Just the facts
Main strip: Mountain Blvd. >> Who dwells here: Young families, empty nesters >> Population: 4,015 >> Founded: Late 1800s >> Main architecture: Storybook cottages, manicured manses >> Neighborhood giant: Montclair Village >> Well-known resident: Governor Jerry Brown >> Where to mingle with locals: Montclair Egg Shop, Farmstead Cheeses & Wine, Joaquin Miller Park
Perhaps one of the biggest signposts of being in Montclair and the Oakland Hills is the squiggly (dare we say, hairpin?) roads and scenery re-set from urban to forestry. This wealthy outpost, just off Highway 13, contains some of the most coveted real estate in the Bay Area. You won’t find industrial restaurant décor or mustachioed baristas in this pedestrian-friendly village, exuding a Bavarian mountain town vibe. It appeals to a slightly older, more moneyed clientele, where tennis and swim clubs have active memberships. Montclair also happens to be a terrific launching point into Oakland’s wilderness; some of the East Bay’s best hiking is found in nearby Redwood Regional and Joaquin Miller parks, and other gems like Chabot Space & Science Center are tucked away in the hills.
The inside inside scoop
On Saturdays, $1 gets you a flight of wine—and a dose of goodwill—at Farmstead Cheeses, which donates tasting proceeds to local schools.
If you only have three hours
Wilderness is so close, you can pick it up behind the Montclair Parking Garage. The Montclair Railroad trailhead here leads into a former rail bed that winds through the hills just above the village.
Adding to the whimsical nature of this neighborhood, Montclair is the only Oakland district with both a storybook firehouse and library (both designed by Julia Morgan). Check out the hobbit-style structures on your way to a musical at Oakland’s outdoor amphitheater, Woodminster.
There are about 100 retailers in the village, but if you need to narrow down your selections, two indie bookstores worth a visit are across the street from one another: A Great Place for Books and The Book Tree. For fun home and gifty items, Pelago may be your jam.
How to get here
Freeway exit: From 1-580 W, take the Park Blvd. exit from Highway 13; from 1-80 E, take CA-24 E to Moraga Ave. Various exit options can be found at the Montclair Village site.
BART Stop: From the Rockridge station, take a bus to the center of the village (lines found at actransit.org)
Bus lines: CB, 11, 12, 18, V