Oakland/Berkeley/SF area suggestions

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Oakland/Berkeley/SF area suggestions
By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 10:33 pm: Edit

My son met a girl from Oakland at CTY this summer and fell in love. I'm tired of listening to his moans of lost love so I'm considering flying up with him to Oakland for just the day so he can reunite with her. Her parents have offered to entertain me but since I've never met them, only spoken on the phone a few times, I think I'd really prefer to find something to do on my own after spending an hour or so with them.

Any suggestions? I will have a rental car and love bookstores, good restaurants, quirky shopping.

By Arizonamom (Arizonamom) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 10:38 pm: Edit

What a great mom! What, you are not going to check out the colleges in the area! lol Sorry I can't be of help. don't know the area but enjoy, it sounds like a fun trip!

By Marite (Marite) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 10:43 pm: Edit


LOL! Falling in love over Homer! At least she's on the same coast! When I go to SF (once in a blue moon) I like to watch the seals in the harbor. Maybe Sac can give you good suggestions for restaurants and other attractions. Have you been to the Exploratorium or is it too much of a kiddie thing?

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 11:24 pm: Edit

Marite: I thought I would be able to sneak a peak at his emails to her --- but then discovered that he'd downloaded an Ancient Greek program and they're writing to each other that way. What a way to foil inquisitive moms!

It is his "first love" and she's a sweet and smart girl. We and her parents have been hoping that a month apart would soften their feelings but it doesn't seem like that's happening. Not sure where it's going to go, but I do understand how they feel.

What made me laugh, however, was the first time her parents called us --- her mother very hesitantly said "We understand S. is a...football player" like that was the kiss of death. (Frankly a few months ago, I would have felt the same way!)I had to explain that the football is some weird and recent interest that we haven't quite figured out yet. Before this summer, the most interest he showed in physical activity was turning on the computer.

Oddly, he seems to be really loving football and is doing quite well now that he's dropped 15 pounds and worked up to running laps. I just hope he doesn't slip and start calling plays in ancient Greek! He has continued to self-study using the text from CTY apparently. (He's also loving his Latin class which he has deemed "a piece of cake" after taking Ancient Greek at CTY)

By Irock1ce (Irock1ce) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 11:47 pm: Edit

Jack London Square is a must. If you like book stores and shopping and such... go check out Jack London Sqaure. Also, there is the Bay Street Mall which is in Emeryville. There is a movie theater, and lots of shopping. Parking can be a pain on the weekends (20+ minutes in the parking lot). Good restaurants -
Oakland's famous Everett and Jones Barbecue.. which is conveniently located 2 blocks away from Jack London Square. It can have long lines though. In Berkeley, we have 2 of the best pizza places in the bay area. The Cheeseboard Pizza on Shattuck which uses only vegetables to create the MOST amazing pizzas. Then, there is Zachary's Chicago Pizza which is amazing also. Just be warned of long lines and wait times... especially at Zachary's... from 5-7. There are 2 Zachary's also, one on college in Oakland and one on Solano in Berkeley. For Hamburgers, there is Barney's which is great. There are Barney's on Solano, Shattuck and College. For shopping... there isnt a whole lot of great shopping in Oakland... Theres always San Francisco.... Book stores are everywhere in Berkeley... Barnes and Nobles... Borders... Local small book stores.... just drive around in Berkeley.

Welcome to the bay area. = ]

By Marite (Marite) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 11:57 pm: Edit


When I was in 9th grade and in my second year of studying Greek, I, too, thought of writing my diary in Greek to foil inquisitive readers. I just did not have the discipline to keep up the diary.
Latin is far easier than Greek, which is why it's usually studied first. But Greek is more fun. Between Greek, Latin and sports, your S is becoming well-rounded!

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 12:05 am: Edit

An afternoon in Berkeley is always fun. Funky shopping on Telegraph Ave and boutiques on College Ave, Lunch at Chez Panisse always wonderful.

In SF, the new ferry building is worth seeing. It has lots of restaurants and a wonderful farmer's market a couple of days a week. Different shopping experience is the Castro. There is a four hour tour that people rave about. If you're interested I'll get the details. Union Street is fun shopping, too. In the Castro lunch outdoors at Cafe Flore is fun. Wonderful Dim Sum at Yank Sing is a great meal. Too many wonderful restaurants to know where to start. If there's a certain type of food or ambiance you crave I'll give suggestions.

