Fill a suddenly-free week in Berkeley, without a car
July 21, 2006 5:42 PM   Subscribe

I just found out that I don't need to show up at work for almost all of next week - giving me a totally unexpected 6-day vacation. How should I best amuse myself? I'm in Berkeley, car-less, and am not very familiar with the area.
posted by kickingtheground to Travel & Transportation around Berkeley, CA (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How much money do you have to spend, and what do you enjoy doing? Myself, I'd take a hiking trip round the bay, or maybe go stay in the hostel over in Marin headlands.

Do something totally different than what you'd do at work: if you work inside, spend the week outside.
posted by anadem at 6:18 PM on July 21, 2006

Response by poster: I have some budget flexibility - can't rent a car though, as I'm only 21. I do like outdoor things (although I haven't any camping gear out here) - and music, architecture, and art. The Marin suggestion is very interesting - I'll look into that.
posted by kickingtheground at 6:54 PM on July 21, 2006

Take one of us Bay Area mefites drinking and to dinner? :D

Ok, failing that, consider hopping on BART and heading into San Francisco.
You can catch Amtrak in Richmond and go visit downtown Sacramento. I like it there quite a bit. The Capitol Corridor trains run quite often. will help you out with public transit stuff.
Out in the East Bay is Mt. Diablo, a 3850' peak. Beautiful view from up there. Having no car limits you quite a bit, though.. but you can get out in that area on BART.
If you like architecture, perhaps you'd want to venture down here to the Silicon Valley? You can take light rail around (again, and check out some of the fun Dot Com stuff.
Walnut Creek (downtown) is kind of an artsy little place. Few galleries down there, and some good restaurants. Very short walk from BART, too.

Anyway, just a few ideas for you!
posted by drstein at 7:18 PM on July 21, 2006

I'd play poker, but that's just me. There are a few rooms in the berkely area.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:22 PM on July 21, 2006

There is a fabulous botanical garden in Berkeley
posted by hortense at 7:57 PM on July 21, 2006

Dinner upstairs in the café at Chez Panisse.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:03 PM on July 21, 2006

"Music" is a little vague, but if you're into punk rock there's an amazing show at gilman street starting 15 minutes ago.
More music stuff.
posted by gally99 at 8:41 PM on July 21, 2006

Sweltering heat? I was in the bay area earlier this week and I don't remember it getting above 90. Then again, I'm in austin now, where it was 103 today.
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:32 PM on July 21, 2006

The Exploratorium is fun. You should be able to get to it from Berkeley using mass transit.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:22 PM on July 21, 2006

Get yourself a backpack, fill it with necessities and a sleeping bag and hitchhike your way around Northern California.
posted by NoMich at 10:22 PM on July 21, 2006

Do you work for a summer camp in Berkley?

I'd recommend exploring downtown SF... The Bart is your friend.

Also, there's the pier in SF Proper and several parks (I spent a summer in Berkely, so I don't have the sharpest memory of places I've been.)
posted by hatsix at 11:26 PM on July 21, 2006

if you're in the area, pick up a weekly. There is AWESOME AWESOME stuff going on this weekend (i'm bummed, actually, because I have to go back to sack a suck it to take care of some stuff). Cycle-cide is this weekend, which is once-a-year bicycle extravaganza, AND, the most awesome thing I've heard of in awhile -- HARRY AND THE POTTERS, is happening at the SF library tomorrow. Both of these things are free. Grab a weekly, and ignore the fact that the East Bay Express and the SF weekly managed to run the same article this week (yeah, what the fuck -- you're the same company). There's actually plenty of things to do this weekend for free. If you need stuff for the whole week, here's the lowdown: get out of berkeley -- it's still summer until at least the second week of august. It's mostly dead, which is great if you don't want to hang out with students, but otherwise, you'll probably want to go to SF. There's an awesome awesome awesome Matthew Barney show going on at SFMOMA that no-one should miss, and if you have the money, go to Yerba Buena (right across the street). The MOMA will probably cost you round abouts $12 nowadays (well worth it for the MB show, so I've heard) and the YB is gonna be similar ($10-ish). There is another gallery close by (New Langton Arts) on folsom street that you can look up if you like art things ( is great for this kind of thing). Besides what's advertised in weeklies I can't advise you further without knowing what you're into. There are some awesome galleries in the berkeley area (the berkeley art museum is rather consistent, and the PFA -- basically the same thing -- shows great films). If you can be more specific about what you want to see I can advise some things -- for example, if you love nature/plants, the berkeley botantical gardens are incredible. if you like hamburgers, you should go down telegraph till you hit smokehouse and get a burger and fries, etc.
posted by fishfucker at 12:45 AM on July 22, 2006

