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Enjoy Oakland on a Budget

Cheap areas to stay in Oakland

Buzzy Oakland is a haven of hipster cafes and cutting-edge bistros, elegant turn-of-the-century architecture and lovely tree-lined streets, all just a short hop on the BART network from the heart of central San Francisco. The upshot is that cheap Oakland hotels provide a fine and wallet-friendly alternative to settling near Mission or the Golden Gate. You'll catch them in the happening middle of town on 13th Street or beset by veggie kitchens and barista-led coffee shops on 11th Street. Other top Oakland hotel deals are on offer near Oakland International Airport to the south.

Cheap hotels in Oakland

A peaceful spot near the Zen grounds of the Hayward Japanese Gardens is on offer at the Budget Inn of Hayward. The rooms are no-frills affairs there, though WiFi connections and parking come free. It might seem like a budget option, but the Marina Inn on San Francisco Bay has plenty of extra features – think a swimming pool, outdoor bubble tub, and fitness center. Then comes the Berkeley Inn, touting 25 guestrooms near the university district to the north.

Where to find cheap food in Oakland

Oakland's bohemian vibe means it's an excellent place to go in search of off-beat eateries and ethnic kitchens. Just check out the north-western end of Chinatown, where you'll smell black-bean sauces sizzling over rice noodles, broiling Canton broths, and dim sum by the steamer load. Close to that, 11th Street turns into a medley of Latin flavors, bursting with Brazilian empanada stands and gaucho steakhouses. And then comes the blocks north of 14th, which have affordable Indian take outs and sports bars awash with stacked American burgers.

Cheap things to do in Oakland

The striking architecture of the Bay Area hits a zenith in Old Oakland. Simply strolling the blocks there, between Jack London Square and Chinatown, promises glimpses of handsome West Coast homes with wrought-iron colonnades and stone inlays. It's also a district packed with enticing boutiques and cafes – a land of fair-trade coffee roasters and Victorian-era haberdasheries bursting with antiques and trinkets. When the California sun comes out, a trip to the lapping waters of Lake Merritt is a good option. You can hire gondolas to take you out on romantic cruises or simply kick back on the grassy banks to enjoy views of the rising hills in the distance. Meanwhile, hefty student and family reductions mean the Chabot Space & Science Center might be on the menu for budget travelers. Head there for cosmic planetarium shows and amazing celestial exhibits.

Cheap ways to get around Oakland

Getting from your Oakland hotel to the main attractions in this corner of the Bay Area should be a breeze. There's an integrated bus, train, and ferry network that can be accessed with a contactless Clipper card. That links straight into the greater BART system, which you'll need to take when you want to hop across to see the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco's downtown. Oakland is also known for its green urban bike program, which means navigating on 2 wheels is a top choice come the summer months.

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