Berkeley is a city in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, in the United States. Famous for its liberal politics, Berkeley is home to the University of California Berkeley, an ethnically diverse community, and numerous cultural and culinary attractions.
Set on sparkling San Francisco Bay, Berkeley will surprise those who recall it as the counter-culture center of the Sixties. Free Speech and flower power are forever in the city “DNA,” but Berkeley has evolved into a culinary and cultural travel destination. You’ll still see more tie-dye per capita in Berkeley, but a deeper look reveals a dynamic city filled with superb theaters, restaurants, and shops. Berkeley's progressive, free-thinking environment has seen the birth of quality attractions, great food from many cultures, and of course the internationally renowned University of California, Berkeley. For a city of just over 100,000 people—barely a medium-sized city in the California context—Berkeley is extremely complex.
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Like the rest of the Bay Area, Berkeley has a mild climate, with wet, mild winters and dry summers. The high temperature is typically in the 60s degrees Fahrenheit (between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius). The city's position directly across the bay from the Golden Gate ensures that Berkeley gets its share of fog, with mornings typically cool and foggy, followed by sunny afternoons, with the fog returning at night. The city's location also means you may experience brisk winds coming off the bay if in an exposed area: typically, the marina or a hillside facing the bay.
- Oakland International Airport (IATA: OAK) is a good option. Take the AirBART shuttle ($3.00 in exact change) or the AC Transit #73 bus ($2.10) to the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Oakland Airport station, and then take a Richmond-bound train to the Downtown Berkeley station ($2.40). Alternatively, you can use a rental car and drive up Interstates 880 and 80 to the University Avenue exit. There are also shuttle van services, providing door-to-door service.
- San Francisco International Airport is also convenient. BART runs from the International Terminal to Berkeley in just under 1 hour. Driving without traffic is as short as 35 minutes, but at commute hours can take up to 2 hours. From SFO, take the US Highway 101 north and then Interstate 80 east, crossing the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Stay on I-80 east and exit at one of the 3 Berkeley exits: Ashby Avenue, University Avenue, or Gilman Street.
- San Jose International Airport (IATA: SJC) is in the region. A rental car or shuttle service is likely fastest and easiest, public transportation is possible but very time-consuming (a little over two hours). San Jose is considerably farther from Berkeley than San Francisco (at least an hour's drive in no traffic) and is not recommended.
- Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), +1 415 989-2278, the regional metro system, offers excellent service to Berkeley from other parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. Berkeley is directly served by two lines, one of which heads south through Oakland to Fremont, while the other runs through West Oakland and under the San Francisco Bay to San Francisco. There are three stations in Berkeley: Ashby, Downtown Berkeley (sometimes just "Berkeley" on older signs), and North Berkeley. The Downtown Berkeley stop is located at Shattuck Avenue and Center Street one block from the UC Berkeley campus, and is the best stop for tourists. Fares vary depending with distance traveled; the fare for a one-way trip from any of the Market Street stations in San Francisco (Embarcadero, Montgomery, Powell, Civic Center) is $3.90, $1.85 one-way to downtown Oakland, $2.50 one-way to the Oakland Coliseum/Airport station, and $9.25 one-way to the San Francisco International Airport station.
- Amtrak offers service to Berkeley via the Berkeley station, Emeryville station, or Richmond station. Consult 511.org for details on how to get from the Amtrak stations to your destination. Sadly, the Berkeley Amtrak station is at the edge of the city, located under University Avenue at 4th Street, near the marina. However, it is at the start of the line for the #51B AC Transit bus, which runs every 10 minutes at peak times, 15–20 minutes at most other times, and once an hour after midnight, and will take you to downtown Berkeley, the University, College Avenue, and just about every shopping area in town. Alternatively, if you are traveling to downtown Berkeley or the University, transfer to BART at the Richmond station and travel on BART to the downtown Berkeley station.
- From San Francisco, Berkeley is a simple 15-minute drive (45 minutes with congestion) east on Interstate 80 across the Bay Bridge and up to University Avenue.
- From Sacramento, Berkeley is an hour and a half drive west on Interstate 80.
- From Los Angeles and Southern California, Berkeley is a 6-hour drive up Interstate 5, then west on Interstate 580.
- Greyhound offers bus service to nearby Oakland and San Francisco.
- Local bus service is provided by AC Transit. For specific itineraries, visit the 511.org website.
- During the school year, the university has buses (Bear Transit) that run every 15 minutes between downtown, the BART station, and most parts of campus. If boarding downtown, the stop is on the uphill side of Shattuck Avenue in front of the Arinell Pizza. Fare is $1 during the day, and free at night after 7:30PM.
There are ferries from Marin County and San Francisco to nearby Oakland, but are probably most useful as a scenic method of travel.
If you are traveling by private boat or charter yacht, Berkeley has a 1,000 berth marina, the largest municipal marina in the Bay Area. Both the Berkeley Marina and the Berkeley Yacht Club offer guest berthing.
Cars are most useful far away from downtown (i.e. not near the campus) or in Berkeley's steep hills. It's often better to stay on the main roads unless you know your way because of the many road barriers to prevent through traffic in residential areas. Be mindful of cyclists and pedestrians; many cyclists often ride in lanes (as is their legal right in California), and pedestrians may expect cars to stop for them. Remember that as a motorist, you need to be especially cautious in order to avoid harming cyclists and pedestrians. Be very careful when driving near the University as students tend to have the mindset that they have the right of way. To further confuse drivers many roads near the university are one way roads (and can turn so spontaneously - so watch signs at major intersections) or are closed to certain drivers.
