- Things to Do
- Food & Drinks
- Where to Stay
- Maps & Neighborhoods
- Plan Your Trip
Berkeley is a city of neighborhoods, each with independent mantra, mood and food.
There’s something fun to see and do in every district of the city, and just as important, something delicious to nosh on practically every corner. Try pairing sightseeing with a local culinary adventure to explore each of Berkeley’s “boroughs.”
Cali cuisine got cooking in 1973 in the farm-to-fork kitchen of Chez Panisse, and today Alice’s restaurant continues to deliver the local and sustainable goods. Counter-culture icons like Cheese Board Collective, the original Peet’s Coffee & Tea, and Saul’s Deli and Restaurant (reinventing the Jewish deli) set the table for smart new kids on the block like Local Butcher Shop and Tigerlily. Be sure to check out the Peet’s Coffee Museum, tucked behind the barista, for the backstory on craft coffee. And, there’s really no better way to experience Gourmet Ghetto than culinary walking tours from by Edible Excursions.
Berkeley’s buzzing city center, rich in arts & culture, now offers the new Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) and The UC Theatre. Wander through BAMPFA’s galleries and see art works from Buddha to Bauhaus. Babette’s Cafe at BAMPFA is not your standard museum fare by any measure, as many downtown workers will attest. Before or after the band plays the UC, check out Gather for omnivore cuisine and craft cocktails. Zino at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza serves Mediterranean cuisine in a comfortable setting. Anytime is the right time for Almare Gelato. The understated storefront hides a jewel case of celestial Italian ice cream flavors that rotate by the season and stars.
Fourth Street never goes out of style, and is in fact usually a step or two ahead of the curve at any given moment. Its wide walks are lined with shops and restaurants. Iyasare and Zut! Tavern to the west, Bette’s Oceanview Diner to the east, and in between, any number of delish specialty shops like Chocolatier Blue, Artis and Cultured, where vegetables go pro(biotic).
The Elmwood boasts over 50 indie-owned boutiques and is the perfect place to discover treasure. Clothing, jewelry, and gifts are her. Window shopping is always on the agenda here in Berkeley’s classic-chic neighborhood. With dozens of cafes and restaurants like Donato & Co., Nabolom Bakery & Pizzeria, and Maker's Common, foodies flock here too. Sweet teeth are served well here by Casa de Chocolates and Dream Fluff Donuts.
Indian Rock rises from the top of Solano Avenue like a stone sentinel, and short of summiting the Berkeley Hills to Grizzly Peak, there’s no better place to haul an Acme baguette and Cheese Board wedge, and settle in for a Pacific sunset. Berkeley’s northernmost district is gateway to many of the public paths, steps and walks that Berkeley’s first settlers smartly carved into the hills. Traditional restaurant experiences rise up as well, like AKEMI and Rivoli.
One of the Bay Area’s most distinctive commercial districts, Telegraph Avenue connects Berkeley to Oakland — and to Berkeley’s free speech and flower power past. Urban explorers will discover poetry, art, music and more along its four-and-a-half mile stretch. This is where lattes were invented (really), where ice cream sandwiches became a thing, and pizza slice shops got their Left Coast zing. The Bird and Top Dog, Henry's and the classic yet radical Berkeley sandwich and salad spot, Mezzo, are all worth the dine.
Berkeley goes boho by the bay. Joining artist studios and galleries, including the creative warren of the Sawtooth Building, are some of the city’s best places to drink — see: Berkeley Local Libations. Tasting notes: Donkey & Goat, Sierra Nevada Torpedo Room, Takara Sake, Urbano Cellars.
Berkeley is ever-evolving and new neighborhoods tend to pop up — see the Gilman and Lorin districts — like radiant golden poppies through city sidewalk cracks.