By Mom60 (Mom60) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 12:06 am: Edit

You are one nice MOM!

By Patient (Patient) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 12:13 am: Edit

Carolyn, isn't first love great? I've been to Seattle on such an escapade too, loved the chance to see the city.

Sac is the expert on Berkeley and Oakland, track her down via a message search if you can and email her.

The Oakland Museum which specializes in California history and art is quite good (www.museumca.org). The Claremont Hotel and Spa is decadent and luxurious--specially if you need a soothing massage!--just above Berkeley kind of on the edge between Oakland and Berkeley.

In SF--well where can you start? The San Francisco MOMA is great; if you like baseball, SBC Park is a complete treat even though I guess we are your archrivals right now. The Asian Art Museum is supposed to be quite nice in its new location. But there is so much in Oakland and Berkeley you probably won't have to stray across the bay.

Alice Waters has a cafe as well as Chez Panisse--much easier to get into the former especially on short notice. Have fun and welcome!

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 12:19 am: Edit

Perfect - thanks for all the suggestions. That's just what I was looking for. I've been up to the Bay area several times but haven't really "hung out" in Berkeley/Oakland - always headed straight for SF.

I just hope my Son thinks I'm a "nice mom" after this! Right now he's having trouble getting his head around the concept that he'll be meeting his lady love's parents. LOL!

By Irock1ce (Irock1ce) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 12:40 am: Edit

Warning about Chez Panisse - you must have reservations 3 months prior.

By Patient (Patient) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 12:51 am: Edit

Right--but the cafe is easier, I think (I've been there several times but wasn't the one making the reservations so I am not sure).

1517 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94709
Cross Street: Cedar Street
Phone: (510) 548-5049
(for the cafe)...it is upstairs from Chez Panisse and quite cozy and fun....

By Coureur (Coureur) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 01:17 am: Edit

In SF always enjoy The Exploratorium:


It's a hand's on science demo museum where you can spend hours. It's kind of pitched at about the 8th grade level, but many things there are so cool that adults like them too.

By Anxious_Mom (Anxious_Mom) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 01:18 am: Edit

It's been eons since I explored Oakland, but a wonderful area of Berkeley is the fourth st. area

It's more upscale than telegraph, although telegraph is fun too. Lots of eateries, several bookstores, unique shops.

In the streets near fourth street, one can find lots of real "factory outlets" - the actual "factories" and shops are located there - and have attached retail shops. Just by driving around the area you can find women's boutiques, and outlets for North Face and Sierra Designs.

Driving from Oakland to Berkeley, you'll pass Emeryville - the Bay Street Mall is a funky little spot. And, IKEA is on the way too - worth a look if you've never been.

I'm much more familiar with SF, but there is no way to fit all these spots into 1 day.

Are you flying into Oakland? (highly recommended, even when going to San Francisco).

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 01:24 am: Edit

Go to Fisherman's Wharf in Frisco. You can take the subway there from Oakland.

I have driven in Frisco but don't find those high hils fun to drive on. Remembering the earthquake of about 11 years ago, I also don't enjoy going over the bridge from Oakland to Frisco.

Somehow, though, I am able to block out earthquake fears when I'm in the subway.

Enjoy! The Bay area is fabulous!

One last tip: Bring a jacket, sweater and raincoat. It gets cold there even in the summer.Frisco especially is cool.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 03:21 am: Edit

Carolyn, anybody who loves colleges as much as you must spend time at UC Berkeley and the surrounding area.
If you get there at lunch time you may see a protest at Sproul Hall.

By Patient (Patient) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 03:35 am: Edit

psst...and don't call it "Frisco" (sorry, northstarmom...it's a kind of universal thing around here).

By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 04:04 am: Edit

Hey, Patient, I wondered when that was coming. LOL. Glad you didn't disappoint.

By L_J (L_J) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 08:03 am: Edit

the proper term is "The City". Park your car at Fisghermans Warf.....browse that area, take a cabel car to Market Street, browse again, take the #5 bus to golden gate park, browse and return. if that dont give you a feel for San Francisco nothing will.

