Best movie theater: Landmark Theatres Shattuck Cinemas
Each movie theater in Berkeley has a distinct character. One is attached to a museum; another is a quaint Elmwood establishment; one more is perhaps the closest thing Berkeley has to a multiplex. These are all charming, but they are all outdone by Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas, an always-endearing mainstay of this list.
Landmark’s Shattuck is one of those theaters with a quintessential entrance — all warm, glowing bulbs and a marquee brimming with releases of all sizes. It programs indie fare and box office hits alike. Some releases might trickle into its screening rooms slower than others, but they get there more often than not.
It’s a theater with plenty of heart for its releases and its audiences. It feels both big and small; its cozy main hall gives way to theaters lined with faux-Egyptian decor — and, if you’ve chosen well, one that might be playing a new favorite.
— Dominic Marziali
Best tattoo parlor: Industrial Tattoo & Piercing
Whether you’ve always envisioned your dream tattoo or impulsively want to make a permanent change to your body, Industrial Tattoo & Piercing in Berkeley can satisfy your needs. Established in 1996 and located just a few blocks away from campus right off of Telegraph Avenue on Dwight Way, Industrial represents an integral part of the Berkeley community. With its serene, cobalt-blue walls and various plants scattered among the backdrop noise of a fountain, the shop ensures customers feel at ease throughout their respective services.
Unlike other tattoo parlors around the city, Industrial offers both tattoos and piercings, with services for the former starting at $120 per the shop minimum. However, if you’re looking to get a bigger, more detailed piece, you can directly contact the shop’s three different tattoo artists, all of whom have hourly rates that range from $150-$200. And if you’re interested in a different kind of permanent ink, cosmetic tattoo artist Plume Brows also works right out of the Industrial shop. For people looking to make a tangible, permanent change, Industrial is the dream destination.
— Stella Kotik
Best place to get Cal gear: Cal Student Store
Opening your acceptance letter, you shout with delight, knowing where you are going to spend the next four years. But where should you go to show your passion for UC Berkeley?
The Cal Student Store offers the best selection of Berkeley gear, including articles of clothing, mugs and even cute onesies for newborn Golden Bears. With high-quality clothing and a prime location on Upper Sproul, there is not a single more convenient store in Berkeley to highlight your love for Cal.
Additionally, the broad selection in every category of souvenir appeals to all shoppers. Whether you’re a chemist or a squirrel enthusiast, there is certainly something for you. Students can even pick up their textbooks at the same time they are perusing the store for a new Cal sweatshirt.
So the next time you pass by Upper Sproul, swing by the Cal Student Store and find a new way to flaunt your Golden Bear pride!
— Sejal Krishnan
Best bookstore: Moe’s Books
I lost my roommate while browsing at Moe’s Books once. That’s because Moe’s Books is a behemoth of a bookstore in Berkeley, towering over Telegraph Avenue with its four-story facade.
A bookstore so large that a map inside directs customers where to find items, it is a place that fulfills any and all book-related dreams. Whether you’re interested in classic literature or are staunchly opposed to untouched, fresh-off-the-press books, Moe’s has infinite walls of used books. College students can justify spending money on these paperbacks, as they range in price from about $3 to $9 dollars.
If used classics aren’t your thing, you can relish in pristine new copies of every book you could imagine. Don’t read? Moe’s still has something for you — a treasure trove of posters, tote bags, postcards and other trinkets are located on the bottom level.
Moe’s Books has it all, satisfying book lovers and bright-eyed shoppers alike.
— Lydia Sidhom
Best playhouse: Berkeley Playhouse
Theaters are hot spots for passion, and Berkeley Playhouse is thriving with particularly potent vigor. Though local theaters face their share of hurdles in normal circumstances, the COVID-19 pandemic has been an immensely difficult obstacle to overcome. As Berkeley Playhouse makes its return to live theater, the company has proved that it has lost no momentum through these challenging times.