Parking can be difficult and expensive near campus and downtown. The easiest and most expensive means of parking is in one of the several garages. The biggest garage near campus is the Telegraph Channing Garage. Many stores on Telegraph have validation coupons discounting hourly parking 50% or $5 off all-day parking. Arrive after 8PM and pay only $4 night rate until closing. Most street parking is either metered or 2-hour, but free after 6PM . If you are visiting a resident, they can purchase one day, 7-day, or 21-day street parking passes (not valid in metered spots) for you at city services in downtown. If you are fortunate to find a non-metered street parking close to your destination, you can park for free—some people are known to wipe off the chalk mark left by the meter maid (normally back of rear tire) every three hours or so. Be warned: This is not legal. In an extreme emergency (i.e., ten minutes late for your final exam), you can almost always find parking near the UC Berkeley police station near Sproul Hall. You might get a ticket, but you'll definitely get a kick-ass parking spot. Be aware of street sweeping signs, street sweeping is usually once a month, but the day varies from street to street (even from one side of the street to the other), a good rule of thumb is that if it seems like the street parking on one side is too good to be true - double check it isn't street sweeping. City parking fines run from $48 (Street sweeping and lack of permit in 2 hours spot) to over $300 (Disabled spot violations) and city parking enforcement is particularly vigilant so be aware - you can and will get multiple tickets for the same violation if you don't move quickly (parking 30 minutes in the 5 minute yellow zone can yield 5 $80 tickets).
The Eastshore Freeway which runs along the city's western edge is part of a short concurrency of I-80 and I-580 that may confuse some drivers. Heading south on the freeway toward the Bay Bridge and San Francisco, drivers are simultaneously following I-80 west and I-580 east. Drivers unfamiliar with the area should ensure they know whether their destination is toward Oakland and San Francisco or toward Richmond and Sacramento. These cities supplement the route designations at entrances to this freeway.
By public transit
Public transportation is thus an important consideration in getting to and around downtown and near the university. BART is the fastest connection to Oakland and San Francisco. The Berkeley BART station located in Downtown Berkeley is usually the best option for travelers; the Ashby station is in a seedier part of South Berkeley and the North Berkeley station is located in a residential neighborhood near University Ave. AC Transit goes places BART doesn't, such as the trendy Fourth Street commercial district (line 51B), the upscale Rockridge neighborhood (line 51B to 51A) and the resurgent Temescal commercial district in nearby North Oakland (line 1 or 1R). Check 511.org for trip planning for more information.
Weather permitting, the best way to get around quickly near downtown Berkeley or near campus is on bicycle. Bicycle theft is a serious problem in Berkeley; if you ride your bike, be sure to lock your front wheel as well as the frame. Some choose to remove the seat as well, however this precaution is likely unnecessary if you are only leaving your bike for a short period of time and not overnight. AC Transit buses have racks on the front for bicycles. Bicycles are allowed on BART, but not on San Francisco bound trains during morning rush hour, and do not bring your bicycle in the first car. Check with BART before you leave or you'll get a warning from BART Police and forced to wait until permitted or else face a fine and a stern look from the officer. Folding bicycles are always allowed.
Walking is the least expensive and most effective means of getting around downtown and near campus. You will very quickly outpace most drivers near campus. Take BART or AC Transit to the Berkeley station in downtown (the North Berkeley station is in a residential neighborhood).
- University of California, Berkeley Visitor Center (UC Berkeley, or "Cal"), 101 Sproul Hall (at the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft Way). 90-minute student-led walking tours are offered seven days a week. (M-Sa at 10AM, Su at 1PM). Be prepared to climb the hilly campus terrain. For a break, take a seat in the Doe Library's reading room (but don't bring the kids or bother the students). If you're touring alone, the main attraction is a ride up the Campanile / Sather Tower ($3 adults / $2 seniors and children < 18 / free for Cal students with id), which offers sweeping views of the Bay Area.
- Lawrence Hall of Science, Centennial Dr (located in the hills of the Berkeley campus), ☎ . Every day, 10AM-5PM. Offers many hands-on science exhibits, especially good for children. This is one of the best places to get a panoramic view of the Bay Area: San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, Oakland and the Bay Bridge. Nearby is the UC botanical garden. Adults $17.
- Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way (between Bowditch and College, additional entrance at 2621 Durant Ave), ☎ . W-Su 11AM-5PM, Th 11AM-7PM. Though small, BAM's art galleries and its rotating exhibitions rival any other big-city collection. The museum, run by the University of California, is in a building that is itself an impressive work of modernist architecture.
- Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft Way. With one of the most extensive film archives in the world, the PFA offers many film series throughout the year, focusing on directors, eras, or artistic movements. It also screens some of the films during the annual San Francisco International Film Festival.
- Berkeley Marina and Pier. At the west end of University Avenue, near Interstate 80. From the pier, you get great views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Bay. Local Fisherpersons cast for their dinner, and if you're lucky you might see one catch a skate. Not recommended at night, as there's no light, not much to see, and if you run into a police officer, they'll think you're either lost or involved in suspicious activity.
- Cesar Chavez Park. A bike and pedestrian path runs around the water's edge to the bay side from the back of the peninsula this 90 acre park shares with the Marina and Pier, revealing an incredible view of the bay, the city, Alcatraz, the GG Bridge, and Mt. Tamalpais. With steady winds coming off the bay, a large field, and low hills, this is a kite flying Mecca (the first scene in the film adaptation of "The Kite Runner" was filmed here, though labeled as San Francisco). There is also a kite shop in a truck that parks here most afternoons that sells kites and parts. The park also has picnic areas with BBQ pits, an off-leash dog area, a wetland and wildlife sanctuary.
- Berkeley Rose Garden, on Euclid Ave (at Bayview Place), ☎ . (City Recreation Office)A half-hour's walk north of the UC Berkeley campus. Especially nice for watching the sunset, with a view of the bay.
- Indian Rock Park, Indian Rock Ave. Indian Rock Park is a 1.18-acre public park located in the northeast part of the city, about one block north of the Arlington/Marin Circle, and straddles Indian Rock Avenue. The central feature of the park is a large rock outcropping on the west side of Indian Rock Ave. You can climb up the rocks on the carved out stairs and gaze at the great vista from the top. Highly recommended for sunsets.
