Maybe you “forgot” to pick up your free ticket for the Cal game from the Program Office. Or maybe you are one of the lucky few that already has their first round of midterm exams coming up barely one month into the fall semester. Maybe you find American Football incredibly dull, or maybe you just think there are better things to do than spend your afternoon crammed into the student section of Memorial Stadium cheering on Cal as they continue their best winning streak in years (fingers crossed!).
Whether you are an avid Cal fan who sweats blue and gold or you don’t even know what a touchdown is, it is possible to go your entire time at Cal without going to a Cal football game. While it’s not something that I’m proud of, I can say that I never attended a game while I went to Cal. I always intended to go to at least one, but somewhere between the ever-accumulating piles of readings, problem sets, papers, and exams, shifts working for I-House’s Events Department, and weekend trips and shenanigans with friends, I never ended up actually going. Whatever the case is, eventually you are going to need a break from the books or whatever else you are doing while holed up in your dorm room. Luckily, you live in the San Francisco Bay Area- one of the greatest metropolitan areas in the world! And while we are in a drought, there is no shortage of things to do. Below is a starter list of things to do in Berkeley if you can’t make it to the next home game.
For the Foodie
The Bay Area is well known for its diverse and excellent cuisine. As the cities of this great metropolis blend into one another, there is no end to the amount of fine dining. But even just within the Berkeley city limits, there are tons of world-class restaurants and dives alike to suit any taste or wallet.
One of the best weekends of my first Cal Football Season was Big Game weekend in late October. I had decided to skip the game because I had a bad cold and a load of work to do. Unfortunately, as per usual during home games, the Wi-Fi and Verizon 3G services went out all over campus from 7am until the game was over. All my I-House friends had gotten tickets (rightfully so!), and I didn’t want to spend the whole day in bed, stressed out because I couldn’t get any work done and wishing I was at the game with everyone else, while I got the play-by-play of the game from the loud speaker blaring through the window of my dorm room. Luckily, I have the best mom in the world and she only lived an hour away.
After running down to Café Milano (the closest place I could get cell service), I called her panicking over what I should do. She battled the traffic to get to Berkeley as quickly as possible and we found a Thai restaurant on Shattuck (Chris Thai Cuisine). In the middle of fall and pumpkin-flavored everything, we had the pumpkin soup and shrimp Pad Thai and it was delightful. In the end, even though Cal was obliterated by Stanfurd, it ended up being a really good day.
For the Shopaholic
Like food, the Bay Area has excellent shopping. From designer boutiques to thrift stores and small antique shops, there is something for everyone. While most stores in Berkeley will require you to fork over your dinner budget for the rest of the semester, window-shopping is not a crime, bring a camera and a friend and go to town exploring the city and refining your fashion sense a la California.
For the Gym Rat (or the Couch Potato)
Take advantage of UC Berkeley’s recreational resources. From the RSC to Strawberry Canyon and even activities down at the Berkeley Marina, Cal’s Rec Sports department has something for everyone. Whether you just want to stay in shape or you want to try something new, like Stand-Up Paddle Boarding, check out the Cal Rec Sports website to see all the available opportunities and class schedules.
For the Urban Geographer
There is so much more to Berkeley than the University of California campus. In every direction, there are neighborhoods to explore. From Elmwood in the south, to North Berkeley, the Berkeley Hills in the east and West Berkeley, the City of Berkeley is full of cute houses, shops and restaurants around every corner. If you are taking a class through the College of Environmental Design, exploring Berkeley is a great way to supplement your newfound knowledge and to get to know the city you live in.
For the Naturalist
In addition to being a thriving urban center, Berkeley and the East Bay are home to a number of state and regional parks that allow you to escape the hullabaloo of city life and game day fever. You can take AC Transit to Tilden Park and Lake Temescal, just two parks within the East Bay Regional Park District. Both are beautiful, have several hiking trails, and are definitely worth an afternoon away from the books. Or if you really can’t afford the break from studying, pack some readings along with a picnic lunch. The Vitamin D will do you good.
As you can see, there is something for everyone to do in the Berkeley. Stay tuned over the coming weeks for more details and tips for weekend fun. Regardless of whether you plan on going to the next game or not, GO BEARS!