Berkeley Playhouse kicked off its season with “Into the Woods,” a glowing success that excelled in every aspect of production. The playhouse and its shows shine in high quality. The humble theater may not be the grandest or fanciest, but the cozy space has bloomed with a lot of love from the community, cultivating and enriching the collective love for theater and art.
Prepare to be swept off of your feet by outstanding performances by talented, dedicated and local creatives. Revel in the magic of storytelling in the theater’s thoroughly inspiring environment. Just blocks away from campus and a repertoire of fun favorites, discover or rekindle your appreciation of drama at our sensational Berkeley Playhouse.
— Joy Diamond
Best thrift store: Out of the Closet
Need a blazer for your next interview? A last-minute Halloween costume? Looking to expand your fashion horizons without breaking the bank? Out of the Closet has got you covered.
Located on University Avenue, the vibrant pink and teal exterior of Out of the Closet is hard to miss. The rainbow racks of curated closet essentials ranging from $7-$15 provide shoppers with an abundance of items to choose from. You’ll find Out of the Closet to be a breath of fresh air in the world of thrifting. Gone are the days of mysterious stains on Goodwill donations and $30 tees at second hand chains — Out of the Closet offers a multicolored myriad of quality donations to supplement your home and wardrobe.
As a nonprofit founded to help fund AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s services, Out of the Closet donates 96 cents of every dollar made to HIV care and prevention. The thrift store’s commitment to upholding advocacy and access to not-for-profit medicine is demonstrated through its affordability and valued employees.
Out of the Closet is both wonderfully eclectic and affordable — and who wouldn’t want to support a good cause?
— Maya Banuelos
Best place to hike: Berkeley Fire Trails
Don’t say you’ve visited Berkeley if you haven’t hiked the Fire Trails, where you can find tranquility amid troubling times and witness the best views in Berkeley.
Starting at California Memorial Stadium, you will pass by campus buildings, dorms and houses before entering a peaceful world. Close your eyes, and you’ll hear Strawberry Creek flowing toward campus. Though the hike is a bit meandering, soon you will reach the Berkeley Overlook Vista Point, complete with a stunning view of the Campanile, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and, if you’re lucky, the San Francisco skyline. As you continue the hike, the trail might become less shady and steep, but you won’t regret it once you reach Grizzly Peak — an outlook where you can enjoy the view of the city of Berkeley while the sky turns orange.
When you are feeling a little blue, go directly to the Fire Trails to enjoy gorgeous views and fresh air: We all need it at some point.
— Winnie Lau
Best place to take on a date: Berkeley Rose Garden
Spring is in full bloom: The sun’s beaming brighter, and flowers are revealing themselves once more, and lucky for us Bay Area residents, the Berkeley Rose Garden takes “stop and smell the roses” to a whole new level. Conveniently located north of campus on Euclid Avenue, the place seems tailored just for lovebirds.
With more than 100 varieties of roses spanning across 3 acres of land, this garden is destined to leave an impression on all of your senses and not just your nose. The terraced, amphitheater-esque architecture frames a picture perfect sunset with its panoramic view of the city. Glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge and rows of roses paired with lovely company call for an afternoon well spent, and to make things even better, entrance is free.
The Berkeley Rose Garden proves to be more than just a garden, with its four tennis courts, a redwood pergola, picnic tables, hiking trails and more. Take a trip soon while the blooming of colorful roses are still in season!
— Anyssa Torres
Best local artist: Wilma Marianne Wyss
By taking what’s been broken and putting the pieces back together, compassion feels fundamental to the mosaic as a medium. The eyes of an artist, kind and keen, see value latent in shattered glass and debris. Wilma Wyss, a Bay-Area-based mosaicist, imbues her artistry with a similar kindheartedness. Tile and glass lose their jagged edges, softened by Wyss’ gentle geometric reposition.
Though she also creates art for private spaces, Wyss’ pieces bloom in the outdoors. The artist frequently works off of natural and ecological motifs to bring joy to public spaces. She is unafraid of bold colors and unique shapes. Her art, playful and lighthearted, feels divorced from ego, engaging the community with installations that can be found in parks peppered around the Bay.
— Maya Thompson