36 Hours in Berkeley: COVID-19 Edition

Berkeley looks a bit different without its students milling around and filling the streets coming to and from lectures. That being said, this college town located just across the Bay from one of the most well-known cities in the world is relying on its local charm and beautiful nature to allow students and residents alike to adventure in a COVID conscious way. 


  1. Sip and Stroll | 3:30 p.m.Studying at Strada

Coffee shops are a staple of Berkeley’s culture with minimal chain restaurants and family-owned stores aplenty, it can be hard to choose from the amazing selection of cappuccinos and matcha lattes. Cafe Strada, a 30 second stroll from the UC Berkeley campus is a Cal favorite where on an average day you can see students and faculty alike working alongside one another in their beautiful outdoor seating. Once you’ve grabbed your caffeinated beverage of choice, take the long trek across the street to see the beauty of the glass Music Library and through Faculty Glade you might just catch students rolling down the grassy hill in hopes of a 4.0. Journey alongside the critters of Strawberry Creek stopping to gaze at the 307-foot clock and bell tower against the city skyline of San Francisco across the bay.

2. Hanging Around | 5:00 p.m.

End your stroll through campus at Memorial Glade where you’ll find students enjoying a picnic among friends, playing spike ball, or just relaxing in the shadows of the beautiful Grecian architecture of Doe Memorial Library. Hopefully you packed your hammock because it’s time to strap up to the trees and enjoy the heart of campus while just hanging around. From here, you can enjoy a beautiful sunset from the glade or journey back to the Campanile to see the Bay illuminated by the twinkling lights of the city. 

3. Thai Time | 6:30 p.m.

Berkeley is known for its incredible food and nothing beats the dozens of Thai spots you’ll find within a 10 minute walk from campus. Consult yelp or your local Cal students for their favorite pick… I’m partial to Imm Thai on University Ave. home to the best pad see ew I’ve ever tasted. Grab your take out and head to Willard Park — a popular hang out for Berkeley grad students — on Derby St. for a little picnic under the stars.


4. Fire Trails | 9:00 a.m.

Get an earlier start to your morning and head over to the Berkeley hills for a morning hike up to a sweeping view of the Bay right behind the Clark Kerr campus residential halls. Maybe reserve a lane in the Golden Bear pool for a quick dip to cool after your hike. You earned it!

5. Coffee on College | 10:30 a.m.

After showering off, take a trip down College Ave. to the quaint storefronts of Elmwood to find coffee shops galore and some of the best brunch spots in Berkeley. Grab a croissant from Nabolom Bakery or sit outside Baker & Commons in their outdoor seating to enjoy a cappuccino and a perfect spot to take in the Berkeley scenery. If you’re looking to try a Bay Area staple, walk along to College to the Philz Coffee near campus to try the coffee that started in San Francisco and has taken the world by storm.

6. Berkeley Botanicals | 12:00 p.m.Mather Redwood Grove in the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens

Once you’ve fueled up, make the journey through the Berkeley hills to the 34-acre UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens known as one of the most biodiverse landscapes in the world. With a reservation (free to Berkeley students!) you can explore 9 regions of naturalistic plantings from Italy to South Africa, along with a major collection of California native plants. Don’t forget to walk across the street to the Mather Redwood Grove and take in the impressive California redwoods — some of the tallest trees in the world.

7. Telegraph | 3:00 p.m.

Telegraph is one of Berkeley’s most well known streets thanks to Chance the Rapper and the history of the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley. Today you can find a weekly flea market on Saturdays where local artists sell their wares. Travel along the street to peruse the vintage clothes, record shops, and local bookstores. Moe’s — a four story bookstore on Telegraph — is a must-see with its expansive collection of literature and art. 

8. Cal Cuisine | 5:30 pm 

You can’t leave Berkeley without taking advantage of the food scene at least once more. Support the local businesses and find anything from the local student spots on Durant or make your way to Gourmet Ghetto on the Northside of campus to try the infamous Cheeseboard — a worked owned co-op that’s been there since 1971 still making fresh-baked pizzas daily.

Pizza & a Grizzly Peak Sunset9. Picnic at Grizzly Peak | 6:00pm

Pizza in hand, make your way up to the Berkeley hills one last time to see arguably one of the best views of the Bay Area from the Grizzly Peak look out. Take in the sights of Berkeley’s campus and try to spot the Campanile (it’s the tall one) as the sun sets over the city.

Inspired by the New York Times Column “36 Hours”