Even though I lived in Berkeley an entire semester last year, it would take years of living here just to visit every neighbourhood, try every type of cuisine, and experience all the amazing arts and culture the city has to offer. Some of my favourite parts of Berkeley include all the fresh produce, organic food culture and farmers markets that allow you to buy locally. Berkeley Bowl and Berkeley’s Farmers Market (all organic on Thursdays on Shattuck @ Rose) are the best examples I can think of.
This time around, I discovered three little Berkeley gems I had never really heard of before, and definitely never been to. The first was Strawberry Canyon Pool, which sits behind UC Berkeley Campus a little up past the football stadium on the Berkeley Hills. Its an amazing 6 lane pool perfect for swimming laps, has a deep end section where you can just splash around if you prefer, and is exposed to direct sunlight with a green lawn to lay out and tan if you please. The best part is its surrounded by trees, free for Berkeley student, but still open to the general public for a few dollars.
If you keep going a little further up the Berkeley Hills, right behind campus is Tilden Regional Park, a huge, green, forested space with miles of trails, wild cougars, and a beautiful, swimmable lake. There are endless possibilities for hikes, picnic areas and even camping, and this all exists only minutes away (by bus, car, or even ambitious road bikers) from downtown Berkeley.
The last place I want to mention is certainly the most magical place, but one whose location I cant exactly give out. Among an in-group of Berkeley women, this place called the Essex Hot Tub exists, which is a private hot tub circa 112`F degrees in someones backyard. It sits in a secluded area sort of under the house, with a change room and shower built into the house, and opens to a backyard with lots of trees and lounging area (including a hammock) for you to sprawl out. The only unspoken rules are that since this is a place for rest and relaxation, no-one can talk, and even though its not a rule, almost everyone goes naked and men can only visit if escorted by a lady companion. Getting the code to the locked door into the yard is the only tricky part, but thanks to a tango dancing friend, I only had to figure out where it was and go.