Oakland and the Greater East Bay offer numerous opportunities to see the beauty of Mother Nature. But did you know not having a car doesn't mean you can experience it?
The following are AC Transit bus lines that will take you and your family away from the hustle and bustle to a park or recreational area for a day - or even a few hours - of relaxation.
Line 20 - Crab Cove, Robert Crown Memorial State Beach
On it's trip from MacArthur Blvd. and Fruitvale Avenue to Downtown Oakland, the 20 takes a trip through Alameda, making it a perfect bus to take to the beach. Shoreline Drive and Robert Cron Memorial State Beach have a lot in common with sunny and sandy strolls associated with Southern California - but without the giant waves you would find at a true Pacific shoreline. It's also home to Crab Cove, run by the East Bay Regional Park District. This visitor center features both an aquarium and classroom for summer campers and field trippers.
Note, the 20 only continues from Alameda to Downtown Oakland until about 10 p.m.; Alameda to Fruitvale service continues until a little past midnight.
Line 67 - Tilden Regional Park, Tilden Nature Area and Lake Anza
More than 740 acres of activities and hiking trails await you at this regional treasure. Tilden Regional Park features a botanic garden, golf course, an environmental educational center, a merry-go-round and a steam train. Tilden Nature Area is a preserve with both native and introduced plants of many varieties. Hikers who climb Wildcat Peak are rewarded with a phenomenal view of Oakland and the Bay in the West and Orinda and Walnut Creek in the east. Lake Anza is a popular spot that's open for swimming from March to November each year and for fishing year-round. (Fishing license required if you are over 16.)
On weekends and holidays, Line 67 is extended to serve more areas of the park; on weekdays it only stops at the Canon Drive and Shasta Road entrances. Buses run every 30 minutes from the Berkeley BART station.
Line 75 - Dunsmuir House and Gardens, Lake Chabot Park
If you take the 75 from Foothill Square towards Fairmont Hospital on any weekday, there are a couple of green spaces you could get off at. Owned by the city of Oakland, the Dunsmuir-Hellman Historic Estate was built in 1899. It's a step back in time - Oakland history with a view. The house and the grounds that surround it host a variety of events throughout the year including an annual Easter Egg Hunt.
If you don't mind a 20-minute walk, you can take the same bus to Estudillo Avenue and walk to the South Entrance of Lake Chabot Park. Or you can transfer to the NX4 and enter at Chabot Road, on the far east side of the park. However, you get there, you'll find plenty to do on both land and on water. In addition to hiking and camping, you can bike, swim and even fish at the park. The Skyline National Trail north of the lake even connects back to Redwood Regional Park.
Line 339 - Chabot Space & Science Center, Redwood Regional Park, Joaquin Miller Park and Roberts Regional Recreation Area
Redwood Regional Park can be easily reached from both the 339 and 39 bus routes. If you continue on the 339, you also can get off at Joaquin Miller Park, named for Oakland's 19th century "Poet of the Sierras."
Continuing up the hill, the bus route arrives at Chabot Space & Science Center, a Smithsonian affiliate that features both exhibits about science and the largest research-quality telescopes open to the public west of the Mississippi.
Unfortunately, 339 evening and weekend service has been discontinued. The bus only runs during school hours - from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The 39 runs a little longer during the week - from about 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. - with a final stop at Skyline Blvd. and Balmoral Drive. It's a good alternative bus for the parks, but not Chabot.
It's important to check all routes by calling 511 or visiting the AC Transit website to confirm before setting out on your trip.
Have bike? Travel by bus
For example, the scenic Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in West Oakland used to be served by Line 13. That route has been completely discontinued. But it is still possible to reach the park by taking any of the bus lines that service West Oakland BART and bringing a bicycle to ride down Seventh street.
All AC Transit buses have front-mounted bike racks for up to two bicycles. On the big, green commuter coaches (known as MCIs), two additional bikes can be stored in the cargo bays under the bus when the front racks are full. Bicycles are not allowed inside any bus from 5:30 a.m. to midnight.
How to load a bike on AC Transit
If you accidentally leave your bike on the bus, call AC Transit Lost & Found at (510) 891-4706. All found bicycles are brought to 1600 Franklin St. in downtown Oakland, generally two days after retrieval, and are kept for 30 days thereafter.