15 Best Things to Do in Alameda, CA

Alameda, CA
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A heavy dose of food, drink, and fun awaits those visiting the quaint city of Alameda in California.

The city has a total area of nearly 23 square miles spanning its flagship Alameda Island and Bay Farm Island, plus a few minor islands.

Although Alameda is now widely known as “Island City,” it used to be a peninsula linked to Oakland, the county seat of the city’s namesake Alameda County.

The city became an island when the dredging of a tidal canal through the marshland between Alameda and Oakland was completed to expand the California shipping channels.

Many other historical events are carved into the charms of Alameda even before its foundation in 1853.

Alameda was founded that year after the US acquired California from Mexico following the end of the US-Mexican War in 1848.

Before this transition, the Spanish colonization of California also had a lasting influence on Alameda, a Spanish name that translates to "tree-lined path."

Coupled with these backgrounders, the following list of things to do in Almeda can provide more reasons to visit this city.

Enjoy the Waters of Crown Memorial State Beach

Sunset at Crown Memorial State Beach
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This beach is a state park spreading for over 80 acres off 8th Street and Westline Drive on the western terminus of Otis Drive.

The features of Crown Memorial State Beach include areas for swimming, picnics, and water sports, plus a biking trail and a baseball field.

Footsteps on the sand of Crown Memorial State Beach
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Summer brings windsurfers to this beach, where rental sailboards and lessons are available on weekends.

The park also hosts a sandcastle and sand sculpture contest each June, enlivening the 2.5- mile stretch of this beach.

At the park’s east end, you can watch shorebirds and other salt marsh creatures at the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary.

Waters of Crown Memorial State Beach
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The north end of the beach hosts the Crab Cove Marine Reserve, where its visitor center displays relics from the colorful past of the area erstwhile known as the "Coney Island of the West."

There are also exhibits and aquaria in the visitor center presenting the San Francisco Bay flora and fauna.

Birds on the sand of Crown Memorial State Beach
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Visit the Meyers House and Garden

The Alameda Museum manages the Meyers House, a city of Alameda Landmark and a designated Historical Monument.

Located on Alameda Avenue, the Meyers House and Garden occupy three city lots, all turned over to the city by its owners—the Meyers sisters—for use as a passive park and museum.

The Meyers House, constructed in 1897, flaunts the Colonial Revival architecture and serves as the centerpiece of the other structures on its grounds.

These features include a carriage house, a pergola, a three-car garage, and a circa 1935 architectural studio.

The Meyers House and Garden are open to tours every fourth Saturday of the month.

Take a Stroll on Shoreline Park

You’ll enjoy magnificent views of San Francisco Bay and the San Francisco skyline in a stroll along this linear park on Seaview Parkway.

Shoreline Park is Alameda’s largest park, with an area of nearly 32 acres and its stretch wrapping around the northwestern outer part of Bay Farm Island.

Opened in 1981, this park provides pedestrians and bikers a paved trail along the island’s shore, connecting north to Alameda Island.

A part of the San Francisco Bay Trail, the Shoreline Park provides multiple access points for easy public access to its trail.

The park is lighted at night as a safety precaution, and waterfront benches are provided for park visitors to relax and enjoy the San Francisco Bay views.

There are also drinking fountains, restrooms, play areas, and picnic spots in Shoreline Park.

Set a Tour of Coast Guard Island

Coast guard boat on the water
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Tours of the 67-acre Coast Guard Island can be arranged, an opportunity that will allow visitors a close-up look at 10 of its major features.

During a tour, you can check out the building for basic training of the Coast Guard, a longtime function of the island.

Coast guard boat on the way to Coast Guard Island
Sheila Fitzgerald / Shutterstock.com

An authorized visit of Coast Guard Island also has an interesting stop at its tidal canal, a running path where you will see the nearby gun mounts.

A tour of this facility will likewise provide a close look at the US Coast Guard Commands and cutters that it hosts.

