Explore Berkeley

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Master public transit and find your new favorite spot.

However many years you may have left at Cal, make the most of it and explore your college town! There is so much to do in Berkeley and so much to discover, I know it can get a little overwhelming. I made a list (that is not comprehensive, since there is so much to do) and split it up into sections to inspire you, so read through and see what you want to explore.

Make the most out of your Clipper card by taking public transportation around Berkeley, and use the benefits of your Cal 1 Card too for free or reduced admission to some activities.


Elmwood — This neighborhood in Berkeley is primarily residential, but there are a lot of cute shops and cafes to explore, too. The 51B bus drops you off right where the shops start, and you can make your way down College Avenue and then catch a bus back to campus when you’re done exploring.

Left: ReUse Craft store on San Pablo Ave. Right: Bookshelves from Moe’s Books.


Secondhand shops — There are so many thrift stores and vintage shops around Berkeley, not to mention used book shops! Telegraph Avenue alone has all three: Anastasia’s Vintage Clothing and Mars Mercantile if you want to go thrifting and find great vintage pieces, Rasputin Music and Amoeba Music for music and movies, and Moe’s Books for new and used books. There are many worth visiting that aren’t near campus as well, like Pegasus Books, Half-Price Books, Crossroads Trading, Out of the Closet, Urban Ore, and the ReUse Craft Store.

Hikes and other active adventures

Hikes — There’s more than just the Big C hike! Tilden Regional Park has much to explore, like the Little Farm, the Merry-Go-Round, the Steam Trains, and the Botanical Garden. There’s also the Strawberry Canyon Fire Trail and Indian Rock Park.

Gardens — Yes, Berkeley has a fair share of these, too. Of course, there’s the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (which we get free entrance to as Cal students) but there’s also the Berkeley Rose Garden up in Northside. And for great views of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge, head over to Kensington (a town only four miles from campus) to the UC Berkeley Blake Garden.


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Walks — If you’d rather just wander around, explore some of the Berkeley Pathways. The 51B can also take you all the way to the Berkeley Marina, an easy way to see the Bay even when you have classes, and a great place for a sunset walk. Berkeley has a small area of European-styled houses, called Normandy Village, that look like they’re from the pages of a storybook — great for pictures or just admiring the architecture.

Left: Sunset at the Berkeley Marina. Right: View of the Bay at Cesar Chavez Park.

Food, museums, and more!

Food — There are so many good restaurants and cafes I can’t possibly list them all. Just know that if there’s something you are craving or something you’ve been wanting to try, chances are you’ll find a place nearby that serves it. I personally love breakfast at Cafe Durant and La Note, getting snacks from the supermarkets on San Pablo Avenue, and going to the Berkeley Farmer’s Market.

My breakfast plate from La Note in downtown Berkeley.

Museums — As for museums — aside from the few on campus and the ones very close by, like BAMPFA, there are also The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life and the Lawerence Hall of Science.

The Time Capsules Exhibit in the Magnes Museum. Photo by Rachel Holmes.

Performances — There are a handful of concert venues in Berkeley. The UC Theatre and the Greek Theatre make it very convenient to attend shows, and Zellerbach Hall on campus also has its fair share of Cal Performances. I personally love going to shows at Cornerstone, a small venue downtown.

I hope this inspired you to add a new destination to your bucket list! There’s always something new to explore and discover, even in our own college town.


Melissa Mora-Gonzalez is a third-year at UC Berkeley majoring in English.

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