- People's Park. While not visually spectacular, this is a landmark of the 1960s Free Speech Movement. People's Park today is a homeless encampment and illicit drug emporium. For the most part, the homeless folks will leave you alone, and the park's location near downtown makes it an attractive place to eat lunch on a sunny day, or play a game of basketball.
- Tilden Park. Offers several inexpensive activities for families with children. Many kilometers of hiking trails of various difficulties are available for free hiking, and include vistas of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. Home to a 5-inch scale, narrow-gauge working steam train. $8 gets five rides through the woods atop the Berkeley hills, including a tunnel and trestle bridge. Right next door is the Golden Gate Live Steamers Club, maintained and operated by 275 members. This is an entire miniature railroad for hand-built steam engines. Bus 67 from Berkeley BART goes through the park on weekends. Also in the park, Lake Anza is a popular swimming destination for families and summer camps. There is a wonderful Botanical Garden with a very diverse terrain and a great collection of manzanitas and other California native plants.
- UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, on Centennial Dr (in the hills above the UC campus), ☎ . 9AM-5PM daily; closed first Tu of each month and on certain holidays. Part outdoor museum, park, and biological research facility for the University of California, the 34-acre garden hosts over 12,000 different species of plant life. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and $1 for children.
- Alternative Music Foundation (Gilman), 924 Gilman St (8th & Gilman). North Berkeley is home to one of the world's most famous punk rock clubs, known simply as Gilman, after the street it located on. Shows are Friday and Saturday evenings, and sometimes Sunday afternoons.
- Berkeley Repertory Theatre (Berkeley Rep), 2025 Addison St (near Shattuck; 2 blocks north of Berkeley BART station), ☎ . Hours vary, normally Tu-Su 8PM-11PM, Sa-Su 2PM-4PM (matinee). With its consistently high-quality productions of contemporary and historical plays, Berkeley Rep is one of the primary centers of theater on the West Coast. The theater is also very pleasant, in a modern way. $35-55 (varies by night; half-price students and seniors, $20 under 30).
- California Golden Bears Football. Above the Berkeley campus, Memorial Stadium plays host in the fall season to UC Berkeley football games. But if you want to watch a game for free, head above the canyon to Tightwad Hill, a hill where students and the public gather to watch games. It's also an ideal location for spectacular views of the Bay Area when there's not a game going on. Anyone is free to come as long as they pick up their own trash and don't wear the colors of Stanford University (red).
- Golden Gate Fields, 1100 Eastshore Highway, ☎ . first race 12:45PM. Horse racing by the Bay.
- Golfing at Tilden. Enjoy the 3-level driving range and rolling 18-hole public course.
- Greek Theatre, Located in the UC Berkeley Campus on Gayley Rd. Check the Cal Performances website for upcoming shows or concerts.
- Long Haul Infoshop, 3124 Shattuck Ave (near Ashby BART). is an anarchist library and community space. there is a wide range of books and magazines collected over the years for folks to read, as well as free coffee. on the weekends you may also find political and counter cultural events.
- Takara Sake Co. tasting room and museum, 708 Addison St (4th St). Noon-6PM daily. Sample flights of Sho Chiku Bai sake and plum wines in a gorgeous tasting room within the brewery. Afterwards, check out the displays of traditional sake-making gear in the sake museum.
- University of California, Berkeley. A world-class university consistently ranked as the number-one public university in the United States. Study abroad programs are available, and international students are housed in the fittingly-named International House at Piedmont Ave. and Bancroft Way. The University also offers summer courses and extension classes available to the general public.
- Berkeley City College (formerly Vista Community College), 2020 Milvia St (on Center St).
- Graduate Theological Union, 2400 Ridge Rd (next to UC Berkeley).
- Work-study programs are available through the University of California, Berkeley.
- Berkeley Chamber of Commerce. The chamber of commerce provides business resources and events.
- Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provides employment to Department of Energy personnel, contractors, and visiting scholars.
- Telegraph. The five-block stretch of Telegraph Avenue just south of UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza is perhaps one of the city's most well-known and most-visited landmarks, with its independent stores, kooky sidewalk vendors and the unforgettable dynamic streetlife that is the amalgam of students, hippies and (sometimes hostile) hobos. Besides its restaurants (see the Eat section) Telegraph is the site of many bookstores, music shops, smoke shops, and used clothing exchanges.
- Moe's Books. A four-story bookstore with a large selection of half-price used books. They sometimes have in-store readings.
- Rasputin Music. Well known independent music store with a large selection of used music and LPs.
- Amoeba Music. Lowest prices and a huge selection of new and used CDs and DVDs, with that one rare album you've been looking for.
- Berkeley Hat. A wide variety of normal and eclectic hats.
- Downtown Berkeley (around Shattuck Ave at Center St). The city's efficient administrative center is also a popular shopping hub. The Berkeley BART station is located right here. Getting here by public transportation is recommended as parking tends to be difficult to find.
- Games of Berkeley, 2151 Shattuck Ave. Located across from the Downtown Berkeley BART station, this quirky game shop is worth checking out for its eclectic selection of board games, kites, puzzles, figurines, and trading card games. The staff is distinctively "Berkeley": approachable and enthusiastic in a somewhat funky way.
- Half Price Books, 2036 Shattuck Ave. HPB has recently moved in next to Comic Relief, on Shattuck at Addison.
- Pegasus Books, 2349 Shattuck Ave (at Durant), ☎ . Smaller than Half Price or Moe's, Pegasus still offers a good selection of new and used books, and schedules literary events at it's Downtown and Solano Ave. locations.
- West Berkeley (around University Ave and San Pablo Ave). This area is the commercial hub of the local Mexican and South Asian community. There are two Mexican groceries, several halal markets, numerous Indian and Pakistani restaurants (including Vik's), and many others (Thai, Turkish, Jamaican, etc.).
