5 reasons why Berkeley is the best college town

Michael Drummond/File
Michael Drummond/File
Michael Drummond/File

Sure, UC Santa Barbara has its beach town of Isla Vista. An education from Chapman University puts you within arms reach of Disneyland. And going to USC puts you right in the heart of an enormous, bustling city. But we at the Clog have done our research, been on the tours and had our university experience. Therefore, it is with great confidence that we declare this: There is no better place to go to college than in Berkeley. Your four years as a university student involve more than an education — after all, what matters perhaps most of all is feeling comfortable in the atmosphere of your school. So here are a few reasons why we think any prospective student would be more than happy to call Berkeley his or her home away from home.

1. It’s easy to get just about anywhere.

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Southern California natives: Welcome to the land of public transit. It’s a wonderful thing. As a UC Berkeley student, you receive a semesterly pass, built into your tuition, that allows you to ride the AC Transit bus system, letting you navigate your way around Berkeley and the rest of the county. Heading to Emeryville to go to Target, shop at the mall or get crafting supplies at Michael’s? Just take the F bus. In addition, UC Berkeley has its own bus system — you can use Bear Transit to ride your way around campus, and it also has a nighttime shuttle that you can even track as it journeys along its route. It’s all free with your student ID. And, of course, San Francisco is never far. Rockridge and Downtown Berkeley BART stations are both a reasonable distance from campus, and a round-trip ticket to San Francisco can be less than $8. If you prefer more private forms of transit, Uber and Lyft are both constantly accessible in the area as well. Once you have mastered the transit routes, you will be hard-pressed to find yourself stranded anywhere in the area.  The city — and a whole lot of the Bay Area, for that matter — is your playground.

2. There’s always something to do.

Forget for a moment that you’re at a huge university with about a million student clubs and organizations. Forget too that you’re a full-time student with classes, midterms and papers to worry about. Even when you’re not busy with all of that, it’s difficult to be bored in Berkeley. Sundays on Telegraph Avenue give you access to a plethora of street vendors and entertainment. Local theaters such as the Julia Morgan Theater, on College Avenue, or the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, in Downtown Berkeley, hold a variety of different plays, and we haven’t even mentioned the movie theaters that are everywhere. If you’re 21, welcome to the bar scene, which has plenty of options. Try a day trip to a local museum. Explore the stores on Telegraph, College or Shattuck avenues. Head to Tilden Park or the UC Botanical Garden. Go hiking in the Berkeley Hills. Take a bus to the Berkeley Marina and stroll along the pier. Berkeley prides itself on being a place for culture and exploration, and there is no shortage of opportunities for that.

3. Food. So, so much food.

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Even on a college student’s budget, you’ll never go hungry in Berkeley. From the Durant Food Court — colloquially known as Asian Ghetto — on Durant Avenue to Gourmet Ghetto in the northern area of Downtown Berkeley, there is certainly no shortage of unique and delicious restaurants in Berkeley. Want pizza? Try Artichoke Basille’s, order a pie from North Beach or head to Sliver or Cheeseboard for their pizzas of the day. Are you a coffee aficionado? In addition to being the original home of Peet’s Coffee and Philz Coffee, Berkeley is home to more independent, high-quality cafes than we can count on our fingers. Searching for sushi? Try Tako Sushi or Manpuku, or order some delivery from Nude Sushi. Tons of delivery vendors serve Berkeley, and tons of places around campus are open until the wee hours of the night to better aid the irregular schedule of the college student. No matter what you’re looking for, we promise Berkeley has it, and it has a lot of it in great quality.

4. There are countless options for whatever atmosphere you’re looking for.

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The controlled chaos of Southside and the bustling energy of Downtown Berkeley are exciting and house the majority of the undergraduate population, but maybe you want a calmer environment or just need a break from all of the craziness. In that case, meet Northside, Berkeley’s quiet sanctuary just on the other side of campus. This area at the foot of the Berkeley Hills is often much quieter and is home to many graduate students and some amazing restaurants of its own. If you’re looking for somewhere a little more quiet, Berkeley provides. No matter what mood you are in or where you thrive, there are so many facets of this city that are just right for you.

5. Above all else, Berkeley loves being a college town.

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Going to UC Berkeley means being part of a history and pride that extends far beyond the boundaries of campus. Things such as political culture and the Free Speech Movement have always extended far beyond the campus. Like the university, the city of Berkeley is a hub for ideas, discourse and academic pride. It’s a fact evident at every independent bookstore, every one-of-a-kind artistic endeavor and every restaurant and vendor displaying a “Cal” banner. The University of California has always been a part of Berkeley’s identity, and it will happily continue to be for a long, long time.

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