugs—one of several insects with winter habitats in California—you’ll have to hike through Reinhart Redwood Regional Park, which boasts over 1,800 acres of forest and grasslands, along with walking and biking trails. Ladybugs like to gather on branches and fences in clusters, or colonies, along the park’s Stream Trail, where they will remain through February.

Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, main entrance at 7867 Redwood Rd., 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

Roam the grounds of the Mormon Temple

Christmas lights at the temple. Credit: Mormon Temple

Opened in 1964, the Mormon Temple in Oakland is the 13th temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Its golden spire can be seen when driving through the Dimond and Laurel Districts. While the interior of the church is closed to non-Mormons, its beautiful grounds with flowers, water fountains, and stunning views are worth visiting. During the holidays, the grounds get decorated with luminous and colorful lights that stay up through New Year’s Eve.

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (check site for specific closures), free to enter, 4766 Lincoln Ave.

Christmas magic at Picardy Drive

Since the Great Depression, residents of Picardy Drive in East Oakland have been turning their homes into a spectacle of lights. Credit: Amir Aziz Credit: Amir Aziz

Every year, the residents of this East Oakland neighborhood deck out their homes inside and out with lights and an array of holiday decor to spread cheer—not just for the enjoyment of those who live on the picturesque street, which is lined with storybook-style houses, but for the many others who visit to check out the decor by foot or car. This neighborhood holiday tradition dates back to the Great Depression. When checking out each house, look for the “holiday friendship chain” of lights that connects each home’s rooftop. Start your walk or drive on either 55th Avenue or Seminary. 

Every night until Dec. 31, 55th Avenue and Picardy Drive

Take a holiday stroll through Jack London

The giant Christmas tree in Jack London Square in Oakland, California Credit: Amir Aziz

The 50-foot Christmas tree is up at Jack London Square in the plaza on Broadway between Scott’s Seafood Grill & Bar and the Waterfront Hotel. The tree lights up Oakland’s historic waterfront with holiday cheer every year. Within the square, retail shops like Oakland Supply Co. offer opportunities for last-minute gift-buying. As you walk around, you can also take a look at the USS Potomac, built in 1934, which served as President Franklin Roosevelt’s presidential yacht until his death in 1945. The ship has survived numerous adventures, including being sunk and then rescued by the Port of Oakland. Before you leave, don’t forget to grab a drink at Jack London’s favorite watering hole, Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon. The 2020 COVID shutdown was the first mandatory closure of the legendary saloon since the Great San Francisco Earthquake on April 18, 1906, when Oakland’s police and fire commissioners ordered every saloon in town to close and the restaurants to stop selling alcohol. The quake caused the floor at Heinold’s to become slanted, which it still is to this day. 

Broadway and Embarcadero

Eat your way through Fruitvale

Pastries and cakes from Bakery El Sol, a family-owned bakery located in the Fruitvale Public Market in Oakland, California Credit: Amir Aziz

Fruitvale is a great place to scout for new eateries when you’re tired of leftovers and not in the mood to cook. Many of the neighborhood’s establishments offer outdoor seating. But if you’d rather take food to go, that’s an option too. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, the Unity Council put together a map and registry to showcase all of the businesses located in the neighborhood. That comprehensive list is a great place to start, but we wanted to offer some of our faves: In the mood for tacos? Tacos El Ultimo Baile in Fruitvale Village just opened this past October after a successful run as a truck. There’s also Taquería San Jose, which has been around since 1991. Craving dishes from Mexico City? Look no further than El Huarache Azteca (the huarache or pambazo are two must-tries). Looking for dessert? Grab some Mexican pan dulce from Bakery El Sol, chocolate-filled churros from the stand right outside Fruitvale Village, or, if the weather doesn’t faze you, ice cream from Nieves Cinco de Mayo. 

Azucena Rasilla is a bilingual journalist from East Oakland reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.