- Bombay Music, 2000 San Pablo Ave. This is one of the best Bollywood / Indian music stores in the bay area. You can find Indian classical music CDs to Bollywood latest DVDs and CDs. Prices are discounted. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and friendly.
- Black Oak Books, 2618 San Pablo Ave (at Parker), ☎ . At it's new location, Black Oak offers the best selection of new and used books in West Berkeley.
- Premier Cru, 1011 University Ave (at 10th St), ☎ . A wine shop for the affluent aficionado.
- Fourth Street. Interesting upscale retail center with boutiques. Good food at Bette's Diner (American).
- East Bay Vivarium, 1827-C 5th St, ☎ . One of the best reptile specialty stores in the nation. Also has a large selection of amphibians and invertebrates. Staff is extremely friendly and knowledgeable.
- Elmwood district (College Ave at Ashby Ave). Many interesting stores abound along this corridor.
- North Berkeley (Shattuck Ave between Cedar and Rose). This area is often referred to as the "Gourmet Ghetto" by locals because of the gourmet food at all price rates. Other North Shattuck stores include a card store, three or four women's clothing stores, and a great produce store. Heaven!
- Solano Avenue. Albany and North Berkeley (between The Alameda and San Pablo Ave). More interesting stores and restaurants.
- Ashby Flea Market (in the West parking lot of the Ashby BART Station). Sa-Su 7AM-6PM. There is a lively flea market, as well as food trucks and drumming circles.
- Berkeley Farmer's Market. Derby and Milvia Tuesday afternoons, North Berkeley Thursdays, and Center and Milvia Saturday mornings. An excellent produce market also featuring certain prepared foods, cheeses, oils, and performers and booths by many local organizations.
Berkeley is a culinary wonderland, renowned for its restaurants. From casual to candlelit, Berkeley's restaurants share a passion for great taste. With more than 350 restaurants in town, there is a great array of cuisine choices. Culinary adventures extend beyond restaurants and cafes to encompass tours, tastings and more.
Downtown and University
- Au Coquelet, 2000 University Ave (at Milvia, between Shattuck and Martin Luther King), ☎ . Su-Th 6AM-1:30AM, F-Sa 6AM-2AM. The late-night student crowd and the weekend brunchers come to Au Coquelet to enjoy food, coffee, and a constantly revolving art show. You can get a delicious piece of pie here.
- Brazil Cafe, 2161 University Ave (at Walnut), ☎ . M-Sa 11AM-8:30PM, Su 11AM-7PM. Not much more than a brightly decorated shack sitting on a corner parking lot, but this shack has been featured in National Geographic, and is famous for its tri-tip sandwiches (supposedly, the best in the Bay) and its mango smoothies. Pedro, the friendly owner of the cafe, might be around passing out free samples as well.
- Crepes A-Go-Go, 2334 Telegraph Ave. And 2125 University Ave. A Berkeley institution.
- Dojo Dog, Bancroft Way and College Ave, ☎ . M-F 11AM-4PM. A student run food truck started by local Cal students, serving newly designed Asian-style hot dogs. It is a brightly colored food truck sitting right at the entrance to Cal. Under $10.
- Gelato Milano, 2170 Shattuck Ave (at Center St). Su-Th 1PM-11PM, F-Sa 1PM-midnight. Authentic Italian gelato and non-dairy fruit sorbetto made on the premises.
- Gypsy's Trattoria Italiana, 2519 Durant Ave, ☎ . Suite A.
- Herbivore (The earthly grill), 2451 Shattuck Ave, ☎ . Su-Th 9AM-10PM, F+Sa 9AM-11PM. The Berkeley branch of a smaller vegan Bay area chain. The portions are big and there are plenty of good vegan choices.
- La Mission, 1255 University Ave (between Bonar St & Chestnut St), ☎ . Fresh, delicious Mexican food with an outdoor seating patio.
- Little Saigon, 1717 University Ave (East on University from freeway, past Sacramento), ☎ . M-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su 5PM-9PM. Its easy to get decent Vietnamese food in the East Bay, but this stands out for high quality, creative food. The Apple Salad (Fuji apples, cabbage, onion, cilantro, peanuts, and tofu or beef) is an outstanding original creation, the spring rolls are truly fresh, and the won ton soup is actually challenging in its mix of flavors (unique and excellent, and not what you might expect from most inexpensive Chinese restaurants, let along Vietnamese). The Pho Tai is great as well. $6-9/entree.
- Lucky House Thai, 2140 University Ave. Between Shattuck and Oxford. Great Thai food, portion sizes big enough to be shared between two people and low prices. Environment can be low key but the low prices and great food make it totally worth it.
- Plearn Thai Kitchen, 2283 Shattuck Ave, ☎ . Good Thai food place existing already for quite some time.
- PIQ Berkeley, 91 Shattuck Sq (between University Ave & Addison St), ☎ . A new Italian bakery offering mini-sandwiches, pizza slices, panini, calzone, pastries, salads and good coffee and espresso. A bit overpriced for what you get, but good atmosphere and wi-fi.
- Ryowa, 2068 University Ave (between Shattuck and Milvia), ☎ . Japanese ramen and donburi.
- Slow, 1966 University Ave (between Bonita Ave & Milvia St), ☎ . Their mission statement: "Create gourmet food using fresh local ingredients, serve it in a modest setting, and charge reasonable prices so everyone can enjoy slow food."
- Taqueria Monte Cristo, 1446 University Ave (between Acton St & Sacramento St), ☎ . 9AM-midnight daily. Good quality Mexican food.
- Thai Basil Cuisine, 2519 Durant Ave, Suite F (between Telegraph & Bowditch), ☎ . 10:30AM-midnight daily.
