Tours in Downtown


Select Local Merchants

In the past, Brendan Eliason's oenophilia has landed him gigs at David Coffaro Winery in Dry Creek and Va de Vi Bistro & Wine Bar in Walnut Creek. These days, he mans Periscope Cellars, which stocks an impressive selection of Californian wines. Available by the bottle or from up to 10 taps, the tasting room showcases everything from pinot noirs and zinfandels to mulled wine in winter.

Pours pair perfectly with gourmet bites from the surrounding Swan’s Market; Rosamunde Sausage Grill, for instance, is just steps away. Of course, Periscope's libations are also available to go in refillable 500ml bottles or unlimited handfuls.

538 9th Street
Oakland,
CA
US

When runners cross the finish line at The Color Fight, they won't see a big digital clock keeping track of the time. For one thing, the race organizers don't track race times, and even if they did, the ticking numbers would be cloaked by a cloud of colorful powder. That's because at each kilometer of the 3-mile race, spectators and race personnel launch handfuls of dyed powder at the runners, creating a vivid spectrum that symbolizes the event's emphasis of fun over victory. In order to make the perfect canvas for the rainbow of colors, runners are encouraged to wear white clothing or wrap themselves in a rain cloud.

666 Bellevue Avenue
Oakland,
CA
US

Owner Jeff Cohn of JC Cellars has always been interested in the world of wine, but it wasn't until he tasted a Chateauneuf-du-Pape that the cosmos unfurled before him. "To go from tasting only single varietals to a blend really opened my eyes," he wrote in his bio. He started crafting his own wines and tinkering with production methods, experimenting with different yeast strains. Cohn eventually produced the 2003 Rhodes Vineyard Zinfandel, which was named number three on Wine Spectator's Top 100 List—the first time a California Zinfandel had even been in the top 10.

Now, Cohn curates a roster of 21 vintages based on Rhone grape varietals at JC Cellars. The wines are the product of both his own production techniques and time-tested French methods. Visitors to the cellars can gaze upon the aging barrels during tastings led by seasoned wine educators, before taking a bottle home to christen a life-size replica of the Millennium Falcon.

55 4th St
Oakland,
CA
US

After working at a slew of vineyards and wineries, husband-and-wife team Michael and Anne Dashe struck out on their own, building Dashe Cellars on a foundation of more than 40 years of combined experience. Specializing in single-vineyard zinfandels?including the 2011 Todd Brothers Ranch Old Vines Zinfandel, a wine crafted from grapes grown on 50-year-old vines?they use traditional and natural winemaking techniques. Small-lot fermentation and the application of indigenous yeasts, as well as little to no filtration, result in wines that truly reflect their soil, climate, and regional characteristics, such as indecipherable accents. The Oakland tasting room offers visitors the chance to taste the winery's catalog, allowing them to sip samples of current releases and even purchase bottles on site.

55 4th St.
Oakland,
CA
US

Though Captain Charles Jennings' former life includes stints as first officer and tugboat engineer aboard several historic water vessels, he now exclusively leads daily tours of San Francisco Bay on his 28-foot custom-built, U.S. Coast Guard?approved rigid inflatable boat. He calls upon his previous maritime experience when passing sites such as the SS Jeremiah O'Brien, which he served on during the vessel's 50th anniversary voyage. He also regales passengers with the bay's history, legend, and official twitter account while the boat skims the water at up to nearly 40 miles per hour, courtesy of its 300-horsepower Yamaha engine.

Most tours operate on set routes, highlighting the bay's verdant islands, mooring sites of abandoned Gold Rush ships, and estuaries teeming with still-active cargo ships and lost Marco Polo players. However, Captain Jennings is willing to deviate from the set structures to suit passengers' interests. As far as passenger safety and comfort are concerned, he equips his boat with first-aid kits, motion-sickness remedies such as ginger ale and ginger candies, dry storage for personal effects, and foul-weather gear.

423 Water St
Oakland,
CA
US

Most presidents don't have yachts these days. Perhaps they're content with schooners, Air Force Ones, and secret teleporters. But Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a yacht that he treasured to his dying day. The USS Potomac isn't the type of seacraft that ferries playboys sipping mimosas and listening to Hall and Oates. It's a former Coast Guard cutter Electra boasting 416 tons of inertia designed for up to 30 knots of cruising speed; it's intended for authoritarian command. When the Squire of Hyde Park held the reins, the 165-foot vessel played host to political meetings, the very first visit of the British monarchy, and fishing trips, and it even served as a decoy while FDR and Churchill crafted the Atlantic Charter between games of Marco Polo. But when he passed, his sweet ship suffered decades of neglect. Thanks to Elvis Presley, and his mother's fondness of FDR, the ship was rescued and given to Danny Thomas as a fund raiser for St. Jude's Hospital.

From good works to bad...the Potomac wound up busted by the DEA for running drugs between Mexico and San Francisco Bay, and it was impounded at Treasure Island where she sank. Later the Potomac, in gnarly condition, sat on the Oakland Estuary mud flats for 12 more years. Rotting and rusted the once "Queen of the Potomac" was finally rescued and restored between 1983 and 1995.

Now docked at Jack London Square where landlubbers savor dockside tours, the floating testament to the New Deal maker also departs on chartered cruises and history tours. The expert docents give the full dossier on the FDR, his buoyant baby, and the history of San Francisco Bay as tour-goers soak in the sights and high seas.

530 Water Street
Oakland,
CA
US