College Avenue stretches from deep within Berkeley to Oakland, and along this bustling boulevard numerous restaurants, boutiques, cafes, and much more are waiting for your enjoyment. Near the Rockridge end of the street you will find many eclectic restaurants serving an enormous variety of cuisines, as well as other small boutique shops selling anything from yoga mats to antique brass bedposts. Near the University, College Avenue takes on a funkier spirit, and incense shops allure you with their intriguing scents. Shopping is a major attraction of this East Bay hot spot, yet there are not many chain stores. Rather, locals prefer to support local businesses instead of national chains. However certain stores, such as Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, and Hot Topic, can still be found conveniently nearby. Great for a Sunday walk where you can leisurely stroll down this beautiful avenue - stop and have a coffee at one of many cafes, or buy a unique present for a special someone!
This independent North Beach icon, founded by Beat writer-mentor Lawrence Ferlinghetti, goes beyond your average bookstore by shelving beat literature, anthologies, and fiction from Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and much more. Experience San Francisco through the words written by some of the area's most famous, and sometimes hard-to-find, writers. The store has its own publishing house, City Lights, which has enriched the San Francisco community since 1953 by promoting emerging writers with an edge.
Here book-lovers will find the romantic notion of shelves stacked up to the ceiling with books, so heavy they threaten to give way. The fading smell of bookbinding glue conjures images of ancient libraries. You could spend hours wandering the aisles like that kid in The Neverending Story. If you do not find what you are looking for, which is nearly impossible since Moe's has just about everything ever printed, you are sure to find something to appease you. For those looking for antique or rare books, check out the huge collection on the fourth floor.
No music lover's trip to San Francisco would be complete without a visit to this warehouse-sized music store. The Upper Haight store bustles with hundreds of shoppers flipping through vast selections of CDs, records, tapes, videos and posters. The deals on used and yellow tag (cosmetically damaged, functionally guaranteed) items are the best in the city, as is the selection of obscure and independent-label titles.
On sunny East Bay Saturdays, and even the cloudy ones, residents take a trip to this farmers' market, set in a charming part of downtown Oakland near Lake Merritt and the Grand Lake Theatre. It is an ongoing market and offers the chance to buy seasonal and organic produce, homemade baked goods, large farm eggs, and more. You will enjoy the opportunity of buying such items as fresh-cut sunflowers and ripe cherries direct from local growers. Admission is free. Some vendors may take credit cards.
High ceilings atop brick walls allow for tall bookcases filled with both new and used (80 percent new) selections. You will find everything from hardbacks to paper, from current bestsellers to the classics, all at your fingertips and all nicely spread out. After choosing a book, head for one of the comfortable couches in the back and peruse your selections by the fireplace. Weekly events include author readings and signings, and book groups and discussions.