In the early 20th century, the area now known as Old Oakland was the commercial nerve center of the East Bay. Today, after a few decades in the shadows, the blocks bordered by 8th, 10th, Clay, and Washington streets are bustling once again.
Exploring the area may only take an afternoon, but the charm of the neighborhood will draw you back time and time again. And, undoubtedly, as Oakland's tarnished reputation begins to shine again, Old Oakland will continue to flourish as well.
The best day to visit is a Friday, when the bustling Farmer's Market (voted the best by East Bay Express) is operating. Open from 8am - 2pm every Friday year round, you'll find everything from Asian produce to live oysters and other fish to all manner of flowers and potted plants.
Wander the streets, marveling at the gorgeous brickwork and Victorian architecture, then head to GB Ratto's, an Italian market that's been in continuous operation since 1897. The current site (827 Washington St.) includes a wonderful deli and cheese counter, along with all manner of pantry staples in bulk and specialty items from Europe.