Like art? Take BART downtown and go to SFMOMA and the new De Young (be sure to take a ride to the observation deck to see an amazing vista of SF and the Bay area --perfect for a newbie to the region).

Go to the Embarcadero and take a ferry to Marin (Sauasalito).

Go to Alcatraz (be sure to rent the audio tour by Antenna Audio).
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 5:29 AM on July 22, 2006

phatkitten: yeah, I was mostly in Emeryville and berkeley close to the bay. Didn't occur to me what it'd be like inland.
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:04 AM on July 22, 2006

Like fishfucker says, pick up a weekly. Not sure where you're staying in Berkeley, but depending on how strong a cyclist you are, have you looked into renting a bike for the week? It's a great way to get around most of Berkeley. If you find yourself some AC transit maps on their website, you'll also see that there are several buses that go all the way up to the Tilden Park area- where you can hook up with a firetrail for an amazing hike. If you go for a short walk in the hills about the UC Berkeley stadium (Strawberry Canyon) you can get to the University's botanical garden, which is one of the best I've seen for its size and scale.

Besides Telegraph Avenue and the Rockridge neighborhood on College Avenue, the area around 4th street is cute in a sort of bourgeois bohemian mall kind of way, and is also walking distance to tours of a local sake factory and Indian snacks at Vik's chaat house. Freight and Salvage and Ashkenaz (both accessible by bus on San Pablo Avenue) are also good places to see shows, depending on your tastes, and downtown there are the highly regarded Aurora and Berkeley Reperetory Theaters.

If you take your bike on BART to SF you'll have even more options- you can follow the Embarcadero over to Fort Mason and the Presidio, or, if you leave it behind, take MUNI out to the Great Highway, to the Mission district for books, coiffee, burritos, hole-in-the-wall art galleries and all kinds of wonderful weirdness, and walk over to the Castro for a movie in an old-school palace, complete with wurlitzer organ performance.

I'm also happy to offer specific recs depending on your tastes in food or leisure- just email me.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 9:08 AM on July 22, 2006

Spend the afternoon reading a good book and eating cake at Crixa.
posted by exceptinsects at 3:09 PM on July 22, 2006

SFgate Bay Area travel has a "neighborhoods" section for both the East Bay and SF. You could choose an interesting neighborhood and spend a day exploring.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:19 PM on July 22, 2006

Buy a round-trip Amtrak ticket to Portland or even Vancouver. (That last leg may entail a bus ride.) Stay in a cheap motel near Lloyd Center in the case of the former -- you can get around the center of town for free on the MAX. Maybe it's cooler up there...flee to the North!
posted by Rash at 8:12 PM on July 22, 2006

drstein's mention of the Valley of Hearts Delight reminds me - if you do endeavor to take BART to Millbrae and thence to a CalTrain all the way down (or pausing at like Mt View to switch to VTA trolley) you could experience the wonders of downtown San Jose. Here's the bargain -- in early August they're doing something called Zero One and at that time the San Jose Museum of Art will discontinue its five year experiment of free admission. But already they've got some neat stuff installed at the SJMoA-- the Listening Post is a bewonderment.
posted by Rash at 8:32 PM on July 22, 2006

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