Livin’ la vida local: an inside guide to a day in the Bay

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Stuck in Berkeley for the summer, but don’t have enough time to travel? Check out these hyper-local events and activities to make the most of your vacation without wasting time in a car or on a plane.

Albany Bulb

Walking through Albany Bulb, a former landfill that several local conservation organizations transformed into a recreational area, feels a little like what it must be like to walk through the wetlands from “Mad Max.” That is, if said wetlands had been previously occupied by Burner-types who’d left sculptures everywhere. Keep an eye out for the fire pit, possible tent residences, the sea queen sculpture and the castle – a small, covered-in-tags structure left over from the earlier days of Albany Bulb.

Kitchen on Fire

If you’re looking for a long-term project for summer, Kitchen on Fire is something like a pre-culinary-school cooking school that’ll definitely give you an edge over the plebeian who just moved out of the residence halls and is subletting your apartment. By the end of its twelve-week course you’ll be more than proficient with a chef’s knife, be able to flambe correctly and present nearly any meal as if you were a chef at a fancy restaurant. If you can’t commit to a full 12-week course they have several weekend classes as well as single-afternoon classes that are well worth the $115 splurge.

Circus Classes

Remember that one time you went to a music festival and saw someone doing aerial arts behind the main performer? Or the people who do acroyoga in the park every Sunday? With a little guidance and a lot of practice, you could probably do it too! Kinetic Arts in Oakland has beautifully high ceilings for its aerial silks, static trapeze, rope and lyra classes. They, as well as Athletic Playground in Emeryville, also offer other circus skill classes that will help you achieve your dream of flying through the air like the fairy you surely are.

Ashby Flea Market

Ashby Flea Market is an adorable weekly market held on Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot of the Ashby BART station. Here you’ll be able to find everything from unique kitsch, used cast-iron pans, bike parts, cheap sunglasses and a drum circle that’s audible from blocks away.

The Crucible

All those skills needed for Burning Man sculptures have to be learned somewhere. The Crucible offers classes on blacksmithing, glass blowing, woodworking, neon lighting, enameling and even fire performance. It’s a short, half-block away from the West Oakland BART station. Soon, you too will find yourself coming up with creative excuses for being absent for the first week of classes while you attend a hedonistic desert party.

Cat Town Cafe

If you’re a feline enthusiast, Cat Town Cafe in Oakland is well worth the visit. After scheduling a visit online, you can go in, buy a coffee and then enter into the cat-designated space to cuddle and croon over all the adorable floofs. You can justify the expense by telling yourself it’s all in the name of stress relief.

Bookstores

If you can’t quite make it over to Oakland but still want to get in your time with felines, Pegasus Books on Shattuck Avenue in Downtown Berkeley also has a resident cat. If cats really aren’t your thing but stuffy book stores full of sci-fi and fantasy novels in quiet neighborhoods are, check out Dark Carnival Books on Claremont Avenue in Berkeley. The small shop is literally filled to the ceilings with books and has many a nook to settle down in and pretend you actually go to Hogwarts and are currently in Diagon Alley.

 

Contact Trixie Mehraban at [email protected].