Sought after for its high quality of life, spectacular views, steep winding streets, spacious parks and forested hilltop homes, the Berkeley Hills provide the very best of East Bay living. High above Berkeley, San Francisco, Marin, the Golden Gate and Bay bridges, we sometimes refer to it as "Valhalla," the mythological home of the Gods in the sky. When the fog rolls in below and the hills appear to float on a sea of clouds, the name seems especially fitting.
Homes in the Berkeley Hills are handsome but not overly pretentious. Leafy green hillsides are dotted with Craftsman bungalows and vertical renditions of suburban ranch homes on large, forested lots. The neighborhoods around Southampton Street are particularly rich in period revival architecture, with homes reminiscent of Italian villas, Spanish farmhouses, and Tudor manors happily standing side-by-side.
Although there are virtually no commercial areas in the Berkeley Hills, residents have the luxury of being in the midst of a haven of parks and recreational activities. Locals can often be found rock climbing at Indian Rock Park, strolling along Bernard Maybeck's fragrant Rose Walk, and picnicking or taking in a sunset performance at the Berkeley Rose Garden, considered by many to be the finest rose garden in Northern California. Other area favorites include the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens and the kid-pleasing Lawrence Hall of Science, an exciting science center where children can enjoy hands-on educational fun. And Tilden Park, with a wonderful Merry-go-round and steam train, is considered by many as the jewel of the East Bay. And it’s right in your own backyard.
LEARN MORE ABOUT BERKELEY HILLS:
Tilden Park - //www.ebparks.org/parks/tilden.
UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens - //botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu/.
Berkeley Rose Garden //www.berkeleyheritage.com/berkeley_landmarks/municipal-rose-garden.html.& //www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/contentdisplay.aspx?id=12048.
Lawrence Hall of Science - //lawrencehallofscience.org/.
Greek Theater - //www.apeconcerts.com/about_greek.cfm.
Neighborhood Associations in District 8 - //www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ContentDisplay.aspx?id=22010&portalID=58.
Berkeley Path Wanderers Association - //www.berkeleypaths.org/mapsandmore/map.htm.
Walking Berkeley - //walkingberkeley.wordpress.com/2006/06/14/berkeley-path-map/.
With unparalleled views of the San Francisco Bay and skyline, the Claremont/Uplands is the pinnacle of upscale California living. Nestled in beautifully wooded hills just 12 miles from San Francisco, this historic area is dotted with parks, broad medians filled with redwood trees, hidden pathways and winding walking paths.
Best known for the world-renown Claremont Resort & Spa, a former castle which opened in 1915 as a retreat for wealthy San Franciscans to escape from the fog for a day on the sunny side of the Bay, this area still caters to those seeking the best in life. Two upscale retail shopping areas serve local residents with specialty stores like Rick and Ann's, Red Wagon, Bread Garden Bakery, Jutta's Flowers, Afikomen Jewish Books, and The Craftsman Home, where many of our home buyers find authentic oak and craftsman furniture to decorate their new homes.
The celebrated homes and mansions of Claremont/Uplands include a range of architectural styles including English and shingled cottages, Prairie spreads. Custom-designed residences are equally as popular, with numerous contemporary dwellings and magnificent Italian and Spanish period revivals to choose from. The stately residences are often accompanied by wonderfully manicured gardens, adding even more allure to this picturesque area.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CLAREMONT/UPLANDS
Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association - //www.claremontelmwood.org.///www.claremontresort.com
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Elmwood developed just before the turn-of-the-19th-century as a fashionable suburb for San Franciscans. A few Victorians were erected before 1900, but the real boom came a few years later when a mixture of bungalows, shingled boxes, and period revival homes filled the neighborhood's quiet tree-lined streets. Some of the most sought-after homes today are the stately shingled homes inspired by west coast arts & crafts architects Greene and Greene and Bernard Maybeck.
College Avenue, Elmwood's main shopping street, is home to a select offering of unique shops and restaurants. Some favorites include the recently refurbished Elmwood Theater, Nabalom Bakery, La Mediterranee, Ici Ice Cream, Sweet Dreams Candy & Gift Shop, Espresso Roma and Jeremy's.
Gourmet Ghetto/North Campus
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SFgate.com on Gourmet Ghetto - //www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/eb/gourmetghetto/.
In the wake of the 1950s - with its tv TV dinners and Jello molds - an idea was born. What if we celebrated food by using the best local ingredients we can find? From this sprung a food revolution; in 1971 Chez Panisse opened and the original Gourmet Ghetto of Berkeley was born.
The area runs down Shattuck Avenue, bordered by Rose Street to the north and Hearst to the south. Trees line the street, encouraging you to linger and take in all there is to see of one of the Bay Area's finest neighborhoods.
