The birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, the radical hub of the 1960s, the home of arguably the nation's top public university, and the city whose government condemned the bombing of Afghanistan—Berkeley is all of those things. The city of 100,000 facing San Francisco across the bay is also culturally diverse, a breeding ground for social trends, a bastion of the counterculture, and an important center for Bay Area writers, artists, and musicians. Berkeley residents, students, and faculty spend hours nursing various coffee concoctions while they read, discuss, and debate at any of the dozens of cafés that surround the campus. Oakland may have Berkeley beat when it comes to cutting-edge arts, and the city may have forfeited some of its renegade 1960s spirit, as some residents say, but unless a guy in a hot-pink satin body suit, skullcap, and cape rides a unicycle around your town, you'll likely find that Berkeley remains plenty offbeat.It's the quintessential university town, and many who graduated years ago still bask in daily intellectual conversation, great weather, and good food. Residents will walk out of their way to go to the perfect bread shop or consult with their favorite wine merchant. And every September, residents gently lampoon themselves during the annual "How Berkeley Can You Be?" parade and festival where they celebrate their tie-dyed past and consider its new incarnations.
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Things You Can't Miss
A quiet oasis in a busy urban setting, Tilden Regional Park offers hiking, a botanical garden and Lake Anza for swimming and picnicking.
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This amphitheater, with a fabulous view of the San Francisco skyline and bay, hosts the Berkeley Jazz Festival and pop, rock and world music concerts.
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The Berkeley Rose Garden has 250 varieties of roses and 3,000 rose bushes. The garden generally is at its most dazzling in mid-May.
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Want to hear street music, eat tasty fondue or buy a bumper sticker that makes a point? They’re all to be had — and more — on this legendary avenue.
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Chabot Space and Science Center, founded as an observatory in 1883, offers interactive exhibits, a planetarium and views through historic telescopes.
Image Credit: Silicon Valley Stock/Alamy
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