- Top Dog, 2534 Durant Ave (between Telegraph & Bowditch), ☎ . M-Th 10AM-2AM, F 10AM-3AM, Sa 11AM-3AM, Su 11AM-2AM. A Berkeley institution, with locations on two sides of campus (Durant Ave and Center St) Amazing hot dogs for $3 and walls filled with libertarian political writings. The Durant location is the original, and is, really the only one worth going to.
- Yogurt Park, 2433 Durant Ave (between Dana & Telegraph), ☎ . 11AM-midnight daily. Six delicious flavors of frozen yogurt daily, on a rotating schedule. You can get a heaping, satisfying cup for $2.75. Not to be missed.
- Barney's, 1600 Shattuck Ave (at Cedar), ☎ . A small California sit-down burger chain that makes good burgers, curly fries, and milkshakes. Get the oreo shakes.
- Cheese Board Pizza, 1512 Shattuck Ave, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-F 11:30AM-2PM, 4:30PM-7PM. Sa noon-3PM, 4:30PM-7PM.. Collective serves pizza two doors down from its gourmet cheese and bread shop in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto. Only one kind of pizza is available each day, always vegetarian. You can buy pizza by the slice, portion of a pizza, or buy a half-baked pizza. Often considered the best pizza in Berkeley. Lines can be long in the evenings, and their hours are short. You will often see students and locals seated in the grassy median of Shattuck eating their pizza.
- Virginia Bakery, 1690 Shattuck Ave (at Virginia), ☎ . M-Sa 7:30AM-6PM. A delicious local bakery with great cakes and cookies.
- Berkeley Bagels, 1281 Gilman St (at Curtis St), ☎ . The best bagels in town - organic, with no refined sugar. Try the Seed City bagel with lox.
- Gioia Pizzeria, 1586 Hopkins St (at McGee), ☎ . Gourmet pizza by the slice (Brooklyn style). Daily specials.
- Kabana, 1025 University Ave (between San Pablo Ave & 10th St), ☎ . This great Pakistani restaurant is one of the anchors of West Berkeley. The daily specials are always good and the goat curry is outstanding.
- Picante, 1328 6th St (between Gilman St & Camelia St), ☎ . M-F 11AM-10PM Sa-Su 10AM-10PM. Delicious, taqueria-style Mexican food. Fantastic, home-made tortillas, savory moles, extensive vegan and vegetarian menus and stiff margaritas all in a large family-friendly dining room.
- Tacubaya, 1788 4th St (between Hearst Ave & Virginia St), ☎ . An upscale yet affordable taqueria serving Blue Bottle coffee. Everything is made from scratch daily with fresh ingredients.
- Vik's Chaat Corner, 2390 4th St (between Bancroft Way & Channing Way). Inexpensive and authentic Indian food. Some of the best in the bay. Warehouse environment.
Downtown and University
- Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen, 2261 Shattuck Ave (at Kittredge), ☎ . Every cajun item on the menu is a hit. The oyster po' boy sandwich and the crawfish etoufee are highly recommended, the hush puppies with honey butter are sinfully delicious, and be sure to wash them down with some sweet tea.
- The Bread Workshop, 1398 University Ave (between West St & Acton St). Fresh bread baked onsite, with excellent sustainable brunch and dinner options.
- Cafe Platano, 2042 University Ave (between Shattuck and Milvia), ☎ . Salvadoran entrees and small plates with a good selection of Central American cervezas and wines.
- Gather, 2200 Oxford St (at Allston Way), ☎ . Delicious seasonal, organic meat and vegetarian dishes, as well as organic cocktails and biodynamic wines served in a dining room made from reclaimed wood and natural materials.
- Kirala, 2100 Ward St (at Shattuck Ave), ☎ . The best Japanese restaurant in the East Bay. Don't stop at sushi rolls - the robata grill serves exquisite whole squid, quail, and duck among others. The almond-encrusted shrimp tempura is heavenly. Have a house-brewed Pale Ale in the bar while you wait 30 minutes for your table.
- Venus, 2327 Shattuck Ave (between Bancroft and Durant), ☎ . Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Venus serves some of the most innovative organic and sustainable food in Berkeley.
- Cha Am, 1543 Shattuck Ave (at Cedar), ☎ . Berkeley is known for good Thai cuisine, and Cha Am is one of the best. Eat delicious soups and more in a restaurant made up of many nooks and crannies, both in and out of doors.
- Cesar, 1515 Shattuck Ave. Delicious tapas, wine and cocktails.
- Mint Leaf, 1513 Shattuck Ave (at Vine St), ☎ . Indian entrees and tapas made with organic produce and free range meats. Vegan options are also offered.
- Saul's, 1475 Shattuck Ave, ☎ . Su-Th 8AM-9PM, F-Sa 8AM-9:30PM. In the Gourmet Ghetto. A Jewish deli with outstanding brunch dishes and dinner entrees (try the Beef Stroganoff). Saul's brews its own sodas, with a rotating cast of new flavors.
- Taste of the Himalayas, 1700 Shattuck Ave (at Virginia St), ☎ . Nepalese and North Indian food.
- Ajanta, 1888 Solano Ave (at the Alameda), ☎ . The best Indian food this writer has ever had. Many dishes are organic and sustainable. Rachel Ray listed Ajanta as one of only two "world class" restaurants on Solano Ave.
- Bua Luang, 1166 Solano Ave (Albany) (between Cornell and Stannage), ☎ . Excellent Thai food.
- Fonda, 1501 Solano Ave (Albany) (at Curtis), ☎ . Duck tacos, tuna tartare, Cuban mini-burgers and premium tequila flights make Fonda well worth the visit.
- Kirin Cuisine of Northern China, 1767 Solano Ave (between Ensenada Ave & Colusa Ave), ☎ . Superb Szechuan cuisine in a beautiful dining room with an open kitchen. The kung pao is recommended.
- Sushi 29, 1647 Solano Ave (between Ventura Ave & Tulare Ave), ☎ . The most visually appealing dining room of any Japanese restaurant in Berkeley.