An amusement park for your palate, the Gourmet Ghetto offers the best of the best. If you have ever been even remotely curious about cheese visit the Cheese Board Collective (and don't forget to pick up a Cheese Board pizza while you're at it). If you're hungry for philosophy grab a cappuccino and some conversation at the French Hotel Cafe, and absolutely find a reason to treat yourself to some the marvelous takeout bistro offerings at Gregoire. But, lest you assume this area is entirely consumed with filling its belly, the vibrant Shattuck Avenue is filled with a fabulous Art & Crafts Cooperative, wine tastings, art exhibits, a sidewalk music series and festivals every summer and fall. It is also home to the original Peet's Coffee and the Berkeley Art Center.
This is a place defined by the notion that eating is not merely about survival. It is a fete of life.
N. Shattuck Association Berkeley - //www.gourmetghetto.org
The Ashby BART station makes getting around the Bay Area a breeze and hosts an ongoing flea market on the weekends. Soon it will also become home to the new Ed Roberts Campus, a collection of agencies and nonprofits serving the disabled community. Berkeley is the birthplace of strong advocacy for the disabled.
An expressive community, South Berkeley has many creative outlets, including the inspired art galleries of the Ashby Arts District, the Shotgun Players, a critically acclaimed theater group, and the Black Repertory Theatre.
The Spiral Gardens community food project, Sunday brunches at the Thai Temple, and an impressive Tool Lending Library are all evidence of South Berkeley's actively involved population. With its community dialogue (www.imagine-sb.net) in place, this is an area ready to be molded into where you want to live.
Overlooking the sparkling waters of the San Francisco Bay and snugly nestled in the Berkeley foothills, Northbrae is sheltered and protected from the heat of summer and the chill of winter. Designed as one of the first planned residential parks, we love Northbrae for its broad, curving roads, five rock gardens, pink sidewalks, panoramic vistas, lush foliage, and street names elegantly carved in stone pillars.
Northbrae's original developer, Duncan McDuffie, was a member of the Sierra Club who promoted environmentally sensitive development and made sure that the natural landscape worked in harmony with the surroundings. Streets are laid out in graceful curves along the contours of the hills, in a general northerly and southerly direction, thus giving every house an unbroken view of the Bay on one side and the Berkeley Hills on the other. Today, these homes still consist of variations on the Craftsman bungalows and period revival homes.
Northbrae has a number of its own and nearby gems including Indian Rock park, Cedar Rose Park, Arthur Putnam's four sculptured bears in the Arlington Circle fountain, and the beautiful Peralta community garden where families can be found picnicking on the benches around its lovely pond. Residents also enjoy public tennis courts, play areas, a swimming pool and a track as well as and finally a well-stocked branch library housed in a lovely Julia Morgan building. There is also a plethora of interesting shops and restaurants nearby.
LEARN MORE ABOUT NORTHBRAE:
SFgate.com on Northbrae & Westbrae - //www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/eb/westbrae/
Indian Rock Park - //www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ContentDisplay.aspx?id=12614
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In Berkeley's northwest corner is Oceanview, a neighborhood once considered to be the city's frontier. It has since become an exciting mix of reinvestment, renovation and retail.
The neighborhood's historic character is evident in its architectural legacy. South of Cedar, early Victorians and Neo-Colonial houses proliferate among newer Craftsman bungalows and shingled cottages of the 1910s, '20s, and '30s. North of Cedar, the housing stock consists mostly of pre-war bungalows mixed with small cottages of the 1940s and '50s.
Oceanview's attractively landscaped Fourth Street has become one of the East Bay's most successful new commercial areas with dozens of innovative boutiques, upscale shops and interesting cuisine. A popular gathering place for friends and families, this intimate tree-lined avenue resembles an open-air promenade popular with locals and visitors alike. We especially like all the East Bay's best congregation of home décor stores and a visit to Betty’s Oceanview Diner is an absolute must. On just about any day you can tolerate the wait in line with a nearby Peet's coffee and some live music.
Oceanview is also home to a quaint park and the Berkeley Marina lies just a stone's throw away, as are all of the major Bay Area freeways.
