“Oakland is finally getting noticed as a hip, cool destination,” says Natalie Alvanez, director of marketing and operations for Visit Oakland. “It has an amazing art and music scene, and it’s become arguably one of the best foodie destinations in the country. At the same time, there’s an abundance of outdoor spaces that include a bustling waterfront, an urban lake and the East Bay Regional Parks system.”
Noteworthy: In fall 2014, the city plans to unveil the Oakland Airport Connector, a train line that will run 3.2 miles from the airport to Bay Area Rapid Transit’s Coliseum Station, with stops downtown.
The city has been making it onto a lot of “best of” lists lately, including a selection as America’s most exciting city by real-estate company Movoto. For planners, that excitement translates into a wealth of meeting space, diverse restaurants and cultural attractions.
The 489-room Oakland Marriott City Center is perhaps the city’s best-known hotel. Offering an urban downtown setting to complement its 25,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, the hotel underwent a $17 million renovation in 2012 that included the addition of several allergen-free rooms to its inventory.
Frances Goodson, a planner for African Methodist Episcopal Church, coordinated an annual conference at Oakland Marriott. The church hosted 500 people from around the United States for the weeklong family-oriented event, which included meetings at the hotel, off-site activities and functions at AME church.
“The Marriott provided easy accessibility for our attending families,” says Goodson. “For locals, that meant easy access to the BART station, which is one block away, to the freeway and to the Oakland airport. But it’s also close to Jack London Square, Chinatown, a variety of local restaurants and a ferry service they could take into San Francisco for the day, which we planned as one of our off-site family events.”
Another waterfront location is the USS Potomac, a decommissioned military vessel that once served as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Floating White House” and can be rented for special events.
Oakland Quick Facts