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I’ve lived near Lake Merritt in Oakland for many years but had never gone boating on the water until yesterday. I’m sure many people walk around the lake, as we did, pointing at couples struggling for speed in those funny two-person pedal boats, admiring lean sailboats skimming across tiny waves, and marveling at the Ladies of the Lake without venturing out upon the waters themselves.

JC and I often commented that it would be fun to take a canoe out, and finally, this year, we did it. The trip was a belated birthday present for me, so I was absolved of rowing duties. Sure, I chipped in when we drifted off course and needed additional oar-power. And I certainly would have paddled on any other occasion. But this adventure was proposed on the premise of my sitting back and enjoying the view, so that’s what I did.

Here’s some of what we saw.

The Lake Merritt Boating Center.

The Lake Merritt Boating Center.

Northern view.

Northern view.

Pergola at the northeast arm of the lake.

Pergola at the northeast arm of the lake.

Heading west.

Heading west.

Downtown Oakland view.

Downtown Oakland view.

René C. Davidson Alameda County Courthouse.

René C. Davidson Alameda County Courthouse.


Pelicans on an old pier.

Lake Chalet.

Back again, toward the renovated former Lake Merritt Boathouse, now the Lake Chalet restaurant, home of Taco Tuesdays.

Edoff Memorial Bandstand (1923)

Edoff Memorial Bandstand (1923).

Heading Uptown

Heading Uptown.

The Church of Christ the Light

The Church of Christ the Light.

Back to the dock.

Back to the dock.

Pedal boat

Pedal boats.

We considered the pedal-boat option, but if you watch people doing that, they always seem to be working too hard and going too slowly. The canoe was much more streamlined. With one person’s muscle, we navigated the entire lake perimeter in about an hour. The whole adventure, from rental to checkout, took about 90 minutes, and we never felt rushed.

If you live near Lake Merritt, I highly recommend taking a spin out on the open water. It gives you a new perspective on familiar sights, and it’s nowhere near as crowded as the sidewalk on a sunny day. At $8 an hour, it’s a really cheap date. You can bring your own food, stay as long as you like, and you don’t have to worry about getting lost. It’s even better if you get someone else to drive.


From → Oakland, Weird Things

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