- Vanessa's Bistro, 1715 Solano Ave (at Tulare Ave), ☎ . W-M 4PM-9PM, closed Tu. Premium Vietnamese cuisine. Reservations are strongly recommended.
- Zachary's Chicago Pizza, 1853 Solano Ave, ☎ . Su-Th 11AM-9:30PM, F-Sa 11AM-10:30PM. Now accepting credit cards as well as cash. Just under $20 for a decently sized pizza. Pizza like you dream about. Available in deep-dish or regular. A second location is nearby in Oakland on College Avenue. A local and regional favorite with notoriously long lines. The regular is good, but the deep dish is unbelievable: a crispy pie crust with big chunks of tomato. Not to be missed.
- La Mediterranee, 2936 College Ave, ☎ . A fun pan-Mediterranean restaurant in the Elmwood District.
- Ici, 2948 College Ave, ☎ . A fancy ice cream shop that boasts regular lines down the block. Plan to wait for at least 15 minutes for the pleasure of sampling flavors such as coffee cardamom and lime hibiscus sherbert. Make sure to get a cone: they plug the bottom with a hunk of chocolate.
- 900 Grayson, 900 Grayson St (at 7th St), ☎ . For a sinfully pleasurable brunch try the Demon Lover - fried chicken served atop a buttermilk waffle with your choice of gravy or Vermont syrup.
- Anchalee Thai Cuisine, 1094 Dwight Way (between 10th St & San Pablo Ave), ☎ . Simply incredible Thai food.
- Bette's Oceanview Diner, 1807 4th St (between Hearst Ave & Virginia St), ☎ . Kitschy '50s era diner with deeply satisfying brunch food and coffee.
- Breads of India, 2448 Sacramento. Regional Indian restaurant whose menu changes from day to day, each entree on the menu has its own bread recommended with it.
- Cafe Leila, 1724 San Pablo Ave (at Francisco St), ☎ . Great egg dishes, mediterranean entrees and sandwiches made with organic ingredients are best enjoyed on a sunny day in Leila's large outdoor patio, and sip on a house-brewed tea.
- HS Lordships, 199 Seawall Dr. Waterfront dining in the Berkeley Marina. Engorge yourself at the extensive buffet including roast beef, omelettes and pasta dishes made to order, multiple entrees, chilled crab legs and shrimp cocktail, a salad bar, and all too many desserts.
- Jimmy Bean's, 1290 6th St (at Gilman St), ☎ . Jimmy Bean's has one of the best brunches in Berkeley, and the grilled sandwiches and nightly dinner specials are worth the visit.
- Luca Cucina Italiana, 2057 San Pablo Ave (between University Ave & Addison St), ☎ . Affordable, authentic Italian food in a casual atmosphere.
- Meal Ticket, 1235 San Pablo Ave (between Gilman St & Harrison), ☎ . Meal Ticket's California version of the oyster po' boy sandwich never disappoints, and the salmon or trout with eggs is a great way to start your day. Outdoor seating available.
- Paisan Pizzeria, 2514 San Pablo Ave (between Dwight Way & Blake St), ☎ . Wood fired pizzas, sumptuous pasta dishes, organic entrees, and a fine selection of Italian wines make Paisan a local favorite.
- Zut!, 1820 4th St (between Virginia St & Hearst Ave), ☎ , fax: +1 510-849-1027, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 11:30AM-9:30PM, F 11:30AM-10:30PM, Sa 10:30AM-10:30PM, Su 10:30AM-9PM. Mediterranean and American food in a casual cafe atmosphere. Indoor and outdoor dining. They have great pizza. A nice respite from shopping. $10-30.
- Zut!, 1820 Fourth St, ☎ .
- Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Ave (at Vine), ☎ . Chez Panisse is the origin of California Cuisine, and still is the best representation of the style that focuses on local produce in season. Named "Best Restaurant in America" in 2001 by Gourmet Magazine and is one of the entries in the book 1000 Places To See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz. Fixed price menus downstairs (Monday $65, Tuesday to Thursday $75, Friday and Saturday $95), which usually require a reservation a month in advance. It's worth it, though. The cafe upstairs offers more variety in à la carte form, and it's easier to get a table. Still, if your parents are paying, try to book downstairs.
- Five, 2086 Allston Way (between Shattuck and Milvia), ☎ . Modern American Bistro serving classic American fare reinvented with a seasonal California flair, with local, organic and sustainable farms and produce.
- Le Bateau Ivre, 2629 Telegraph Ave (at Carleton), ☎ . Su, Tu-Th 9AM-2:30PM and 5PM-9:30PM, F-Sa 9AM-2:30PM and 5PM-10:30PM. Upscale French restaurant and coffeehouse in a romantic 1898 home on Telegraph Ave, but away from the major shopping.
- Revival Bar & Kitchen, 2102 Shattuck Ave, ☎ . New "farm-to-table, organic" restaurant with good wine list. Have the fantastic cornmeal crusted onion rings on the side.
- Trattoria Corso, 1788 Shattuck Ave (between Francisco St & Delaware St), ☎ . Gourmet Northern Italian cuisine with an excellent wine list.
Berkeley has a host of fine drinking establishments. Wineries and breweries are also in the mix, with free tours and tastings offered at a number of venues.
- Acme Bar & Company, 2115 San Pablo Ave (one block south of University Ave), ☎ . Newly renovated bar with over 100 whiskeys and DJs on the weekend spinning oldies and 80s pop. Great vibe.
- Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave (two blocks north of University Ave), ☎ . Su-Tu 6PM–2AM, W-Sa 4:30PM–2AM. What a fantastic bar. It has several dart boards, a pool table, lots of board games behind the bar, and a surprisingly good art collection. Sunday nights at 8:30PM they run a trivia contest.
