Oakland & Berkeley, California & – San Francisco's Bay Neighbors

These two laid back East Bay cities still manage an edgy metropolitan feel. The East Bay — Oakland and Berkeley — famous as the birthplace of the Black Panthers, student revolutions, and the whole California cuisine movement (thanks to Alice Waters and Chez Panisse), are worth a detour during any San Francisco visit.

Both cities run at a slower pace than San Francisco and contain plenty of leafy, well-tended neighborhoods filled with elegant Craftsman-style homes and a lively culture centered around the University of California. But there's also plenty to do and see in Berkeley and Oakland. There are diverse museums, parks, and restaurants. Best of all, you're likely to leave San Francisco in fog and arrive to play at Berkeley in the sun!

line

University Botanical Gardens – Berkeley, California

University Botanical Garden

This living museum at the University of California Botanical Gardens features one of the most diverse plant collections in the nation.

There are over 12,000 different kinds of plants from all over the world. Established in 1890, the Garden's 34 acres contain a worldwide collection featuring plants from nearly every continent, with an emphasis on plants from Mediterranean climates. You can get to the gardens using the BART transportation system.

Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland

Chabot Space and Science Center

Your kids will expand their universe in the 13 trail-laced acres of Oakland Hills parkland. The Chabot Space & Science Center has interactive hands-on exhibits, fun activities and mind-boggling demonstrations. Enjoy the digital full dome planetarium, giant screen theater shows and spectacular telescope views.

Sky-High City Aerial Tour from the Oakland Airport

Sky-High City Aerial Tour

This sky high tour of the bay, San Francisco, and the surrounding area will take your breath away. It's unexpectedly amazing to see the Bay Area from above, in a small aircraft. Your pilot takes you close-up to the Golden Gate Bridge, you see the glistening waters below, as well as Alcatraz Island, Fisherman's Wharf, Coit Tower, even Sausalito.

The flight departs from the historic Oaklands International Airport. Groups are limited to 6 people to guarantee every seat is a window seat.

line

University of California, Berkeley

University of California

Berkeley started as a humble prep school before it become part of the nine-campus University of California system. The Free Speech Movement of 1964 put Berkeley on the map. In 1969, students took to the streets to stop the college expanding into an area they wanted for People's Park. The People's Park protests inspired Joni Mitchell to write her hit song Big Yellow Taxi, with the line "They paved paradise, put up a parking lot".

Best Shopping & Dining, Berkeley

Best Shopping

To get the feel of Berkeley at its best, start walking from Telegraph Avenue to the university. Make your way between shops harking back to the 1960s with jewelry, clothes and eclectic pottery. More shopping is found north of University Avenue on 4th Street where boutiques sell hip crafts and designer clothes.

After shopping on 4th Street, dine on Upper Shatuck Avenue, known to locals as the Gourmet Ghetto. Spearheaded by Chez Panisse, that restaurant's success led to more restaurants and food shops opening in the area.

Chez Panisse – Berkeley, California

Chez Panisse

The grand dame of California Cuisine, Alice Waters, never strayed from her ideals of honoring the freshest locally grown ingredients. To do this, she built a network of local suppliers that transformed the culinary landscape of Berkeley, California and of America. ".

Chez Panisse opened in 1971 and is known as being the beginning of the California cuisine revolution. Menus change nightly, all meals are prix-fixe and reservations must be confirmed a month in advance. Also famous as Arlo's "Alice's Restaurant

line

Jack London Square, Oakland

Jack London Square

Named after the famous Oakland native who wrote The Sea Wolf and The Call of the Wild, Jack London Square is Oakland's version of Fisherman's Wharf.

Here is the place to munch on crab, listen to good music and watch the sailboats sail by. You also find Jack London's sod-roofed cabin transplanted from the Yukon to the waterfront. Moored in the harbor is the USS Potomac, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "floating White House" and now a National Historic Monument.

Oakland Icons

Claremont Resort Hotel

On the approach to Berkeley from Oakland, a couple of buildings will catch your eye. On the hillside is a fairy-tale white palace, the Claremont Resort Hotel and Spa, which, like San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts was finished just before the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915.

The other monument is a pointed structure, a soaring bell tower — its official name is the Sather Tower, but it's known to everyone simply as the Campanile because the tower was modeled after St Mark's Campanile in Venice, Italy.

Finally, On the eastern edge of Oakland is a natural landmark, Lake Merritt, a large saltwater lake and wildlife refuge, surrounded by Victorian houses and the 10-acre Children's Fairyland.

What's Quakin'?

Don't Miss a Single San Francisco Travel Tip — Sign Up For Our Newsletter Today