If you are only going to be visiting San Francisco I would advise that you stay in San Francisco. Being in Oakland and having to travel to San Francisco would take an hour or more. Also if you go out at night in the city you would not have to worry about making it back to Oakland.
Oakland is home to an influx of artsy San Francisco outliers enjoying the lower costs of the area -- the city is located east of San Francisco across the Bay Bridge. Oakland’s vibrant art scene spreads across Downtown, Uptown, and the Midtown Oakland Arts District.
A renaissance in Oakland’s nightlife has led to the creation of many new cocktail bars, restaurants, and music venues. Era in Uptown Oakland is one such creation -- part art gallery, part bar, and part lounge. Downtown Oakland is home to a similar establishment, the Layover. For shopping and dining check out Jack London’s Square on the waterfront. Further out you can visit the Morcom Amphitheatre of Roses or take a gondola ride across Lake Merrit.
Oakland hosts many monthly and annual events. Art and Soul Oakland is held in August and features an art show and many artisan booths. Oakland also throws the world’s largest block party for National Night Out in August, with five hundred block parties held throughout the city on one night. Like many other cities with flourishing art scenes, Oakland also hosts a First Friday Art Walk organized by Oakland Art Murmur with events staged by many of Oakland’s museums. There is also a Saturday Stroll, where you can check out artists’ talks, live music, and literary readings.
There aren't a lot of hostels in Oakland, but there are some other budget hotels, with some near the Bay Bridge and the Downtown area and some further into the city. The AC Transit bus system provides transportation throughout the city. BART, Bay Area Rapid Transit, provides easy transportation between San Francisco and Oakland. When booking your Oakland hostel, check for curfew times. Although hostel options are limited, there are so many cool things to do in Oakland, it’s worth spending a couple days here if you’re visiting the San Francisco area.
Oakland can be reached by Greyhound, by the Oakland International Airport, or through San Francisco or San Jose.