Best Water-Borne Escape from Humanity in the Middle of Oakland 

The Sailboat House

Oh, the humanity! Oh, to get away from them all. Who would have thought that Lake Merritt, in the middle of downtown Oakland, would be the place to do it? For roughly the price of a six-pack — to be specific, $8 to $15 — canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, and even sailboats can be rented from the Sailboat House. Little experience is necessary. Off you go into the middle of Lake Merritt, with only the seagulls' squawking and the splish-splash of oars in the water to accompany the outing. Honking cars and rumbling trucks all fade into the background as the breeze becomes the only real sound track. The Tribune Tower, state and federal court buildings, and that narrow gothic apartment building on the east side near Grand Avenue (the one that looks like it should be Batman's West Coast haunt) all shine in the sun. The sky is big, blue, and all-encompassing from Bay to hills. Try and time your outing for sunset, when the fire-burnt reds and canary yellows in the clouds cast silhouettes on Oakland's art deco and modernist downtown. They are all worth getting chilly for as the evening breeze kicks up.
(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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