BARTable bike ride: Lake Merritt loop
Experience all the best sights near Lake Merritt as we start in Uptown Oakland, pedal into Lakeside Park and explore the hot spots surrounding the lake.
Want to take a ride in San Francisco? Check out our ride from SoMa to Mission.
Ride time: 1 hour
Distance: Approximately 4 miles
Terrain: Mostly flat pavement and paved trails
Terrain: Mostly flat pavement and paved trails
*Depending on your membership type, this ride could incur overage fees. Bike Share for All members get unlimited 60-minute rides. Annual Members get unlimited 45-minute rides. Short-term riders get unlimited 30-minute rides.
On a nice, sunny day begin your adventure by taking BART to the 19th St/Oakland station. Once you get off the train, follow the signs for the 19th/20th street station exit. The bike share station is located at the southeastern corner of Broadway and 20th Street Thomas L Berkley Way. Tip: Make sure that the station has enough bikes for you and your crew before you go by checking the GoBike app. And don’t forget to bring a helmet; your GoBike doesn’t come with one.
GoBike has a helpful tool that tells you how many bikes are located at each station in real-time.
Select a bike, adjust the seat to the right height and you’re ready to ride.
Set off by heading east on 20th Street/Thomas L Berkeley Way. After just a few short blocks, you will see Lake Merritt in front of you. Technically a tidal lagoon where the water level rises and falls with the tides, this “jewel of Oakland” is a favorite gathering place for city residents and visitors alike. From joggers to sunbathers to boaters and bird watchers, the Lake Merritt area truly reflects Oakland’s rich diversity. And for today’s history lesson: In 1869, it was declared the site of the very first national wildlife refuge for the thousands of migratory birds that stop over along the Pacific Flyway.
Once the road forks, keep left to stay on Harrison Street. As you cruise up Harrison St towards Grand Avenue, you will see the modern architectural design of the Cathedral of Christ the Light (2121 Harrison St.).
Stop off for a closer look at the cathedral that serves as the mother church of approximately 560,000 Catholics.
Turn onto Grand Avenue and head east. As you continue to wrap around the pinky finger of the lake, jump on the path that leads you into Lakeside Park. Coast down to the path that runs along the water’s edge and you’ll pass Children’s Fairyland (699 Bellevue), a fairy-tale themed amusement park.
If you brought the little ones along, Fairyland is the perfect stop to jump around on play sets, ride the Jolly Trolly and see the many animals that live in the park.
When you’re ready to roll, continue south into the center of the park. Here, you’ll find a garden home to some of the finest bonsai on the West Coast.
The Bonsai Garden (650 Bellevue) is a nice reprieve from the surrounding bustle.
Heading back towards the water, you’ll pass the Lake Merritt Boating Center, where you can rent pedal boats, rowboats, kayaks, canoes or even take a pontoon tour. Visit the City of Oakland’s Parks & Recreation website for more info.
On the eastern end of the lake, you’ll find the beautiful Pergola and Colonnade (599 El Embarcadero).
Designed by architect Walter Reed in 1913, the structure was renovated in 2007.
If you’ve worked up an appetite, check out the many restaurants along Grand Ave in the Grand Lake District. The elegant Grand Lake Theatre (3200 Grand Avenue) is the neighborhood’s crown jewel. This historic movie palace is a classic place to catch a flick.
The Grand Lake District has recently received some much-needed revitalization and is now a destination-worthy cultural hub.
Continuing south along the western shore of the lake, you’ll pass through Pine Knoll Park. On the southern end of the lake, sits the Lake Merritt Amphitheater. Catch an outdoor show or participate in the many other activities that take place here. DoTheBay provides an event calendar.
Look across Lake Merritt Blvd and you’ll see the wonderful art deco architecture of the Alameda County Courthouse and the Oakland Museum of California (1000 Oak St.), which houses three galleries of collections: The Gallery of California Art, the Gallery of History, and the Gallery of California Natural Sciences.
Heading north, you’ll encounter more art deco and the Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill (1520 Lakeside Dr.), a good spot for happy hour or a meal on the water.
Once you’ve completed the full lake loop, stop by the coffee shop gem, Farley’s East (33 Grand Ave.).
A cup of joe at Farley’s is the perfect way to end your Lake Merritt adventure.
Return the bikes at the 19th St/Oakland BART station and go back whence you came.
What to bring
Comfortable riding shoes, helmet, water, sun protection (hat, sunscreen), extra layers or rain gear (just in case). Each GoBike comes with a small front basket for storing essentials. A smartphone is handy for maps and looking up information, or taking photos. And, of course, your BART ticket or Clipper card.