When you’re planning an outing or getaway to downtown Oakland, California or near San Francisco or Berkeley this Fall and Winter, make sure you check out the Fox Theater schedule for live music, comedy, and concerts — plus, peep our suggestions below for amazing things to do nearby that’ll warm you up as the days and nights cool down.
As a former movie theater, Oakland’s Fox Theater grew up showing some of the nation’s greatest performers onscreen. These days, the venue is still bringing talented performers to the Bay Area—but now it’s on stage. Acts like Twenty One Pilots, Tove Lo, and Purity Ring, as well as names like Chance the Rapper and Kendrick Lamar, have all set foot on the Fox’s stage.
Since its opening in 1928, in fact, the historic building has had several lives, including as part of a school and a concert venue. But if it weren’t for local support, the Fox would have closed its doors forever when it took a hiatus in 1970. In true Bay Area fashion, the venue’s legacy was fought for by the community, who pushed for the place to be named an Oakland City Landmark in 1978. A year later, the Fox got on the National Register of Historic Places as well.
The Fox Theater in Oakland, California is fulfilling its destiny of housing some of the world’s greatest performers. In October you can catch the dreamy five-piece band Grouplove (10/6), solo act St. Lucia (10/7) and indie folksters Bon Iver (10/18, 10/19, 10/20) — in November Mac Miller (11/9), Sturgill Simpson (11/19, 11/20), and The Naked and Famous (11/30) will all grace the stage — and look forward to epic performances to wrap up the year in December with Two Door Cinema Club (12/1), Snoop Dogg (12/12) and Primus (12/31) to name just a few. These musicians will leave you floating on a cloud post-show; prepare for the feeling with some of the dreamiest destinations downtown Oakland has to offer before you hit the Fox.
Things to do in downtown Oakland before the show at Fox Theater:
It wasn’t until 2009, though, that the Fox as we know it was born. After a lengthy renovation, the theater has emerged as a building wearing many hats: it now functions as a school, a concert venue, and a restaurant, all wrapped into one unique space.
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Thanks to BART—one of the Bay Area’s speedier public transit systems—downtown Oakland is easily accessible from San Francisco or Berkeley, as well as more southern parts of the Bay Area.
Start your evening early with something sweet—say, a dark chocolate-topped cronut or cron’t from Donut Savant, just across the street from the 19th Street BART station.
Then, head up Broadway towards 21st to find Paramount Theatre. The art deco space took over where the Fox left off decades ago and now frequently plays classic movies alongside its usual programming of concerts, symphony and ballet. If there’s a film on the books for the day you’re in town, don’t miss it: An Old Hollywood flick is the perfect way to wind down from the week and get ready for the weekend. If a live performance or movie’s not in the cards for the time you visit, the oversized marquis sign hanging over the entrance is a great photo opp nonetheless.
When you’re ready for some eats, follow 20th up a block until you hit Telegraph, then double back to the corner where the street meets 18th. There, the perfectly trendy eatery Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café has all the things you need before a wistfully pop-inspired show: great food (to fuel you for dancing later on), ironic décor (for the Instagram), and like-minded people (the late-night spot draws revelers of all varieties, but its proximity to the Fox and other clubs means the clientele skew towards music lovers).
Post-dinner, walk a couple minutes down Telegraph towards 17th and you’ll pass two bars worth stepping into. First, Make Westing serves cocktails and better-than-your-average bar bites with a side of bocce ball—a literal, and insanely fun, way to pregame the Fox.
A couple doors down, Somar Bar offers an equally lively setting, with music and a well-utilized dance floor. Somar is a smaller space than Make, and instead of bocce, your pre-show entertainment will be in the form of beautiful artwork lining the walls.
Enjoy your time in downtown Oakland before the show, and if you’re new to the area, spend some days leading up to or after your night at the Fox exploring the rest of what this area of the East Bay has to offer, including Lake Merritt, Preservation Park, the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment, and the Oakland Museum of California.
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Now it’s time to head to your final destination: The Fox Theater. From Make or Somar, double back up Telegraph and head towards 19th Street; your route will take you right by the historic venue. Stroll inside, grab a cool beverage and a spot with a good view of the stage, and gear up for a vibrant night out.