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Expert Tips for Successful Dating in Oakland: How to Land a Date in 2024

Dating in Oakland gets easier with some wine

First off, let’s just outright say it: Dating in Oakland in today’s world is frustrating. Whether you’re looking for a date in downtown Oakland or elsewhere in Oakland’s metropolitan area, it can be a difficult task to accomplish.

It may seem counterintuitive, but single men and women are actually spoiled for choice in Oakland when it comes to finding available partners. However, the reality of actually meeting single people in the city, setting up a date, and ultimately having a great time together is tougher than ever (you can thank the COVID-19 pandemic for that!).

Is there a solution to this all-to-common problem for Oakland singles? Of course, there is and BeyondAges is here to show you the way. With some minor planning and a reasonable amount of effort on your part, finding a date in Oakland is actually much easier than in similarly-sized cities. But, it will require you to venture out and explore the Oakland dating scene completely. You will be surprised at what changing your entire approach and outlook can mean for boosting your dating life!

Continue reading our most proven suggestions on where to meet Oakland singles, great Oakland date ideas to give you an advantage, dating apps that actually work to supplement your experience, and some of our favorite date spots around Oakland.

What Dating in Oakland Is Like Right Now

Oakland gender breakdown

Let's begin by looking at what the Oakland dating scene is like these days:

First, many singles choose Oakland as their place to live for its great year-round climate, affordable standard of living, and plenty of things to do throughout the Bay Area. With many businesses based here like Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, Southwest Airlines, and more, people are calling Oakland home for its access to abundant economic opportunities.

To give you a greater scope of the dating world in Oakland is like, here’s a breakdown of what Oakland’s single demographics look like:

  • Total population: 424,275
  • Percentage: 35.30%
  • Total singles: 149,769
  • Single men: 72,213
  • Single women: 77,556

More than 35% of the total population in Oakland is looking for a partner, which means that you’ve got pretty good odds of finding a partner among everyone you come across. Now, we know what you’re probably thinking:

If there are so many singles out there in Oakland, why am I single?

Having plenty of dating options doesn't exactly mean that dating in Oakland is going to be an easy process. In fact, it might be even harder with all the competition coupled with the long-lasting effects of the pandemic. However, taking a more realistic outlook on what’s actually happening across Oakland should be encouraging - if you understand the challenges in front of you, you can certainly meet someone sooner rather than later with a little know-how.

Where to Meet Someone to Date in Oakland

At BeyondAges, we believe in being as honest as possible to our readers. That’s why we’ll start by mentioning that it's nearly impossible to make a list of the best places to find someone to date in Oakland! There’s simply too much going on around town to choose from!

Instead, we’ll share some of the best places that make it much simpler to meet Oakland singles that are looking for more than just a hookup (read our article on where to find Oakland hookups here). These places tend to have the following criteria in common that are important when you’re on the lookout for candidates for long-term relationships:

  • Lots of available singles
  • Lively atmosphere/ambiance
  • Easy to rub elbows with new people
  • The environment is actually quiet enough to have a functional conversation
  • Alcohol is always welcome and appreciated
  • Doesn’t cost too much money

Now, before we get into some specific recommendations, let's briefly turn our attention to Oakland dating apps:

Why you should be using at least one app

If you’re not using at least one dating app right now, you are missing out on a lot of opportunities to meet many Oakland singles.

With the world still feeling the effects of the pandemic and many opting to choose to work from home, more Oakland singles are relying on apps to gain access to the largest number of people at their convenience - and screen out those they’d rather not cross paths with. For better or worse, dating apps are here to stay.

Does this mean that dating apps in Oakland are the only way to go? Of course not, but it is a good alternative especially if you’re a busy person and don’t have a lot of free time on your hands.

Check out our article on the best dating apps in Oakland to find out which apps best fit the type of relationship and partner you’re looking for. From career-oriented professionals, religious types, and those looking for a quick sexual rendezvous, there’s a wealth of choices of Oakland dating apps at your disposal. If you're pressed for time and don’t want to read the full article, these apps are the best options:

  • eHarmony is simply the best choice you can make for long-term relationships in Oakland (yes, even when compared to Match or Tinder). Try eHarmony today for a free trial! It has by far the best track record when it comes to real relationships of all the apps.
  • AFF is the best option in Oakland for finding casual fun. If you don't want a relationship or just want to keep it casual AFF has been the best option we've seen, especially for single guys. Try AFF’s free trial today and see what we mean.!

