How to Spend 50 Perfect Hours in Berkeley

How to Spend 50 Perfect Hours in Berkeley

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Berkeley is a universe onto itself. Just over the Bay Bridge from San Francisco, the city of around 116,000 full-time residents (add about 36,000 people to that when University of California, Berkeley is in session) is a cornucopia of diverse cultures, restaurants, museums and attractions. Green spaces are plentiful, as are views of the San Francisco Bay. Here's how to spend a 50-hour getaway in Berkeley.


DAY 1

9:00 a.m. – Rise and shine in an exquisitely comfortable bed at Hotel Shattuck Plaza, arguably one of the fanciest (and most historic, having been built in 1910) hotels in Berkeley and conveniently located within a stone’s throw of the Downtown Berkeley BART station. Strap on a casual pair of walking shoes, pack a sweater, a camera and put on some sunscreen.

9:30 a.m. – Walk out of your hotel and north up Shattuck Ave. for about a mile. Notice the shops and restaurants that line the street (and, undoubtedly some street vendors who may sell fun jewelry for a bargain price). Turn right when you get to Vine Street and stand in line at the Peet’s Coffee & Tea. This is the original site of the Peet’s chain, opened by a man named Alfred Peet in 1966, long before coffee/café culture hit the U.S. Take a photo under the hand-carved wooden sign and grab a coffee, pastry and a banana before heading out.

10:30 a.m. – Coffee in hand (and snack in stomach), walk east down Vine Street for five blocks and make a left on Hawthorne Terrace. Follow Hawthorne until you get to Euclid (a few steps, really), make a right on Euclid and just past Bayview Place, you will see Berkeley’s Historic Rose Garden. This place is little known to many Bay Area locals and a complete wonder to everyone who appreciates beautiful flora and fauna. Spend the next two hours marveling at the terraced garden and its 3,000 rose bushes. Sit under a tree, take a nap and enjoy the view.

12:30 p.m. – After sufficiently sniffing every possible rose variety (the garden has 250, in case you were interested), head back the way you came and stop at the corner of Vine and Shattuck. The minute you get to the corner, you will most likely notice a long line. Go stand in it; this is the line to Cheese Board Pizza, a pizza collective that offers a different pizza flavor each week. Check online in advance if you are stickler for a certain flavor, my recommendation, though, is to just wing it. You really can’t go wrong, as the line of people out front will attest.

2:00 p.m. – Now that you are stuffed, it’s time to walk off the calories. Stroll south down Shattuck, wave at your hotel and keep going until you hit Haste Street. Make a left on Haste and stop at the corner of Telegraph. You’ve arrived at Amoeba Music, dubbed the world’s largest independent record store. This place is a Berkeley institution, so even if you aren’t into music, it is still worth a visit. Keep your eyes peeled for celebrities shopping there and check online before you go to see what bands may be playing, live, in the store.

3:00 p.m. – Spend the next two hours poking your head into various shops along Telegraph Avenue. Some local favorites include Moe’s Books and Berkeley Hat Company.

5:00 p.m. – Walk back to Hotel Shattuck, shower and relax. Put on some fancy dinner clothing and head out for a treat.

6:30 p.m. – Your treat: dinner at Chez Panisse, Alice Waters’s acclaimed restaurant that serves prix fixe dinners. Call ahead for a reservation and be prepared to enjoy a long dinner (tip: opt for the wine parings, you will not regret it).

DAY 2

8:30 a.m. – Wake early (ish) today and walk over to The Sunny Side Café, located at the corner of Oxford Street and Allston Way (about a block from your hotel). This place is massively popular, so, especially on the weekends, there may be a wait. It is worth it. Once you sit down, order a helping of the French toast and a side of home fries. Ask your dining mates to opt for breakfast burrito, and then share food, family style.

10:00 a.m. – By the time you’re done, you will be ready to walk. Thankfully, you will be directly next to the University of California, Berkeley campus. Spend the next few hours getting lost in the campus’s trails and make sure to stop at Campanile, also known as the Sather Tower. It stands 307 feet above Berkeley and for just $3 per person; you can go up to the top (don’t forget your camera).

12:00 p.m. – Walk back the way you came and belly up to the counter at Top Dog, on the corner Oxford and Center Streets. This is the place to get a hot dog in Berkeley, so dig in and try the mango habanero dog or the bockwurst. Meat lovers: you won’t want to leave.

1:00 p.m. – Go back into campus, take the H Line, and enter The Lawrence Hall of Science, an awesome museum perfect for the whole family. The place is known for its hands-on exhibits and even has special events for the public on the weekends. Call ahead, or check online, for the facility’s calendar.

3:00 p.m. – Leave Berkeley’s campus and walk back toward your hotel. Head down Shattuck until pass Cedar Street and stop at ACCI Gallery. Housed in a historic brick building, this place is a treasure for art lovers. It features the works of more than 100 local artists and welcomes visitors. Spend some time soaking in the inspiration.

5:30 p.m. – Go back to your hotel, shower and change into some relaxed dinner clothes. Then, head across the street to Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen, a Berkeley favorite. Don’t leave without trying the crawfish (seasonal), the gumbo, and the buttermilk-fried chicken.

7:30 p.m. – After dinner, take a cab to Zellerbach Hallfor a performance (check online to see schedule). This is the perfect place to take in a musical performance, a dance number and/or a play.

DAY 3

10:00 a.m. – Wake up late, check out of Hotel Shattuck and head over to La Note, a fantastic place for brunch. Enjoy a helping of crème fraiche pancakes and a toasted cinnamon brioche—the perfect way to spend your vacation in Berkeley.

This article comes to us courtesy of the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee. Each week the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee features a #Perfect50 Hours series detailing how to spend 50 hours in a different San Francisco Bay Area city. See more here

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