The Best Things to Do and See in the Bay Area Near BART

|January 16, 2019

Bay Area Rapid Transit—affectionately nicknamed BART—connects the Peninsula to the East Bay through San Francisco. That makes it one of the largest factors in the San Francisco Bay Area’s claim to fame as one of the best places to live without a car.

Today, we’re hopping on BART to explore some of the best attractions our communities have to offer. We included nearly every station and each attraction on the list is less than one mile from that station.

For more BARTable fun, check out 32 Craft Breweries Within a 20 Minute Walk From BART.

Jump ahead to see the best BARTable stops in:

San Francisco | Peninsula | East Bay

San Francisco

Bird & Beckett  

BART station: Glen Park | Distance from the station: 0.1 mile

Bird and Beckett San Francisco book stores

Photo courtesy of Angela Bennett via Bird & Beckett

Bird & Beckett Books and Records is a cozy shop in the Glen Park neighborhood where you can shop local authors and artists, participate in poetry open mics, hear live jazz every week, and learn more about The Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project, a nonprofit organization that presents, documents and archives the creative work of living writers and musicians in the Bay Area.

Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts

BART station: 24th Street Mission | Distance from the station: 0.1 mile

Established in 1977 by artists and community activists, the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts promotes, preserves and presents an incredible sample of both contemporary and ancient art traditions of Latin America. They accomplish their mission through local, national and international events, exhibits and programs, and they’re now the largest Latino cultural center in the continental United States!

Clarion Alley Mural Project

BART station: 16th Street Mission | Distance from the station: 0.1 mile

Clarion Alley runs for one block between 17th and 18th and Mission and Valencia Streets in the Inner Mission. Inspired by Balmy Alley—another mural arts alley that began in the 70s and focused on Central American social struggles—a group of six artists established this second alley with similar goals focused on social inclusiveness and aesthetic variety. Over the years, they have supported artists of all ethnicities, ages and levels of experience. It’s a must-see during any trip to the city.

Asian Art Museum

BART station: Civic Center/UN Plaza | Distance from the station: 0.2 mile

San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum represents one of the most historically significant art cultures in the world and serves to build a bridge between that culture and the United States. Check out the museum’s current exhibits here and get ready to be wowed by contemporary and historical textiles, sculptures, paintings and even digital media.

Museum of Ice Cream

BART station: Powell Street | Distance from the station: 0.6 mile

Museum of Ice Cream things to do in San Francisco near BART

Photo courtesy of Museum of Ice Cream

What began as a touring, interactive pop-up experience based in Manhattan has turned into a permanent museum right here in San Francisco. The bright, Instagram-worthy exhibits are set up as a maze of rooms containing things like a cookie carousel, a unicorn and a swimming pool of rainbow sprinkles. And along the way, guests get multiple tastings of ice cream!

Palace Hotel

BART station: Montgomery Street | Distance from station: 0.01 mile

The Palace Hotel celebrates the luxury of the Gilded Age with historic architecture and world-class service. To get a feel for that luxe atmosphere, we recommend enjoying Signature Tea in The Garden Court whether you’re staying overnight or not. You can get more details about tea service here.

Ferry Building Marketplace

BART station: Embarcadero | Distance from the station: 0.2 mile

The Ferry Building Marketplace is one of the best indoor marketplaces in the country. Inside, you’ll find local shops like Heath Ceramics, The Gardener and beekind, quick eats from Imperial Tea, Cowgirl Creamery’s Artisan Cheese Shop and vive la tarte, sit down restaurants like Mijita, Hog Island Oyster Co. and Boulettes Larder, desserts from Miette Patisserie, Recchiuti Confections and Humphry Slocombe and so much more.

Peninsula

Peninsula Museum of Art

BART station: Millbrae | Distance from the station: 0.6 mile

Peninsula Museum of Art

Photo courtesy of Peninsula Museum of Art

This nonprofit museum houses five galleries for rotating exhibitions, an art resource library, an impressive permanent collection, a classroom, a gift shop, 29 artists’ working studios and it always offers free admission. For information on their current exhibitions, click here.

The Shops at Tanforan

BART station: San Bruno | Distance from the station: 0.01 mile   

This eclectic mall offers a range of shopping options, a kids’ play area, a food court and movie theaters. So, whether you’re looking for a screening of the newest action movie, or you’re shopping for a new wardrobe (or both!), it’s a great place to shop just steps from the San Bruno BART station.

