A Weekend at UC Berkeley for Parents

Visiting 1960s Berkeley in 2021

By: Reyna Gobel

When I was a teenager, I dreamed of attending the University of California Berkeley. The dream came from watching “Family Ties” and wanting to have the 1960s activist experience. The fantasy was partly crushed by the fact I wanted to have a 1960s experience in the 1990s.  I also wanted to go to school closer to home. 

For parents of UC Berkeley or other Bay Area colleges with the nostalgia for old school Berkeley, no matter where they actually attended college, I compiled a list of ways to get that experience when visiting in this century. 

Take the Train from the Airport, Unless You Have a VW bus. 

The BART metro train system for the San Francisco area offers a train directly from the San Francisco airport to downtown Berkeley for just a few dollars. Once there, you can walk to the campus, coffee shops, etc. I wasn’t kidding about a VW bus. You can rent a modified one for dual use as a camper for between $129 and $179 per night. They’re very popular as a roaming hotel to national parks such as Joshua Tree.

Stay at The Hotel Shattuck Plaza

Located right next to the Downtown Berkeley train station, it’s incredibly convenient and you can stay true to being a modern environmentalist by walking everywhere. When you enter the lobby, there’s a giant peace sign. The hotel staff is very friendly and there are just two check-in podiums, so it feels much more personal than those long check-in counters. Next to one of the podiums is a free gumball machine and a mini kids check-in desk where kids or adults can color a page that’s mailed back home.

Shop at The Starving Musician.

Dream of being a musician in the 60’s or even now? Get anything from a cool guitar to a muppet drum in this music vintage shop. Then, play your instrument at a local park. Just don’t wake up early to shop there. It doesn’t open until 11am.

Eat at Berkeley Bowl

California has some of the freshest produce in the world. Choose from among 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables to take with you and sushi made daily with extremely fresh fish. It’s basically a cross between Whole Foods and a farmer’s market. 

Visit Telegraph Avenue

Telegraph Avenue is old school Berkeley. Start at Moe’s books to pick up a flyer for the free historic Berkeley walking tour, so you can walk along the same path as those who were part of the free speech movement.  Download the app and it will guide you to street vendors, free speech landmarks, and landmarks from where Japanese Americans were taken to internment camps in WWII. When you’re done with the tour, grab a loving cup of coffee at Romeo’s Coffee. Each cup comes with a free Hershey’s kiss.

You can never physically travel back in time, but you can follow the same footsteps.