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Where to Stay in Oakland, California: Best Areas and Hotels

Wondering about the best areas to stay in Oakland? From the vibrant downtown to the Waterfront and alternative Temescal, these are the best neighborhoods and hotels in this Californian city.

Where to Stay in Oakland, California - Best Areas and Hotels
Where to Stay in Oakland, California - Best Areas and Hotels

Many people wonder if staying in Oakland is a good choice when visiting San Francisco. My personal take is that not only will the accommodation be cheaper and better value for money, but it will also allow you to explore some amazing things that you’d miss if you stayed in central San Francisco. Oakland is a destination of its own accord, and it’s also a good base to explore nearby San Francisco, Berkeley, or Sacramento. If you’re looking for the best areas to stay in Oakland, you’ve come to the right place.

Please note: this article is about Oakland, California, for the New Zealand city, this is the article about the Best areas to stay in Auckland.


Accommodation Options in Oakland, CA

Oakland embraces diversity, creativity, and boldness. Located along the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, Oakland offers stunning views of the city skyline and the iconic Bay Bridge. Known as the “Bright Side of the Bay,” Oakland offers vibrant street art and a thriving music and food scene. It truly has something for everyone.

The BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) system connects the city, so San Francisco’s Embarcadero and the University of California are only a 20-minute ride away.

Staying in Oakland for a visit to San Francisco may be more convenient than staying in San Francisco itself.

L. Cicerone

With a history dating back to the Gold Rush era, Oakland has evolved into a thriving metropolis. You can see it in its unique architecture, from ornate Victorian houses in the Preservation Park district to the modern high-rises in downtown Oakland. Oakland’s main attractions include the Oakland Museum of California, the Chabot Space and Science Center, Jack London Square, and the uber-cool Temescal district. Due to its size and close distance to San Fran, Oakland offers a range of accommodations, from luxury hotels to more budget-conscious options.

In addition to its main attractions, Oakland is home to several other gems that are worth exploring. Lake Merritt, often called the “Jewel of Oakland,” displays parks and gardens. For sports enthusiasts, the Oracle Arena is a must-visit, as it hosts the home games of the Golden State Warriors basketball team. Nature lovers can explore the redwood forest in Redwood Regional Park or enjoy the panoramic views from the Oakland Hills.

Whether you’re staying in Oakland as a base for exploring San Francisco or eager to explore the wonders it has to explore, we bring you a list of the best areas to stay in Oakland.


What’s the Best Area to Stay in Oakland, California?

The best area to stay in Oakland is the city center as it has the best the city has to offer
The best area to stay in Oakland is downtown, as it has the best the city has to offer. Our favorite hotel in the area is the Oakland Marriott City Center (pictured).

The best area to stay in Oakland is Downtown Oakland because it puts travelers close to fun places and easy train rides to San Francisco. The neighborhood has markets, music, museums, lake walks, and tasty food. A quick train gets you across the water for San Francisco sights. This makes it great for sleeping and sightseeing in the Bay Area.

Find available accommodation in downtown Oakland.

Best Hotels in Downtown Oakland


Where to Stay in Oakland: District by District

1. Downtown Oakland & Lake Merritt: Best location for sightseeing in Oakland

The best area to stay in Oakland is downtown, as it has the best the city has to offer
Downtown Oakland is the best area to stay for business travelers
Downtown Oakland is the best area to stay for business travelers
Beautiful Lake Merritt is one of the top attractions in Oakland
Beautiful Lake Merritt is one of the top attractions in Oakland

The best area to stay in Oakland is downtown, as it has the best the city has to offer.

    Why is this the best area to stay in Oakland, California:
  • Vibrant nightlife scene
  • Proximity to public transit
  • Iconic Lake Merritt views
  • Many dining options
  • Historic Fox Theater events
  • Picturesque Jack London Square
  • Diverse cultural experiences
  • Oakland Museum of California
  • Lakeside Park and Garden Center

Downtown Oakland serves is the central business district. It is defined by its dense concentration of office buildings, governmental offices, and shops.

Notable landmarks include the Oakland City Hall, which held the title of the tallest building on the West Coast until 1925.

Adjacent to Downtown is Lake Merritt, a large tidal lagoon east of the city center. This area includes a 3.4-mile pedestrian path that encircles the water and provides a serene environment surrounded by quaint residential neighborhoods.

In terms of culture, staying downtown means easy access to the Oakland Museum of California. This institution showcases extensive collections of art, history, and natural sciences.

