15 Best Things to Do in Jack London Square, Oakland

Jack London Square is a historic waterfront neighborhood in Oakland, Alameda County, California.

It was named after the prominent novelist who grew up and lived in this neighborhood.

Besides writing classic novels and stories, Jack London was known for his political activism for the citizen’s general welfare.

As a scenic neighborhood with a great food and drink culture, Jack London Square is a must-visit if you’re in Oakland or San Francisco.

It has many restaurants, wine bars, and waterfront activities such as boating and trekking.

The place is also teeming with urban life, so that you can find many events throughout the year.

Here are the best things to do in Jack London Square, California, to get you started on your day trip:

Relax at Jack London Square Waterfront

Restaurants at Jack London Square Waterfront
BondRocketImages / Shutterstock.com

Jack London Square Waterfront should be first in your itinerary, along Water Street overlooking the bay during your visit.

You can get great views of the bay here, accentuated by the marinas in the area with great-looking boats and yachts.

The atmosphere here is laid-back and serene, especially on a clear day when the sun glistens on the water.

Signage of Jack London Square Waterfront
BondRocketImages / Shutterstock.com

Jack London Square Waterfront is where you can find the bronze statue of the famous novelist Jack London.

Take a photo with the neighborhood’s iconic symbol, especially if you’ve read his famous works like The Call of the Wild and The Sea Wolf.

Go Boating with California Canoe and Kayak

If you want to experience the bayfront first-hand, grab the California Canoe and Kayak services for one of your best options.

Located near the Jack London Public Dock in the square, California Canoe and Kayak offers guided kayak tours and boating lessons.

Besides canoes and kayaks, they also rent out Hobie boards, an engaging activity if you haven’t tried it before!

Thanks to their experienced personnel, you will have a safe and fun time with California Canoe and Kayak.

This one is a must-try if you want the best water sports experience in the square.

Tour the USS Potomac

View of USS Potomac
Sanfranman59, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the best tourist hotspots in Jack London Square is the USS Potomac, the presidential yacht of former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Situated by the dock at the end of Clay Street, the former president’s yacht is as beautiful as rustic.

The best news here is that you don’t have to merely look at it from afar, as it’s open to the public via guided tours that you book in advance.

You can see glimpses of the 1930s-1940s in the former president’s yacht, all beautifully preserved.

From vintage room decor, a wooden presidential motorboat, and various exhibits commemorating the World War II U.S. president, the USS Potomac is a haven for history lovers.

Take a Breather at Estuary Park

Estuary Park is one of the first landmarks you’ll find if you jog or bike along the San Francisco Bay Trail.

It’s an expansive family-oriented park famous for the Jack London Aquatic Center, a picturesque event space by the bay.

Estuary Park is another excellent, quieter waterfront area than Jack London Square Waterfront.

This park is also famous for walking your dog, so it’s an excellent addition for fur parents traveling to the square.

Picnics and barbecues are common here, making it a great all-rounder for family fun.

Take Photos of the Historic Jack London Cabin

Visitors exploring the Jack London Cabin
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Another historical site you can see on the square is Jack London Cabin—a classic 19th Century log cabin from the early days of the American novelist.

While this is only a replica of Jack London’s original cabin, the one on the waterfront is built from the dismantled logs of the original cabin.

This cabin stood in Dawson City, Canada.

Kids and pets playing near the Jack London Cabin
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Reassembled in 1965, Jack London Cabin offers an authentic experience of the late 1800s home of Jack London.

Extremely rustic and almost desolate, this cabin will transport you to the wilderness, living on the outskirts of the snow regions in Canada.

There’s a wolf statue and a plaque explaining Jack London’s relevance to America’s political and literary history.

Jack London Cabin sits along Webster Street in the heart of the waterfront.

Fountain at the Jack London Cabin
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Watch a Movie at Regal Jack London

Regal Jack London is one of Oakland’s finest cinemas, known for its family-friendly facilities also brings a state-of-the-art movie experience.

