Photo Essay: Exploring Oakland in the Spring with Localite Tours

by Ekua on April 24, 2014 in California,captured on memory card,local discoveries

On a balmy Sunday morning in March, I crossed the San Francisco Bay to join Localite Tours’ Picnic Tour in Oakland. It was a relaxing day by Lake Merritt and our group got to experience some lovely sights and tastes of springtime Oakland. Here’s what we did:

The Gardens at Lake Merritt, Oakland

The Gardens at Lake Merritt, Oakland

Our first stop was The Gardens at Lake Merritt, a large community park with several different gardens including a sensory garden, a palm tree garden, a Mediterranean garden, an edible garden, and more.

Almond pastry from La Farine, Oakland

Not long after we began the tour, we enjoyed a delicious surprise — almond tea cakes from La Farine bakery in Oakland.

The Gardens at Lake Merritt, Oakland

The Gardens at Lake Merritt, Oakland

The Gardens at Lake Merritt, Oakland

All the flowering trees in the park were blooming and I liked the contrast between the colorful petals and the high rise buildings in the distance.

The Gardens at Lake Merritt, Oakland

Bonsai Garden, Oakland

Bonsai Garden, Oakland

For me, the highlight of The Gardens at Lake Merritt was a  docent-led tour of the bonsai garden. While I have seen many bonsai trees and I’ve always thought they looked cool, I never really knew much about them. Our guide was really knowledgeable and there were a lot of unique bonsais beyond the typical ones you see at stores, including some miniature versions of tree species that you’ll find around the park.

Bonsai Garden, Oakland

Bonsai Garden, Oakland

Butterfly and Cherry Blossoms, Oakland

Butterfly and Cherry Blossoms, Oakland

As we ended the bonsai tour, I noticed that the cherry blossoms above us were full of monarch butterflies.

Lake Merritt totem pole, Oakland

After we left the garden, we took a walk along the shore of Lake Merritt to Oaktown Spice Shop. It’s a fairly new store with a decidedly hipster vibe that combines quality spices and spice accessories with a fun design aesthetic.

Oaktown Spice Shop, Oakland

Oaktown Spice Shop, Oakland

There, we met the founder of the store who talked to us about how it all began. He told us about some of the spices and blends they offer and focused on the unique array of salts in the store. I left with a complimentary packet of salt — citron-infused salt flakes that come in handy when I’m making fish, chicken, or veggies.

Oaktown Spice Shop, Oakland

Los Topos Rose, Oakland

While we were in the shop, we enjoyed a glasses of Los Topos Rosé.

Oaktown Spice Shop, Oakland

Oaktown Spice Shop, Oakland

After our spice shop visit, we picked a spot to sit down by the lake and ate sandwiches from Grand Lake Kitchen, a casual eatery across the street from Lake Merritt. Picnicking with a lake view and chatting with the new people I met was an enjoyable way to end the day.

Disclosure: This tour was complimentary. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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