Downtown Oakland is very well-connected; it is served by multiple Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations, including the 12th Street/Oakland City Center station. Additionally, several bus routes operated by AC Transit facilitate movement within and beyond Downtown. For those driving, Interstate 880 runs parallel to the district and connects to other parts of the Bay Area.

This is the best area to stay in Oakland for business travelers and tourists or to shop in its various malls, boutiques, and department stores.

Best Hotels in Downtown Oakland

Oakland Marriott City Center
Best 4-star hotel
Oakland Marriott City Center

This hotel is located across the street from the BART Subway System which provides easy access to downtown San Francisco. Guest rooms include cable TV with HBO film channels.

Hampton Inn Oakland Downtown-City Center
Best 3-star hotel
Hampton Inn Oakland Downtown-City Center

Located in Oakland and with the Oakland Museum of California reachable within an 8-minute walk, Hampton Inn Oakland Downtown-City Center has express check-in and check-out, non-smoking rooms, a fitness center, free WiFi throughout the property, and a shared lounge.

Ramada by Wyndham Oakland Downtown City Center
Best budget hotel
Ramada by Wyndham Oakland Downtown City Center

Conveniently located just 5 minutes’ walk from the Oakland Convention Center, Ramada by Wyndham Oakland Downtown City Center serves a daily continental breakfast and offers rooms with free WiFi.


2. Emeryville: Best area close to San Francisco

Emeryville, though technically a separate city, borders Oakland and is considered a good area to stay because of its proximity to San Francisco.

Emeryville, though technically a separate city, borders Oakland and is considered a good area to stay because of its proximity to San Francisco.

    Why is this the best area to stay in Oakland, California:
  • Proximity to San Francisco
  • Cheaper accommodation than SF
  • Public Market Emeryville
  • Bay Street shopping and entertainment complex

Emeryville is located in the northwest corner of Alameda County, bordering Oakland and near Berkeley. It serves as a convenient base for travelers.

The area was an industrial hub turned municipality and is known for its progressive business environment and thriving technology sectors. Emeryville is home to a prominent animation studio and numerous tech firms. Historically, this was once the site of extensive marshlands and later became prominent for its industrial power during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Among the notable attractions in Emeryville is the marina, which offers spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline, Bay Bridge, and Alcatraz Island. The city also hosts a public market known for its food hall with many vendors. The Bay Street Emeryville complex offers shopping, dining options, and a movie theater housed in an outdoor urban village setting.

Transportation within Emeryville offers efficient options, including bus lines operated by AC Transit and a free shuttle service known as Emery Go-Round connecting to the MacArthur BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station, which provides access to broader locations in San Francisco and Oakland.

Best Hotels in Emeryville

Hyatt House Emeryville
Best 3-star hotel
Hyatt House Emeryville

Featuring an outdoor pool and a fitness center, Hyatt House Emeryville offers free Wi-Fi and rooms with panoramic sea views in Emeryville.


3. Temescal: Alternative California at its finest

is known for its indie boutiques, art scene, and a variety of places to eat and have fun after dark.
The best area to stay in Oakland for young people is Temescal
The best area to stay in Oakland for young people is Temescal
Temescal's antique and thrift store scene is known all over the country
Temescal’s antique and thrift store scene is known all over the country

Temescal is known for its indie boutiques, art scene, and a variety of places to eat and have fun after dark.

    Why is this the best area to stay in Oakland, California:
  • Diverse culinary scene
  • Vibrant street art
  • Lush parks and green spaces
  • Unique boutiques and shops
  • Trendy coffee shops
  • Farmer’s markets year-round
  • Historic movie theaters like the New Parkway
  • Live music venues and nightlife

Temescal is a neighborhood in northern Oakland characterized by indie boutiques, international restaurants, and vibrant street art. It’s bordered by MacArthur Boulevard and the Grove Shafter Freeway to the south, Broadway and Martin Luther King Jr. Way to the east, Berkeley to the north, and the Oakland Hills to the west.

Originally, Temescal was a predominantly Italian neighborhood that later became a hub for immigrants from all over the globe; it has evolved into one of Oakland’s most ethnically diverse and dynamic districts.

Temescal Alley, an alleyway dating back to the early 20th century, is notable for its distinct cultural influence. The Alley now hosts many independent shops and studios. On Telegraph Avenue, another significant thoroughfare in the area, mural-lined streets meet with artisan coffee shops, niche bookstores, and music venues.

Transportation in Temescal is well-serviced by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), with MacArthur BART Station providing connectivity to Downtown Oakland and San Francisco. Numerous AC Transit bus routes also navigate through or near Temescal, facilitating ease of movement for residents and visitors.

