One of the most culturally iconic places in Berkeley can be found at the Southern edge of UC Berkeley’s campus on Telegraph Avenue. The street is a bright, eclectic hub of activity, hosting a diverse range of people and colorful Berkeley characters. The avenue stretches all the way from the UC Berkeley campus to the historic downtown district of Oakland. Students most frequently pass along the four blocks between Bancroft and Dwight Way. Named for the first telegraph line connecting Oakland and San Francisco, Telegraph Avenue has a rich cultural history, including its prominent place in the Free Speech Movement in the 1960s. If you’re ever bored in Berkeley, we recommend taking a stroll and experiencing all that Telegraph Avenue has to offer. We’ve listed some of the highlights.
Get henna tattoos
Choose from fun and unique patterns to commemorate your Telegraph Avenue adventures. Henna is safe and only temporary, leaving you with a fun memory that you will be happy to show off for a few weeks.
Survey unique, hand-crafted goods
Vendors between Bancroft and Channing sell hand-crafted goods like tie-dye shirts, paintings, ceramics, plants, jewelry and glassware. If you are searching for gifts to bring home to your family, especially ones which represent Berkeley, then this section of Telegraph Avenue is the perfect place to look.
Have your fortune told
On certain days, you will find a few fortune tellers and Tarot card readers camped out in front of a small table. If they catch your fancy, you can sit and see what they say the future holds in store for you — especially helpful if you’re nervous about that upcoming test.
Go book hunting
Voted by Daily Cal readers as the best bookstore in Berkeley, Moe’s Books has four levels of books spanning many genres, some of which are rare and may not be found anywhere else. You could spend hours browsing and are sure to find great deals on their inventory of used items. Some street merchants also sell books, so keep an eye out for them as well.
Chat with the friendly vendors
When there’s slow foot traffic vendors are often grateful for conversation. Ask them about their work and what motivates them. They usually have interesting stories to tell and are happy to explain how they make their items.
Browse in music stores
Whether you are looking for music or want to check out the atmosphere of famous music stores, Rasputin and Amoeba are two Telegraph Avenue fixtures that will not disappoint. Rasputin is the largest independent chain of record stores in the San Francisco Bay Area. Take some time to browse the unusual store, which sells vinyl records, CDs and DVDs. Also check out Amoeba, which has been considered the best record store in America according to Rolling Stone magazine and boasts an inventory of more than 100,000 pieces of music.
After walking along the street, you are sure to work up an appetite. C.R.E.A.M. is a locally famous ice cream shop on the corner of Channing Way, where people often wait 30 minutes to get their ice cream sandwich fix — a must-try for anyone wanting to see if it lives up to the hype.
You can choose to sit at Pappy’s or Blondie’s Pizza, which both have seats facing windows onto the street, allowing you to gaze at the interesting fixtures and passers-by. If you’re lucky, you might catch the Bubble Man, who spends time in front of a large bucket creating giant bubbles that he enjoys blowing onto oncoming cars.
Contact Natalie Dardaine at [email protected].