At Beyond Ages, we’ve tried out dozens of popular dating apps in Oakland and learned what actually works out in the real dating world. Be sure to check out our rankings above for more info. Now, let's talk about our favorite singles bars and more around Oakland.

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The best singles bars in Oakland

Playing pool at The Avenue Oakland

Using the criteria we listed in the previous section, BeyondAges has narrowed down a definitive list of the best singles bars in Oakland. These bars offer the best chances for singles in Oakland to meet, have a refreshing drink, and enjoy a comfortable ambiance that’s suitable for meeting new people:

  • The Avenue in Temescal - 4822 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609
  • Radio in Downtown Oakland - 435 13th St, Oakland, CA 94607
  • Ruby Room in Lakeside - 132 14th St, Oakland, CA 94612
  • Hello Stranger in Downtown Oakland - 1724 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612
  • Room 389 in Adams Point - 389 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610
  • Low Bar in Northgate-Waverly - 2300 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94612
  • Visit New Karibbean City if you want to meet an Oakland cougar - 1408 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94612

It’s important to know that there are several factors that either make or break a positive bar experience. From choosing the right time of day to whether there’s live entertainment, your experience will vary. So, don’t be afraid to try a place several times to figure out the best times to go there. (If you have any suggestions about the best singles bars in Oakland, drop a comment below.)

A few other great places to find a date in Oakland

Meet cute at Blue Bottle Coffee Oakland

If you do not feel like going to a bar and boozing up, there are still plenty of other options for finding a date in Oakland that don’t rely on alcohol so much - even during Oakland’s humid summers and the rainier winter months.

Take a look at a few more options below that have gotten great results for Oakland singles. Keep an open mind, especially when trying out a new place. Don't take things too seriously, and instead simply focus on having a good time. With this mindset, you’re more likely to find someone that you might not have run into elsewhere in Oakland!

  • Blue Bottle Coffee in Old Oakland - 480 Ninth St, Oakland, CA 94607
  • modern coffee in Downtown Oakland - 411 13th St, Oakland, CA 94612
  • Tierra Mia Coffee in Uptown - 2001 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612
  • Red Bay Coffee Box in Oakland Ave/Harrison Street - 2327 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612
  • The Coffee Mill in Grand Lake - 3363 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610
  • Whole Foods, Berkeley Bowl, or Trader Joe’s are great choices to find attractive people in Oakland shopping upscale and organic!
  • Meetup groups - There are tons of groups in Oakland and the Bay Area that have plenty of eager singles looking to share their hobbies and interests, including music, sports, tech, and even singles mixers
  • Again, dating apps and sites are a good option for just about anyone (check out the best dating sites in Oakland here)

The Apps Dating Coaches Recommend Most For Dating in Oakland

Just because you’re a “regular guy” doesn’t mean you won’t find a date online. So many dating apps help bring people together because of genuine chemistry and not just looks. If you want to try an app like that, here are the ones where even an average Joe can find success.

SiteOur ExperienceOur RatingFree Trial Link
Best For Relationships
Experience Highlights
Experience Highlights
  • Easily the best option for long-term relationships
  • 75% of all online marriages start here
  • 70% of users meet their spouse within a year
  • In-depth signup and matching process
Try eHarmony
Best For Casual Fun
Experience Highlights
Experience Highlights
  • The best way to meet women for casual relationships
  • Best results for regular guys
  • Over 60 million active members
  • Not good for long-term relationships
Try AFF For Free
Great If You're Handsome
Tinder Highlights
Tinder Highlights
  • Great if you're pretty good looking
  • Very popular, especially if you're 18-22
  • Really focused on photos
  • Becoming more of a dating than hookup app
Try Tinder

What about speed dating in Oakland

A mural at Modern Company Oakland

Speed dating in Oakland has become quite popular again due to the pandemic. With virtual speed dating now also an option, it is a pretty fun way to meet a lot of singles in a short amount of time.

