Downtown

Downtown Oakland Association

The Downtown Oakland Association fosters an environment where businesses thrive, art flourishes, and residents and visitors alike can enjoy all that downtown Oakland has to offer.

The Downtown Oakland Association is a Community Benefit District (CBD), which is revitalizing a 19-block area in the heart of Oakland, California by providing special benefit services such as district maintenance, safety and security management, and community and cultural enrichment. The District was formed following a vote of property owners in 2009 to support a voluntary property tax to fund these additional services over the next 10 years.

Our Mission

The Downtown Oakland Association
is a Community Benefit District (CBD) Management Corporation committed
to revitalizing Oakland's historic Downtown by maintaining cleanliness
and order in the public rights-of-way, improving district identity, fostering cultural opportunities, creating and maintaining new public spaces, and advocating on behalf of the district stakeholders.

The Downtown Oakland Community Benefit District is comprised of a 19-block area extending from 18th Street between Clay and Franklin to 8th Street between Franklin and Washington. Broadway runs through the center of the district. The District office is located at 388 19th Street in downtown Oakland.

In 2008, property owners in both Downtown Oakland and the Lake Merritt/Uptown districts voted by a margin of almost 8 to 1 to support a 10-year voluntary property tax to fund additional services to improve the quality of life in their respective communities. This led to the formation in March 2009 of two new community benefit districts: the Downtown Oakland Association and the Lake Merritt/Uptown District Association. The associations meet and function jointly. Services funded by the Districts include maintaining cleanliness and order in the public rights of way, improving district identity and advocating on behalf of the area property owners, business owners and residents.

Contact Us

Downtown Oakland Association
388 19th Street
Oakland, CA 94612

The District

Rotunda Building

The historic Rotunda Building was built in 1912. Designed by Charles Dickey, the Rotunda is still considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the City of Oakland. Renovated in 2000, the building has now been restored to its original beauty and also completely modernized.

This spectacular building with its 120 foot high, 5,000 square foot elliptical dome offers a breathtaking venue for you to host events of any kind. The grand staircase presents a natural stage for musicians, speakers, or a bride and groom. The gold trim and beautiful columns along with the fabulous terrazzo floor provide the finishing touches to this historic masterpiece. In the setting of the Rotunda Building, you and your guests will experience unparalleled ambience and service. When only the finest will do from start to finish, look no further for a venue. A wedding of a lifetime is created with commitment and passion. Our staff is detail oriented, ensuring memorable moments for both you and your guests.

www.rotundabuildingoakland.com

The Cathedral Building

Located at the mouth of the Uptown district at the intersection of Broadway and Telegraph, the historic Cathedral Building is centrally located just footsteps away from the Fox Theater, the Paramount Theater, BART, and a slew of bars, restaurants and galleries.

The breathtaking structure, built in 1914, is a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture. The Cathedral building was originally called the Federal building, but was renamed in 1989 because of it's church-like design. In 2005 Andrew Brog, of Brog Properties, purchased the Cathedral Building. In this live/work space each unit is modeled after a typical park avenue penthouse. Classic accents like crown moldings, marble floors and historical fixtures remain preserved. The building truly evokes the glamorous era in which it was built. Residents enjoy the benefit of living in a historic high-rise, while reaping the cosmopolitan nightlife that abounds on the streets below.

San Francisco Tourist Map

For tourism in San Francisco, the downtown area is where most visitors will spend their trip. We've created a tourism map that gives both visitors and tourists the best spots to visit, and exact street coordinates. As the official SF To Do, we have a unique take on the spots worth visiting based on thousands of reader feedback opinions. Plan out the spots you want to visit in advance on your iPad or tablet with our downloadable PDF map. Our San Francisco tourism map will make sure you don't get lost in the maze.

 

San Francisco Cable Cars – The Guide.

Cable cars are a historic symbol recognized around the globe and offer real working transportation up the steep hills of San Francisco. The cable cars begin their runs at 6 a.m. and continue until midnight. You can download our printable cable car map , with all of the stops and top areas or a full San Francisco map . The (very popular) cable cars generally run about every 10 minutes.

From Union Square to the crest of Nob Hill, cable cars offer a thrilling way to move with the City. A ride on San Francisco's cable cars may be the most iconic and memorable of your entire trip to California. Even people who might dismiss cable cars as a cheesy tourist attraction will admit that there is something incredibly romantic about these rides.

The current cable car fare (August 2017) is $7.00 and all fares are one way. There are discounted fares for seniors but only during non-peak hours. If you anticipate using the cable cars more than once in a day you should get a day pass which is $17.00. The all-day pass is also a good choice if you will be transferring from one line to another or if you will be transferring from a cable car to a MUNI bus (as no transfers are available for one-way fares).

