- ADA Inclusion Center
- Adult Sports & Enrichment
- Community Gardening
- Cultural Arts Programs
- Discovery Centers
- Dog Play Areas
- Joaquin Miller Park
- Lake Merritt
- Oakland City Stables
- Recreation Centers and Facilities
- Rental Facilities
- Rotary Nature Center
- Sponsors & Partners
- Youth Sports
Our Upcoming Events
The Jewel of Oakland
Lake Merritt is a focal point, it stands as the jewel of Oakland, even crowned with lights. A unique fresh and salt-water lake, the largest such lake located within an urban area consisting of 3.4 miles around the circumference of the lake, covering 155 acres of land. The depth of Lake Merritt varies upon how much water is allowed to filter in from the Estuary and upon rain water intake.
With adjacent and nearby parks and amenities to enjoy such as the green space at Snow Park, discover the abundant wildlife and the Rotary Nature Center, view the beautiful plants at the Lakeside Gardens, the fitness area and baseball diamond at Eastshore Park, jog up and down the Cleveland Cascades, play a set of tennis at the Athol Tennis Courts, rent a kayak at the Lake Merritt Boating Center, read a book from the Main or Lakeview Library, or bring your magical keys to enjoy a whole new world at Children's Fairyland ~ the fun begins here!
- Lakeside Park
- Wildlife Sanctuary - California Wildlife Act
- Lake Merritt Channel Projects
- Lake Merritt Park Projects
Lake Merritt History
In 1869, Dr. Samuel Merritt donated 155 acres of dammed tidal water from the headwaters of Indian Slough, it became known as "Merritt's Lake" and later as Lake Merritt. In 1925, Lake Merritt's Necklace of Lights is lit for the first time during the Dons of Peralta Water Festival. There are 126 lampposts, each given by an organization or an individual. The lampposts and 3,400 pearly bulbs shine until 1941 when World War II blackout conditions are enforced.
Sometimes called the Jewel of Oakland, Oakland is the only city in the United States with a salt water lake in the downtown metropolitan area. Originally part of the San Francisco bay, in 1869, Oakland Mayor Dr. Samuel Merritt donated money to build a dam at the 12th Street bridge, across the "neck" of the inlet, thus creating the present day lake.
America's Oldest Wildlife Refuge
Lake Merritt originally resided as a wide, tidal estuary (salt water marsh) that was known as the Laguna Peralta. The Pacific Flyway has remained a sanctuary and stop-over for thousands of migratory birds.
Dr. Merritt declared the lake a National Wildlife Refuge in 1869. On March 18th, 1870 the statue of California was approved and Lake Merritt became the first protected wildlife refuge in America. A dam was proposed to regulate the tidal water flow, to increase the water level, with a retaining wall.
In 1915, organized feedings of the wild ducks began and ten years later the first bird island was constructed, with an additional four islands added in 1956. These are the largest of the artifical islands that house hundreds of egrets, herons, Canada geese and many other species of birds. Two of the islands are equipped with fresh water ponds. To ensure that marine sports and boating activities based at Lake Merritt aren't disruptive to the birds, a boom cordons off the five islands during nesting season.