Oakland Scavenger Hunt: These Adorable Gnomes Will Delight Your Kids - 510 Families
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Oakland Scavenger Hunt: These Adorable Gnomes Will Delight Your Kids

Hundreds of gnomes fill the sidewalks in Oakland. Have you seen them? We see the same gnomes in our neighborhood regularly, yet each time we pass them, my kids love pointing them out like it’s the first time they spotted them. This activity is perfect for the littlest walkers because it is right at their level. I thought we walked our neighborhood a lot before SIP. But now we know our neighborhood gnomes intimately. I’ve gained an even deeper appreciation of the gnomes and their creator(s).

Discovering gnomes in Oakland’s Cleveland Heights neighborhood | Photo: Julia Gidwani

Who Are These Oakland Gnomes?

While the original gnome creator remains anonymous, new gnomes clandestinely pop into neighborhoods overnight. The gnomes were almost evicted in 2014, but were saved by the loving Oakland community, and granted asylum until this day.

The gnomes are mysterious, and each hand-painted gnome has its own personality. Some sport kilts, while others ride skateboards. Some gnomes are waving hi, and some are accompanied by mushrooms or sheep. My favorite gnome is at the corner of Jayne Ave & Euclid Ave. She is a scientist.

Gnomes even fight COVID-19! This is my favorite female gnome scientist. | Photo: Julia Gidwani

How to Find These Secret Gnomes

The gnomes typically reside at the bottom of telephone or utility phones — never trees! — and have also been known to pop up in corners of store windows. The estimated population by various “gnome experts” is somewhere between 500 and more than 5,000. My personal estimate is somewhere right in the middle of those vastly different guesses.

Discovering old and new gnomes in the Adams Point neighborhood | Photo: Julia Gidwani | Photo: Julia Gidwani

We’ve found the highest gnome populations to be in the Lake Merritt, Adams Point, Haddon Hill and Cleveland Heights neighborhoods. Friends have reported sightings as far as Jack London, Rockridge, Mills College, Highland Hospital, and a couple Oakland Fire Departments.


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Finding gnomes isn’t always obvious, sometimes you need to look behind bushes or flowers | Photo: Julia Gidwani

Exact Locations to Start Your Gnome-hunt:

These little gnomes bring smiles to folks of all ages, and enrich what could be just another mundane walk around the neighborhood. How many gnomes can you find? Good luck!

Gnomes to find in Upper Rockridge
Gnomes to find on Florence Ave and Sonia in Upper Rockridge | Photo: H. Burton

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