If you’ve got some free time and have a little spare cash on hand, speed dating in Oakland is perhaps the most efficient way to meet a dozen or so single people in the space of an hour-plus. Events usually cost anywhere from $30 - $100+ to attend, with the pricier events yielding better clientele and more amenities (free drink tickets, anyone?).  And because the time is guaranteed for each conversation, you’ll at least know you have some sort of shot (as compared to getting blown out in a loud bar setting, for example).

Here’s how most speed dating events in Oakland go:

  • First, pre-register online. You’ll receive the rules of the event, as well as what you should expect (ie. dress code, code of conduct, etc.)
  • On the day of the event, you show up at the venue. Many bars rent out rooms for speed dating events so there’s some expectation of privacy (or at least minimize distractions)..
  • With everyone arriving and getting comfortable, the host makes a short announcement about the rules of conduct and starts the process of "mini-dates" each lasting approximately 5 minutes, where participants make conversation. The idea is that first impressions tend to be a good indicator of whether there’s any chemistry for compatibility. (Don’t worry if you don’t get a positive reaction each time; people are choosier than ever!).
  • Once 5 minutes is over, a bell sounds indicating the men to move to the next table where a woman remains seated (sometimes women swap seats just so they don’t get tired). As the event progresses, both participants make a list of the people they want to see again.
  • This process repeats until everyone gets a chance to meet one another.

If both singles want to see each other again, the speed dating organizer sends you the other match’s contact info (usually by the next day).

If this sounds like a fun, efficient way to meet available singles in Oakland, the following are the best Oakland speed dating groups worth checking out:

Now that we’ve covered the basic methods for finding a date, let's shift our focus on how to have a great date in Oakland!

Our Best Date Ideas in Oakland - and Why They’re Great

Checking out the Oakland Art Murmur is a great date idea

Once you've met someone who agreed to a date, it’s now time to plan on what you’re going to do for the actual date. Many people who feel they want a safe choice often default to the unfortunately all-too-common “dinner and a movie”. Big mistake for dating in Oakland!

Here’s why:

  • A dinner date between two relative strangers more often than not turns into a pseudo-interview. Plus, eating makes people lethargic, and don’t even get us started on what happens when it’s time to decide who has to pay the bill!
  • A movie is a passive activity and doesn’t involve any conversation. You’ll have to sit still for 90 minutes or more, which can be awkward if both of you don’t feel comfortable with one another yet. And if the movie stinks, it can be a bit depressing for lost time…

Instead, here we have a list of things to consider when you’re thinking of ideas for your date. A great date idea in Oakland tends to be one that:

  • Doesn’t require traveling far distances across town or between venues
  • Focuses on new, fun, and interesting experiences
  • Things are happening around you that make great conversation topics
  • Doesn't involve sitting for prolonged periods of time
  • Requires some physical activity or movement
  • Isn't too expensive or requires expensive equipment to participate
  • Doesn't last for hours (you can bail if things aren’t working out)
  • Enables you both to feel completely at ease and comfortable
  • Involves a little friendly competition

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Here’s a useful tip: Try to get an idea of what your date likes beforehand for better results. For example, if you know your date is studying to be a veterinarian, going to a petting zoo is probably a good choice.

Also, it’s a good practice to keep an open mind and do things that can potentially create a memorable experience that you both share (even if it goes poorly and you can laugh about it later). To get started, here’s a starting list of some great dating ideas in Oakland:

  • Cool off and go ice skating
  • Have fun with a few competitive rounds of miniature golf
  • Cut a rug at a beginner’s group dance class
  • Work on your skills at an archery range
  • Work on your golf swing at a driving range
  • Hit up the wildlife refuge or zoo
  • Check out a street fair during the warmer months
  • Explore the many booths at a local farmer's market
  • Try your hand at ax throwing
  • Test your quick-thinking skills in an escape room
  • Go rollerskating to show off your moves
  • Bring your dog along for a walk
  • Take a painting or drawing class
  • Explore museums and botanical gardens

Use this list to give you some idea of where to start when planning a date in Oakland. As you’ll notice, each of the listed activities requires some active participation and a little bit of athletic skill to enjoy or at least attempt. This means that there’s minimal pressure to be good at any of them, but you’ll also be an active participant in your dating success - not merely waiting for something interesting to happen. Plus, it’s a great way of building rapport to learn just how good your date is at solving escape room puzzles!

