Lake Merritt is a large tidal lagoon in the center of Oakland. Designated the nation's first wildlife refuge in 1870 you'll find a cross-section of Oakland residents enjoying this spot every day of the week. Joggers, walkers, families, bird watchers, office workers and boaters all call Lake Merritt their own personal park. There is a boat house where you can rent canoes and rowboats, a Children's Fairyland for the kids and a nature interpretive center. The path around the lake is about 3 miles and a gentle walk. Pack a lunch, people watch and catch the many water birds in action. At night a "necklace of lights" illuminates the water. A gem close to Oakland's vibrant downtown.
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Take a Walk Around Oakland's Lake Merritt
In Oakland on a sunny day? Follow the locals and you’re sure to end up at Lake Merritt.
Once a tidal estuary—a salt water marsh—this land was donated by Dr. Samuel Merritt in 1869, the same year that it was declared a wildlife refuge.
Today, Lake Merritt is a saltwater and freshwater lake, the largest of its kind in an urban area, with 3.4 miles of path around its circumference—perfect for walking or running, as you’ll find many people doing.
There are many cafés and restaurants around Lake Merritt to sit down and have a drink; at night, check out the iconic lampposts and twinkling lightbulbs that light up all around the lake path.