Coast guard boat on the water
Sheila Fitzgerald / Shutterstock.com

Join Hobbyists at the Bill Osborne Model Airplane Field

If a tour of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet got you all hyped up about flying, visit the Bill Osborne Model Airplane Field next.

This 1.3-acre city park on Doolittle Drive at Harbor Bay has been host to model airplane hobbyists since 1947.

The Bill Osborne Model Airplane Field offers two flying circles solely dedicated to model airplanes.

Check on the Alameda model aircraft hobbyists Aeromaniacs or Aeronuts online for the weekly flying lessons they offer at this unique park.

These lessons are for free and just require proof of personal liability insurance.

Play It Short or Long at Corica Park’s Golf Courses

This 45-hole municipal golf links on Clubhouse Memorial Road offers golfers two layouts to play on.

One of its courses is designed for nine holes at a par three regulation play on a short tour of from 75 to 145 yards for each hole.

This course is suited for golf novices, junior golfers, and golfing seniors.

This Corica Park facility, acclaimed in Golf Magazine as one of the best 9-hole US muni links, is also tailor-fit for short-game practice.

For a more challenging round of play, tee off at the Corica Park’s par 72 South Course.

It features a 6,874-yard tour from its longest tees amid the park’s natural beauty and splendor.

Besides these two golf courses, the 328-acre Corica Park also includes a night-lighted driving range, a golf academy, a pro shop, and a restaurant with a lounge.

Go Boating on Alameda’s Waters

Waters of alameda marina
Tony Webster from Portland, Oregon, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Water comprises nearly 13 square miles of the total area of Alameda of about 23 square miles, making the city a logical destination for boating enthusiasts.

Alameda has two large marinas, one of which is the 497-berth Fortman Marina on Clement Avenue fronting the Oakland estuary, which is considered one of the Bay Area’s prime marina sites.

A wooden bench near alameda marina
Tony Webster from Portland, Oregon, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Another major marina on the estuary is the 42-acre Alameda Marina, also on Clement Avenue and with 530 berths.

The historic waterfront of these marinas is also home to several boat rentals and bay cruises.

One of these, Bae Boats, offers cruises aboard environment-friendly electric boats.

Tour the Alameda Museum

Located on Alameda Avenue, this museum was established in 1948 and was named in 1983 as the official repository of Alameda's historical artifacts and documents.

At its reception area, you will already find several interesting artifacts, like an antique six-seater bicycle and a brass locomotive bell.

Other points of interest in the museum are its architectural detail grouping and Victorian Era section displaying period furniture.

The architectural detail grouping, on the other hand, features finials, millwork, and hardware from Alameda homes during the Victorian Era.

The Alameda Museum also displays items recalling the development of the US railway system pivotal to the city’s growth and development.

One of its exhibits is a scale-model reproduction of an 1899 South Pacific Railroad engine and tender reminiscent of the old railroad that ran from Alameda to Santa Cruz.

The visitors of the museum will likewise appreciate its exhibits about Native American culture, model ships, old dioramas, and toys.

Explore Community Gardens at the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park

Turn your Alameda visit into a learning experience about the benefits of community gardens.

This community endeavor is on a 25-acre site off Atlantic Avenue and named after Jean Sweeney, a long-time Alameda advocate on creating community gardens in the city’s park system.

The plots in these gardens are accessible for free cultivation by constituents of the Alameda Food Bank as well as local faith associations.

The Jean Sweeney Open Space Park also provides opportunities for gardening workshops and other garden-related educational activities.

In addition, this park also features some recreational facilities, including playgrounds with climbing structures, a zip line, and a slide.

Take a Docent-Led Tour USS Hornet Museum

Aircrafts inside USS Hornet Museum
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Let a knowledgeable tour guide of the USS Hornet Museum lead you in an interactive visit to this repurposed warship.

Now docked on the southernmost pier of the former Alameda Naval Air Station, this retired aircraft carrier not only holds mementos of its World War II missions.

