Just across the water from San Francisco lie Oakland and Berkeley. With sunny weather, gorgeous parks, world-class dining, and lots of shopping districts, these two East Bay cities are worth exploring.

Berkeley has a decidedly intellectual and political bent, evident in lively café conversation around the UC campus. Affordable eats, as well as tattoo parlors and vintage clothing, music, and book shops, abound on the student-trafficked Telegraph Avenue. Head to Tilden Regional Park in the Berkeley Hills for nature trails, a lovely golf course, and stellar San Francisco Bay views. On the western side of town, the "Gourmet Ghetto"—an area along Shattuck Avenue between Hearst Avenue and Rose Street—lures visitors with its fantastic dining, including Alice Waters' trailblazing Chez Panisse, delicious Thai at Cha Am, and legendary pizzas at the Cheeseboard Collective. Closer to the water, Fourth Street entices with its upscale boutiques and homey restaurants.

Oakland's highlights include the serene hiking trails and majestic sequoias at Oakland Redwoods Regional Park, the imaginative exhibits at the Chabot Space and Science Center, the historic bayfront landmark-cum-entertainment complex of Jack London Square, charming shops and great food in the beautiful areas of Piedmont and Rockridge, and scenic Lake Merritt. Football fans flock to Raiders games at Oakland Coliseum.

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