In the weeks leading up to move-in day, thousands of parents and families visit Berkeley to help their proud new freshmen move into the residence halls. It’s difficult to figure out the logistics of moving in, especially if it’s your first time visiting Berkeley. With this in mind, the Daily Clog put together a handy guide for parents and visitors on where to stay, park, eat and shop, as well as what to do. We recommend places and activities that are representative of college life, so parents will remember exactly what their child’s talking about when he says he ate at Top Dog at 2 a.m. … again.
Unfortunately for students who live in Foothill, most of the hotels in Berkeley are located on Southside. The Faculty Club is the only campus hotel — great if you want the experience of being surrounded by Berkeley history, but all student residence halls are off-campus.
For parents whose children are in Unit 1, Hotel Durant is literally on the same block. You’ll feel just like Berkeley freshmen, minus the drunk students shouting on the street in the middle of the night. Bancroft Hotel is also very close to Units 1, 2 and 3 and across the street from campus, with a great view of the bay.
Hotel Shattuck Plaza is in Downtown Berkeley on Shattuck Avenue, about a 10-minute drive from Units 1, 2 and 3 and a five-minute walk to campus. It’s farther away from the residence halls but closer to the BART station, and it’s right next to John’s $1 Ice Cream, arguably the best part of living Downtown.
Parking in Berkeley is notoriously difficult, so it’s a miracle if you can find street parking on move-in day. Parking permits for the city of Berkeley are $2.25 for a day pass. If you have friends who live in Greek houses or apartments, they might be able to lend you a parking spot.
If not, the Telegraph Channing Garage is probably your best bet. It’s the closest to Unit 3 and parking for the first hour is free, and it’s only $3 for up to four hours. If you enter before 9 a.m. and exit by 6 p.m., the charge is $9. Underhill Garage is across from Unit 1, but prices are higher, and it’s more crowded. It’s up to you whether you want to carry suitcases and boxes a couple extra blocks or pay more for parking.
Foothill and Clark Kerr Campus have their own parking lots, but parking permits must be purchased from the residence hall lots for $14 per day.
Top Dog is a must try for those who love hot dogs and hate government. Although a $3 hot dog might be too expensive for a college student’s liking, Top Dog is a Berkeley staple that most students find themselves eating more often than they bargained for — even if it’s cash only. Check out the posters and newspapers on the walls that embody Berkeley’s spirit of political activism.
Durant Square, called Asian Ghetto by Berkeley natives, is packed full of restaurants that give large portions of food for $7 to $8. Student favorites are Gypsy’s Trattoria Italiana for pasta and calzones, Thai Basil for fried rice and noodles and Sweetheart Cafe for boba and popcorn chicken. No student can go to Berkeley for four years without eating at Asian Ghetto, so you might as well start now.
Other inexpensive restaurants that are worth visiting are Thai Noodle II for fried chicken fried rice, Koja Kitchen for rice burgers, La Burrita for burritos, I.B.’s Hoagies for chili cheese fries, CREAM for ice cream sandwiches and Yogurt Park for frozen yogurt.
If your tastes are more refined than typical college student food, try Gourmet Ghetto on Northside. Gourmet Ghetto is home to world-famous restaurant Chez Panisse, and you’ll also love the potato puffs from Gregoire, desserts from Masse’s Pastries and vegetarian pizza from Cheeseboard.
You likely want to leave Berkeley with a memento of your visit, so try Bear Basics for Cal gear. The basement level is called T-Shirt Orgy and sells shirts about everything from bands to TV shows, but be warned — it does smell like weed.
Of course, the student store sells sweatshirts and mugs as well, but their merchandise is usually somewhat overpriced.
The Campanile is the third-tallest bell tower in the world and one of UC Berkeley’s most famous symbols. Admission is $3 for the general public and free for students, so definitely take a trip to the top, if you can. The campanile is open from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Sundays.
For the more athletically inclined families, try hiking up to the Big C on the hill that overlooks campus and the bay. The trail starts on the left side of Foothill parking lot, and the semi-steep hike takes about 20 minutes. The view is breathtaking during the day or at sunset, and hiking is a great bonding experience whether it’s with family or friends.