Explore the Alameda shore; eat beignets at Cafe Jolie; shop for manga and comics at Alameda Sports Cards & Comics; and then play pinball at the Pacific Pinball Museum.
The West End delights the young, and the young at heart, with imaginative ice cream, comic books, and one of the East Bay’s best parks.
For those who don’t live in Alameda, it’s easy to take for granted what the Island offers beyond Park Street’s shops and restaurants or Alameda Point’s popular wineries and flea market, especially when it comes to the city’s treasures on the west side. Head out to Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach for a slew of spring-themed activities, then take a half-mile stroll, or maybe a bike ride, to find made-to-order ice cream sandwiches and sugary beignets, pinball, and other family-friendly fun activities on Webster Street.
Pluck pieces of trash from the 2.5-mile stretch of sand at Crown Memorial State Beach during a coastal cleanup on April 25, followed by free exhibits and kids’ activities at the neighboring Washington Park’s Earth Day Festival. 510-544-3175, EPParks.org/Parks/Crown_Beach
If you want to embrace Mother Earth on your own time, take a bike ride along a paved path that leads to lawns perfect for picnicking and the Crab Cove Visitor Center for ecology exhibits, fish tanks, and nostalgic photos from the Neptune Beach era. Birders can flock to events hosted by the center through May. 510-544-3187, EBParks.org/Parks/VC/Crab_Cove.
From Crab Cove, you can venture up Webster Street to visit the area’s other big draw, the Pacific Pinball Museum, for plays on 100-plus machines. You pay a flat fee to get in the door, but then it is unlimited access to classic games like the Fireball. 1510 Webster St., 510-769-1349, www.PacificPinball.org.
At Cookiebar, a group of ice cream-mad scientists dream up flavors such as Vietnamese coffee and Fruity Pebbles that can just as easily be packed into a wafflecone as they are smooshed between homemade cookies. And the lactose intolerant, fear not: The tiny shop now offers a selection of sorbets. 1606 Webster St., 510-521-1544, www.CookiebarCreamery.com.
For something savory, the French-American bistro Café Jolie serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the form of egg scrambles, tuna tartare, steak frites, and even a BLT and beignets. 1500 Webster St., 510-523-4500, www.CafeJolies.com.
Adults can get their kicks over at Fireside Lounge. Sip on inspired cocktails made with nearby St. George’s spirits as the sound of live music or trivia-night chatter fills the cozy space, or have local brew at the 1400 Bar & Grill in the historic Croll building, circa 1879. 1453 Webster St., 510-864-1244, www.TheFiresideLounge.com; 1400 Webster St., 510-263-9651, www.1400BarAndGrill.com.
Alternatively, get a coffee buzz at the Wescafe, where you can linger over a cup of joe with friends or get some work done on your laptop. 1536 Webster St., 510-522-1700.
Alameda Sports Cards & Comics is packed to the gills with classic super hero comics, the latest in manga, action figures, and baseball cards that have kept serious collectors and after-school customers coming back for more for nearly 30 years. In May, score some new reading material on Free Comic Book Day. 1515 Webster St., 510-769-0644.
Meanwhile, visitors who plan ahead by making appointments can shop for first editions and rare books at filled-to-the-brim Tavistock Books or visit the fashionable women’s boutique Lanvie. 1503 Webster St., 510-814-0480, wwww.TavBooks.com; 1501 Webster St., 510-865-3688, www.LanvieApparel.com.