What to Do This Weekend: Day Tripping on BART to Fremont’s Niles District

niles district from ileana

We’re blessed with awesome local weekend spots close by, like Dolores Park and Lake Merritt, but sometimes you just want to get out of town for a minute. Instead of shelling out money to rent a car, what if you could get BART to take you to one of those darling little towns and play tourist for a day? Taking any transit route to the end of the line can feel like an adventure, and it’s surprising how easily you can turn a commuter train ride into an actual getaway. It’s the ultimate Clipper Card hack, and a great example of a hidden weekend trip is the Historic Niles District in Fremont.

The Niles District is loaded with antique shops and cute restaurants. Here’s your weekend itinerary:

How to get there:
Take a Fremont-bound train to Union City station. From there, you can walk 2.5 miles into Niles or take one of two buses (AC Transit #216 or #232—each bus runs hourly, so plan your connections carefully)

What to do:
1. For decor fans: Niles is loaded with antique shops, with different themes to cater to different interests. Some of my favorites are Back to the Future and Mantiques.

kfc lamp by ileana

2. For history buffs: Niles Essanay Silent Movie Museum (open Saturdays) and
Niles Canyon Railway (Sundays) are both great choices.

rail museum ileana

3. For weekend warriors: If you prefer more of an outdoor adventure, you can go fishing or boating at Quarry Lakes or hike Mission Peak (factor in a cab for this). And if you really want the suburban feel, Union Landing has a multiplex, with all the chain restaurants you secretly love (Hello, Texas Roadhouse!!) and indoor skydiving (!!!) at iFly.

Where to eat:
1. Bronco Billy’s Pizza Palace and The Vine are both great dining choices.
2. Bring your fancy hat and have some tea at Thyme for Tea.
3. Or try Niles Ice Cream & Sweets.
4. And of course, don’t miss The Florence, a super fun biker bar: shots, beers, friendly bartenders and patrons, live music, and karaoke!

the florence by ileana

A word of caution—the bus stops running around 7 p.m., so if you want to hang out at the Florence after dark (which you will!), plan on getting a ride back to BART (taxis run about $10-$12).

Ileana Shevlin is a writer based in Oakland. Find her on Twitter.

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