Grit and splen­dor across the bay

Oak­land is be­gin­ning to out­shine San Fran­cisco

StarMetro Edmonton - - Travel - Mor­gan Dun­lop

A 30-minute ferry trip from San Fran­cisco, Oak­land is equal parts grit and beauty, flanked by a ma­jor work­ing port to the west and a hill­top red­wood for­est to the east. In 2012, the New York Times ranked it above San Fran­cisco, New York City and Los An­ge­les as one of the best places to visit. Since then, young pro­fes­sion­als and celebrity-chefs have moved there in droves, driv­ing up hous­ing prices and ca­chet.

The city is bat­tling to keep up with its gen­tri­fi­ca­tion. Lit­tleused in­dus­trial back­roads house makeshift shel­ters for the grow­ing home­less pop­u­la­tion within a few blocks of grand cock­tail bars and lux­u­ri­ous restau­rants. Metro takes a tour of some of the most au­then­tic trea­sures in a rapidly-chang­ing Oak­land.

Temescal Al­ley

This con­verted laneway houses a dozen care­fully cu­rated shops fea­tur­ing the works of lo­cal de­sign­ers and ar­ti­sans. It’s also home to an old-school bar­ber­shop and the al­ways-lined-up Curb­side Cream­ery, an ice cream par­lor that serves cashew-cream­based ve­gan soft serve.

Red­wood Re­gional Park

A net­work of hik­ing trails guide you through this peace­ful for­est less than 20 min­utes from down­town Oak­land. You won’t find any trees much older than 100 years as they were cleared after the 1906 earth­quake to re­build San Fran­cisco. Still, the tow­er­ing gi­ants cre­ate one of the qui­etest acous­tic spa­ces, with only the oc­ca­sional re­sound­ing creak of a sway­ing tree.

Heinold’s First and Last Chance Sa­loon

This wa­ter­front bar, opened in 1883, was sup­pos­edly the last stop for a sailor to grab a drink be­fore their sea­far­ing jour­ney. Lit by gaslight, the bar re­tains much of its orig­i­nal charm, in­clud­ing slanted floor boards and a clock that has stood still since the 1906 earth­quake.

Ur­ban Wine Trail

Forget sprawl­ing vine­yards, Oak­land’s ur­ban winer­ies are housed in ren­o­vated ware­house spa­ces. Taste Cal­i­for­nia’s finest grapes, blended, bar­relled and bot­tled right here.

Catch a new re­lease in a relic from Hollywood’s Golden Era at this re­stored 1926 cin­ema. A milk­shake from Fen­ton’s.

Brown Sugar Kitchen

Celebrity chef Tanya Hol­land is best known for host­ing Soul Food on the Food Net­work and guest ap­pear­ances on the Today Show. But here in West Oak­land it’s all about her food. Sit at the bar and watch chefs lather chicken in dough and press meltin-your-mouth waf­fles.

Grand Lake Theatre

Take in a re­cent re­lease at this his­toric movie palace. Real but­ter for your pop­corn. No ad­ver­tis­ing or pre­views. Plus, on Fri­day and Satur­day nights guests are treated to a pre-show per­for­mance on the theatre’s Mighty Wurl­itzer or­gan.

Fen­ton’s Cream­ery

Es­tab­lished in 1894, you won’t find any ve­gan soft serve here. It’s al­legedly the birth­place of Rocky Road ice cream, in­spired by tough times dur­ing the Great De­pres­sion. Sun­daes made up of mounds of ice cream, smoth­ered in sweet sauces and topped with bits of peanuts, whipped cream and a cherry harken back to a by­gone era. The au­thor was hosted by Visit Oak­land, which did not re­view or ap­prove this story.

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