Escaping Christmas in the East Bay
By Amanda Davis
The holidays are either the worst or the best time of the year, there is no in between. With all the jolliness, caroling and wallet pain, this seasonal shit can get a tad annoying. If you need a break from all the red and green flashing lights and awkward family gatherings, here are a few options to help you shirk your obligations and run away tomorrow.
The first, and healthiest choice, is hiking. Anything outdoors, really, will help get your mind off the chaos below the mountains. Lucky for you, the East Bay offers up multiple, insanely gorgeous options from Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley to the Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve in the Oakland Hills. Your day is guaranteed to be better than everybody else’s if you begin it by watching a sunrise. There’s seriously nothing like it, whether you’re getting some quality alone time or bring the comfort of someone who gets you. And I promise that Mariah Carey Christmas song won’t be playing up there.
Second (and my personal favorite) is hitting the bar. But beware, the holiday season claws its way into your favorite dives too, with tacky, plastic decorations and a broken down mini Santa Claus sitting by a bartender that would rather be anywhere else. No worries though, one unbeatable option I know is Tiki bars. For one, these spots are already decked out in themed decor, leaving no more space for crappy fake trees. And two, it’s a mini vacation to Hawaii at a fraction of the price. Done deal.Tiki Tom’s in Walnut Creek and Forbidden Island in Alameda are great options for a low-key evening. You’ll get live music (or DJs) at both, and an all-night Happy Hour at Forbidden Island on Mondays. Christmas is on a Monday this year, how convenient! Kona Island in Oakland is definitely the more popular option, but there is a strong possibility of drunk carolers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Good thing about all three? They’re open, and they have booze.
Lastly, you can avoid Christmas altogether by going to a show. It can be a movie, a concert or a comedy show – it really doesn’t matter as long as it’s a dark, ticket-only situation where your relatives are not. The Piedmont Theatre plays the latest and greatest indie movies, where you’ll get your choice between three options that have absolutely NOTHING to do with Christmas. The small, classic theatre is truly an Oakland gem. Their sister theatre in Berkeley, Shattuck Cinemas, serves up more mainstream films, if that’s your thing.
Any which way you go, you’re winning if you opt to do something you actually enjoy in lieu of just pretending to enjoy the drudge, and that’s advice to consider all year-round.
And if all else fails, fill up the tank or grab a last-minute flight and just get the hell out of town. You’re welcome.