By Achat (Achat) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 10:25 am: Edit

Carolyn, you are a great mom. I'm sure I wouldn't fly my son up to see his love if I were in the same situation. I'd recommend Fisherman's Wharf too and if you love chocolates then Ghirardelli's near the wharf. Their ice creams are also to die for!

By Kinshasa (Kinshasa) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 11:49 am: Edit

Fly into Oakland, Carolyn. Southwest is the cheapest way to go from San Diego.

I agree you should hang out around Oakland /Berkeley. You could tour UCB and Mills. If you go into the City, take the BART---DO NOT DRIVE. It will cost a fortune to park in a garage.

And definitely take a jacket.

You're a great mom!

By Lilyemerald (Lilyemerald) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 01:47 pm: Edit

Yeah i agree, DON'T DRIVE!.. parking for about four (i think..) hours was... $15... now if you think that's ok... sure go ahead and park... oh and i was parked at the embarcadero center area near pier 1... hmmm i'm new to SF... so is haight street good for quirky shopping? I'll have to go take a snoop around there too.. heh

By Mstee (Mstee) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 03:10 pm: Edit

Carolyn--just sort of skimmed the above--if it hasn't been mentioned, Cody's Books on Telegraph is on of the best bookstores around--can spend hours in there. It is very close to UCBerkeley. It'll cost a few bucks to park, (unless you totally luck out and find a space on the street). I agree with the above poster about Zachary's pizza--I love the stuffed spinach/sausage pizza. The College Ave. Location is not too far from Telegraph, and in a neat area of shops/restaurants.

By Sac (Sac) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 05:23 pm: Edit

Mom101 -- We had a dim sum sendoff for my S and some of his friends at Yank Sing!

Carolyn -- I've e-mailed you. But, a few more thoughts stimulated by the postings here:
If you're more interested in ethnic than in Chez Panisse Cafe (You do have to make reservations there, though not as far in advance as for the restaurant downstairs) and you're on Telegraph Ave. with your son, a place our son likes is Ethiopian. It's called Blue Nile and is across the street, if I remember right, from Cody's. Cheap and fun.

Parking in Berkeley is always a challenge. There's a public lot under Zellerbach Hall on Bancroft, if you can't find a spot on the street near Telegraph. Right across from Zellerbach on Bancroft is a lovely classical music store which also has a nice cafe for lunch. Next to that is a bookstore that specializes in university presses.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 06:08 pm: Edit

There is free parking in the residential area near the Claremont hotel. That area is about 1 mile from campus. That area has some nice old properties. If you drive east up Ashby and turn right on Domingo you will find free parking in that area.
There is also free parking NW of campus about a mile away. You would take University east up towards the campus.
Make a left a mile from the campus and go a few blocks.
Enter the residential area. Parking should be available around Cedar which is a couple of blocks from University Ave.
I always park around a mile from campus because I like walking in Berkeley.

By Sac (Sac) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 06:11 pm: Edit

It occurs to me that I might as well post what I e-mailed to Carolyn here, in case anyone else is interested in spending a day in Berkeley some time:

The biggest attraction in Berkeley is probably the campus itself and the area that borders it, Telegraph Avenue. While it has its sleazy aspects, on weekends it is full of street vendors who get permits to sell arts and crafts (great jewelry!), and it has numerous bookstores. The best is probably Cody's, about four or five blocks from campus on the corner of Dwight and Telegraph. A few doors farther is Moe's, which has a huge selection of used books. These are independent booksellers and Berkeley landmarks.

The campus begins at Telegraph and Bancroft (if you know all this, please forgive me.) Right there is Sproul Plaza, of protest fame, and then Sather Gate, which is the shot they always show on the local news whenever a story takes them to campus. Across from the campus on Bancroft a block or two above Telegraph is the university's art museum. It has a small collection, usually a show of some sort, and a restaurant in the basement which looks out on a small sculpture garden. It's changed hands, so I don't know how the food is at the moment, but it's a pleasant spot. The museum inside is designed with ramps.
If you've never wandered through the campus, it's very nice. You can pay to ride the elevator up the bell tower, if it's open, and on a nice day the view is spectacular. There are several small museums on campus, as well. I don't know their hours but the small Anthropology Museum (almost across the street from the Art Museum) often has some interesting show and I think the paleontology department also keeps an exhibit open. At College and Bancroft (just above the art museum and across from anthropology), there's a popular outdoor coffee house. Good place just to sit with a book or to people watch.

