Berkeley today has grown well beyond its academically elite status and 1960s counter-culture. That’s not throwing shade on Berkeley’s historic past, which included supporting the Black Panthers. The city has broadened its appeal by evolving into a hip, culinary, green destination whose Shattuck Avenue and Telegraph Avenue tentacles integrate more with Oakland each passing year.
Across Berkeley’s 18 square miles, a visitor can hear a symphony, rock concert or jazz quartet, take in a Broadway-bound play or first-run film, stroll through a redwood forest or a rose garden, shop for handmade jewelry or take a yoga class or listen to a poetry reading.
Downtown Arts District centered on Addison Street, between Shattuck Avenue and Milvia Street, is a model for downtown revitalization. Once filled with auto body shops, Addison Street now rolls with live theatre, coffeehouses, live music and performing arts education. It is home for Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, Aurora Theater Company, Jazzschool, Berkeley Repertory Theatre and UC Theatre. Cal Performances, on the University of California (UC) campus, presents international touring artists in a stellar program of dance, theater, jazz, symphonic and contemporary musical performances. Citywide, nightclubs cater to jazz, blues and rock fans.
This trend-setting city features a “Buy Local” marketplace where shopping is an engaging, open-air experience. At the northern edge of the city lies Solano Avenue, a leafy boulevard-style district lined with restaurants, cafés, boutiques and importers. Gourmet Ghetto in North Shattuck has a bounty of shops, artisans, sidewalk cafés and restaurants including its flagship and the cradle of California Cuisine, Chez Panisse. Specialty shops, baked goods, cheeses, handmade chocolates and fine wines are satellite attractions in the area.
Fourth Street shopping district is the place for fashion, design, art, books, gifts and fine dining. Downtown Berkeley is a vibrant mix of shops, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Along Telegraph Avenue, get a retro-sense of the 1960s Flower Power experience complete with eclectic shades, tie-dyed T-shirts and handmade earrings crafted by street artisans. Habitot Children’s Museum creates a special place for children to experience hands-on discovery play and learning. The award-winning Lawrence Hall of Science located just up the hill from UC Berkeley campus, is an interactive attraction for kids and adults.
University Avenue harbors a unique collection of shops, restaurants and bazaars filled with Indian imports. Sari boutiques, works of Indian art, markets with exotic spices and more are there for exploration. Leisurely discover restaurants featuring the cuisines of Thailand, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Japan, China, Vietnam, Burma, Greece, Italy, Lebanon and Nepal to name a few.
At Berkeley Marina restaurants, combine saucy marinated dishes with priceless views of the Golden Gate at sunset. Waterfront walking and cycling paths are popular aerobic attractions. Cap things off by chartering a sport fishing excursion from Berkeley Marina. Should I bring kids to the waterfront? No problem. Families will find the Shorebird Nature Center, Adventure Playground and some of the best kite-flying conditions on the planet. Sounds hard to beat.
For more information, see http://www.visitberkeley.com