What Makes Berkeley Such A Cultural City?

A recent study places Berkeley at the top of the list of the most cultural student cities in the world.

When we think about the most cultural cities in the US, major metros like San Francisco, New York, New Orleans and Boston often spring to mind. But believe it or not, Berkeley has become a top choice for travelers seeking a culture fix.

In fact, in a recent piece of research on the most cultural student cities in the world, Berkeley took the top spot! Why is this, and what kinds of cultural opportunities does the city of Berkeley actually offer?

#1: It's A Foodie Haven

For those looking for the ultimate foodie haven, Berkeley offers something to suit all taste buds. Whether you're looking to grab a quick bite at one of the city's many artisan food outlets, or something a little bit more structured, Berkeley is absolutely jam-packed with options.

  • For example, Great China Restaurant is a top choice for those looking for traditional Northern Chinese dishes.
  • Fancy something a bit lighter? The Cheese Board Collective offers more than 400 cheeses, salads, pizza, and fresh bread.
  • Have a fondness for craft beer? Well, you're also in luck, as Berkeley is home to numerous craft breweries, led by Triple Rock Brewery and Gilman Brewing Company. Beer lovers will want to check out the Berkeley Beer Guide to learn more about the beer scene.
  • You'll find plenty of urban wineries in Berkeley as well -- West Berkeley's Gilman District is the hub.

Foodies might love visiting Berkely during restaurant week to get special deals at more than 35 restaurants citywide.

Cheese Board pizza collective

#2 Diversity At Its Finest

Berkeley's population of 122,000 is extremely diverse. This comes as no surprise when one considers the ongoing diversity initiatives at the University of California - Berkeley, whose international student body helps shape the city’s “everyone is welcome” vibe.

In a recent poll, it was found that the university achieved a diversity score of 87 out of 100, and an impressive diversity rank of 94 out of 2,475 US academic institutions. Staying true to its word, the university even offers a fully-fledged department devoted to Cultural Studies, with specializations in the following areas:

  • African American studies
  • Asian studies
  • Buddhism
  • Near Eastern studies
  • Latin American culture
  • Many others....
People S Park Mural

#3 Celebrating Culture Through Art

The city of Berkeley is also home to a full range of live music venues. If you're looking for the ultimate night out with friends, check out these venues:

  • Cornerstone
  • the Greek Theatre on the UC Berkeley campus
  • The Back Room

In the summer months, the music scene comes alive even more. Read more about the summer music scene in Berkeley.

If you're looking for a bit of cultural history, the UC Theatre is well worth checking out. Built back in 1976, the theatre is famous for screening the cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which ran at the site for a remarkable 22 years straight. These days, the UC Theatre hosts a number of live music events, across an extensive number of genres.

Finally, the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive showcases rotating exhibitions of visual art and world cinema at its downtown Arts District location.

There are often special art-themed events happening in the city at any given time. Visitors should be sure to check the Events Calendar to find out what will be happening during their stay.

Bampfa outdoor Concert
About the Author

Special to Visit Berkeley

Related Partners
Related Events