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Best-Kept Secret: You'll have a clear shot to San Francisco 

Middle Harbor Shoreline Park

The Port of Oakland, in conjunction with the East Bay Regional Park District, has given us a real treasure of a park amid all the industrial cranes and warehouse docks that make up Oakland's port system. It's a bit tricky to find, but well worth the trip. The park occupies a large chunk of land directly on the bay, sandwiched between the port's ship-loading Imperial Walkers. Follow a quarter-mile walkway along the water that leads to two (free!) telescopes to view San Francisco and the Bay Bridge up close. The parks people have just finished installing a clean, sandy beach to picnic or sunbathe on, and -- if you're really feeling brave -- you can even swim there. Crisscrossing the center of the park are myriad trails for bikes and inline skates, with grassy areas suitable for softball, etc. A large pavilion covers the barbecue area, and the bathroom is too nice to be a public toilet. Walkers will appreciate the park's considerable circumference, while the more sedentary will enjoy all the benches situated to watch the ships coming in from Hong Kong. It'll be your new favorite park.

Readers' pick:
Metro Board Shop
236 Golf Club Rd, Pleasant Hill, 925-363-7440.

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)


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