The theater shows the latest movies, so it’s a great addition to your itinerary if you have some downtime.

Not only is it a great facility, but Regal Jack London also offers excellent movie deals, particularly on Sundays.

It’s also great for the elderly, as there is no climbing involved in this big cinema, a great plus for those traveling with their senior loved ones.

If there’s a movie you can’t afford to miss, Regal Jack London is along Washington Street.

Grab a Drink at Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon

Exterior view of Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon
derivative work: Frank Schulenburg (talk) Heinolds.jpg: Calibas, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Just across Jack London Cabin lies Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon.

Beyond a bar, Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon is also a historical landmark dating back to 1883.

Its facade mimics the style of Jack London Cabin, making it feel like an extension of history merged with contemporary culture.

Interior view of Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon
Kai Schreiber, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s built from the logs of an old whaling ship, giving it a late 1880s aesthetic that matches how rustic its interiors look.

Both with indoor and outdoor seating, Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon is a fun way to hang out with friends and immerse yourself in history.

A wall filled with unique objects at Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon
Almonroth, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go Back in Time at the Fat Lady

Like Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon, the Fat Lady is another renowned restaurant and bar that doubles as a historical attraction along Washington Street.

The Victorian-style interiors here are eye-popping and worthy of an Instagram post because of their aesthetic.

Dim and rustic, the Fat Lady reminds guests of the early 1800s.

Sipping a drink at their wine bar might make you feel like you’re in a period movie.

From Victorian paintings and intricate wood decor to its vintage tableware, the Fat Lady represents what makes Jack London Square unique.

Of course, their food and alcoholic beverages are no pushovers.

Try their prime ribs, calamari, and rack of lamb complemented by their wine and cocktail selection.

The friendly bartenders and servers here will accentuate your experience, making this place one of the best late-night hangout spots in Jack London Square.

Board the Jack London Ferry

Terminal at Jack London Ferry
Skier Dude, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Because it’s situated by the bay, it’s no surprise Jack London Square is also home to a ferry terminal, the Jack London Ferry.

Jack London Ferry is an affordable and fun way to experience the bay while also reaching other iconic spots in the San Francisco Bay Area.

You can reach Downtown San Francisco in just 25 minutes, giving you quick access to one of California’s ultimate tourist hotspots.

Visitors gathering at Jack London Ferry
Daniel Ramirez from Honolulu, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The ferry has weekday and weekend trips year-round, so check it ahead for a fuss-free travel itinerary.

You can find the ferry terminal by the dock where the USS Potomac is stationed.

Watch the Sunset at Rosenblum Cellars

Rosenblum Cellars is one of the best places to go if you want to experience scenic sunsets over an exquisite glass of wine.

Just a few steps from the ferry terminal, the outdoor patio at this wine bar offers a great view of the waterfront area, especially during sunsets.

They have a great selection of wine; their Zinfandels are widely acclaimed as one of their best.

Besides the incredible views and wine, they also have a lot of light snacks here, some of which are vegan.

Rosenblum Cellars is also dog-friendly and offers a great way to unwind after a ride from San Francisco because it’s right by the terminal.

Have All Sorts of Fun at Plank

Street view of Plank
Tony Webster from Portland, Oregon, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Plank is the entertainment hub of Jack London Square, situated just before the waterfront area along Embarcadero West.

It’s a massive entertainment facility that doubles as a restaurant and sports bar.

Tons of family-friendly activities are found at Plank, such as bowling, bocce ball, and heaps of arcade games.

The bowling alley is some of the best in Oakland, so check it out, as you’ll easily spend hours here.

Kids will enjoy its arcade facility full of video games and bocce ball courts for outdoor fun.

Besides the classic sports bar food available here, there is also a fantastic beer garden for the grownups.

Plank is a great way to let loose and enjoy Jack London Square.

Grab a Hearty Bite at Everett Jones and Barbecue

If you’re raring to experience the great food culture in Jack London Square, Everett Jones and Barbecue is one of the best restaurants you’ll find.

