The city of Berkeley is a thriving metropolis, where you can find unique shops, restaurants, coffee shops and bars, and unique people to match! It is also home to one of the top public institutions of higher learning in the country, as well as the world! If you or a family member attend UC Berkeley, there is no shortage of fun things to do when you come to town, or if you’re just a Bay Area native looking for something to do!
Dine Like A Pro
Of course, with a world class University in its backyard, Berkeley restaurants have quite a reputation to live up to, so there’s really no need to be a starving student, at least, when your parents come to town. Berkeley is home to its own Michelin star restaurant, Chez Panisse by chef Alice Waters, known as the pioneer of the farm to table movement. They’ve even opened up a secondary cafe open for lunch at a slightly lower price point, with just as high quality of fare. However, if you’re looking for this to be your birthday or graduation dinner, plan accordingly; at least two months in advance for graduation. Visit http://www.chezpanisse.com/reservations/ for a reservation, or for more info. If that doesn’t work out, or you are looking for something a bit more casual, there are plenty of other great dining options easily accessible by car, public transportation, or even walking distance within UC Berkeley.
Just down the street from campus at 2200 Oxford Street is Gather. They have an elegant, locally sourced menu with a theme of Northern Californian cuisine featuring items that are for omnivores, and guests with either gluten free or vegan dietary restrictions alike. They also feature locally sourced wines and beers. Make a reservation for Gather at Open Table! If you are craving some authentic Mexican cuisine, and are wanting to go somewhere a bit more upscale than your average taco truck, head to either Comal on Shattuck, or Cancun Taqueria on Allston Way, a convenient walk from both Bart and Campus! Berkeley is a great place to become culturally educated in terms of cuisine, so if you are feeling adventurous and want to try out Salvadoran Cuisine, head to Platano for some of the greatest papusas north of El Salvador, right near campus on University Avenue just off Shattuck. What’s a papusa you ask? Head on over to find out! There is also no shortage of great East Asian and Middle Eastern food, so you can truly eat around the world in 80 plates, practically earning your Masters in Food Studies. To top off a great night’s eat, the line at Ici on College Avenue in the Elmwood district is certainly worth the wait. Their small-batch ice cream shop serves up unique flavors with Lavender, Cardamom, and Earl Grey tea. The line at Cream, known for their cookie ice cream sandwiches, on Telegraph avenue is also worth the wait, but if you really do not want to wait, head on over to a Bay Area and campus favorite Yogurt Park on Durant, for what is arguably the best froyo in the Bay!
If your education has molded you into a patron of the arts, there is no need to trek all the way to San Francisco to see a good show when they are right there in UC Berkeley’s backyard. Cal Performances at UC Berkeley has had world-famous musicians like Yo Yo Ma, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo have performed there. Just this past April, the Alvin Ailey ballet company performed. Performances are generally held at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall, or at the Greek Theater right beside the newly refurbished Football Stadium. Cal Performances usually have a wide variety of Music, Theater and Dance shows occurring at any given season. For the current season’s list of performances visit https://calperformances.org/performances/whats_on_next/, or call the ticket office for other inquiries at 510.642.9988. Many other famous artists, from pop, to rock, to rap and everything in between frequently play at the Greek theater, which is just off of campus’s Greek Row on Gayley Road. To see if any of your favorite bands or artists are playing soon visit http://www.eventticketscenter.com/Event.aspx?EventID=33734&ppcsrc=AMP&gclid=CNCF1uGkysUCFZSEfgodMnQAyg. Smaller acts generally appear at the Berkeley Underground on Shattuck, right next to Build Pizzeria. When it is football season, the stadium is open to the public, so even if you are not a student, or a parent of a student, you can still go cheer on the Golden Bears (as long as you aren’t from Stanford). So surely, there is never a dull moment near the UC Berkeley campus.
As busy and bustling as the UC Berkeley neighborhoods are, there is certainly a time and place to become one with Mother Nature. After all, it is, Berkeley. If you are into hiking, visit the Fire Trails of Strawberry Canyon, or Hike the Big C or Grizzly Peak. All trails should be stimulating, with the reward of a panoramic bay view at the top! If you are not the outdoorsy type, the stunning view is still worth a drive up, perhaps after you’ve picked up a picnic of offerings from the Berkeley Bowl, or visited Tilden Park’s carousel? For information on these trails go to http://recsports.berkeley.edu/facilities/open-rec-schedules/trails/, and for information regarding Tilden Park, visit http://www.ebparks.org/parks/tilden. If we are experiencing one of our Berkeley heat waves and you fancy a Swim, visit the Strawberry Canyon Pool, although, it is closed in the winter. You can have a swim surrounded by beautiful redwoods, just for a small fee if you are not a student. For info regarding hours, visit http://recsports.berkeley.edu/facilities/pools/strawberry-canyon-pool/. If you are a plant lover, but cannot make it all the way to the Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park, visit the UC Berkley Botanical garden to see both exotic and indigenous plants! You can even see tropical plants, and carnivorous plants! You can take home a little plant of your own at their gift shop as well. The Garden is located at 200 Centennial Drive.
So go on out there and see and do everything that the UC Berkeley campus community has to offer!