East Bay

The Crucible

BART station: West Oakland | Distance from the station: 0.3 mile   

The Crucible Oakland Art Classes San Francisco Bay Area

Photo courtesy of The Crucible

The Crucible is a nonprofit art studio and educational facility that offers youth, adult and group classes in industrial arts. When you take a class here, you can get hands-on and learn skills like welding, glass blowing, blacksmithing, leatherwork and more. To learn more and check out the class schedule, click here.

Awaken Café

BART station: 12th Street/Oakland City Center | Distance from the station: 0.01 mile   

Featured in The 13 Best Local Coffee Shops in Oakland, Awaken Café is a hip spot in Oakland that pairs espresso drinks with live music, craft beer, wine and organic eats. And as the community living room of downtown, it’s the perfect starting point to all your Oakland adventures!

Fox Theater

BART station: 19th Street/Oakland | Distance from the station: 0.2 mile   

The Fox was built in 1928 as an architectural masterpiece and movie house in the heart of Oakland. At the time, it was one of the premier destinations to see the new-fangled “talkies” which were quickly replacing silent films. After a $75 million renovation in 2009, it reopened as a concert hall under the direction of Another Planet Entertainment. And now, it’s one of the Bay Area’s best live music venues.

Temescal

BART station: MacArthur | Distance from the station: 0.5 mile   

Temescal was hipster before being hipster was cool and it has been for generations. With a similar attitude as the Mission in San Francisco, it’s a multicultural mash-up which results in some of the trendiest and tastiest destinations in East Bay. There’s even a drive-thru mac and cheese restaurant called Homeroom! To learn more about the neighborhood, check out the Temescal District website here.

Rockridge Market Hall

BART station: Rockridge | Distance from the station: 0.01 mile   

Rockridge Market Hall has been an East Bay staple since 1987. All under one roof, you can drink coffee from Highwire Coffee Roasters, eat cookies from Market Hall Bakery, shop fresh pasta and other foods with Market Hall Foods, take home Dungeness crab from Hapuku Fish Shop, buy a bouquet from The Flower & The B, and even more! To learn more about all of these local businesses, check out the Rockridge Market Hall website here.

Walnut Creek Downtown

BART station: Walnut Creek | Distance from the station: 0.6 mile   

The heart of one of the East Bay’s most desirable cities, Walnut Creek Downtown is where you’ll find the community’s huge annual events—like Walnut Creek Uncorked, Walnut Creek First Wednesdays and the Holiday Stroll—as well as some of the area’s best shopping and dining destinations. To learn more about what you can see and do in the neighborhood, check out the Walnut Creek Downtown Business Association website here.

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

BART station: Downtown Berkeley | Distance from the station: 0.1 mile   

As the visual arts center of the University of California, Berkeley, BAMPFA strives to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film amongst all visitors and residents in the Bay Area and beyond. Each year, they host more than twenty art exhibitions, 450 film programs, dozens of performances, and lectures, symposia and tours. General admission grants guests access to scheduled tours, lectures, readings and other programs, and admission is free on the first Thursday of each month!

Oakland Museum of California

BART station: Lake Merritt | Distance from the station: 0.01 mile    

Oakland Museum of California things to do in Oakland BART

Photo courtesy of Clara Rice Photography via Oakland Museum of California

The Oakland Museum of California opened nearly 50 years ago bringing art, history and natural sciences together under one roof. In an effort to showcase and explore all things that shape California—from its identity to its natural landscapes—their museum houses a collection of more than 1.9 million objects, and these include artworks, historical artifacts, ethnographic objects, natural specimens and photographs.

Hayward Japanese Gardens

BART station: Hayward | Distance from the station: 0.9 mile   

The Hayward Japanese Gardens, located near downtown Hayward, are the oldest traditional Japanese gardens in California. Maintained by the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District, the gardens are open every day of the year except Christmas.

Central Park

BART station: Fremont | Distance from the station: 1 mile

Central Park is Fremont’s beautiful, lakeside park that offers a golf course, a dog park, a skatepark, four playgrounds, boat rentals and a fishing area on Lake Elizabeth, picnic sites, sports courts, walking paths, and it’s home to the seasonal Aqua Adventure Water Park. Additional attractions in the water park include the 200-yard Round About River, the Oasis Pool, a kid-friendly splash pad, Bucket Bay and the Fortress of Fun, a four-story tower offering four different water slides.

Where are you headed?

If you have a local business, landmark or attraction you visit via BART, let us know in the comments below.  

Category Community Guides, East Bay, Peninsula, San Francisco

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