A Local’s Guide to Oakland, California

Nathalie Huerta is the owner of The Queer Gym, the first inclusive fitness centre in the U.S. Here she shares some of her favourite spots, including where to go on a hike and experience the arts. 
 

Photo by Soraya Matos

Nathalie Huerta moved to Oakland 16 years ago to attend school and immediately fell in love with the city’s authenticity and diversity—“Oakland swag,” as she calls it. The owner of The Queer Gym, the U.S.’s first inclusive fitness centre, Huerta shares some of her favourite spots.

1. Downtown Art Walk

“On the first Friday of the month, most of downtown is closed off for an art walk. People get off work and head straight [there]. Everyone is bar crawling and art gallery hopping. It’s a really good snapshot of the city.”

2. Basketball Watch Party

The New Parkway Theater is a movie theatre, but they have awesome [NBA’s Golden State] Warriors’ watch parties. It’s chill, it’s family-friendly and they have couches, bean bags and a huge screen. There is a real homey feel.”

3. Inner-City Hikes

“From where I live in Fruitvale, I can drive six minutes up a hill and I’m in Joaquin Miller Park. There are trails for days. You can go hiking and mountain biking.”

4. Amusement Park

Children’s Fairyland is a small amusement park for kids. It’s where Walt Disney got [his inspiration] for Disneyland. If you grew up in Oakland, you went there as a kid.

5. Favourite Restaurant

Mua—the vibe is really artsy. They always have a live 
DJ playing during dinner. You get a lot of the Warriors’ players going in after games. When Shaun Livingston is having dinner next to you, you gotta try to control your inner groupie.”

6. Lake Merritt

“Lake Merritt is like the city’s living room. The lake is where you go to catch up with a friend, go for a run and go on a first date. It’s the pride and joy of local Oaklanders.”

7. Friday-Night Food Trucks

“On Friday nights, The Oakland Museum of California hosts a bunch of food trucks that line up, [and] it sets up a full bar. The museum usually hosts a live band and a DJ every Friday. It tends to have exhibits that tie into modern-day conversations—it’s done one on sneaker culture and one on the Black Panthers. You can get artsy and get your intellect on.”

 

[This story appears in the September 2018 issue of WestJet Magazine.]

 

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