The spruced-up Oakland Museum of California opened its doors this summer after a $62.2 million renovation of architect Kevin Roche’s 1969 Brutalist building. Inside the expanded galleries, you’ll find a collection of some 900 Californian works, video installations, and sculptures, some of which date back to the 1800’s. Downtown, there’s Lake Merritt, surrounded by 3.5 miles of walking paths. If you’d rather explore by water, rent a kayak at the Lake Merritt Boating Center (568 Bellevue Ave.; 510/238-2196; rentals from $10). Don’t miss an afternoon cocktail at the Lake Chalet (1520 Lakeside Dr.; 510/208-5253; drinks for two $18), overlooking the water.
Oakland’s nascent nightlife scene centers around the revitalized Uptown. Its flagship is the Fox Theater (1807 Telegraph Ave.; 510/302-2250; thefoxoakland.com), a Moroccan-style pile from 1928 (neon marquee out front; gilded ceilings inside) that shuttered in 1966 and reopened last year as one of the best indie music venues in the country (the National and New Pornographers recently played). If you’re looking for a pre-concert cocktail, just up the street is the Art Deco Flora (drinks for two $18), serving innovative cocktails such as a Fish House Punch (rum, cognac, apricot liqueur, lemon, orange juice, and soda). At the warehouse-like Mua (2442A Webster St.; 510/238-1100; drinks for two $14), late-night revelers push aside the tables after dinner to dance.