11 Top Things to Do in Jack London Square, Oakland

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Did you know that Jack London Square is the up-and-coming area in Oakland? Find out everything you need to know and the top things to do in Jack London Square to plan an awesome day in Oakland, California.

Jack London Square Guide

When you think of northern California, what comes to mind? Most likely the city, wine tasting, Bay views, or Michelin-guided restaurants. What if, I told you, you can find all of that and more at Jack London Square! I lived there for over three years, let me be your guide for what to do at Jack London Square, Oakland.

I am the first person to admit that I knew nothing about Oakland before we moved here. However, after living here, I have come to realize that Oakland is the place to be! In particular, Jack London Square.

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    Jack London Square History

    In the last decade, Jack London Square has grown in popularity significantly. What was once a seaport and produce town, has now developed into a desired neighborhood for young working adults.

    There are new restaurants, coffee shops, wine tasting rooms, taprooms, and many more things to do and see. 

    Who is Jack London

    Jack London Square, was named after the renowned author, Jack London. He was brought up in Oakland and spent much of his childhood at the waterfront.

    He writes from his experiences of growing up in Oakland in his famous novels The Call of The Wild and The Sea Wolf. There is a small tribute to Jack London located in the square. Where you can find a replica of the cabin that Jack London lived in while he was in Alaska and a statue of a wolf. 

    Guide to Jack London Square

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    Things to do in Jack London Square, Oakland  

    Located at the waterfront and marina in Oakland, the Jack London District offers numerous outdoor activities and things to do during your visit. 

    1. Get a Drink at Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon 

    The coolest bar in Oakland! Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon is a little landmark and piece of history in Jack London Square. It opened in 1884, making it the oldest bar in Oakland. It is also a location where Jack London frequently visited and wrote about in some of his novels. 

    best bars jack london square

     They still have original features to this day, such as the gas lighting. When you enter the Saloon, there is an obvious slant in the room. Many say it was a result of the 1906 earthquake.

    The decorations consist of little knick-knacks and items that have accumulated over the past 100-plus years. Such as the old blackened business cards that are pinned to the ceiling. Or the signed dollar bills hanging at the cash register, which were left behind by sailors and soldiers.

    If you are a history buff, a Jack London fan, or just a person who enjoys a unique experience, you should visit Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon, a must thing to do in Jack London Square. 

    guide to jack london square Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon

    2. Best Jack London Square Restaurants 

    During your time in Jack London, I highly suggest eating at one of the fantastic restaurants in the Jack London District. Trust me, I have tried them all, more times than I actually would like to admit, and you will not be disappointed.

    There is a wide variety of cuisines to choose from. Each restaurant is unique and different from one another. However, I am going to narrow it down to a list of my favorite restaurants in Jack London Square. 

    Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine: 

    Hands down, the restaurant in Jack London with the best atmosphere! It always looks like they are having a party at Farmhouse Thai, and you want to be a part of it! All of the servers are in bright outfits, and the restaurant is full of vibrant colors while Thai melodies and delicious smells fill the air.

    The food is incredible! Farmhouse Thai knows what they are doing when it comes to Thai food, and we always enjoy our meal and experience when we dine here.

    My best advice when dining at Farmhouse Kitchen is to order a little bit of everything, including one of their fun drinks, and share it with the table. 

    guide to best restaurants jack london square


    🛑 Unfortunately, Belcamo’s location in Jack London Square has closed. So sad, because we loved going to this restaurant.

    If I were to ask my husband his favorite restaurant in Jack London Square, no questions asked, it would be Belcampo.

    They take farm-to-table to the next level and provide only grass-fed, pasture-raised meats directly from their California farms. If you plan on eating at Belcampo, go big! Order the animal fat fries (yes, I said FAT fries) and a Belcampo burger. You will not be disappointed.

    As I am sure you have realized up to this point, it is meat heaven at Belcampo. If you do not like meat, I honestly would suggest going somewhere else. There are plenty of other options on the Jack London waterfront. 

    3. Where to Get Brunch in Jack London Square

    Fat Lady 

    Fat Lady is the best place to go to for brunch in Jack London Square and our go-to spot for taking our family and friends. It is only a block or two from the Oakland waterfront, but so worth the extra steps.

    They have incredible food, drinks, and service. However, what we really love about Fat Lady, is the eccentric ambiance. The décor in Fat Lady is just as unique and memorable as the name of the restaurant. The best way to describe it is whimsical with a quirky twist.

