Growing up in the Bay Area, I assume that I’ve seen everything there is to see here. But it turns out I know nothing (Jon Snow). I feel like I’ve spent so much time in the same parts of San Francisco or Berkeley or Palo Alto that there’s cities I’ve never been to – like Alameda. So, on a gloomy Saturday morning this summer, I made the trek to Alameda for a day on The Island (yes, that’s what it’s known as).
Our drive that morning was a little slow, but it started picking up once we got closer to Oakland. After getting into Oakland, you cross a small bridge that connects Alameda to Oakland – and boom, you’re on The Island. It felt a bit like we drove into a time warp once we crossed over that bridge, tbh. You drive down this long street through neighborhoods, flanked by green trees on both sides. The houses are older but pretty, many of them Victorians. I read on some travel guide that Alameda has more Victorian style homes than San Francisco! The neighborhood also reminded me of the kind of neighborhood that would be in a movie (especially a 90s family film).
Once we made it out of the residential area, our first stop was at Pippa & Co,, a paper goods and crafts store! I’ve been following this shop for awhile, and I was super excited to finally visit in person. When you walk in, it’s an explosion of happiness. There are balloons, streamers, party favors, and so much more in fun pastels and bright colors. It’s basically if Pinterest and Etsy had a baby, this would be the result. I literally wanted to buy everything because there were cute decorations for every possible occasion, ever. It can be a little pricey, but that’s because they also sell other small brands, so it is to be expected. The shop owner is friendly and more than willing to help you out. Pippa & Co. is also opening another location soon in Berkeley, on College and Ashby! If I ever get my own paper goods shop up and running, I would want it to be like this. #goals
After our first stop, we got pretty hungry. Initially, the plan was to make it to Mama Papa Lithuanian Restaurant, because a.) neither of us have had Lithuanian food before and b.) it’s supposedly the only Lithuanian restaurant on the West Coast (Yelp told me that, so not sure how accurate that is). We couldn’t find parking near the restaurant, so we went for one of our backup options, Burma Superstar. It was great because we found seating very quickly (which was way better than that hour we waited for the main location in SF), and they have lunch specials! In hindsight, I realize how close the restaurants are to each other and that we could have easily gone to our first choice, but we were hungry and it’s easier to go to something you’re familiar with, especially on a gloomy day.
After being incredibly full, we decided to walk around explore downtown Alameda. We walked through a few of the shops along the street. There seem to be plenty of random shops and boutiques for people to walk in and out of. We walked into Daisy’s, which is a home and garden shop, with different plants, planters, local goods, and home goods. It had a lot of cute things, and it was bursting with Alameda and East Bay pride!
We also walked across the street and went into To Herb With Love, which is a French inspired boutique. They have sunglasses, apparel, and the shop owner also makes bath salts that are customizable! I liked the interior of it with the hat boxes and the French vintage feel. We also stopped by Books, Inc., which has several locations throughout the Bay. It was nice to walk into a bookstore since there are no more Borders and the Barnes & Noble closest to me shut down as well. We also walked by the Alameda Theatre, which is the movie theater located in downtown. The theater has been fully restored, so it stands out with its art deco design and architecture. It only adds to the time warp vibe, but I like that they retained the original feel of it.
Now that we had walked off some of lunch, it was time for dessert! Tucker’s Ice Cream is also on this block, so we went straight in. It’s been serving up ice cream since 1941, and it totally has that old school ice cream parlor feel. They have a variety of flavors, ice cream cartons to take home, and other little goodies to try as well. We got chocolate chip and birthday cake on cones. Though it was cloudy outside, it was beginning to warm up in the afternoon, so the ice cream was melting quickly! The chocolate chip tasted like the classic, eternal flavor and the birthday cake was sweet and extra creamy. It reminded me of being little and going to older ice cream shops before a lot of these artisan shops started popping up (which I do love, also).
With food and shopping taken care of, we finally made it out to the beach! This was my first time going to the beach this summer, actually. You would think living in California means you would go to the beach more, right? Not at all. At least not in Northern California, anyway. I’ve read that Alameda’s beaches are warmer than Ocean Beach in San Francisco or Half Moon Bay. I’ve always froze on those other beaches, so I was glad to be able to sit and relax on the beach without catching a cold.
These beaches are much quieter, which I really appreciate. Going to Santa Cruz can get hectic between the traffic and the hoards of people camped out on the beach. Since Alameda is an island, the coastline provides ample space to relax by the water. San Francisco was hazily visible through the clouds off to the side, as are the cranes and the USS Hornet Museum. When it started getting cooler in the late afternoon, we finally packed up and went home. I had a great time exploring a new town that’s close to me! I hope to be able to do more of that soon. Be sure to watch my latest vlog to see more details of my “Day on The Island”: