A mix of cityscape as well as natural landscape, the city of Berkeley is home to diverse characters and culture. Known as a major food hub with its various ethnic restaurants and food trucks, as well as a center of art, music and literature with its art festivals, theaters and bookstores, Berkeley is a cozy, charismatic and slightly calmer version of San Francisco worth exploring. Here are five well-known and popular Berkeley sites; stop by to relax and soak in the ambience, people and sights all in one location.
Located in the center of North Berkeley’s famous Gourmet Ghetto on Shattuck Avenue, Cheese Board Pizza is a charming part-pizzeria, part-bakery famous for serving one type of vegetarian pizza each day to the tunes of a local live band or musician. Made fresh daily, they top their thin, sourdough pizza dough with an assortment of vegetables, cheeses and herbs. Slices sell for $2.50, half pizzas for $10 and whole pizzas for $20, and at least one, if not more extra smaller-sized slices are always included as an added touch of hospitality. Two doors down from the pizzeria is the Cheese Board Bakery, selling a wide assortment of cheeses, fresh-baked breads, pastries and cookies. From their famous cheese scones to their melt-in-your-mouth baguette, the choose-your-own style of the bakery enables quick gathering of favorites.
Take a stroll, ride a bike or enjoy a meal along the Berkeley Marina, the strip of coast where Berkeley touches and looks out onto the San Francisco Bay. On the north side of the Marina, fly a kite, play fetch with your dog or simply take a walk through the hills of César Chávez Park. To entertain your kids, stop by the Adventure Playground to give them the opportunity to explore a unique hands-on playground where they can ride a zip line or even construct and paint parts of the playground. Past the boat docks from the playground is Skates on the Bay, a restaurant named after the skates, a type of ray similar to the stingray, that can be found in the bay. Suspended over the water’s edge, brunch, lunch, dinner or drinks can be enjoyed with a full view of the bay.
Situated on the east side of the city, UC Berkeley’s campus comprises of historical buildings as well as natural features and grassy pastures such as Observatory Hill and Memorial Glade. These are located in the north part of campus near the clock tower, an iconic feature of UC Berkeley due to its visibility across the city. Added touches of nature such as the Strawberry Creek runs through the center of campus and leads to the Eucalyptus Grove in the east part of campus. For visitors who are football fans, the famous Cal Memorial Stadium that hosts the Bears’ games is located on the west side of campus on Piedmont Avenue. Immediately surrounding the campus is downtown Berkeley and Shattuck Avenue as well as historic Telegraph Avenue and its variety of restaurants, bookstores, local vendors and other shops.
Walk a couple blocks south on Telegraph Avenue from UC Berkeley’s campus and on the corner of Telegraph and Durant Avenue is the original CREAM (short for Cookies Rule Everything Around Me), famous for its delicious $2.50 ice cream sandwiches that consist of a generous scoop of ice cream smashed between two freshly baked cookies. Customers can choose from a variety of ice cream flavors ranging from royal caramel swirl, to chocoholic and butter pecan as well as an assortment of cookies including M&M cookies, snicker doodles and even red velvet. Efficient service of this delicious treat makes CREAM a favorite among Berkeley locals, UC Berkeley students and visitors to the city.
Tilden Regional Park is home to numerous hiking and biking trails as well as lookout points, including famous Grizzly Peak with aerial views of Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay. Explore the Botanic Garden’s variety of California native plants, take a dip in Lake Anza and drag your feet through its sandy beaches or bring your kids to the merry-go-round or steam train. Perfect for exploration in the spring, summer and autumn months, the nature of Tilden Park serves as a pleasant break from the hustle and bustle of downtown.
By Katie Tao
Her Bay Area roots still founded firmly within her, Katie is a student at Pomona College who has a love of soccer, an attachment to the beauty of the outdoors, a desire to travel and find new hubs of people and food (particularly Japanese and Chinese cuisine), and a belief in an overall healthy yet hearty lifestyle.