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5 Great Things To See And Do In Berkeley

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

From its hippie days to today's food renaissance, Berkeley is full of interesting and fun places to hang out and many of them are free. From Downtown to the University of California campus, here's a bucket list of five great things to see and do in Berkeley.

1. Shattuck Avenue

Trendy Shattuck Avenue is Berkeley's major north-south running street with the southern end in Berkeley and the northern end in Oakland. Shattuck is the main street of the city and the central artery of downtown and is a great place to walk around and take in the local music, shops and people. It's especially known for California cuisine bringing farm-to-table, local and sustainable eating to restaurants in a stretch of the avenue known as "Gourmet Ghetto." Its foodie history goes back to 1966 when Peet's Coffee began selling whole, roasted coffee beans from around the world. The Cheese Board Collective and Chez Panisse also are original Gourmet Ghetto restaurants. The former pioneered fine, local cheese and artisan breads in the U.S. and the latter made popular farm-to-table and sustainable foods, open kitchens and unique pizza ingredients. These are just a few of the many restaurant choices along Shattuck Avenue with some places on Walnut or Vine, too.

2. Indian Rock Park

Known for its volcanic bedrock mortars made by early native tribes for grinding acorns into meal, Indian Rock Park is located in the sloping Berkeley Hills. Mortar Rock is the best place to view these bedrock mortars. This is a great park to go rock climbing, especially bouldering, picnic and watch the sunset. During the Great Depression, two sets of steps were carved heading up to the summit for an easier ascent.

3. Berkeley Community Theatre

On the campus of the city's one and only public high school, Berkeley High School on Allston Way in the Downtown area, is the Berkeley Community Theatre. The Art Deco, circular theater seats nearly 3,500 people and dates from 1950 as it sat unfinished for nearly a decade awaiting the end of World War II. Considered a Berkeley landmark, it was recently remodeled and a new sound system was installed. Used by the high school and the area school district, many notable music, comedy and other events were held at this theater. Come early to a show and take a walk around the high school, as its numerous buildings date from as early as 1901, although many architectural styles are displayed from later school additions or remodels.

4. Eastshore State Park

An urban gem of a state park and wildlife refuge along the San Francisco Bay shoreline, this park features paved walkways, bike paths and spectacular views of the bay. It features natural and restored wetlands. Look for various sea birds. Although small, Eastshore State Park packs a big punch.

5. Pacific Film Archive

Located on the U.C. Berkeley campus, hang out with film buffs and enjoy hard-to-find films at the modern Pacific Film Archive. See international art films on a theme or from one director and view art exhibits before the film. Eat at the onsite cafe or nearby, as no food is allowed in this theater. Parking is scarce, so best to take public transportation.

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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