The Bay Area’s Hidden Gems

A view of the campus on a cloudy day from Foothill Housing. This is one of many lovely views you can find around Berkeley and the Bay Area!

It’s easy to figure out which places to visit if you’re traveling to the Bay Area. If you Google something along the lines of ‘best places in Berkeley/San Francisco/East Bay’ and lots of websites pop up giving their take on some of the most iconic landmarks of the regions. But maybe you’ve already thought about these tourist hotspots. Maybe you want to go out and see the Bay Area past its more popular destinations instead, and to that, I salute you.

Finding places to visit outside your cookie-cutter inside scoop isn’t exactly the easiest. I decided to gather up a couple places I visited that I really enjoyed going to. My personal taste in places and eateries might not be the same as yours, but I wanted to throw my two cents in! Hopefully you’ll keep these places in mind on your next visit to Berkeley and the Bay Area.

  • Castle in the Air, Berkeley: This is a store that cultivates creative activity and energy into its art and its products. I went in there one day after visiting my dad on lunch break just strolling through Fourth Street, and what I didn’t expect to run into was a shop that not only sold crafting supplies, but showcased a lot of beautiful paintings and structures. I left the place with a new set of stationary pens and a full heart at how amazing the place was. Castle in the Air is sadly closing within a month or two, though, but if you’re around town before it closes its doors for good, I definitely recommend taking the time to visit it!
  • Free Gold Watch, San Francisco: Right off the eastern edge of Golden Gate Park, there hides a screenprinting business coupled with one of the few video arcades in San Francisco. Retro arcade fanatics and pinball enthusiasts, rejoice! Free Gold Watch houses around twenty pinball machines among other games like Street Fighter and Skee Ball. I only went once with one of my cousins, but I certainly want to visit it again.
  • Los Moles, El Cerrito: I went to Los Moles for the first time to celebrate my cousin’s high school graduation, and every time I’ve come back, it’s been just as amazing. I’ve only been there on Saturdays and Sundays, though. On weekdays, they have menus for customers to order off of, but on weekends, they bring out this buffet where you can serve yourself from your rice to your meat, and especially for your mole sauce, like the restaurant name implies.
  • Mad Seoul, Berkeley: Okay, maybe I kind of jumped the gun on you here, because this restaurant opened just last week. But Mad Seoul serves up some awesome fresh ingredients and I can’t wait to visit it again! I tried something called the Seoul Heat, which has spicy chicken over rice with kimchi and some other vegetables. The food was really good, and I can’t wait to try out some more things on their menu!

This is not a comprehensive list, of course, but I wanted to list a few of the places I like to visit when I have time outside my classes and activities! This hopefully broadens the horizons on just how much the Bay Area has to offer to its tourists and residents alike.

Author: Neomie Hinanay

Hi, my name's Neomie Hinanay! I'm a second-year Legal Studies major. In just a little under a full academic year, I've come to learn about and love Berkeley more than I've ever imagined. I'm also a Mic Woman for Cal Spirit and a volunteer at 90.7FM KALX Radio! When I'm not studying for classes or getting involved with spirit, I'm usually exploring the campus or laughing at my (excellent) puns with my friends. I'm so excited to learn even more about the Berkeley campus and share my findings!