    You will have to see it for yourself. While you are there, do not forget to ask how Fat Lady got its name. Here is a hint, it involves a juicy rumor about Jack London himself! 

    Oakland Grill

    Oakland Grill is another favorite spot for brunch in Jack London Square. If you stop in on a weekend morning or afternoon, you are guaranteed to wait in line for a table. It’s just that good!

    Oakland Grill serves up all of the American breakfast classics such as omelets, eggs benedicts, pancakes, and waffles.

    4. Walk the Bay Trail

    The trail is accessible from Jack London Square and runs along the waterfront. It is a small portion of what will eventually be a part of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

    A dog-friendly thing to do in Jack London is to walk or run the Bay Trail. We take our two dogs Cash & Carter here all of the time. It’s a great walk to burn off some energy and there is a small grassy dog park (not fenced in) on the waterfront where they can play with other dogs or go for a swim.  

    5. Coffee Jack London Square

    Yes, that is right, coffee shops need a category for themselves in Jack London Square. Back in Philly, you were either team Dunkin or team Starbucks.

    Not here, We do not play in Oakland when it comes to the craft of our coffee. I care where my beans are from now! I have two of my favorite coffee shops in Jack London Square to thank for that. 

    Peerless Coffee 

    I lived less than a block from Peerless for two years, and it quickly became our favorite go-to coffee shop in Jack London Square. Nothing like entering the doors of Peerless with the wonderful aromas of coffee beans. Coffee lovers, you know what I’m talking about.

    You get to choose your drip coffee from their incredible selection of beans from various countries. In the back of this quaint coffee shop is their roasting plant, where the beans are roasted daily.

    Peerless has one of the widest selections of beans on the west coast. They offer ground or whole beans that you can purchase for your own coffee making. 

    Blue Bottle 

    A visit to Blue Bottle feels more like an experience than just getting a good ol cup of joe. Blue Bottle elevates the way you think about coffee and how your coffee is prepared. They take their roasting craft seriously and it shows in their product.

    Blue Bottle ensures that every coffee sold is at its peak flavor and freshness. They outsource their beans directly from farms all over the world. If this is your first time there, I suggest getting a pour-over coffee.

    Each coffee is individually prepared, so it takes some time and patience. However, it is the best way to enjoy a Blue Bottle coffee. 

    guide to jack london square coffee

    6. Urban Wine Trail 

    Not enough time to go to Napa? Don’t worry, Oaklands Urban Wine Trail is the perfect substitute. Plan a day of tasting northern California wines at the multiple tasting rooms in Jack London Square. Our favorite tasting rooms are Rosenblum Cellars and Brooklyn West Winery. 

    Rosenblum Cellars

    Rosenblum Cellars has beautiful views of the waterfront and sits only a few steps away from the Oakland Ferry terminal.

    Brooklyn West Winery 

    We are wine club members at Brooklyn West Winery. They are a couple of blocks away from the main square.

    The Brooklyn West winemakers are frequently there and assist with the wine tastings. We have met both of them on multiple occasions and love hearing their passion for each wine. Especially the one about how they unexpectedly made ice wine for one season.  

    Wine tasting in Jack London Oakland

    7. Breweries in Jack London Square

    Microbrewing has become very popular in Oakland. Every time I visit the Jack London district, I swear a new brewery or taproom is popping up, which I am not mad about.

    You could spend an entire day checking them all out. However, if you are looking to grab a drink with some friends, our favorite local spots are Original Pattern Beer, Crooked City Cider, and Federation Brewing. And now Buck Wild Brewing.

    Original Patten Beer

    Original Pattern Beer offers a great selection of beer and dumplings. Not a combo I would ever think of, but oh boy does it work! They have indoor and outdoor seating, and their outdoor seating is dog-friendly. 

    Federation Brewing 

    We love a Hazy IPA from Federation Brewing! It’s a small and laidback tasting room that offers an assorted selection of beers that are brewed in-house. Also, they recently added an awesome and unique outdoor spot with shipping containers. 

    Crooked City Cider Tap House 

    Their list of ever-changing ciders at Crooked City Cider Tap House is the largest that I have ever seen! Don’t know where to begin? The staff is extremely knowledgeable and friendly.

    I recommend getting a flight so you can try a variety of ciders from around the world. The outdoor patio is dog-friendly. They also offer snacks and food from the Grilled Cheez Guy to go along with your crisp cider. 

