Here are some of my favourite things that the region has to offer.
Berkeley is a beautiful city full of gardens, hiking trails and quirky houses. Countless tracks wind their way through the Berkeley Hills, wandering through forests of towering redwoods and twisted oaks.
Tilden Park is the perfect place to chill out on a sunny Berkeley day. It’s less than 30 minutes by bus from Berkeley campus, and is a cool spot for wandering through nature, swimming across the lake or just sunbathing on the sandy beach.
Another one of my favorite spots is Indian Rock, an old volcanic boulder that has panoramic views of the entire Bay Area and the Golden Gate Bridge. The sunsets are amazing!
Once the site of a landfill, the Albany Bulb is now a seaside reserve featuring a cool collection of graffiti, sculptures and art installations. There’s also a shantytown of squatters who have built their homes on the peninsula, using only scraps of wood and tin.
Biking the Golden Gate
Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge is an unforgettable experience that leaves you with a lingering sense of awe. The journey from Embarcadero also takes you through a number of spots worth visiting in their own right, such as the Palace of Fine Arts, Pier 39, and the seaside town of Sausalito.
If nature and sightseeing isn’t your thing, then the Bay Area is also home to some great nightlife. Countless bars and nightclubs have everything you can think of, from rock bands and DJs to twerking drag queens…
The Bay Area is also home to some amazing street art, which decorates buildings and walls throughout the region. Some of the best spots to explore include the Mission and Castro districts.
Museums and exhibitions
In addition to the street art, there are a number of art museums with exhibitions from artists around the world. Some highlights include the de Young museum and the Museum of Modern Art.
Bay Area Events
The Bay Area is home to some of the world’s biggest and best events, attracting hundreds of thousands of people and bringing together diverse communities.
In February the city celebrates Chinese New Year, culminating in a 2 hour parade that snakes its way through the streets of Chinatown with dragons, lions and acrobats.
Holi Festival of Colours
In April, hundreds of Cal students gather in the Berkeley hills to celebrate the beginning of spring with the Holi Festival of Colours.
Every month, Oakland’s Art Murmur attracts artists and performers from across the region. It’s a great way to enjoy the work of the creative community, and to create your own art too.
Oakland is also home to a monthly wrestling meet-up called Hoodslam. This classy event brings together sworn enemies face to face in battle with their bare hands and a variety of household objects. Fake? Nah, “This Shit’s Real”!
Bay to Breakers
Bay to Breakers is one of the world’s largest footraces, with over 100,000 people running 12 kilometers through the streets of San Francisco while dressed-up in full costume. It makes the Wellington Sevens look like a Wiggles’ music video.
Each year over one million people flow into San Francisco to celebrate Pride, with thousands of people participating in the parade.
I only saw a small slice of Berkeley and the Bay during my exchange, so there’s still plenty left to explore. I’m looking forward to going back one day, hopefully soon!