Other possibilities, depending on your interests and if you're driving: The Lawrence Hall of Science up in the hills above campus. It's owned by the university, has a beautiful view, and interactive science exhibits. There are also two botanical gardens up in the hills, one owned by the university, the other by the regional park district. The university's (in Strawberry Canyon, just below the Lawrence Hall of Science) is large and very lovely -- not to mention educational. The other botanical Garden is in Tilden Park, up above the Lawrence Hall of Science.

Fourth Street, down near the freeway, is an upscale shopping area with some home furnishing stores, lots of good restaurants, and another large branch of Cody's books. Bette's Ocean View Diner is there and has a takeout area. (In Berkeley, the discussion always seems to end up centering on food.)

By Avoidingwork (Avoidingwork) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 08:06 pm: Edit

bookstores, restaurants, quirky shopping....

first off, you could spend months eating at all the great restaurants in the berkeley/oakland area. Here's a random list (with some duplication from earlier posts)

On 4th Street:
O'Chame - very interesting country Japanese restaurant, albeit a bit pricey
Bette's Ocean View Diner - very popular; breakfasts and lunches;
Spengers - Fish restaurant; a berkeley institution; but old-time (xlation plenty of fried food) and with a full bar

other Berkeley:
Zachary's Pizza - several locations; deep dish spinach pizza is signature dish
Intermezzo - on Telegraph (near bookstores Moe's, Shakespeare & Co, and Codys. These are the best in the area. The Cody's on Telegraph is more interesting than the one on 4th street). Inexpensive, fabulous salads
Restaurante Venizia - on University Avenue. Great italian restaurant with charming interior.
Breads of India - on Sacramento Avenue
Skates - at the Berkeley Marina.

Itinerary for a Saturday in Oakland:

Drive to the Lake Merritt Farmers Market (parking under the freeway). Get a cup of coffee from Peets (on Lake Merritt) and a pastry from Arizmendi across the street. Arizmendi is a co-op, formed by the same people who started the Cheese Board in Berkeley. Be sure to take a look at the mural of Lake Merritt on the Peets building. Stroll through the Farmers Market (open on Saturdays only), or better yet, first take a walk around Lake Merritt (approx. 3 miles). Enjoy the free live music while getting free tastes of organic produce and looking at the artisans' wares. Be sure to check out the marquee on the Grand Lake Theatre. The owner always has something of interest to say. The main theatre is beautiful and they have an organist on weekend evening shows. Take a short walk up Grand Avenue to Walden Pond Bookstore - a used book store or check out their music store, Eyewitness, on Lakeshore avenue.

From the west end of the lake, it is possible to walk to the Oakland Museum, but you may want to do the entire walk of the lake and then drive to the Museum. The focus of the museum is California, and there are sections on art, history, natural science, and a changing major exhibit. The current exhibit is on California and the Vietnam War, and promises to be excellent. Take a walk around the museum grounds, as there is some fine sculpture. Also, the cafeteria is a pleasant place to grab a bite to eat - there is often music and the food is thematically linked to the current show.

After the museum, a short drive takes you to Jack London Square. There are restaurants and some shops (including a Barnes and Noble) but it is right on the bay. For a nice meal, I suggest Soizic. The outside is non-descript, but the food is fine. If you like jazz, check out the offerings at Yoshis - a japanese restaurant and jazz club. The food is good, but a bit pricey. There is also a farmers market there on the weekend, but I'm not sure when.

Another spot to check out is the Paramount Theatre. An absolutely gorgeous art deco theatre in Oakland. On some Friday nights, they show retro movies along with an organist and prize giveaway all for a whopping $6 (it recently went up from $5). They also offer tours of the theatre. Check out their web site for shows and tour info. The Paramount is in downtown oakland, which is fairly empty on the weekends - so park close to the theatre if you go.