Aircraft inside USS Hornet Museum
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Besides its WW II aircraft displays, some of its exhibits also recall the carrier’s participation in the Apollo 11 recovery mission.

The ship's flight deck and navigation control areas are accessible via a docent-led tour.

With your tour guide, you’ll be able to explore one of the ship’s engineering spaces holding two of the four propulsion turbines of the USS Hornet.

Sip a Glass of Wine at Dashe Cellars

You don’t have to visit far-flung California vineyards to taste great wines, as you can already enjoy superb wine-tasting in Alameda.

Dashe Cellars precisely offers this experience at its urban tasting room in a historic airplane hangar on Monarch Street in Alameda Point.

The tasting room nestles in Dashe Cellars’ production area, allowing you to observe the winemaking process.

While sipping a glass of one of this winemaker’s award-winning wines, you will smell the sweet aroma of wines aging in oak barrels and fermenting in tanks.

In a taste test, Dashe Cellars also allows customers’ appreciation of its natural winemaking techniques using indigenous yeasts and small-lot fermentation.

Catch Halibut at the Alameda Rockwall

Alameda offers a unique onshore fishing spot at the Rockwall near the Encinal Boat Ramp on the southwestern side of the city.

This structure jutting out for more than a mile into San Francisco Bay was built during World War II to deter incursion of enemy subs and torpedoes into the US Naval facilities in Alameda.

Notably, a nearby Alameda winery on Monarch Street has recognized the historical significance of the wartime structure and adopted the name Rock Wall Wine Company, yet another watering hole in the city.

Fishing from the Rockwall can yield Halibut, Sturgeons, Jacksmelt, Perch, Lingcod, Rockfish, and Stripers.

Shoot a High Score at the Pacific Pinball Museum

Pinball games in Pacific Pinball Museum
Michael Moore for the Pacific Pinball Museum, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Webster Street, this is an interactive museum presenting a historical display of more than 90 pinball machines from the 1940s to the present.

The Pacific Pinball Museum’s exhibit of early pinball games and rare bagatelles are in chronological sequence and are playable, just like in an arcade.

Pinball games in Pacific Pinball Museum
Bernie Kelm for the Pacific Pinball Museum (cropped by Thatotherperson), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The museum also holds rotating exhibits revolving around its theme, likewise evident in the hand-painted murals and vintage jukeboxes in the 7,000-square-foot Pacific Pinball Museum.

Operating as a non-profit under a “Play and Learn" philosophy, the museum accommodates field trips and self-guided tours.

Enjoy a Mug of Beer at Faction Brewing

Well-advised beer lovers visiting Almeda spend some time at the city’s old Naval Air Station to sample the craft beers of Faction Brewing.

Located on Monarch Street, this craft brewery accommodates its patrons in a taproom overlooking San Francisco Bay Bridge and the Golden City’s skyline.

Faction Brewing gets its guests in the mood with the furnishings of barrel tables in the taproom.

Run by the husband-and-wife team of Rodger Davis and Claudia Pamparana, Faction Brewing operates a 20-barrel brewhouse.

It produces a wide selection of barrel-aged, Belgian-style lagers and stouts, with hoppy beers also a specialty.

Patrons of Faction Brewing allows its patrons to bring in food to pair with their beer orders, even as it also has food truck partners serving the taproom.

Dine at East Ocean Seafood Restaurant

This restaurant on Webster Street is an established homegrown choice in Alameda for traditional-style Chinese cuisine.

For more than 30 years, East Ocean Seafood Restaurant has risen to the challenge of larger national chains.

The winning picks in this consistent five-star-rater among diners include steamed dim sum for lunch and Peking duck for dinner.

All these you will enjoy in a banquet hall adorned with majestic Asian décor.

Final Thoughts

Alameda offers an amalgam of attractions that can be hard to resist, given that these are from the crème de la crème of various cultures behind the city’s growth and development.

That this city has reaped benefits as a site for a strategic US Naval facility likewise sharpens its allure as a leisure destination for many.

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