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Layover in Oakland – the ultimate guide 2021

Published by: Bounce4 September, 2021

If you are doing an Oakland International Airport layover then you have all of the usual transport options such as Uber and regular taxi services that one would expect of an international airport. You can also use the BART rail system which will have you at the Coliseum station in eight minutes, and from there a further twelve minutes will place you at the 12th St city center station.

The airport acts as a busy hub for both international flights and internal US connections. There is, therefore, every possibility that you may find yourself doing a layover here. Most layovers generally seem to be considered a bit of a nuisance, but they can be turned to your advantage if you’re adventurous and use your time wisely.

Because you can connect to the city easily, your Oakland layover can be transformed from a boring airport interlude into an exciting adventure. To make the most of your time in the city you are going to need to store your bags at a reliable luggage storage service. It’s just what you need to allow you to travel and explore unencumbered.

6 hour Oakland layover


Having safely stored your bags, you’re now good to go and ready to dive into your short Oakland stopover. If you’re traveling with small kids, Oakland has just the thing to turn your layover from a pain into a pleasure. Fairyland, established in the late 1950s, revisits many of the evergreen fairy tales that have been read to our children for generations. This attraction is very hands-on and the kids will love it.

If you are traveling without children then there is another option with more of an adult angle to it. Jack London square lies at the heart of Oakland. Built on the waterfront, the area teams with boutiques, coffee shops, and bars. It's a great place to simply soak up the atmosphere for an hour or two, people watch or grab a bite to eat.

The square takes its name from the famous author and Yukon explorer, Jack London. Most people will be familiar with his books and there is a replica of his tiny Alaskan cabin that you should try to visit. You won’t have much time, but it won’t take long.

  • On a short Oakland layover, it makes sense to be realistic about the time you have available and not try to do too much.

  • Strolling around Jack London Square will keep you amused and you will be amazed how quickly your available time passes.

  • Don't arrive at the airport at the last minute. Instead, give yourself plenty of time to clear security without too much stress.

8 hour Oakland layover


Between flights, it is often nice to escape into the outdoors and try and restore a little bit of internal balance after the stress and confinement of a long flight. Oakland offers you the perfect place to do this. Merritt Park is an urban space built on a tidal lagoon and offering 3 miles shoreline where you can unwind.

The area is a haven for birdwatchers with over seventy-two species to spot. There are numerous walks, hikes, and cycle paths, but it is the gardens that have become a highlight of this very popular attraction. There are a number of gardens but one you should definitely not miss is the bonsai garden which is one of the finest in America.

  • Get some fresh air at Merritt Park,

  • Stretch your legs on the walking paths before heading back to the airport for your next connection.

  • Don’t miss the bonsai garden.

10 hour Oakland layover


If you would prefer your Oakland layover to be something more of an urban affair then hop across to Alameda Island. There are a couple of unusual museums in which you will easily be able to while away the time between flights. One notable one is the Pacific Pinball Museum which contains more than ninety machines dating back to the 1940s. This voyage back in time offers plenty of interactive activities and also shows off some of the artwork that many will remember from their youth.

On the island, you may still find time to enjoy something to eat, though you may not have enough time for a full sit-down meal. Don't worry, there are plenty of places to grab a bite on the go. Look out for restaurants serving seafood which is very popular on the island.

  • Keep an eye on the time because even on a long layover, it passes more quickly than you think it will.

  • Alameda Island is close enough for a quick visit and has plenty of tourist attractions to consider.

12 hour Oakland layover


During a long layover, you have the possibility of thinking slightly outside of the box and with this in mind, you might like to consider Oakland's Chinatown. It is one of the oldest in America and as one would expect, you will be exposed to a wide variety of Asian cuisine. There are forty-five restaurants and nine teashops to choose from.

You can watch tai chi being practiced in Madison Park or take a fifteen to twenty-minute tour of the Fortune Cookie Factory. What many people don't realize is that this Chinatown is home to some fabulous wall murals which make strolling around the area so much more unusual.

If you are into art then Oakland has much to offer. There is a thriving art scene here with more than fifty galleries, assorted workshops, and a diverse variety of wall murals. You may not have time to visit all of these but a trip to the Oakland Museum of California will probably satisfy most art cravings.

  • Chinatown offers more than just a chance to try out different types of Asian cuisine.

  • The scene in Oakland is varied and dynamic and you will have no trouble finding places to experience it.

24 hour Oakland layover


With the opportunity to spend a one-night layover in the city, you will now be able to taste some of the many nightlife options that wouldn't have been available on a short Oakland layover. 

With time now a slightly less precious commodity, you could catch the BART directly from the airport to San Francisco where you will have a wonderful array of nightlife options available to you. If you choose a hotel near the Bart station, getting back to Oakland International won’t be too much of a problem in the morning.

In San Francisco, you can stroll Fisherman's Wharf, stopping to taste many of the local delicacies on your way. You also might like to take in that iconic view of the San Francisco Bridge lit up at night.

If you fancy something a little different that will provide long-lasting memories, then a night tour of Alcatraz Island and its famous prison is something you won't want to miss. Tour numbers are limited at night so be careful to book ahead.

  • In order to maximize your stay, you need to choose your hotel carefully to allow Easy Access back to the airport.

  • Even on an overnight Oakland layover, you will be well advised to store your bags at an Oakland baggage storage and travel light.

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