Let's face it: Oakland has found its place in the sun.
Our neighbor to the east has been honored with a slew of awards over the past year, including a nod from the New York Times as a top-five worldwide travel destination and the title of Most Exciting City in America by real estate blog Movoto. M.C. Hammer even released a campaign to publicly preach about why he hella hearts his home city.
All these accolades led local blogger Broke-Ass Stuart to ponder a burning question: "Why are all my friends moving to Oakland?"
We here at HuffPost SF can think of a few reasons -- besides the fact that rents across the bay aren't quite yet too damn high (knock on wood until our knuckles bruise). With the completion of Lake Merritt's dazzling makeover this past weekend and the launch of the Jack London Square night market this spring, it's never seemed like a more appropriate time to sit back and reflect upon why Oakland truly is, far and away, our [second] favorite place in the universe.
Here are ten reasons why:
Lake Merritt's Makeover
Oakland's most beloved body of water <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Oakland-celebrates-Lake-Merritt-revival-4590228.php" target="_blank">recently underwent</a> a $122 million makeover. Now visitors can not only enjoy sparkling facilities, but boaters can kayak directly to Jack London Square.
$2 A's Games
Did you shell out $50 for a Giants game recently? Did you know you can get <a href="http://oakland.athletics.mlb.com/oak/ticketing/bart_2_wed.jsp" target="_blank">A's tickets for $2 on certain Wednesdays</a>? Did you know you can step out of your office and take BART directly to the Coliseum entrance? Now you know.
New Parkway Theater
The New Parkway movie theater is <a href="http://www.thenewparkway.com/" target="_blank">now open</a>! Beer! Pizza! Couches! Movies!
Tourettes Without Regrets
The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/18/jamie-dewolf-l-ron-hubbard_n_1683062.html" target="_blank">infamous underground performance bazaar</a> takes place on the first Thursday of every month. Stick around the next night for Art Murmur and you'll remember why you love the Bay Area.
American Steel Statues
The <a href="http://www.tiaballantine.org/1/post/2012/06/american-steel-genius.html" target="_blank">behemoth steel statues</a>, produced by local artist Karen Cusolito and frequently on display at Burning Man, bring new life to the West Oakland warehouse district. Check out the amazing graffiti murals while you're at it.
Sarah Kirnon brings home-cooking to new heights at this small, affordable <a href="http://missolliesoakland.com/" target="_blank">gem of an eatery</a>. Inspired by growing up eating her grandmother's cooking in Barbados, the local chef adds a Northern California twist to classic caribbean fare. <em>(CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this article, Sarah Kirnon's name was misspelled.) </em>
The New Parish
The New Parish is perhaps the most <a href="http://www.thenewparish.com/" target="_blank">amazingly underrated music venue in town</a>. The layout offers a good view from any point in the house, and the bar serves up surprisingly good drinks. On stage, expect both local bands and big name headliners like Estelle, as well as the occasional secret show by old time favorites like Too Short and The Chris Robinson Brotherhood.
Redwood Regional Park
It's hard to believe that the view above is in Oakland, but this little city is indeed full of surprises. We love <a href="http://www.ebparks.org/parks/redwood" target="_blank">Redwood Regional Park</a> for its stunning views and empty paths, just a few miles from downtown.
The silent, <a href="http://ecstaticdance.org/wednesday/" target="_blank">interactive dance party</a> has already invigorated communities in major cities throughout the country, and Oakland's outpost is equally enthusiastically attended. Three times a week, the historic Sweet's Ballroom transforms into a magical mystery land of music and movement.
Jack London Square Night Market
On the first Friday of each month, just a hop and a skip from Oakland's inimitable Art Walk, is the newly-launched <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/286235118124293/" target="_blank">night market in Jack London Square</a>, featuring food and crafts by local artists and producers.