For shopping in Oakland, College Avenue is another possibility - an eclectic assortment of stores and restaurants. If you are a foody, then Market Hall may be of interest. There are several pockets of shopping on College - probably around the BART station (where Market Hall is located) and the cross streets at Ashby and Claremont. You could zip up Claremont Avenue to check out the Claremont Hotel. They've recently renovated the bar/restaurant, which has a great view at night.

As for Berkeley, the gourmet ghetto(food,food,food), 4th street (up-scale shopping), and the campus (its beautiful) are all worth a visit. Berkeley isn't the cleanest city in the world, but if you can get past that, it has wonderful charms.

I would stay away from the Bay Street Mall in Emeryville, it is all stores that can be found in any suburban shopping area - really nothing special. Since there are virtually no shopping malls in Berkeley, its a big deal for some natives.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 08:36 pm: Edit

Wow. Printing all these great suggestions out!
Thanks so much. We'll probably be up in Northern California at some point to tour a few schools with my daughter so for now I'll try to restrain myself from visiting any!

I am flying into Oakland. I always do when I go up to the Bay area - it's just a much more pleasant (and inexpensive) trip from San Diego.
I found a mid-sized rental for $20 so I'll have wheels. I DO know about the Berkeley parking situation - it's the ONLY place in the world where I've received a parking ticket, including driving in places like Rome, Paris, New York, and Tokyo!!! LOL!

By Dadofsam (Dadofsam) on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 02:17 pm: Edit

Carolyn: Sac and Avoidingwork have given you plenty of ideas for a day in the East Bay. Don't spend the time going to San Francisco (and if you do go there, you should avoid Fisherman's Wharf unless you prefer to spend all your time with tourists).

Bookstores: on Telegraph Ave. - Shakespeare's (used books), Moe's (new and used), Cody's (new, large selection). Also, in Oakland, if you are around Lake Merritt, there is a good used bookstore on Grand, just above the east end of the lake (forgot its name). Any particular types of books you are looking for?

If you want quirky shopping, Fourth Street and Bay Mall are not what you're looking for. What quirks did you have in mind (don't be ashamed)?

I second the thoughts about visiting the UC campus. If you do that, try to take a drive along Grizzly Peak Rd. from above the Lawrence Hall of Science south to Claremont Ave, for great views (there are several spots to pull off.) Also, the view from outside the Lawrence Hall of Science is magnificent.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 02:29 pm: Edit

Fourth Street and Bay Mall are not what you're looking for. What quirks did you have in mind (don't be ashamed)?

Hmmmmm...not looking for whips and chains type of places Dadofsam -

By quirky I meant something beyond the typical chain store malls I can visit here in San Diego. I like bookstores, crafty housewares, etc.

Thanks for the tips on the bookstores. And thanks again EVERYONE!

By Dadofsam (Dadofsam) on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 02:56 pm: Edit

Carolyn: Yikes! I wasn't thinking about those sort of quirks. More like the time when a good friend visited me once, knowing his hobbies, I took him to the city's best store for model trains. Most folks wouldn't have thought of that; he was really excited.

So what sort of store would YOU like to visit? (remember that here in the East Bay we also have specialized bookstores).

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 05:34 pm: Edit

DadofSam. Shoot. I thought you were going to pass along some really nifty porno store or something. (grin)

I love all bookstores. I'm not picky and read everything from fiction to non-fiction. I've been known to go into a bookstore and not re-emerge for days. Unfortunately, I won't have THAT much time on this trip.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 05:38 pm: Edit

Carolyn, if you haven't been to Berkeley, you should go there. It meets all your requirements mentioned in your original post.
And your daughter isn't going to apply there anyway.
And Berkeley is close to Oakland.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 05:49 pm: Edit

Wow, I am copying some of these posts. I intend to visit Oakland in the next few months as my brother lives there and he is due a visit from big sister. We do hang out in the Berkely area, and take the ferry or the Bart into the city when we visit. It is much easier to park in Oakland.

When my brother and his wifefirst moved there, a wise guy visiting them spent the entire evening telling them how much better everything is across the Bay in SF where this guest lived. The people are better, the housing is better, the city is better, etc, etc. As they walked along the bay, my brother pointed to the view and smiling told him that he looks at beautiful SF on his evening walks, while the guest has a view of.... Oakland.

