On our stay in Oakland California for three weeks this past summer, we had the joy of getting to know Lake Merrit! I visited Lake Merrit many times as a child, and even took sailing lessons there, but this was really the first time that I was able to explore it from every angle. As it turns out, Lake Merrit, while not all that large, is the largest urban lake in the United States, and greatly enjoyed by the inhabitants of the city, who come to run and walk around the perimeter on a paved trail, or enjoy the grassy areas and other amenities. We spent several days exploring Lake Merrit, and have fond memories or our city vacation which included a little bit of lake!
At the Lake Merrit sailing club one can learn to sail, starting with the smallest single sail boat out there, called an El Torro, I believe, though experienced sailers can rent sun fishes as well as slightely larger sail boats. Paddle boats are also available for rent, and this is the perfect place to learn to sail as there's enough wind but not too much to make it scary. Plus, the water isn't deep, so in the event of capsizing, one can very likely even stand up. Next time I think I'll plan ahead and take some private sailing lessons to refresh my memory, and then rent a sailboat, much more fun than a paddle boat!
Then again, there is also a rowing club, and I imagine one can learn to row, for some real exercise!
The historic rowing club building is now a very well designed upscale restuarant (not kosher) and they were so very nice about letting us use the bathrooms, plus that enabled me to take a look around!
There are many grassy areas around the lake, though unfortunately the Canadian Geese have made quite a mess of things, so one will need a blanket to sit on the grass.
The historic Dunsmuir House is not open to the public as I believe it once was, but nonetheless a stunning example of a free-standing Victorian home.
The views as one explores the perimeter of the lake are quite beautiful, this one looking west.
An apartment building which is a reminder of Oakland's rich history as an upscale suburb of San Franciso.
Looking across the lake with the sailing club in the foreground and the Kaiser buildings on the right.
The lake was fairly recently converted into a salt water lake, (connecting it to the San Francisco Bay) making it more ecologically sound and a much better environment for wildlife. Look at this pelican!
And of course, not to forget the lawn bowling club and it's gorgeous historic building! One can learn to lawn bowl or just come to watch on weekends. (There is also a lawn bowling club in Golden Gate park with free lessons, check it out!)
And last but not least, a visit to Lake Merrit with children, might include stopping by Fairy Land, a park for kids with all kinds of structures and play areas dedicated to Mother Goose. So brush up on those historic tales if you want your kids to get something out of it, and it's a sweet place for kids say up to ages seven or eight, and my kids ages 8, 9, and 11 at the time enjoyed it, but weren't ecstatic, then again their knowledge of Mother Goose is almost zero.
Note: One of my favorite memories from childhood was the rock-a-bye-baby up in the tree, but that has been taken down as the rhyme is actually dreadful, as really are many of the Mother Goose rhymes, so interesting that this was considered material for children!
So that's it for Lake Merrit, a nice place to visit if you'll be spending time in the East Bay area of the San Francisco Bay area. Oh, and there's also a bandshell where one can enjoy concerts on Sunday at noon I believe, so keep that in mind!