There’s a large diaspora of cultures, countries and cuisines represented across The Bay Area. The region has many Black-owned businesses, restaurants and places to stay along the coast.
The diverse and thriving communities is the quality that makes the Bay Area truly special. Each community brings its own rich history and cultural fusion to the iconic Northern California region. Napa Valley is known for picturesque vineyards and wineries, making it the perfect escape from normal life. From soul food to jazz clubs, the Pacific Coast is brimming with Black history that has shaped its culture and an abundance of coastal charm.
The Bay Area, California, Quick Travel Facts
Play: Things to Do in The Bay Area
Founded in 1960, Marcus Books is the oldest Black-owned independent bookstore in the country. This cultural landmark has served as a hub for the Black community in the Bay Area. The store offers an extensive collection of books, literature and art by Black authors and artists.
The store also hosts events and discussions that highlight Black culture and history, while its leaders fiercely advocate for the Black community. Any traveler who is a book lover, a history buff or simply looking to connect to the local Black community in Oakland, this is the perfect place to start. Marcus Bookstore is a must-visit destination that will leave everyone feeling encouraged, empowered and inspired.
Black Food Tour — Downtown Oakland
The Black Food Tour in Downtown Oakland showcases the vibrancy of Oakland’s Black-owned restaurants, culture and cuisine. Led by knowledgeable natives, visitors will try up to five local restaurants. Each location offers up their own delicious culinary experience.
As travelers indulge in amazing globally-inspired food, the tour guides will share the unique landscape, art, culture and history of the area.
San Francisco Bay Sunset Catamaran Cruise
The San Francisco Sunset Catamaran Cruise is worth every moment because of the breathtaking views of the Pacific Coast. For an hour and a half, travelers will sail past Alcatraz Island and under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. The calming sail will be met with the picturesque scenery of the stunning San Francisco skyline.
Guests can take in the 360-degree views from the protected cabin or on the deck with their complimentary drink of choice. This excursion allows travelers to skip the overcrowded tourist spots and catch an unforgettable sunset.
Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD)
The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) is a contemporary art museum that celebrates the global Black community. Located in San Francisco, MoAD visitors will see incredible artifacts and engage in challenging conversations about the history and impact of the African diaspora. A visit to MoAD is a great way to support an important Black cultural institution, and every second Saturday is Community Free Day. Guests can enjoy free admission to all MoAD exhibits.
Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Full-Day Tour
This beautiful Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Full-Day Tour departs from and returns to Union Square in San Francisco. Visitors are able to sit back and relax in an air-conditioned coach bus with reclining seats. The driver will takes you to three wineries throughout the day.
Travelers will not only get to taste some of the country’s most recognized wines, but also go behind the scenes at local wineries and learn about winemaking firsthand. All wine-tasting fees are included in the tour price, which allows everyone to sip and savor worry-free.
Wine tasting enthusiasts have the opportunity to shop or grab some lunch at Sonoma Square Plaza or Yountville at their own expense.
Gourmet: Best Black-Owned Restaurants in The Bay Area
AlaMar Kitchen & Bar
AlaMar Kitchen & Bar is a Black-owned and Michelin-recommended restaurant in Oakland led by Executive Chef and Owner Nelson German. The Caribbean-inspired drinks and Cajun-influenced menu are bursting with flavor from the starters to the desserts.
The menu items include starters, like plantain tostadas topped with braised oxtail, main entrees like whole Dungeness crab boil, and desserts, like maple sweet potato cheesecake topped with candied pineapple and whipped cream. They also offer Happy Hour menu specials.
Sobre Mesa is the sister cocktail lounge of AlaMar located in Oakland. This Afro-Latino kitchen and lounge is where great conversation connects people through cultural food, drinks and music.
The relaxed, yet refined atmosphere is inspired by Owner and Chef Nelson German’s Dominican roots and African ancestry. The tapas menu includes foods inspired by African and Caribbean diasporas, like roasted bone marrow, picadillo empanadas, lobster creole and roasted stuffed ripe plantains. The craft cocktails are made with premium small-batch spirits and artisanal aromatics from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, New Orleans, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Mela Bistro is an Ethiopian restaurant in Oakland with a relaxing atmosphere combining natural elements and modern design. Executive Chef Adiam Tsegaye crafted a bold and mouthwatering menu that highlights local and seasonal ingredients. Ethiopian recipes like Sambusa, Asa Kitfo and Misir Wat transport the taste buds to East Africa.
