19 Things You Don't Understand About Oakland (Unless You're From There)

If there's one thing you know for sure about Oakland, it's that you don't really know even one thing for sure about Oakland. You THINK it's cheaper, and you're PRETTY SURE the Raiders play there (then again, the SAN FRANCISCO 49ers play in Santa Clara, so that's not even a guarantee), but if you're gonna be honest with yourself, you're kinda clueless when it comes to Oaktown. Well, consider this your crash course...

Flickr/ Abe Bingham

1. It's actually super close to SF

West Oakland to San Francisco’s Embarcadero: seven minutes. Outer Sunset to Embarcadero: eternity.

2. It really is the sunny side of the Bay

While you're all outfitted in North Face vests and freezing your butts off, we're sipping beer in our sunny back yards wearing shorts and flip-flops.

Andy Murdock

3. Those steep mountains? Those are just the Oakland Hills.

They're blanketed with redwoods and lots of oaks, too. Hence: Oakland.

4. The Grand Lake farmers market is a contact sport

Sorry, person that elbowed in front of me to grab the last bunch of rainbow chard, did my bag of organic fingerling potatoes just clock you in the jaw?

5. Lake Merritt is the jewel of Oakland

Just watch your back. There are thousands of geese milling about and nobody knows what they’re plotting. But they are DEFINITELY plotting.

6. Everyone owns an Oakland T-shirt

Or they lose their membership.

7. We invented popsicles

All those other places that didn’t invent the popsicle can suck it. And by "it", we mean a popsicle that Oakland invented.

8. There are a lot of pot clubs

Oakland’s chronic(!)ally ill population that specifically needs marijuana for its medical conditions is surprisingly large. And young. And overwhelmingly male. Also, we invented popsicles.

Andy Murdock

9. Our favorite park is full of dead people

Have a picnic in Mountain View Cemetery before you judge, Captain Judgypants.

10. Terrible things happen in the Fruitvale district

Like only buying one churro and seriously regretting it later.

11. The fancy dining scene in Oakland is exploding

But most locals still prefer arguing about the best taco trucks, chicken and waffles, and banh mi sandwich joints.

12. Everything is closed at 9pm

Yeah, that annoys us too.

13. Don't you dare insult Fairyland

It’s a magical land where storybooks come to life and we all have a key (pro tip: the annual Fairyland for Grownups is possibly the best idea ever, and the only time you can get in without a child).

14. Uptown isn’t actually all that "up"

Separation from Downtown: zero feet. One second you’re in Downtown, the next you’re in a realm of artisanal cocktails, $9 burritos, and hordes of tweens lining up for shows at The Fox.

Flickr/James Cridland

15. Jack London Square is always poised and ready to be sorta great soon

It’s sunny, it’s pleasant, it’s... err, Jack London-y, and it’s perennially on the edge of being a real destination (Jack’s Oyster Bar and Fish House juuuuuust opened, and beer-garden-bocce-and-bowling-equipped Plank is on the way). In the meantime, at least it has Heinold’s.

16. Say no to KONO

According to banners, the area along Telegraph North of 20th is called "Koreatown Northgate", or "KONO", an acronym which is unfortunately close to a Spanish word for lady parts.

17. First Fridays aren't just our weird way of calendaring

Oakland Art Murmur, usually just called “First Fridays”, is a monthly art gallery open house and street festival that manages to be artsy, trendy, upscale, cheap, and mildly thuggy, all at the same time. Kind of like Oakland.

18. You need a car

Because AC Transit is basically the worst (although we do admit, the free B shuttle that goes up and down Broadway can be quite handy).

19. But don’t leave your bag in your car

In local Oakland dialect, that means “FREE BAG".

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Andy Murdock is an East Bay native and travel writer. He firmly believes that the churro will be the next cupcake, and is helping to make this come true by planting the word churro in his author bios. Tweet about churros to @andy_murdock to show your support.

This story was originally published on 9/26/2014.