Lake Merritt Neighborhood Overview

The Jewel of Oakland

Walk Score: 84

Transit Score: 51

Bike Score: 70

Lake Merritt is widely known as the Jewel of Oakland. This large heart-shaped tidal lagoon sits just east of downtown Oakland and is North America’s oldest wildlife refuge. Lake Merritt is surrounded by lots of green space, abundant wildlife, and a variety of commercial strips and residential neighborhoods, and as such, housing in this area is highly desirable.

The 3 neighborhoods I’m including in my definition of the Lake Merritt area are:

  • Grand Lake

  • Lakeshore

  • Adams Point

Each neighborhood is distinct, and there’s a wide variety of housing options, from condos in Adams Point to vintage homes with original details in the hills overlooking Lake Merritt, and everything in between. The one thing they all have in common is their close proximity to Lake Merritt and all the amenities that come along with that.

Walk or jog along the 3.4-mile path along the lake, and you’re bound to see ducks, geese, blue herons, and more. You’ll also come across a couple of popular lakeside playgrounds, beloved amusement park Children’s Fairyland, and tons of great restaurants and shops. Grand Lake Kitchen, Haddon Hill Cafe, and Bay Grape are a few of my many favorites in this area.

Lake Merritt is also a popular spot for boating, from boat rentals on a fun Saturday afternoon to the Lake Merritt Rowing Club and even dragon boat races. At night, miles of string lights along the lakeside path light up the area, making it the perfect place for a romantic stroll.

If you have a bike, this area is perfect for biking, both for getting around and for sightseeing. The trail around the lake is nice and flat and easy to bike, and surrounding neighborhoods and shopping areas are easily accessible by bike as well.

Commuting to San Francisco? Not a problem. Lake Merritt has its own BART station, located at the bottom of the lake, and Oakland’s 12th Street and 19th Street BART stations are also nearby. A variety of bus lines run through the area, and AC Transit runs transbay services from Lake Merritt as well.

Local Amenities

Shopping Galore!



  • Grand Lake Farmers Market
    • Every Saturday morning, just north of Lake Merritt, the Grand Lake Farmers Market is in full swing, offering fruits and veggies, dried fruit and nuts, meat and fish, flowers, local artisanal products, and a variety of food stands.
    • Have the kids with you? Perfect. Bring them to by the bounce house area to get all that energy out!


Children’s Attractions

  • Children’s Fairyland
    • Fairyland is a whimsical 10-acre amusement park near the northwest corner of Lake Merritt. Young children will love the storybook sets, gentle rides, animals, and live shows.
    • We take our kids to Fairyland several times a year, including every Halloween for the annual Jack o’Lantern Jamboree.
  • Junior Center of Art and Science
    • A wonderful local gem on the northern shore of Lake Merritt enriching K-12 education through arts and sciences.
    • You can visit their exhibits, playroom, and animals Tuesdays through Saturdays.
  • Playgrounds
    • There are two very popular playgrounds on the north side of Lake Merritt.
    • Both boast spectacular views of the lake and have play structures for both older kids and tots.


Outdoor Attractions


Public Schools

  • Bella Vista Elementary | Grades TK-5
    • “We celebrate the diversity of our student body: more than half of our students speak another language at home. In fact, nearly 20 languages are represented at Bella Vista. We are a Community of Learners, promoting academic excellence in everything we do. Our teachers and staff work to inspire students each day to do their very best.”
    • GreatSchools Rating: 5/10
    • Average parent/community rating: 4/5 stars
    • Test scores: About the same as state average
    • School size: ~470 students


  • Cleveland Elementary | Grades K-5
    • “Cleveland Elementary is a diverse and high-performing school, united around the shared values of Inclusiveness and Responsibility. Our extraordinary students and experienced staff work hard together to produce the impressive academic gains our students make every year.”
    • GreatSchools Rating: 8/10
    • Average parent/community rating: 5/5 stars
    • Test scores: Above state average
    • School size: ~400 students



  • La Escuelita Elementary | Grades TK-8
    • “We want La Escuelita to be a place where teachers and students collaborate to create a joyful learning community for mastering Common Core competencies and the 21st century skills of collaboration, communication, and innovation. We will strive to enable every child to understand the multicultural world around them and the many talents within them, to become fulfilled and compassionate people.”
    • GreatSchools Rating: 3/10
    • Average parent/community rating: 5/5 stars
    • Test scores: Below state average
    • School size: ~340 students


  • Westlake Middle | Grades 6-8
    • “Westlake offers an exceptional urban middle school experience for students. We are one of the Oakland schools that made the highest gains in the recent standardized test scores. While our emphasis is on academics, being an Arts Anchor School, we have an award winning instrumental music program, as well as two fully-equipped computer labs, and an extended day program offering both academic and enrichment classes such as dance, video production, art, computer, soccer, football, basketball and cooking.”
    • GreatSchools Rating: 2/10
    • Average parent/community rating: 4/5 stars
    • Test scores: Far below state average
    • School size: ~525 students


Private Schools

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