- Hotsy Totsy Club, 601 San Pablo Ave, Albany (at Garfield St), ☎ . M-Th 3PM-2AM, F-Su 11:30AM-2AM. A former dive bar was refashioned by the owner of Cesar into a bar too hip for Albany. The shuffleboard table is the main diversion, though a pool table is also in the back.
- Jupiter, 2181 Shattuck Ave (between Center and Allston), ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-1AM, F 11:30AM-1:30AM, Sa noon-1:30AM, Su 1PM-midnight. The backyard patio is fantastic. On weekend nights they usually have live music in the beer garden. They have a huge selection of beer, including their own microbrews. Food includes individual-sized wood-oven pizzas.
- Lanesplitter Pizza & Pub, 2033 San Pablo Ave (at University Ave), ☎ . 11:30AM-12:30AM daily. Lots of great beers, a large backyard patio, and superb pizza. And rock music - this place is more of a bar that happens to serve pizza than a restaurant.
- Missouri Lounge, 2600 San Pablo Ave (at Parker), ☎ . 4PM-2AM daily. The only real dance club in Berkeley, Missouri has DJs spinning hip hop and older hits most nights. It also a large outdoor smoking patio/BBQ area serving burgers and fries late at night.
- Skate's On the Bay, 100 Seawall Dr (in the Berkeley Marina), ☎ . The happy hour drink and appetizer specials in the waterfront lounge are a treat, especially with the fireplace going. The view on the Golden Gate bridge and San Francisco is great. Nevertheless don't expect too much out of the cocktails. There is a fine choices of beers and wines.
- Starry Plough Pub, 3101 Shattuck Ave (three blocks south of Ashby, two blocks east of Ashby BART), ☎ . M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 4PM-10PM. Relaxed atmosphere. The walls are decorated with fantastic anti-government posters. Every Wednesday is a poetry slam that is quite good and popular. They have Irish dancing on Monday nights, and local bands during the rest of the week.
- Takara Sake Co. tasting room, 708 Addison St (4th St). Noon-6PM daily. Sample flights of Sho Chiku Bai sake and plum wines in a gorgeous tasting room within the brewery. Afterwards, check out the displays of traditional sake-making gear in the little sake museum.
- Thalassa, 2367 Shattuck Ave (at Durant), ☎ . M-F 2PM-2AM, Sa-Su noon-2AM. A billiards hall of grand proportion with a nice jukebox and a couple of pinball machines and lots and lots of undergraduates. Famous for not having a sign -- look for the neon martini glass. Closed. Lost lease.
- Triple Rock, 1920 Shattuck Ave (at Hearst), ☎ . Good brewpub with burgers, salads, and the usual pub fare.
Cafes and Coffeehouses
Being a college town, Berkeley has a number of great cafes catering to a variety of interests. From quiet places to read to live music, Berkeley has a cafe for you.
- Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave (at Dwight), ☎ . The West Berkeley branch of the famous North Beach favorite of the Beat Poets, Trieste serves excellent coffee, quiche, desserts and sandwiches. The elderly owner drops by every Sunday afternoon to belt out Italian ballads.
- Espresso Roma, 2960 College Ave (at Ashby), ☎ . Located in the Elmwood shopping area, Roma caters more to the graduate student and local resident crowd. The cafe has some outdoor seating on a busy intersection, as well as a 'quiet' room for studying/reading.
- Cafe Strada, 2300 College Ave (at Bancroft), ☎ . M-Sa 6AM-midnight, Su 7AM-midnight. Practically located on the UC Berkeley campus, Strada is a second home to student and professor alike. It's a popular meeting place, and often busy. Great outdoor seating.
- Cafe Milano, 2522 Bancroft Way (between Telegraph and Bowditch), ☎ . M-F 7AM-10PM, Sa-Su 8AM-10PM. Milano is a few blocks away from Strada, and also practically on campus. No outdoor seating here. Also a haven for studying students.
- Local 123, 2049 San Pablo Ave (between University and Allston), ☎ . M-Sa 7AM-8PM, Su 7AM-6PM. Using the slow pour method with locally roasted beans, Local 123 serves simply the best coffee this writer has ever had, literally. Local microbrews and even wine are poured from taps. Very hip decor and music. An outdoor patio is in the back.
- Peet's Coffee & Tea, 2124 Vine St (between Shattuck and Walnut), ☎ . M-Sa 6AM-8PM, Su 6AM-7PM. Although a chain, Peet's has a special place in the heart of many Berkeley residents, as it all started with a tiny shop located on Vine Street (and it's still there). Great tea selection, very intense coffee, and interesting goodies.
- People's Coffee and Tea, 2015 Shattuck Ave (at University), ☎ . 7AM-midnight daily. People's is located downtown, a block and a half from BART on Shattuck Avenue. It offers free Wi-fi and computers for those laptop-deficient. Try the Mediterranean plate for a filling and very cheap lunch. Good coffee and a huge selection of teas!
- Philz Coffee, 1600 Shattuck Ave (between Cedar St & Lincoln St), ☎ . Customized blends of different beans from around the world in light, dark or medium roast.
- Cafe Mediterraneum (The Med), Telegraph Ave (walf 4 blocks south from campus on Telegraph Ave). Coffee drinks, some food. Berkeley Institution, since the '50s.
- Yesterday Cafe, University Ave (2 blocks east of San Pablo Ave). Coffee shop, baked goods. Couches. Across street from public library.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Budget||up to $100|
In addition to offering a wide range of lodging accommodations, Berkeley hotels and inns are increasingly eco-travel friendly. As of January 2013, more than 60% of the rooms in Berkeley are certified “Green” by the Bay Area Green Business Program (BAGBP). If you are looking for chain hotels the nearby city of Emeryville is south of Berkeley and is home to more national brands.
- Piedmont House, 2434 Piedmont Ave (between Dwight and Haste, 3 blocks south of UC campus), ☎ . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: noon. Affordable rooming-house style accommodation rents nightly or weekly and offers a “scholars hostel” approach to shared housing, with private, lockable rooms and shared kitchen. Free wi-fi, movie/music/reading/living room, cheap bike rentals for guests. Shared rooms from $32, private rooms from $55.
