The University of California at Berkeley needs no introduction, famed both and perhaps equally for its top-notch academics and as a heart of the 1960s (and ongoing) Bay Area cultural revolution.
Telegraph Avenue, the main artery that leads right up to the entrance of campus, is a hub for colorful street vendors, international eateries, and indie shops, and it also provides a look at the diverse history and culture of the neighborhood as well as of the city of Berkeley.
Founded in 1969, the year of the Summer of Love, People’s Park—on Haste Street just off Telegraph—is a designated historical landmark known for its role as a gathering place for protests; as a public space for events such as gardening and live music; as an open-air sanctuary for the unhoused; and almost always as a center of controversy whose future currently remains uncertain.
Whether you're a Cal student, an out-of-towner, or a local playing tourist in your own backyard, here's where to soak up some Berkeley history and grab a bite, shop vintage and vinyl, and enjoy a bit of arts and culture on Telegraph Avenue.
Where to Eat on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley
Grab a freshly made sandwich at Mezzo.
(Courtesy of @mezzo_berkeley)
Formerly known as Cafe Intermezzo, Mezzo has been whipping up quality sandwiches and salads since 1983. The bright and cheery atmosphere includes an outdoor patio with a bean bag toss and bocce court, as well as indoor seating. Select a sammy or salad from the menu, or build your own; crowd favorites include the B.L.T.A (honey-cured bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado) and the Berkeley Special (homemade hummus and fresh veggies). Want a little bit of both? Go with the combo for just $13. The menu also includes custom breakfast burritos and loaded-up toasts. Mezzo is conveniently connected to local favorite bar Raleigh’s, so pop in next door for a cold beer or hard cider to go with your meal.// 2442 Telegraph Ave. (Berkeley), mezzo-berkeley.com
The theme of the menu is clear: Romantically named coffees include the Immortal Kiss (espresso with notes of maple, butter, and pecan) and Light My Fire (espresso with dark chocolate and salted caramel). Not looking to try one of the unique love potions? Romeo’s also makes killer staples such as the popular iced vanilla latte. If you want a bite to eat, you’ll fall for the Midnight to Mystery and Erotic City sandwiches, as well as the avocado or almond butter banana toast. Bring your laptop and get some work done in a cozy environment with upbeat tunes.// 2499 Telegraph Ave. (Berkeley), instagram.com/romeos_coffee
Little Gem Waffles
Since 2015, this the only joint making authentic Liege Belgian waffles in the Bay Area. If you have a sweet tooth, this is place: Little Gem's crispy-fluffy, small-batch brioche waffles are baked with pearl sugars and come in signature creations such as the I’m Gemmin’ It (Nutella and fresh strawberries) and Pearlicious (a "churroffle" with Nutella, Oreo, and toasted marshmallows). Prefer something savory and need a little protein? Go for the chicken and bacon. Little Gem is open daily until midnight, so it’s a perfect spot to grab a late-night dessert.// 2468 Telegraph Ave. (Berkeley),littlegemwaffles.com
Berkeley Thai House
Located just off of Telegraph, this spot is beloved for its authentic Thai food at decent prices (calling all broke college kids!). Take a seat on the outdoor deck under hanging cherry blossoms and order the BTH combo to get an appetizer, entree, and drink for under $20. Crowd favorites include vegetable egg rolls, chicken gyoza, pad see ew, and, of course, Thai iced tea.// 2511 Channing Way(Berkeley), berkeleythaihouseonline.com
With row upon row of delicious, authentic Taiwanese pastries including Mooncakes, custard-filled buns, and to-die-for tarts, Sheng Kee is a dessert-lover's paradise. Add on a lychee boba drink or a Pete’s Coffee for a pick-me-up. // 2307 Telegraph Ave. (Berkeley), shengkee.com
Music, Books + Vintage Shopping on Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley
Sift through vintage records at Amoeba Music.
