Berkeley has a big name for being a relatively small town. Despite having just over 100,000 residents, Berkeley has a worldwide reputation and is often known by its alter ego: Berzerkeley. Most people think of hippies and crunchy granola types (head to Telegraph Avenue for this old-school Berkeley vibe), but this crazy town has a few tricks up its sleeve.
A good day trip, or any day really, starts out with a cup of coffee. Berkeley boasts the first Peet’s Coffee and Tea, which makes it arguably the birthplace of third-wave coffee circa 1966. You can find this original location in one of Berkeley’s most iconic neighborhoods, called by the locals “The Gourmet Ghetto.” It wouldn’t be difficult to spend your entire day in this four-block radius. After coffee, head to Cheese Board for a fresh pastry or renowned pizza—or like most people, both. As you sit to enjoy the pastry, glance across the street and see the world famous Chez Panisse restaurant. Look closely, the building is unassuming in classic Berkeley fashion.
If you wish to make your coffee journey progressive, move on to another Berkeley original: Artis Coffee. Barely two years old, Artis has gathered a committed following with its “live roasting” and impressive collection of coffee paraphernalia available in the shop. Now armed with your second cup of coffee, you can set out into another great Berkeley neighborhood: Fourth Street. Once the home of just a few local stores, this little shopping area now hosts global chains like Apple, Crate & Barrel, and M.A.C. Even as this shopping destination continues to grow, it maintains its original atmosphere of small stores in an open-air mall.
After you select an item or two on Fourth Street, head downtown to the newly built location for the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archives (BAMPFA). It’s housed in a beautiful and unique building in the heart of downtown, just on the edge of UC Berkeley’s campus. The museum is the perfect size for an afternoon of exploring and guarantees at least one Instagram-able moment.
From there, you can stroll straight onto the campus and wander the winding paths of UC Berkeley, the original of the UC schools founded in 1868. Head toward the center of the campus to find the Campanile tower. If you’re lucky, you might even hear its 61 bells as they ring out a dreamy tune.
By now you will be looking for dinner and the options are endless. You can head back to where you started and enjoy the famous Chez Panisse. Be advised that downstairs requires reservations and upstairs most likely won’t have room for walk-ins, so plan ahead. Or you can stay closer to campus with the many great choices in downtown. Check out Gather or Revival Bar & Grill for excellent food and ambiance.
Your day would not be complete without seeing the stunning views of the Bay Area from the Berkeley Hills. Indian Rock is a popular spot among natives and perfect for watching the sunset. Afterward, complete your day with a sweet note. Head to one of Berkeley’s most popular dessert spots: Ici Ice Cream. Don’t be intimidated by the line—this unique and freshly made ice cream is well worth the wait.
Berkeley is well known, but many of its best gems are unobtrusive, local secrets. All of the neighborhoods mentioned deserve their own day, and the endless number of unlisted restaurants could have you eating at a new spot for months. An easy hour drive from the South Bay, Berkeley just might become your regular weekend spot.
Places to Visit in Berkeley
Indian Rock Ave & Shattuck Ave
Article originally appeared in Issue 8.3 Show