Off campus guide to San Francisco

October 12, 2017 / San Francisco

Classes are in full swing, and you’ve been hitting the books hard like the good student you are. But college just isn’t college if you don’t get out, explore, and experience. Now that you’re all settled in and have your bearings, it’s a good time to head out and see some sights when you have a little downtime. So close your books, grab your mates, and head off campus to one of these cool destinations for some much-needed R&R.

Study break spots in SF

1. Fourth Street Shops

Fourth Street is always a happening place, and its close proximity to Berkeley makes it convenient for a short (or long) study break. Here, you’ll find coffee shops and restaurants, galleries and studios, bookstores and electronics outlets, and clothing boutiques and shoe shops. Get a mani or pedi, pick up a bottle of vino for later, buy some cool stuff for your dorm or apartment, or just window shop while you hobnob with the people in your neighborhood.

Where: Fourth St, Berkeley

2. Golden Gate Fields

A day at the races is a fun way to blow off some steam and maybe even win a little money (or lose a little money, so don’t bet your tuition!). Golden Gate Fields is where it all goes down—the pounding of hooves, crackling anticipation in the air, the cheering, the drinks, the snacks, and the age-old traditions. Fall live racing starts October 19 and Dollar Day Sundays start October 22.

Where: 1100 Eastshore Hwy, Berkeley

3. University of California Botanical Gardens

If you’re looking for peace and tranquility after a wild weekend or a tough week, look no further than the lush, green spaces of the famous University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley. Whether you simply want to get lost in nature for a while, or you want to participate in programs like Wellness Wednesdays, featuring yoga and chai, you’ll come away from the gardens calmer and more focused than ever.

Where: 200 Centennial Dr, Berkeley

4. Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse

Established in 1986, Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse is a Berkeley institution, serving up the freshest craft brews in the Bay Area. The spacious, wood-paneled interior features cozy, high-back booths for intimate conversations and large tables for a big group hullaballoo. A small beer garden out back offers plenty of sunshine and fresh air to make your beverages that much better.

Where: 1920 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley

5. Temescal District

Head a couple of miles south of campus on Telegraph Avenue, and you’ll run right into the Temescal District. Here, you’ll bask in the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of this happening neighborhood. Shops, restaurants, bars, coffee houses, and other hangouts invite you in for some quality friend time. The District features a variety of festivals and other events throughout the year, including the year-round Sunday Farmer’s Market.

Where: 45th St and Telegraph Ave

6. The Big C

Your first hike to The Big C is a rite of passage, and subsequent visits are just as awe-inspiring, whether you walk there or challenge your roommate to a race up the hill. The Big C, a giant, concrete letter built into Charter Hill overlooking campus, is a whole lot bigger up close than it is from a distance. It’s also a great place to take your love interest for a picnic, wink wink.

Where: On Charter Hill, UC Berkeley Campus

7. Mission Peak Trail

Get your blood moving and clear a fuzzy head with a hike on the beautiful Mission Peak Trail, a 3-mile hike up to Mission Peak. Featuring shaded woodlands, open grasslands, and mind-boggling mountain views in all directions, the full hike takes about five hours. Go as far as you wish, or join an organized hike along the slopes, led by a bonafide naturalist.

Where: 43600 Mission Blvd, Fremont

8. Santana Row

Step off campus and into the heart of San Jose. Santana Row features over 50 shops, 30 restaurants, a movie theatre, and plenty of hotspots in which to carry out your nightlife shenanigans. Anything you need—and plenty of stuff you don’t need but really want—you’ll find along this flower-and-tree-lined stretch of downtown.

Where: 377 Santana Row, San Jose

9. The Dish

A shining jewel of Stanford, The Dish is a ginormous radio telescope that scans the heavens for signs of life and other physics-y things. The land surrounding this shining monument to human curiosity is a recreational area for hiking, jogging, and leisurely nature walks. The Stanford Dish Loop is a 3.7-mile trail lined with native grasses, wildflowers, and other plants. A daily walk around this baby, and you won’t have to worry about the dreaded Freshman 15.

Where: 400 Reservoir Rd, Stanford

10. University Ave

Head out Stanford’s front door and down Palm Drive, which turns into University Ave, and bam! there you are, in the very heart of this thriving college town, reveling in the diverse smorgasbord of fun and culture it offers. University Ave seems to go on forever, and so do the endless shops, bars, restaurants, theatres, and galleries lining this famous avenue. Some favorite student eats here include the crepes at Crepevine and the handmade ice cream cookie sandwiches at CREAM.

Where: University Ave, starting at Alma St

Hopefully, we’ve inspired you to get out and explore your city. We promise you’ll see incredible sights, eat delectable eats, and snap plenty of Instagram-worthy shots so all your friends back home can see how great you’ve got it.