By Dadofsam (Dadofsam) on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 06:35 pm: Edit

Carolyn: This is a respectable Board!! My gosh, even teenagers look at it. When I wrote "don't be ashamed", I was just thinking of unusual, perhaps even weird, but still relatively innocent, interests.

Anyway, sounds like all you need to do is get to Telegraph Avenue and your desires (at least those that we can talk about here) should be more than satisfied. You may be able to find parking on some of the side streets to the east, around or before Dwight.

Jamimom: any special interests (suitable for mention in a family publication, please) that you'd like information on indulging when you come here?

By Avoidingwork (Avoidingwork) on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 10:26 pm: Edit


An update...

I drove along College Avenue last night, and the bulk of shops/restaurants/bookstores are on College Ave. between the BART station and Claremont Avenue.

An alternate itinerary for you that will include the key Berkeley bookstores is to drive east on Grand Avenue and stay on the road as it turns into Pleasant Valley and then 51st. Turn right on Telegraph Avenue and around Parker start to look for parking. This is about a 10 minute drive. Turn onto Parker and hunt around the side streets for a place to park. A few blocks walk along Telegraph and you will find Moe's, Cody's, and Shakespeare & Co. There is also a decent selection of used clothing stores - Sharks, Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange. And, Body Time has an array of soaps, lotions, and scents.

By Outwest5 (Outwest5) on Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - 12:03 am: Edit

My oldest daughters are both fulltime students in the Oakland/Berkeley area and they sure love it up there. When we finally got around to exploring Oakland late last year we were very impressed with Oaklands nice museums. If you are a museum type and need to kill an afternoon consider the museums. We also enjoyed driving around in the Oakland Hills for fun. Be careful, though. It is so easy to get turned around and lost in Oakland if you are from Southern California like we are. We are used to a city on a grid and Oakland is NOT on a grid! It reminded me of the streets in the South (although more crowded) in that you start going one way and all of a sudden you notice you are driving in the opposite direction! It is because it is built on all those hills I guess. We didn't have any big problems parking in Oakland, just little issues. Old downtown Oakland is nice, too. We stayed at the Washington Inn, which is a hotel that was built in the 1920's and refurbished. Very comfie beds, the rooms are small with a lot of character, old wood and decorations and very friendly people. It is right in downtown across from the massive Marriott. The Marriott is nice if you want all the modern conveniences and the size of the rooms.
Merritt Lake is beautiful in the evenings.
Oh, and keep Mills in Oakland in mind for your daughter. It is a terrific school (and beautiful too). My #1 is now a Junior there and has been very happy since the beginning

By Sac (Sac) on Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - 12:36 pm: Edit

Since others are also contemplating a visit to the area, here is more of the info I e-mailed to Carolyn. If a shop that sells nothing but animal bones isn't quirky, I don't know what is:

If you want to avoid the campus altogether, another area I don't think was mentioned, is Solano Ave. which runs from North Berkeley a couple of miles into the neighboring town of Albany. It's got some interesting stores (Tibetan imports, Native American arts, a store devoted entirely to bones) and, at the Berkeley end, a couple of bookstores: Pegasus and Half Price Books. Also, tons of restaurants (Indian, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Nepalese etc) including the much touted Zachary's pizza where -- I think -- unfortunately you can't get just a slice of the stuffed pizza which is the pizza they make best.

The UC botanical garden I mentioned (earlier post) is divided into growing regions, including a misted greenhouse with rainforest plants, another with arid plants, and acres of trails.

There is also, a little farther along the freeway past Berkeley and Albany, a large shopping center that is completely Asian -- restaurants, grocery stores, herb stores. I know they have these elsewhere, but if you've never seen one, it's like being on another continent. There's a hot pot restaurant in there that my son and most teenage boys I know love. All you can eat plus the fun of cooking it at your table.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - 01:11 pm: Edit

Oh, and keep Mills in Oakland in mind for your daughter. It is a terrific school (and beautiful too). My #1 is now a Junior there and has been very happy since the beginning

Outwest, Actually one of my daughter's best friends has Mills on the top of her list but hasn't visited yet. I hadn't thought of it, but I may just check it out for her and snap a few photos for her.

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