ZZoul Cafe is one of the only authentic Sudanese restaurants in San Francisco. The husband-and-wife duo Aref and Dalia Elgaali moved to the States in 2016 from Sudan and wanted to bring the culture and taste of their homeland to the Bay Area.
The menu features recreations of generational family recipes like fatayer, Sudanese lentil soup and roasted lamb shank. There are also traditional desserts, like Basbosa and Roz Biliban.
Founder and chef Matt Horn creates soul food with culture and comfort in mind. Kowbird is a family-owned restaurant in Oakland that delivers mouth-watering crispy chicken plates and sandwich recipes.
The dessert menu also is delicious. It features banana pudding, candy apples and homemade seasonal pies available on rotation.
Stay: Best Places to Stay In The Bay Area
Spacious, Sunny, Serene Upstairs Apartment
This Spacious, Sunny, Serene Upstairs Apartment is a Black woman-owned Airbnb in Oakland that’s perfect for extended stay trips.
Travelers can enjoy roomy bedrooms and plenty of storage space. There’s also a bonus office space for those who need to get some remote work done during travel. The fully equipped kitchen has everything any guest could possibly need. It is equipped with a gas stove, multiple appliances and a dishwasher.
Travelers also can unwind with in the living room by watching the 44-inch flat-screen television or looking out at the garden, city skyline and a stunning view of the Oakland hills.
The Tiny Heauxtel
The Tiny Heauxtel located in Oakland is a cozy tiny home located in a vibrant and friendly predominately Spanish-speaking community. Travelers will be able to immerse themselves in the local culture and taste amazing street food.
It is packed with full amenities and two Smart TVs with free Netflix access. Guests can also enjoy a calm morning before the next excursion with a nice cup of coffee or tea. There is a Keurig with assorted flavored pods or a hot water kettle for tea.
Modern Living at Tech-Forward Townhouse
The Modern Living at Tech-Forward Townhouse is located in the vibrant West Oakland area across the bridge from San Francisco and near the Emeryville shopping district. This sleek and stylish smart townhome offers modern amenities including solar electricity, a smart lock and a Nest thermostat.
The comfort and convenience of the fully equipped kitchen and the attached garage with a remote is perfect for a solo or group stay. The area also offers easy access to abundant public transit connections, including BART to Caltrain, cable cars and local bus routes.
Get Away: Getting To and Around The Bay Area
The Bay Area has three airports: San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Oakland International Airport (OAK) and San Jose International Airport (SJC). Each airport can work into your itinerary, depending on where you are staying in The Bay Area.
The San Francisco International Airport is the largest of the three airports.
There is more flexibility when traveling by car because the Bay Area has a lot of activities, hotels and restaurants that are spaced out. Travelers also don’t want to miss the many scenic routes and remote beaches in the area. There are rental cars available near the airports.
Travelers should make sure to plan the route and give themselves more time because the Bay Area has heavy rush hour traffic on weekdays. Summer is especially busy with a high increase of visitors along the coast.
The Bay Area has three main public transit options. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is a fast and efficient transit system meant for long distances. It runs underground along San Francisco and Oakland, and above ground in other areas. It connects to other transit systems, like the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (Muni), which is San Francisco’s most comprehensive public transit system. The historic cable cars are also a popular tourist attraction. The Golden Gate Transit serves the North Bay area. Its buses run across the Golden Gate Bridge, and connect to San Francisco and the Golden Gate Ferry.
Explore The Bay Area On Foot
The Bay Area has so many different neighborhoods to explore with parks, scenic vistas and interesting attractions complementing its laid-back charm.
There are various terrains, so plan comfortable and appropriate footwear for the trip. There are plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Some of the outdoor opportunities include Muir Woods National Monument and Big Basin Redwoods State Park. There is also iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge for sightseeing experiences.
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