Everett Jones and Barbecue offer some of the best soul food in Oakland, famous for its ribs, tri-tips, and an assortment of sides like mac n’ cheese and cornbread.

It’s one of the most visited restaurants in Jack London Square.

Everett Jones and Barbecue has a gift shop now, too.

Live music and drinks are also available at Everett Jones and Barbecue, making it a great hangout spot at night.

You can find Everrett Jones and Barbecue along 2nd Street across Embarcadero West from Plank.

Taste Unique Japanese Fusion at Yoshi’s

Performance at Yoshi’s
Brett L. from San Francisco, California, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Yoshi’s is another restaurant widely acclaimed by the locals of Oakland.

Known for its fusion of Japanese dishes, Yoshi’s offers an upscale experience compared to other rustic, home-style restaurants in the square.

Sushi and sashimi are some of the best they offer.

Try their assorted plate if you’re visiting with friends and family.

If you want to try their fusion creations, they have a lot of meals here that use different kinds of seafood interpreted in a Japanese-Western dish.

With stellar service and an intimate atmosphere, Yoshi’s is one of the best places for a romantic dinner date in Oakland.

You can find it along the corner of Clay Street and Embarcadero West.

Take a Breather at Estuary Park

Estuary Park is one of the first landmarks you’ll find if you jog or bike along the San Francisco Bay Trail.

It’s an expansive family-oriented park famous for the Jack London Aquatic Center, a picturesque event space by the bay.

Estuary Park is another excellent, quieter waterfront area than Jack London Square Waterfront.

This park is also famous for walking your dog, so it’s an excellent addition for fur parents traveling to the square.

Picnics and barbecues are common here, making it a great all-rounder for family fun.

Shop at Jack London Square Farmers’ Market

Stalls at Jack London Square Farmers’ Market
Sheila Fitzgerald / Shutterstock.com

Jack London Square Farmers’ Market is just a few walks west of Jack London Cabin, one of Oakland’s most sought-after farmers’ markets.

The Jack London Square Farmers’ Market atmosphere is lively, complemented by live music and fun vendors selling various wares.

You can find much seasonal fresh produce here, with strawberries, tomatoes, and leafy greens being some of the most prominent.

Visitors strolling around the Jack London Square Farmers’ Market
Cassiohabib / Shutterstock.com

Lots of artisanal goodies are also available, along with great local food you can try for a nice hearty lunch.

Whether you’re looking to stock up or find a nice souvenir, Jack London Square Farmers’ Market is excellent.

People purchasing vegetables at Jack London Square Farmers’ Market
eddie-hernandez.com / Shutterstock.com

Jog along the San Francisco Bay Trail

Jack London Square is part of the lengthy San Francisco Bay Trail, giving you total access if you want to reach neighboring Oakland areas on foot or by bike.

Spanning over 350 miles, you can begin your trail from the square’s waterfront and reach nearby places like the city of Alameda in Oakland.

Even if you don’t intend to go far, it’s a great scenic way to enjoy the bay from Jack London Square.

If you’re traveling by bike, however, you can explore the bustling districts of Alameda and the southwestern portion of Oakland.

San Francisco Bay Trail is one of the best outdoor spots in the San Francisco Bay Area, so give this one a go.

Final Thoughts

Jack London Square is one of the best tourist destinations in Oakland and even the San Francisco Bay Area.

The food and drinks here are some of the best you’ll find in the city, plus there are a lot more other entertaining things to do.

When traveling to Oakland, check this list of the best things to do in Jack London Square, California, to maximize your visit!

✍️

Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.

Next Post

12 Best Packing Cubes For Travel 2022

Thu Dec 22 , 2022
Anyone that’s spent their fair share of time on the road or internationally globetrotting is no doubt well aware of the advantages offered by packing cubes. While once a fairly niche product space, the packing cube segment has exploded in recent years as more and more companies and consumers have […]

You May Like