(Courtesy of @amoebaberkeley)
Moe’s Books is a Berkeley landmark since 1959, brimming to its rafters with classics and new releases and specializing in books on photography, fine arts, and architecture. Don't miss the unique Rare & Fine Arts department on the fourth floor, which is kind of a store within the store. You’ll be able to find practically any book you’re thinking of, plus lots of delightful surprises. // 2476 Telegraph Ave. (Berkeley), moesbooks.com
For Music Lovers
Given its history as a hub for hippies, creatives, and arts lovers, it's little surprise that Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue gave rise to a couple of best-in-class record stores. The OG Amoeba Music (2455 Telegraph Ave.) has a seriously impressive selection of music and movies both new and used, and well as an epic collection of posters. // Opened in 1971, Rasputin Music(2401 Telegraph Ave) not only sells vintage vinyl, CDs, and DVDs but they’ll also buy yours when you need to make a little extra cash. If you’re lucky, you might even see a celebrity browsing the store—Oakland singer Kehlani is a fan. Both of these shops have multiple locations in California, but both originated here.
For Vintage Lovers
Cal fashion mavens on a budget are grateful for the array of vintage shops in the neighborhood. Woman-owned and -operated, Indigo Vintage(2505 Telegraph Ave.) is stocked with denim and unique garments that reflect the artsy, trendy energy of Berkeley and prides itself on promoting sustainability and showcasing local, independent vintage curators and designers. // Two stories tall with a funky interior, Mars Mercantile(2398 Telegraph Ave.) is a great all-genders thrift spot for leather and denim jackets, patterned shirts, and slip dresses. // Also check out Anastasia(2360 Telegraph Ave.) for a wide selection of new and used clothing; stand-out pieces include funky-patterned sets, vintage windbreakers, and trendy accessories.
Arts + Culture Around Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue
A show at The Greek is must on any Berkeley bucket list.
(Courtesy of Greek Theatre)
Located on campus at Zellerbach Hall, Cal Performances provides a variety of music, dance, and theater events; upcoming shows include the Dover Quartet, George Balanchine’s Jewels ballet, and a recital with Russian violinist Maxim Vengerov. Stroll down Telegraph then pop in and enjoy a performance. // 101 Zellerbach Hall (Berkeley), calperformances.org
Berkeley Repertory Theatre
The stage at nonprofit Berkeley Rep is the place to see inventive West Coast premieres such as Emma Rice's take on Wuthering Heights (Nov. 2022) and Broadway and Tony Award–winning plays such as Lynn Nottage's Clyde's (Jan. 2023). The theater also serves as an activist hub: It is committed to fighting racism and also supports a pro-environment philosophy through the use of recycled and biodegradable materials. // 2015-25 Addison St. (Berkeley),berkeleyrep.org
The Greek Theatre at U.C. Berkeley
Hands down our favorite concert venue in the Bay Area, The Greek outdoor amphitheater has hosted a range of impressive bands and artists—think Radiohead, Erykah Badu, and Billie Eilish. Upcoming performances include Robert Plant and Allison Kraus (Aug. 21), Leon Bridges (Sept. 7), and Jack Johnson (Sept. 28). Arrive early to grab the best seat! // 2001 Gayley Rd. (Berkeley), thegreekberkeley.com
Wear your navy and gold and take a seat at one of Cal’s PAC-12 sports games. Whether you decide on a basketball game at Haas Pavilion or a football game at the California Memorial Stadium, you’ll feel the Golden Bear spirit from the loud chanting of Cal students. The first football game of the season takes place September 3rd against UC Davis. // 2227 Piedmont Ave. (Berkeley), calbears.com
Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)
Take a detour downtown to visit BAMPFA, which presents more than 400 film screenings, at least 15 exhibitions per year, and dozens of public programs for visitors to enjoy. Displays are curated to represent the diversity and creativity of Berkeley. Fun fact: BAMPFA holds the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan. Stop by the art gallery for breathtaking sights; with a gigantic monochromatic silver exterior, it’s hard to miss. // 2155 Center St. (Berkeley), bampfa.org