Solano Cellars offers wine and cheese tastings as well as winemaking classes and a vast wine selection. The shop specializes in unique wines, both local and worldly, and prides itself on supporting emerging wineries as well as classic ones. The staff are knowledgeable and the atmosphere casual.
Address and telephone number: Solano Cellars, 1580 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707, +1 510-525-9463
Solano Cellars © Lauren Harsma/Flickr
If you’re more the beer-and-billiards type, Club Mallard is for you. Lodge-like and cozy, Mallard eschews the bumping-bassed, sticky-floored nature of the dance club and instead takes its moniker from a more upstanding sort of establishment, which sets the tone at relaxed and dignified.
Club Mallard © Lauren Harsma/Flickr
Dimly-lit and filled with fossils, you may feel that you’ve stepped into the world of Indiana Jones on entering Bone Room. The walls are hung with shadowboxed moths and butterflies, pinned in mid-flight; taxidermy creatures stand guard over jars of pale animal bones; fully-constructed skeletons goad you on towards books and build-your-own kits. Founded by herpetologist and natural history buff Ron Cauble, the Bone Room has been a haven for natural history nerds for nearly two decades.
Bone Room 1 © Lauren Harsma/Flickr
Bone Room 2 © Lauren Harsma/Flickr
Whether you’re craving a pot of PG Tips or a bottle of Berliner Weisse, The Junket in El Cerrito Plaza is your spot. Selling groceries from the UK and Germany, it is also a cafe and a deli and a grocery. For Europhiles and adventurers, it’s a great place to get hard-to-find treats or to try something new and daring.
Address and telephone number: The Junket, 235 El Cerrito Plaza, El Cerrito, CA 94530, +1 510-524-4622
The Junket © Lauren Harsma/Flickr
Retro-diner-style signage directs you into Flowerland’s bursting-bright nursery, where you’ll find yourself wandering through a veritable jungle of flowers, succulents, seeds, and gifts. The place is a miniaturized botanical garden.
Address and telephone number: Flowerland Nursery, 1330 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706, +1 510-526-3550
Flowerland © Lauren Harsma/Flickr
Reminisce about birthday parties past by slipping on a pair of ever-stylish shoes and bowling a game or two at Albany Bowl. With daily deals on lanes and shoe rentals, scads of arcade games and air hockey tables, this bowling alley will strike all of your childhood checkboxes.
Albnay Bowl © Lauren Harsma/Flickr
An aquarium supply store that could double as a miniature museum, Albany Aquarium on San Pablo is a wonder. With a wall of glowing tanks filled with all manner of anemone, crustaceans and cephalopods, you’ll feel emerged in an underwater grotto from the start. In addition to a vast variety of water creatures, the shop offers a lush assembly of plants with which to furnish your favorite fish tank.
Address and telephone number: Albany Aquarium, 818 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706, +1 510-525-1166
Albany Aquarium © Lauren Harsma/Flickr