The Best of NileGuide
It's not all studying and scurrying to lecture in Berkeley. While the university sets the tone of life in Berkeley, there's plenty more than classes and keggers in this forward-thinking Bay Area city. Indulging in world-class eating, browsing for unique goods and taking advantage of the spectacular natural setting are just some of the oh-so Berkeley activities on the top of everyone's agenda. Berkeley's things to do are all about culture, consciousness and uber-healthy living. How Northern California is that?
Start in the center of it all: UC Berkeley. But skip class and head to Telegraph Avenue, epitomizing Berkeley since its raucous, radical protest days in the 1960s. Chock full of progressive history, Telegraph Avenue is lined with stores and shops that capture the eccentric soul of the city. Headshop Annapurna, music mecca Amoeba and used book superstore Moe's are among the long-standing businesses that provide everything you need to truly experience Berkeley. On weekends, independent local vendors line the sidewalks, selling everything from beads to bumper stickers. Telegraph Avenue offers some of the best people watching on the planet, and no trip to Berkeley is complete without a stroll down its sidewalks.
Berkeley's mild climate and natural setting provide the next slew of local activities, all centered around enjoying the great outdoors. Sure, the skyscrapers of San Francisco may be a short train ride away, but a trip back to nature is just a short jaunt up the hill. Tilden Regional Park offers all the hiking trails, scenic cycling, swimming lakes and petting zoo farms for a perfect Northern California day. The smaller Claremont Canyon Regional Reserve and Wildcat Canyon Regional Park get you even further off the grid and away from it all.
Another serious activity in Berkeley is eating. As the birthplace of California cuisine, food plays a central role in Berkeley life. Make your sweep through the famous Gourmet Ghetto, making stops at Cheeseboard and Chez Panisse, but don't stop at the restaurants. Year-around farmers markets and independent grocers like Berkeley Bowl and Monterey Market have played just as big a role in shaping California cuisine, and warrant a visit as well.
And when all else fails, do as the locals do: grab a spot at a cafe and spend the afternoon soaking in the Berkeley vibe. And some heady literature too.