The dining scene here reflects its community’s diversity; Korean and Ethiopian restaurants sit alongside Californian diners. Food enthusiasts meet at its bustling farmer’s markets, known for fresh local produce and international delicacies.

While nightlife in Temescal may not be the typical club-centric experience found in larger city centers like nearby San Francisco, bars along Telegraph Avenue offer craft beers, cocktails, and eclectic spaces often accompanied by live music performances.

Best Hotels in Temescal

Imperial Inn Oakland
Best budget hotel
Imperial Inn Oakland

This Oakland hotel features a microwave and refrigerator in every room. Just one block from this hotel, BART offers easy access to Oakland International Airport.


4. Oakland Waterfront: Best position for views of the Bay

 If you plan to visit San Francisco, staying near Oakland's Waterfront gives you easy access to ferries that can take you across the bay.
Best areas to stay in Oakland - Bayfront
Best areas to stay in Oakland – Bayfront
San Francisco skyline from my hotel on the Oakland Bayfront
San Francisco skyline from my hotel on the Oakland Bayfront

If you plan to visit San Francisco, staying near Oakland’s Waterfront gives you easy access to ferries that can take you across the bay.

    Why is this the best area to stay in Oakland, California:
  • Panoramic views of the bay
  • Proximity to Jack London Square
  • Easy access to public transportation

Bayfront is a great location for those seeking proximity to the vibrant city life of Oakland and the iconic vistas of San Francisco. The Bayfront area is known for its scenic waterfront parks and walkways that offer picturesque views of the bay and San Francisco’s skyline.

Historically, this part of Oakland has transformed from an industrial waterfront to a rejuvenated district with public spaces such as Jack London Square, which integrates dining and entertainment while honoring the famed American author who once resided in Oakland. The USS Potomac, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s former yacht, is moored here as a floating museum.

Adjacent to the Bayfront area is Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, which provides another vantage point for viewing the bay. The Oakland Museum of California is also nearby.

In terms of transportation, this area is served by intercity Amtrak trains, local buses, and ferry services to San Francisco. Additionally, important thoroughfares such as Interstate 880 provide quick access to other parts of Oakland and beyond.

Best Hotels on Oakland’s Bayfront

Best Western Plus Bayside Hotel
Best 3-star hotel
Best Western Plus Bayside Hotel

This bay front Oakland hotel offers Free WiFi and a hot full breakfast.


5. Oakland Airport (OAK): Convenient during a layover

Staying near Oakland International Airport is very as practical option for a long layover or a quick visit.

Staying near Oakland International Airport is very as practical option for a long layover or a quick visit.

    Why is this the best area to stay in Oakland, California:
  • Accessible BART transportation
  • Affordable accommodation options
  • Local dining variety
  • Near the shoreline

Last but not least, we have the airport area. It might not be the nicest option most of the time, but it has some advantages in Oakland.

Oakland International Airport is south of Oakland and the third-busiest in the Bay Area. It is just over 10 miles (15 kilometers) from central Oakland and is a hub for major travel routes, notably those connecting to cities along the West Coast. Popular domestic routes from Oakland International Airport include Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Seattle, Denver, and Phoenix.

The airport also offers direct flights to other national destinations and select locations in Mexico and even Europe.

One of the best things about Oakland International Airport is its strategic location. Travelers benefit from its proximity to Bay Area rapid transit stations—the Coliseum Station being the closest. You can easily reach central Oakland in approximately 15 minutes from here via the BART system. San Francisco is also accessible, with transit times averaging around 45 minutes, depending on connections.

Additionally, travelers can access ground transportation like buses, taxis, app-based ride services, and car rentals.

Best Hotels near Oakland International Airport

Hampton Inn & Suites Oakland Airport-Alameda
Best 3-star hotel
Hampton Inn & Suites Oakland Airport-Alameda

This Alameda hotel is 2.5 miles from Oakland International Airport. The hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool and free Wi-Fi.


Best Areas to Stay in Oakland: A Personal Take

Me in front of the Golden Gate Bridge during my latest trip to the Bay Area
Me in front of the Golden Gate Bridge during my latest trip to the Bay Area

During my last trip to the Bay Area, I spent some time in Oakland and decided to stay at the Best Western Plus Bayside Hotel. The hotel was quite nice – clean and comfortable rooms with friendly staff. However, I must mention how much I liked the bay views from my room. One thing that could have been better was easier access to public transportation, as it wasn’t very close by.

During my stay, I also explored other neighborhoods and fell in love with their atmosphere. So, next time I visit the area, I plan on booking a place to stay either in Temescal or around Berkeley. The vibrant streets, shops, and restaurants made me want to revisit them the next time I’m in town!