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Berkeley on a budget is entirely do-able. Here are a few tips on extending the vacation dollar in the S.F (East) Bay Area.
We all like to get max experience at min cost while on vacation. Here are a few ideas on finding the best Berkeley deals going:
The Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) anchors the Downtown Arts District with architectural grandeur. BAMPFA is open Wed-Sun, and admission to all galleries is free the first Thursday of every month (and gallery admission is always free for guests 18 and under with accompanying adult). The collection showcases a wide range of works, from ancient Chinese and Buddhist art to modern masters including Richard Misrach and Hans Hoffman.
Berkeley’s local libations scene is vibrant. Craft comes in many forms, from artisan coffee and tea, to local beer and wine. Donkey & Goat Winery is one of a collection of artisan wine producers in West Berkeley, a group that includes Broc Cellars, Urbano Cellars, and the Mead Cellar. Donkey & Goat's popular Free First Friday celebrations are toast-worthy affairs with free admission to a revelry of live music, food and, of course, award-winning wine (charge for food and wine).
Berkeley’s bayfront trail traces a 1.25 mile, fully accessible loop around Cesar Chavez Park and comes with million dollar views of the San Francisco skyline. The Golden Gate Bridge is right across the water, and the steady westerly wind makes the Berkeley bayfront a most reliable venue for flying a kite.
Indian Rock Park is a great vista point for the San Francisco Bay and city skyline beyond. It also serves as a fantastic surface for rock scrambling and climbing. Dick Leonard, the “father of modern rock climbing,” and David Brower, Sierra Club icon, learned rock climbing and developed their mountaineering chops at Indian Rock. Less-advanced climbers can enjoy the rock, too. Spend a couple of bucks (okay, we said free, but come on) on a local Acme baguette and wedge of Mt. Tam from Cheeseboard, you’ve got a cheap Golden Gate sunset date. Rock and roll, right?
Free speech and flower power are forever in Berkeley’s DNA. UC Berkeley serves as the hub of the city and unofficial “Central Park.” It’s a great place for wandering through a stand of redwoods, crossing bubbling creeks, and admiring classic architecture at every turn. For an insider’s perspective, take the free campus tour, offered daily (online reservations). The leafy campus also connects the adjacent districts of Downtown Berkeley, Telegraph Avenue and North Shattuck, making it kind of an awesome short-cut, too. Check out our Cal Secret Spots guide for more, mostly free ideas.