Reasons to Stay and Play 

Oakland's Chinatown, downtown, and historic districts offer a mix of entertainment as diverse as their population.

When the high-rises shut their doors after a long day, Downtown Oakland continues to offer plenty of reasons to stay and play. Within a square mile, downtown encompasses Old Oakland and Chinatown — two great reasons to eat, shop, and play through the day and night.

Grocery stores are as plentiful as restaurants in Chinatown, but New Sun Hung Fat Supermarket (325 10th St., Oakland, 510-238-8618) ups the ante. Outside, piles of just-picked produce spill into the streets while inside creatures swim and crawl in tanks and boxes. Turtles, saucer-sized frogs, and soft shell crab clamber over one another next to squirming mounds of snails and aquariums full of snapper and catfish. When you're browsing the noodle aisle and recognize the chef who just served you lunch down the street, you know you're in the right spot.

All dim sum is not created equal. Tao Yuen Pastry (816 Franklin St., Oakland, 510-834-9200) forgoes some of the fanfare, like whirring carts, but doesn't compromise on the food. While a line of people snakes out the door, the siu mai, har gow, and buns filled with pork, dates, sweet taro, or red bean curd overflow at every turn. Nothing more than a counter, the small shop doesn't offer sit-down service, but most items are under $1 and are perfect companions for browsing the myriad of brightly colored stores that make up the neighborhood.

As the baby boomers complain that video games have ruined our youth, it's refreshing to find a gaming store that relies on purely analog enjoyment. Across the street from the Oakland Convention Center, Endgame (921 Washington St., Oakland, 510-465-3637, has a wide variety of games for all palates — Candyland and Dungeons and Dragons share space with games imported from overseas. Best of all, there's plenty of room upstairs for a pickup game of canasta or Warhammer 40K — it's your call.

Art programs in schools are always on the chopping block, but that doesn't mean that creative outlets for our kids will cease to exist. The Museum of Children's Art (538 9th St., Ste. 210, Oakland, 510-465-8770, isn't only a place where kids can display their sculptures, paintings, and wacky creations; the building also doubles as a studio space for budding artists eighteen months and older.


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