Nestled in the Northeast corner of Oakland’s Lake Merritt is the quaint, and easygoing Grand Lake neighborhood. The walkable Grand-Lakeshore district has many wonderful cafes, and family oriented destinations.
My family and I like to travel the tree lined streets by strollers, scooters and sneakers.
Because we’ve lived in the area for quite some time now, our visits are simple and flexible. We enjoy grabbing some bread, pastries or pizza from Arizmendi first. This is usually followed by walking to the playground, to the Lake to watch the pelicans, or the library. The library is small, but has a nicely curated children’s section, in various languages. If we need a birthday present or it’s a special occasion, we enjoy perusing Adventure Toys. There’s also Silver Moon Kids, which sells both new and used clothes, as well as a nice selection of toys.
Affordable, family friendly places to eat near Grand & Lakeshore Ave.
There are a ton of options from vegan food, to fried chicken. Some of our favorites include:
- Main Squeeze juicery at the far end of Lakeshore serves up açai bowls, smoothies and healthier snacks if you're looking for something fresh or light
- Rico Rico Taco serving a variety of tacos and burritos in a vibrant, light-filled taqueria
- Vegan Mob, which is a vegan soul food newcomer known for its lines and plant-based brisket
- The Star on Grand is on the further side of Grand, but serves up great deep dish pizzas, and has always been family friendly with high chairs and booster seats, crayons, coloring sheets and a friendly staff
- Rolling Dunes is another family friendly crepe joint with a large menu, where picky eaters are sure to find something to please
- You can also find Peet’s Coffee, Starbucks, Noahs Bagels, Chipotle, Subway, and several frozen yogurt and burger places close by
Other great Grand Lake neighborhood destinations
- Gymboree is a fun destination for membership classes or a children’s birthday party.
- Forever Beauty & Nails for those looking for a little more indulgence, or a fun experience for littles to get a pedicure.
- Gap has a full kids section. Pro parent tip: the sale section can sometimes be relocated to the changing room area.
- Oaktown Spice Shop: though a bit of a walk down Grand towards Lake Merritt, this shop is one of a kind, carrying hundreds of spices from around the world. Pro parent tip: they will give your children cinnamon sticks to taste while you shop for the perfect spice.
- Walden Pond Books has a very sweet children's section and carries books by regional authors.
Squeeze in groceries and errands
While you’re in the area, you can always pop into Trader Joe’s for groceries. Pro parent tip: children get free TJ stickers at checkout. Other convenient destinations within a block of Trader Joe’s include Wells Fargo, Chase, Walgreens, CVS, Verizon, a dry cleaner, optometrist, multiple salons and even a dentist. Parking can be challenging during peak traffic times, but you can park for 2 hours free at the Trader Joe’s lot.
Plan your visit:
Besides dining, shopping and people watching, the Grand Lake neighborhood also has hundreds of little gnomes hiding around. You can find them at the bottoms of telephone poles, shop windows and street corners, just waiting for pint sized patrons to discover them. These little gnomes bring smiles to folks of all ages, and enrich what could be just another mundane walk around the neigborhood. How many gnomes can you find? Allegedly there are thousands of gnomes all throughout Oakland. Good luck!
- Main strips: Grand & Lakeshore Avenues
- Bring: water bottles, sunscreen, hat, scooters, bikes, grocery bags
- Pro parent tip: if you eat, plan to use the restaurant restroom, public restrooms are few and far between