    Buck Wild Brewing

    I have to add Buck Wild Brewing to this list of breweries in Jack London Square because we just recently visited here and really enjoyed our visit. If you’re looking for great beer and food with a laid-back brewery vibe, this is the place to go in Jack London.

    breweries to visit in jack london square

    Buck Wild’s Brewing hand-crafted beers are 100% gluten-free and they also have a delicious food menu as well. Don’t let the gluten-free and healthy menu options fool you. I got their Cuban bowl and it had lots of flavor, my husband and I both enjoyed our meals! If you want to bring your pup along, they have plenty of outdoor dog-friendly seating out front as well.

    8. Events at Jack London Square 

    There is always a calendar full of events going on at Jack London Square. Such as their annual Dogfest Bay Area: Boo! Bark, Brews & Bites, which we could not help but take part in. Before you visit Jack London, check their website for their upcoming events. 

    guide to jack london square oakland

    9. Jack London Square Farmers Market 

    A visit to Jack London Farmers Market is one of our favorite things to do in Jack London Square. Every Sunday the farmers market takes place in Jack London Square from 9 am to 2 pm.

    We enjoy stopping by to purchase an assortment of freshly baked loaves of bread, fish, fresh flowers, organic fruits and vegetables, and desserts for the week.

    There are usually a couple of options for lunch as well from various food trucks. A visit to the Jack London Farmers Market is a great way to support the local farmers and businesses while also getting quality food. 

    Water St. Makers

    The Jack London Farmers Market has gotten even better! Now every Sunday from 11a to 4p, Water St. Makers Market, setups a lineup of local vendors in the main square of Jack London Square. At the market, it is a wide range of vendors, such as people selling clothes, jewelry, arts and crafts, and our dog’s new favorite, a pet food truck.

    the water st markers market in jack london square

    My dog Cash was pumped. He literally dragged me to the front of the food truck so he could get a couple of good sniffs and hopefully some new treats.

    10. Nightlife In Jack London Square

    Personally, I do not think Jack London Square is your best option for nightlife in Oakland.

    However, if you are looking for something to do after dinner, I suggest Plank or Yoshi’s. They are both completely different from each other but offer a fun and unique environment. 

    Plank Oakland

    Plank is the perfect location to take your family or meet a group of friends to grab a beer and watch your favorite sports game. It reminds me of Dave and Busters but with a way cooler vibe.

    Plank has a large outdoor area with a bocce ball, fire pits, and a bar with big screen tv’s. Inside Plank, you can find an arcade and bowling alley. They serve typical bar food, which is good, but I typically do not come here for the food, it’s more about the entertainment. 


    Yoshi’s is a combination of sushi and Japanese fare with live jazz music. Enjoy a delicious dinner in the dining room before attending a live music performance.

    They have broadened the genres played at Yoshi’s, so check their calendar to see who is playing before your visit.

    11. Water Activities 

    California Canoe and Kayak offer classes, tours, or rentals for your excursion on the bay. 

    Jack London Square, Oakland Guide

    Getting to Jack London 

    If you are visiting San Francisco or from the Bay Area, getting to Jack London Square is pretty simple, and there are multiple options of transportation you can take. 

    Travel to Jack London By Car:

    It is conveniently located right off the highway and about a 10-minute drive from the bay bridge. There is a paid parking structure at Jack London Square. However, you can easily find metered parking and free street parking if you do not mind walking a couple of extra blocks. 

    Jack London Ferry:

    The San Francisco Bay Ferry provides trips between Jack London and Alameda in the East Bay and Pier 41 and the Ferry Building in San Francisco. 

    The Jack London Ferry offers year-round weekday and weekend trips. The Oakland Ferry Terminal is located at the west end of Jack London Square, near Clay Street. You can find a current schedule for the Jack London Ferry here.

    ferry terminal in jack london square oakland

    Closest BART Stop to Jack London Square: 

    12th Street/City Center (you will need to walk at least 12 blocks from Downtown Oakland or take a bus).

    Other Day Trips In The Bay Area

    If you are looking for other day trips in the area, I suggest Half Moon Bay. It is a small beach town located on the coast and only 40 minutes from San Francisco. The perfect opportunity to get away from the city for the day!

    In Conclusion: Things to do in Jack London Square

    As you can see, I love Jack London Square. Even after moving to a different area in Oakland, I still like to go back and visit as much as possible. Jack London is 100% worth the trip across the bay if you are visiting San Francisco. I hope this guide was helpful in your plans and has given you plenty of great ideas of fun things to do in Jack London Square, Oakland.