Every new semester at UC Berkeley comes with its own itinerary of challenges and surprises — no matter how much of a doozy the school year may be, dead week is always around the corner every semester. Of course, dead week offers hope to catch up on your classes and promises a chance at better grades.
But you have a week off from school — do you really want to study? This is your chance to break out, explore that part of the city that you’ve always wondered about and truly relax. So take a look at these dead week day trips for a breath of fresh air before exam time sets in.
Garden of Eden, Santa Cruz County
Nothing will put you in a better mood than dipping your toes in the freezing currents of the San Lorenzo River. Garden of Eden is a famous swimming hole along the river, located in Santa Cruz County. It takes a pleasant hike through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to get to this swimming spot — just follow the railroad tracks, and you’ll get there. Garden of Eden is hugely popular over the summer, but if you want to immerse yourself in nature and get a splash of fresh water, this may be the trip for you.
It’ll definitely be a cold trip, so bundle up in layers and explore the area — if you get really chilly, you can grab a cup of hot chocolate at White Raven, a cozy coffee shop located just outside the park. The shop also is famous for its signature chai, so if you need an extra caffeine boost, that may be the move.
After hiking through the state park, Santa Cruz has a plethora of beaches for you to explore. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk will be a fun detour, with killer churros and fun roller coaster rides. But if you want a quiet peaceful beach, the neighboring Seabright State Beach is a better option. So if you need a place to be introspective, the ocean might just be the place for you.
Bridges Rock Gym, El Cerrito
If you need to blow off some steam or get those endorphins going, consider making a trip to Bridges, a climbing gym in El Cerrito. Just an 11-minute walk from the El Cerrito Plaza BART station, the gym offers a wide variety of climbing services. The gym offers students a discounted day pass for just $18.
With a few hours of climbing under your belt, you might find that you’re actually stronger and braver than you expected. Using your entire body to scale up a wall would get endorphins and adrenaline rushing in your body, propelling you back into studying for finals with energy and a positive attitude.
If you’re in the mood for Japanese food after climbing, Yaoya-San is about a 20-minute walk from Bridges. It is a famous Japanese market in El Cerrito, and reviews rave over the bento boxes, mochi ice cream and the produce. But if you find yourself in need for a bigger meal, you can walk down the street to Nation’s Giant Hamburgers for a hefty lunch. Its famous pies could induce you into the perfect food coma to settle into once you get back to Berkeley.
City Lights Booksellers and Publishers, San Francisco
There’s no better escape from Reading, Recitation and Review week than going to a bookstore. Specifically, go to City Lights Booksellers and Publishers located on the border of San Francisco’s Chinatown and Little Italy. Settled next to a mural-decorated Jack Kerouac alley,
the bookstore will draw you in with its spiral staircase into a basement full of books and with its diverse collection, which features a section called “Pedagogies of Resistance.” The independent bookstore represents the alternative and beatnik history in San Francisco and has stayed strong since it opened in 1953. So ditch your history class reader or your chemistry problem set for this calming yet thoughtful space.
The added perk of City Lights is the amazing assortment of food nearby. North Beach, the Little Italy of San Francisco, has the best pizza and pasta in town. If you’re up for a gimmicky experience, The Stinking Rose is the ideal lunch spot — the restaurant is famous for including garlic in every one of its dishes. The ambiance is characterized by fake medieval decorations, with the walls painted red and vampire faces popping up here and there. The rooms are decorated with a long string of garlic cloves looping around the ceiling, and customers are seated in booths that are closed off with curtains. A dish of pasta, some pizza and its famous garlic cloves soaked in oil will put you in the perfect mood to stroll to Washington Square Park down the street and read the books you bought from City Lights. Making a whole trip to read in a different environment can be the ultimate escape and the best way to look at the big picture, especially at a time when school gets you down on the details.