How to make the most of your free time this summer

Sam Albillo/Staff

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It’s unlikely that you’re devoid of plans for this summer — maybe you’ve got a job, you’re conducting research, you’re traveling or you’re taking a class. But chances are, you’ve got a hell of a lot more free time than you do during the school year. Somebody wise would tell you to spend that time getting ahead for next year, maybe by studying for the GRE or looking over material for an upcoming course.

But there’s nobody wise here.

If you’re in Berkeley this summer, it’s time to take advantage of everything the Bay Area has to offer. Before the fall semester kicks in this August, seize the opportunity to invest in yourself and make some memories — what else is summer for?

 

Take advantage of festivals and events

Berkeley and San Francisco both sport a number of exciting festivals that are free and open to the public this summer. On June 16, the Juneteenth Festival will arrive in Berkeley’s Alcatraz-Adeline corridor. Juneteenth — which honors Black culture on the anniversary of the day news reached Galveston, Texas, that slavery had been abolished in the United States — will be celebrated with live music, vendors and activities for children. The following month, on July 6 and 7, visit Fillmore Street between Jackson and Eddy streets to attend the Fillmore Jazz Festival. Jazz artists will line the streets in between the stages, and with every few steps, you’ll hear a different tune.

In addition to free festivals, it’s also worth checking out events like Oakland First Fridays, which (as you may have guessed) happen on the first Friday of every month. Take BART to the 19th Street Oakland station and stroll among the food trucks until you’re stopped by an irresistible smell. While you’re there, you can pick up a new dress, an interesting painting or a cute succulent from one of the local vendors.

 

Engage with art

No matter your budget or your taste, there’s exciting entertainment worth checking out this summer. Whether it’s catching the latest releases at United Artists Berkeley 7 — look out for “Men in Black: International,” “Toy Story 4,” “Midsommar,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” — or dropping by the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive to view the latest exhibit, summer is a great time to connect with your artsier side. If you’re willing to trek to San Francisco for some fine art, entry to the Legion of Honor will be free this Saturday. And to get your theater and literature fix all at once, you can attend a performance of “The Year of Magical Thinking” at the Aurora Theatre Company later this month. The play is an adaptation of the Joan Didion memoir.

There are also bigger-ticket items that will be well worth the splurge: Clusterfest is returning for the third year in a row to San Francisco, and this year’s lineup — including Amy Poehler, John Mulaney, the Roots, Leslie Jones and dozens more — is by far the most impressive to date.

 

Teach yourself to cook (or mix drinks!)

Don’t worry, we get it — shelling out money for tickets and transportation isn’t always ideal. Summer is also a great time to save money! For many Berkeley students, dining out is probably a major expense during the school year; it’s quicker and more efficient, and it tastes amazing. This summer, why not set yourself up for good school year habits by teaching yourself to make some of your favorite dishes from the comfort of your own home? You can even invite friends over and cook together for a cost-friendly, super fun night in.

To go the extra mile, teach yourself to prepare some of those $12 cocktails you’ve seen on menus when you go out for a night with your pals. Mint mojitos, Long Island iced teas, martinis and margaritas are all doable for a budding mixologist — and as a bonus, you’ll suddenly be the coolest person in your social circle.

 

Go on weekend road trips

When it comes to weekend getaways, you don’t get more centrally located than the Bay Area. Lake Tahoe, Monterey, Carmel and Santa Cruz are all less than four hours away. Although the drive is longer, trips to Portland or Southern California don’t need to be out of the question either. Grab some friends, split an Airbnb (or a tent, if you like camping) and hit the road.

 

After two long semesters of cloudy skies and stressful studying sessions, you deserve to go on some adventures in the sunshine, or to stay home and do something just for yourself. And don’t wait — August will be here before you know it!

Contact Shannon O’Hara at [email protected].