The first date idea that we always recommend

The ideas above can be great first dates but we have a better idea. When people ask our team what the best first date in Oakland is we always tell them the same thing, meet up at a laid-back lounge or coffee shop and get to know each other a bit.

A full-blown date is a lot of pressure and isn't cheap. It takes time to plan and might involve you taking a bus around town to get there. Before you make that kind of investment you want to know that you and your interest have at least some level of compatibility. The last thing you want is to get stuck for hours on a date that you knew 10 minutes in, wasn't going anywhere.

Instead, tell them that you're really busy but would love to meet up for a drink to get to know each other a bit. If things go well you can always extend the date to one of the activities above. If it doesn't, you haven't lost much. This also takes a lot of pressure off both of you so you can both relax and be yourselves.

Best Date Bars in Oakland (Especially for Fun First Dates)

A busy evening at Emporium Oakland

Oakland is renowned for its wonderful bar scene and plenty of drinking establishments, so a bar is an obvious choice for a memorable date. Whether you want to spend some time in a cool lounge or enjoy a one-and-done before going on to the next activity, Oakland’s bar scene offers a lot of versatility when it comes to planning your next date.

With this in mind, finding a great date bar in Oakland simply comes down to what type of night you’re looking to have. Whether you hit up a dive bar for some relaxation, an elegant cocktail lounge that’s perfect for showing off your fancy new wardrobe or even enjoy competitive gaming at a “barcade” (or all three in one night!), Oakland has plenty of variety to impress your date.

Take a look at the list below, as we’ll focus on Oakland bars with the best drink specials, live entertainment, and more:

  • Emporium Oakland in Downtown Oakland - 1805 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612
  • Layalina Hookah Lounge in Pill Hill - 3109 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609
  • AU Lounge in Oakland Avenue/Harrison Street - 2430 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612
  • Oasis Lounge in Adams Point - 344 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610
  • Somar Bar and Lounge in Uptown - 1727 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612
  • Level 13 Ultra Lounge in Downtown Oakland - 341 13th St, Oakland, CA 94612
  • Lux Pub and Club in Downtown Oakland - 1100 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94607
  • Summer Bar & Lounge in Old Oakland - 526 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607
  • The Terminal at Line 51 Brewing Company in Acorn Industrial - 303 Castro St, Oakland, CA 94607

Oakland’s incredible bar scene and walkable city layout mean that you’ll find plenty of bars within walking distance of one another. If you feel the energy of the date is starting to wane or maybe you want to find a different vibe to shake things up, don’t be afraid to bar hop or take a Lyft/Uber to another side of town. Your date will enjoy the spontaneity!

Best Date Night Restaurants in Oakland that Should Be Your First Choice

Couples on dates at Layalina Restaurant Oakland

Time to learn a crucial secret for dating in Oakland: Skip the traditional “dinner date” until you’ve had a few dates.

As we mentioned earlier, dinner dates have the potential to be pretty dull and uninspiring. Plus, there’s always the issue of who pays for the check - something you probably want to avoid until you actually enjoy a relative stranger’s company.

Nevertheless, if you and your date are now feeling more comfortable with each other, we've got some solid restaurant choices in Oakland that offer great ambiance and affordable plates:

  • Yoshi's in Produce and Industrial - 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, CA 94607
  • Plank in Produce and Industrial - 98 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607
  • Oeste - Bar in Old Oakland - 722 Clay St, Oakland, CA 94607
  • Soba Ichi in West Oakland - 2311A Magnolia St, Oakland, CA 94607
  • Layalina Restaurant in Pill Hill - 3109 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609
  • Brenda's Oakland in Mosswood - 4045 Broadway #101, Oakland, CA 94611

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More Date Spots in Oakland We Love

Dating today comes down to more than just dining and drinking. Successful dating in Oakland means enjoying all the spots that the city offers with your date. Based on our extensive experience and in-depth research, singles in Oakland have had great dates at the following date spots in Oakland - and we're absolutely confident you can do the same:

Note: Because of Oakland's unique climate, take a look at weather forecasts a few days before plotting your next date. No one likes getting a heat stroke on their next date, nor do they enjoy shivering in cooler temperatures. After all, dating should be fun and relaxing!

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