Beautiful Scenery, Good Food, and Great Jazz--Jack London Square After Dark

Pros: No crowds, mostly locals, low-key and unpretentious class
Cons: Parking is sometimes hard to come by unless you know where to look

A well-kept secret treasure lies along the waterfront in Oakland--Jack London Square. In fact, there are lots of secret treasures in Oakland that many overlook in lieu of the enticing lights of the city across the bay. However, Jack London Square, in particular, can offer a complete evening of low-key and unpretentious class all its own.

For me, the highlight of Jack London Square is its waterfront location. Quiet walks along well-lit wooden walkways offer a safe way to enjoy the lights and sounds of the bay. Sheltered from the noise of the street by upscale hotels, this wooden walk can be found as you enter Jack London Square and hang an immediate right at the statue of Jack London. Curving back behind the restaurants and hotels, the walk takes you by docked marine beauties and skirts the very edge of the bay.

You can take in the scenery either before or after a meal at any of the fine restaurants found at Jack London Square. I prefer the Old Spaghetti Factory because of its fun ambiance. Once a turn-of-the-century bank with all its Victorian elegance, the restaurant has retained and restored the fantastic interior and now allows a diner to enjoy it while feasting on fantastic pasta.

To top off the evening, I enjoy catching a jazz set at Yoshi's. In fact, if you go on the right evening, you may be able to chat with the owner herself. A Japanese restaurant of the same name (with great Japanese food) fronts the jazz club where big names can be seen in a relatively intimate setting. Servers quietly shuttle drinks and appetizers to the tables while the best jazz musicians in the country enthrall you with their musical prowess. And you can enjoy it all in a smoke-free environment. It's the smokey nightclub without the smoke!

And if you're parked in one of the parking garages close by, don't forget to have your parking ticket validated at Yoshi's before you head back to your vehicle. Who can beat that?

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