 

Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Factory

Ghirardelli Square is a convenient stop for chocolate and ice cream while already visiting at Fisherman's Wharf. Let's assume you've already read carefully enough to realize that Fisherman's Wharf is San Francisco's #1 tourist trap . Filled with medicore restaurants, pushy crowds, and horrid souveniers and overpriced art – Fisherman's Wharf should be avoided if at all possible. Ghiradelli Square is at the end of Fisherman's Wharf, so you are close to your redemption and escape from the Wharf.

The beautiful, historic Ghirardelli Square building is also right next to Aquatic Park – a beautiful beach and park that should be enjoyed. Ghirardelli Square is a large, former chocolate factory that has been reduced to little more than a chocolate store and eatery. While there are two other restaurants (Lori's Diner and McCormick & Kuleto's) the rest of the “square” (mall) is largely occupied by meaningless stores. Ghiradelli chocolate is great stuff – high quality and delicious — and widely available in retailers and groceries across America.

 

San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf: Tourist Trap

Fisherman's Wharf is Hardly a “Hidden Hotspot”…

Fisherman's Wharf is San Francisco's most popular destination and features the Pier 39 shopping / restuarant mall . A long coastal row of seafood restaurants , clam chowder stands , and souvenir stores is combined with a major fishing pier. The wharf can be reached by cable car from Union Square . Most ferry rides take off from here to scenic Marin County and tours to Alcatraz. While popular, you may want to avoid a stay of over a few hours in Fisherman's Wharf if you dislike crowds and “tourist traps”. However, Fisherman's Wharf is great for a 1-2 hour (daytime) stop for fresh sourdough, seafood, and souvenirs for your friends back home. I also love riding on the $25 charter sail boats that leave from the wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf really sucks, but you'll go anyway — I guarantee it. Everybody who visits wants to come to this San Francisco landmark gone sour. The best thing is the sea lions on the side of a vile mall called Pier 39 . There are a zillion sea lions and they bark and make noise a lot. It's cool (the sea lions). But this area (the wharf) teems with tourists, crowds, rip-off artists, flim-flam's, scams, and those extremely annoying people who offer to write you a ticket for having the best smile. Hold onto your wallet here and get out quick. You'll realize quickly you've made a wrong turn, but the temptation to come is almost unavoidable.

 

Chinatown Guide

Chinatown is the quickest trip you will ever make to Hong Kong's present and past. A residential area includes authentic markets and fantastic / inexpensive restaurants. Parking here is particularly unavailable so consider taxi's & buses. You can enjoy a great (& filling!) meal in a Chinatown restaurant and purchase imported wares. Take a trip to the Far East in Chinatown!

The Underground traveler's scam is go to to the alternative, smaller, and cooler “New Chinatown” at 5th Avenue and Clement Street. You will have to take a bus or taxi here as it's about 3 miles from the main tourist areas. A very good alternative to the overcrowded real Chinatown as I will now discuss…

This place can be a bit of a shock as the smells of garbage and food are pungent in the sometimes dirty alleyways. You will see animals is their natural state, rather than the McDonald's way of food presentation. This can be surprising to some visitors. It is also very crowded. Still, a worthwhile short experience…

There are a variety of shady activities that go on in Chinatown's own underground. The park near the Washington Street Parking is a hot spot for games and a little gambling for Chinatown's citizens.

 

Alcatraz Island Tours:

Tickets for Alcatraz Prison

Alcatraz Island – Prison Tours and Tickets

Visiting Alcatraz Island is one of the coolest things you can do in San Francisco. This is a very memorable experience, but by buying Alcatraz tickets in advance for your tour, you can have a great time in this San Francisco island notorious former prison and avoid ticketing hassles.

  • If possible, you should plan Alcatraz tour tickets in advance and purchase tickets to get the date and time you want to visit the island. You can buy tickets via phone, in advance at 415-981-7625 or more efficiently via the various tours on this page. There is a service charge for each ticket purchased via telephone. This will save you a lot of hassle. The tickets are then available at a “will-call” at the Alcatraz ticket booth.

  • If you can't get onto the Alcatraz Island tour, the Blue and Gold Ferry San Francisco Bay Cruise is a great alternative to see the island from the boat.

  • The total time door-to-door for an Alcatraz tour is around half a day.

  • If you try to just show up and take the trip, it can often be sold out and you will be stuck at Fisherman's Wharf for several hours waiting for the trip. In the summer-time, Alcatraz can be sold out for over two weeks with NO tickets. You will be glad you reserved early for your trip.

  • You will need to navigate Fisherman's Wharf's tourist melees to get to Alcatraz. Choose any clam chowder very carefully during this walk.

 

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