Known for its intellectual prowess, feisty spirit and laid back, casual attitude, Berkeley is full of action and a great city to visit year round. Conveniently, Berkeley is also just a short BART ride from San Francisco.
Berkeley has more than 300 days of sun, giving you plenty of time to peruse farmers’ markets, go to outdoor festivals, and take long walks through Berkeley’s diverse neighborhoods. The Berkeley Marina is linked to the city by a state-of-the-art bicycle bridge, providing 105-acres of parks and open space and has room for 1,000 boats. Lake Merritt, in Oakland, California, also provides water recreation and is one of the most unique urban spaces in the United States, with a 3.4 mile heart-shaped shoreline in the center of the city. This tidal lagoon is also home to the oldest designated wildlife refuge (1870) in the United States. It also includes a Children’s Fairyland, restaurants and shops.
Berkeley leads the East Bay in its creation and support of music, theater and dance with a supply of cultural opportunities that is nearly endless. Berkeley is home to 130 arts and cultural organizations, including two arts districts on Addison and Ashby streets. There are also local fairs, such as the Solano Stroll, Himalayan Fair, and the Oakland Art Murmur, which take place every first Friday of the month. The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is one of the top-rated Bay Area museums to explore California art, history, and natural sciences. Recognized as one of the best things to do with kids in Oakland, this musuem is great for serious museum buffs to international visitors. Their collections rank then as one of the top science, history, and art museums in the East Bay, as well as the greater San Francisco Bay Area. For more out door adventures, Grizly Peak Road is great for a weekend bike ride, Lake Anza is perfect for swimming, and Tilden park is the spot for picnicking and hiking.
Local eateries include Slainté, Shakewell, Zaytoon (Mediterranean) Saha (Yemeni), and Chez Panisse by the famous Alice Waters. Pizza lovers will love Cheese Board Pizza and Belloti Ristorante e Bottega on College. You can chase down the Tacos Mi Rancho truck off 1st Avenue, or check out Cesar’s on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley - open till midnight.
Grab fun, festive drinks at the best Tiki bar, Kona Club and start your day off with Bica Coffee on College Avenue. Plus, they give you a free drink of your choice when you buy a bag of beans. If you want to check out some history while getting your caffeine fix, head to the original Peet’s Coffee on Virginia Street. La Farine is great to cure your sweet tooth with exquisite french pastries and breads in the Rockridge district in Oakland, while the Takara Sake tasting room in Berkeley is a great spot for a night out.
Hotel Shattuck Plaza is a beautiful hotel to stay at while visiting Berkeley. A mission-style building from 1910, Hotel Shattuck Plaza is a downtown Berkeley landmark. Reflecting California's architectural heritage and re-designed with a contemporary aesthetic, this historic boutique hotel is around the corner from the BART to San Francisco, and two blocks from UC Berkeley. Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel, is a California landmark. Originally built as a private residence during the California Gold Rush, the property was later won in a game of checkers by Frank Havens and Borax Smith who planned to erect a resort on the grounds. Though construction was delayed by the Earthquake of 1906 and Panic of 1907, Claremont Club & Spa opened its doors in 1915. The Fairmont Spa at the Claremont features 32 luxurious treatment rooms, a full-service hair and nail salon, eucalyptus steam rooms, saline whirlpools and deluge showers.
There are some very important works from the Arts & Crafts movement of the 1900 and 1910s. Architect, Julia Morgan, has many buildings in the area including the Julia Morgan Center for the arts and Berkeley Woman’s City Club. Architect Bernard Maybeck, also has many beautiful public buildings and homes: Rose Walk in Berkeley, Berkeley Faculty Club, and First Church of Christ Scientist.
- Berkeley, CA, USA