Congratulations on your acceptance to UC Berkeley, and welcome to this bustling city! In the heart of the East Bay, we have just over 116,000 citizens, with just over 40,000 students (not including you — yet). As a sizable city with so many interesting people, we have plenty of cool places for you to check out.
People’s Park: You’ve probably heard about Bloody Sunday in Berkeley, but if you haven’t, here’s a quick recap: On May 15, 1969, student protesters and police clashed after a protest over the land’s use resulted in the student body president urging students to “Take back the park!” Violence ensued, and a student was shot. But the UC Berkeley administration promised to preserve the park, and today, it is home to many members of Berkeley’s homeless population. It’s definitely worth walking around and checking out in the daytime.
The Campanile: Our campus’s clock and bell tower was built more than 100 years ago. The view from right outside it can see directly into the Bay and looks at the Golden Gate Bridge. Take a tour and view the Bay from more than 300 feet!
CREAM: The famed ice cream and cookie shop, “Cookies Rule Everything Around Me,” is a classic in the East Bay, and it has 29 locations across the nation by now. With a newly introduced milkshake sundae, it’s sure to be a hit for your family and friends alike.
ShareTea: It’s no secret that Berkeley is obsessed with boba. This Taiwanese tea-based drink finds a home at multiple shops around Berkeley, but the best (yet one of the most expensive) restaurants around campus is ShareTea. We recommend the taro milk tea with pearls, trust us.
Cafe Blue Door: If you want dank coffee with great breakfast sandwiches, look no further than Cafe Blue Door (because if you go any farther, you’ll be off campus). Near the Tang Student Health Center, it’s got a nice ambiance that’ll provide you a view of real students, really studying, drinking really really good coffee.
Thrift shops such as Buffalo Exchange, Mars Vintage, Crossroads Trading Exchange: If you want that hip, hippie vibe that Berkeley is known for, walk down pretty much any main street in a retail area and find a thrift shop that suits your needs. For a pricier but more convenient location, find Mars Vintage on Telegraph Avenue and its great sunglasses. If you’re wandering down Telegraph Avenue, you’ll find Buffalo Exchange. If you go to either the Shattuck Avenue or College Avenue commercial areas, you can find various Crossroads Trading Exchange Shops.
Get UC Berkeley gear at the Berkeley Student Store, T-Shirt Orgy: Looking to rep some of your new school’s gear? Look no farther than campus or just beyond it. With proceeds that go back to the school, buy a shirt, socks, a tie or pretty much anything else you can think of from one of the campus student stores. Or, if you’re looking for something marginally cheaper with a greater variety of designs (because they’re not sponsored by the school), go check out T-Shirt Orgy on Telegraph Avenue.
The Berkeley Marina: If you’ve ever wanted a boat, or liked to look at boats, or ever even seen a boat, you should hit the Berkeley Marina on a clear day. The water and the sky look resoundingly similar as boats tread across the bay in beautiful patterns.
Berkeley Rose Garden: Tucked up in the Northside hills, this terrace-like public garden showcases 1,500 rose bushes. The colors and smells are overwhelming in a positive way (for everyone without hay fever). But this is a free must-see in Berkeley.
BAMPFA: The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archives is the newly renovated visual arts center of the campus. Supposedly designed to look like a film camera, the imposing structure houses equally impressive artwork, with a variety of shows to draw students’ interests every year. When you’re on campus, check out Hippie Modernism, the current show about the historical multimedia artistic endeavors of Bay Area counterculture in the 1960s and ’70s.
We hope you enjoy exploring our dear city, and we hope you choose UC Berkeley!