- Bancroft Hotel, 2680 Bancroft Way (at College Ave), ☎ . Located across the street from the University of California campus. Located in a history 1928 Arts & Craft building and is a National Landmark hotel.
- Beau Sky Hotel, 2520 Durant Ave (between Telegraph and Bowditch), ☎ . With an uncommon mix between both budget and mid-range, the Beau Sky hotel is located one block from UC Berkeley. Your stay here begins each day with a complimentary continental breakfast and fresh-baked pastries and ends with a wonderful pillow-top mattress at night. Rates $119-169.
- Berkeley Lab Guest House, 1 Cyclotron Rd, Building 23 (On the LBNL Campus on the Hill), ☎ , fax: +1 510-495-8800, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Anyone with a university affiliation (Yes, even students) can book rooms or sponsor a guest. Cheap rates, great views from the hill, a quiet location, and comfortable beds make this a hidden gem for campus visitors. Its location on university property, which exempts you from city taxes, and free parking (a valuable commodity in Berkeley) makes the guest house even more affordable for scholars, parents, and relatives alike. $129, $100 for guests of the national lab.
- Downtown Berkeley Inn, 2001 Bancroft Way (at Milvia St), ☎ . Located just two blocks from the Berkeley BART station, this hotel, newly rebuilt by its long-time owner, offers some real luxury. Top of the list is the memory-foam bed! There is also in-room internet access, and a large flat-panel TV.
- Doubletree Hotel, 200 Marina Blvd (in the Berkeley Marina, at the west end of University Ave), ☎ . Hotel is in the marina.
- Hotel Durant, 2600 Durant Ave (at Bowditch St between College Ave and Telegraph Ave), ☎ . Great if you want to be next to the University of California campus.
- The Faculty Club, 2222 Piedmont Extension (University of California at Berkeley), ☎ . Located right on the UC Berkeley campus. Rates are cheap, but rooms can only be booked by active members of the faculty club for their guests, therefore occupancy is usually limited to visiting scholars and guests of the university. $80–160.
- Rodeway Inn - Berkeley, 1461 University Ave, toll-free: .
- Hotel Shattuck Plaza, 2086 Allston Way (at Shattuck Ave), ☎ . Located close to campus and just a few steps from the Downtown Berkeley BART station. Historic 1910 downtown hotel has gone through an extensive renovation in 2009 and offers rooms with upscale linens and furnishings. Free wireless internet with good connectivity. Parking is only available for $15 per day in the public garage across the street. The second-floor "gym" has only two treadmills and an elliptical, but the front desk offers free passes to the YMCA gym that is a block away. Hotel bar FIVE features happy hour from 2PM to 7PM daily. Chef Scott Howard constantly creates amazing farm fresh dishes for the new FIVE restaurant.
- The Claremont Resort and Spa, 41 Tunnel Rd (between Domingo and Oak Ridge, east of Claremont), ☎ , toll-free: . Visible as far as San Francisco's Coit Tower on a clear day, this brilliant white hotel is hard to miss. But don't let the Shining-esque grandeur scare you. Special deals run around $170/night, but you can spend as much as you like.
- Berkeley, like most of the cities in Alameda County, is in the 510 area code.
- Internet access is widespread. Most coffee shops offer wireless internet access. Public terminals are available at the UC Berkeley Doe library. University guests can request access to the "AirBears" campus-wide wifi network.
- Mobile phone coverage is generally understood to be excellent.
West and South Berkeley, especially near Oakland, can be unsafe at night. In 2001, Berkeley was reported to have the second-highest crime rate for large California cities, though many Berkeley crimes are drug-related. While the north side is quieter and generally safer, use common sense and avoid walking alone at night. Also be aware of your surroundings: the more bars on windows, generally the less safe the area. Bicycling is generally a safe way to get around at night; for those who prefer not to ride, free night escorts are provided by the University of California police near campus: call +1' 510-642-WALK (9255).
Berkeley has a well-deserved reputation for protests, riots, and strikes, and you may see a protest or two in progress during your visit. However, the vast majority of protests today are raucous but protesters are typically strictly nonviolent. (The same cannot always be said of the police, and it's worth keeping a wide berth of any in-progress police action unless you're willing to risk a rib or two.) The last time the National Guard was called in to patrol the city was 1991.
The eastern area of the UC Berkeley campus is surprisingly forested, and might be a good place to get away from some frustrations. The Marina has a nice one-mile loop walk. It's windy enough for kites almost every afternoon but is often wind-free in the morning. The Whole Foods on Telegraph at Ashby has massage therapists standing by to ease your tensions.
Note that the entire downtown and campus area is extremely packed, and traffic correspondingly congested, on Cal football game days. These take place on about half the Saturdays during the fall semester, from late August to mid December.
When locals (and students) need to get out, they often head to "The City" -- San Francisco. It's easy to get to by BART train and a logical next step of exploration—assuming, of course, you didn't just come from there! Oakland, just south of Berkeley, is a large and diverse city as well, with many ethnic neighborhoods less frequented by tourists than those of San Francisco.
The hills above Berkeley and Oakland, including Tilden and Wildcat Parks, are easily accessible by foot, car, or bicycle, and offer many hikes with spectacular views.
Further out from Berkeley, you might consider striking out to Angel Island for the day or an overnight camping trip. Marin and Sonoma Counties are moderate drives from Berkeley as well. You might also try wine tasting in the Napa Valley. Northeast is Sacramento, the state's capital city.
|Routes through Berkeley|
|San Francisco ← Emeryville ←||S N||→ Albany → Sacramento|
|San Rafael ← Albany ←||N S||→ Emeryville → Oakland|
|Sacramento ← Richmond ←||N S||→ Emeryville → Oakland|