Best roadtrip spots near Berkeley

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Nicole White/File

Before we start, there’s an important thing you need to know about me: I am of the belief that anything can be a road trip. The road trip is in your heart, the rest is just details. Which is why I consider that time I missed my exit because I was trying to sing five different harmonies at once and ended up in Richmond a road trip. That being said, whether you have a car or not, here are the best places I’ve visited since arriving at Berkeley.



It’s literally in our backyards, so maybe it isn’t technically a road trip? But, really, what are road trips other than our attempts to escape the realities of Berkeley for a bit? In that case, the Fire Trails meet the right criteria. There’s something about starting at the level of Clark Kerr and ending at the top of the hill with the entire San Francisco Bay spread before you that really helps put things in perspective. Also there’s a high probability of passing at least one dog, so that in and of itself should be enough.

Point Reyes

This one is a real excursion — I’ve done it as a day trip, but it was exhausting. It takes about an hour to get to the park and then another 40 minutes to get to the lighthouse but, damn, is it worth it. Point Reyes is filled with various turnoffs, including one devoted entirely to seal spotting. Rather than describing it in too much detail, suffice it to say that walking to the lighthouse sort of feels like passing into a different realm where midterms aren’t a thing and everything doesn’t smell like exhaust.

Santa Cruz

It’s like visiting your cousin if your cousin were a California beach town. The presence of UC Santa Cruz is enough to make this feel familiar — lots of mattresses on street corners and young people in pajamas at 3 p.m. — but the vibe is totally different from Berkeley, which is, as we’ve established, what we’re all going for. Also, there is an ice cream place completely covered in dancing-cow-patterned wallpaper. I have the pics to prove it.

Baker Beach

Number of times I’ve been to Baker Beach: 2. Number of naked men I’ve seen at Baker Beach: Also 2.

This location comes in last on the list as it can be reached by public transit! It may require a lot of buses and time, but one can find themselves at Baker Beach in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, potentially surrounded by naked men and at the beach — all without a car.

I’m from Houston, which means the only beaches I knew were Gulf of Mexico beaches where the water is a unique mix of record-setting levels of salt and the remnants of oil spills, so basically every California beach is nice by my standards. That being said, I know many of y’all suffer daily from your lack of SoCal beaches, so I can tell you with utmost authority: this beach has sand and you can reach the water on it.

I love Berkeley, but we all get overwhelmed sometimes. We’re at the epicenter of so many outlets for escape and repose and it’s summer — take the time.

Contact Danielle Hilborn at [email protected].