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!
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.
Shopping here is rather like slipping through Lewis Carroll's looking glass. Dried flowers, French silk ribbons, antique figurines of saints, earrings, odd-shaped vases and an ever-changing selection of curios await you in a carefully arranged jumble. The net effect is rather surreal and, on the whole, pleasant. You will feel as if you have slipped out of the hurry-scurry 21st century and into a dreamy past of perfect gifts.
In an area known for wineries and wine bars, Solano Cellars is a mecca for Bay Area oenophiles who sit at the imposing wood bar and sample a dazzling array of wines from around the world. A staff of refreshingly unpretentious wine experts can guide you through the selection and help you find just the vintage you were looking for. The shop attached is tiny, but what they do not have on display can be fetched from the seemingly bottomless wine cellar. To enhance the wine, an ever-changing appetizer and dessert menu, designed with wine in mind, is offered. There is a strict prohibition on cell phones.
On the eastern edge of Berkeley, nestled at the foothills, you will find this small shopping and restaurant area centered near the intersection of College Avenue and Ashby. Somewhat of a younger sibling to the Rockridge Shopping District a few blocks to the south, and seemingly a village to the castle of the Claremont Hotel that looms above, Elmwood features everything you need for a relaxing day of strolling and shopping. Begin your day over coffee and pastries at the famous Espresso Roma with a thriving student and artist clientele. Find several quaint shops and romantic restaurants around, like Shen Hua, which features the best in Chinese food and family dining.
Mars is repeatedly voted the best vintage clothing store in the East Bay by local newspapers and it is one of the best sources for fun and unusual retro garb. It has two stories filled with hip basics, shoes, glamorous accessories and clothing from a variety of time periods ranging from the Renaissance to the awesome 80s. Stock up on zoot suits, bell-bottoms, worn Levi's, leather coats and poodle skirts. It also specializes in a lot of theme attire for the seasons. Find costumes around Halloween, luau-worthy Hawaiian shirts for summer and fabulous faux and vintage fur coats for winter.
Rafael's boutique suits the sophisticated and well-dressed woman in fine formal, professional, and casual clothing. Shoppers will find a plethora of handsome suits, hand-woven jackets, and velvet brocade shrugs. Customer service is the key at this boutique, so let a friendly wardrobe coordinator help you pick out an outfit for a night in town, or a casual stroll through the streets of San Francisco.
Atys does not carry an abundance of products, but what they sell is chosen with care. It specializes in objects by contemporary artists and designers, such as Alessi, Fresh, Junghans, Project, Troika, M & Co., St. Moritz, and Ventura. Discover great things to give as gifts or to update your own home decor. Beautiful watches, handbags, wallets and a variety of gift items are also on display. Located in Cow Hollow, it is tucked away in a charming courtyard on Union Street. Visit website for more information.
This small neighborhood bookstore specializes in titles in Slavic languages. You will find a selective range of new and used titles in Russian and in English translation. Featuring titles in literature, mystery, politics, reference, history, and more, it also offers a number of vintage art prints. One of the only Slavic bookstores in the city, it is located in the Richmond District, where a lot of the local Russian immigrant community resides. Check website for details.
For more than 75 years, Cresalia Jewelers, the family-run jeweler has been supplying Downtown with high-quality original, custom, and estate jewelry at affordable prices. A loose diamond and precious gem importer, it sells pieces that have been selected with care. The store also buys and sells estate silver, crystal, and pewter items such as tableware, business card holders, cigar cutters, vases, letter openers, and music boxes. The store offers an array of services like jewelry and watch repair, custom design, ring sizing, and appraisals.
The silver collection at this gallery includes everything from tiny mustard spoons to an English soup terrine, from ornate candelabras a la Beauty and the Beast, to stylish clean lines of a knife-rest, you will find the handiest little mealtime accessories to outshine any sunny day. The owner's personal favorite is a child's gold plated rattle, with a whistle at one end and a smooth pink stick of cool coral at the other for teething, it reputedly fends off colic at a reasonable price! Whether you want classic silverware or a South American Ybarra lion that pours tea from it's scratchy toothed silver spout, the selection here will truly dazzle you.