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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

See Contemporary Culture in Berkeley

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5. Oddball Day


Telegraph Avenue is home to the city's iconic stores.  

Put Berkeley’s new-school charms on hold and explore its longstanding institutions. Begin the day at Caffe Mediterraneum—“The Med” to locals—a coffee shop and former haunt of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg where the latte ($3.50) is said to have been invented. Join a free student-led tour of UC Berkeley’s historic campus or wander the green grounds yourself, taking in the view from atop the 307-foot-tall Campanile clock tower ($2); then stroll over to People’s Park, where the Free Speech Movement sprung up in sixties. Walk 30 minutes for a house-smoked pastrami sandwich on challah ($12.95) at the iconic Saul’s Deli, then backtrack to the legendary shops along Telegraph Avenue, making stops to browse the sprawling used book collection at 44-year-old Moe’s Books and every kind of album you could ever hope to find at Amoeba Records. Make your dinner reservations a month ahead of time for the original locavore spot, Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse, still serving a quite reasonably priced $28 menu du jour in the upper-level café. Staying within walking distance, join in a bluegrass jam session or see a classic singer-songwriter like Janis Ian perform at the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse (tickets from $20.50), a quirky concert venue that opened in a former furniture store in 1968 and, despite upgraded digs, still feels like a place where that decade never ended. Round out the night with a punk rock set at 924 Gilman, a gritty DIY all-ages music venue that attracts an only-in-Berkeley crowd ranging from 12-year-old skaters to aging ponytailed folk rockers.


Published on Feb 15, 2013 as a web exclusive.

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