LEARN MORE ABOUT OCEANVIEW/FOURTH STREET:
Best of Fourth Street
Shop on Fourth -//www.fourthstreet.com/shops.html
SFgate.com on Fourth Street - //www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/eb/fourthst/
Café Fanny (San Pablo & Cedar)- //www.cafefanny.com/
Pictures of the beautiful homes on Delaware- //berkeleyheritage.com/berkeley_landmarks/bowen_inn.html
Berkeley Marina (//www.cityofberkeley.info/marina/)
Home of the Berkeley Kite Festival //www.highlinekites.com/Berkeley_Kite_Festival/
Named "Berkeley's Most Romantic Neighborhood" by the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, we think Panoramic Hill is well deserving of this accolade. Surrounded on three sides by rustic canyons, hiking trails, ridges and open land, the Hill offers a rare combination of natural beauty, spectacular vistas, environmentally sensitive development, and convenience to the University and downtown Berkeley.
Tucked away in on the wooded slopes southeast of the University, this remote, unspoiled enclave is dotted with one-of-a-kind "vernacular" homes which have been designed to offer glimpses of natural beauty and rustic architecture while complementing their hilly, irregular lots. Crafted of natural materials and built in subtle harmony amidst these natural settings, Panoramic Hill features no less than eleven homes listed in the State Historic Resources Inventory, including homes designed by Julia Morgan and Walter Steilberg. Some of the most sought-after homes are the simple brown-shingled cottages and bungalows by famed California architect Bernard Maybeck. Creativity continues to flourish on the Hill with a number of unusual contemporary homes including a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house and a recent renovation by California architect Mark Mack designed to take advantage of the many commanding views from the Hill.
Most of the homes on the Hill are within walking distance to the open spaces of Strawberry and Claremont Canyons.
LEARN MORE ABOUT PANORAMIC HILL:
Panoramic Hill Association - //panoramichill.org./
Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association - //www.berkeleyheritage.com./
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Thousand Oaks is an idyllic Berkeley suburb in an inspiring natural setting. The original town planners worked with the existing environment to beautify the homes while acheiving a natural balance. Roads decorated with lush plantings and colorful flowers wind around large granite boulders and tree groves while following the contours of hills. Complete with sweeping views of the Bay, this rustic retreat of a neighborhood maintains a breathtaking simplicity treasured by those who call it home.
Early on, Craftsman bungalows and shingled lodges were sprinkled throughout the community. Later, between 1910 and 1940, Thousand Oaks saw period revivals in Spanish, Tudor, and French Provincial styles. Mature oak trees, landscaped walking paths, a delightful spring, and bucolic parks now surround these magnificent homes.
The area's shopping district is along Solano Avenue, a charming, tree-lined boulevard of locally owned shops and restaurants. Residents enjoy an array of dining options including Nepalese, Tibetan, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Italian, and California cuisine. For grocery expeditions that can occasionally turn into a fun adventure, we favor the small family-owned groceries that specialize in Italian, Middle Eastern, or Asian foods.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THOUSAND OAKS:
Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association - //www.tona.org/
UC / Southside
Just south of the UC Berkeley campus lies the neighborhood known as Southside or South Campus. This is a bustling, student-oriented area that wins our vote for the most colorful and vibrant neighborhood in the East Bay. Students, homeowners and curious tourists happily meander through the endless cafes, eclectic bookstores, record shops, and ethnic restaurants lining busy Telegraph Avenue. This bustle of energy is reflective of the Southside’s young population.
Southside is the proud home of works by Berkeley's first planners and architects. Julia Morgan, Bernard Maybeck, and other virtuoso architects designed many of the buildings, and Frederick Law Olmsted (designer of Central Park and Golden Gate Park) had a hand in planning the leafy residential streets southeast of campus. Their influences can be seen on the dense, tree-lined side streets where homes include restored Victorians, Neo-Colonial boxes, vernacular-style bungalows, and shingled cottages. Many of these homes feature separate, self-contained "in-law" units, which provide additional income for homeowners who wish to rent them to students.
For an interesting exploration of the neighborhood, check out Bancroft Way, which intersects Telegraph Avenue and runs along the southern boundary of campus. Sidewalks here are lined with stores and coffee houses frequented by students living in the residential areas above campus. The area is also home to the infamous "People's Park" and any afternoon spent exploring this area is sure to evoke the nostalgia of the 1960's and 70's that put Berkeley on the map, worldwide.
LEARN MORE ABOUT UC / SOUTHSIDE:
SFgate.com on Telegraph Avenue - //www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/eb/telegraph/
SFgate.com on UC Berkeley - //www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/eb/ucberkeley/ Walking Berkeley - //walkingberkeley.wordpress.com/category/neighborhoods-campus/
For those looking for affordable housing in a vibrant, working class neighborhood, we think West Berkeley is an excellent value, This placid, diverse, and quirky neighborhood is interspersed with up-and-coming shopping districts and ethnic restaurants.
West Berkeley neighborhoods are dotted with modest single-family homes and even a few Victorian farmhouses, which were the area's original dwellings. Whether you want to tackle a fixer-upper, or purchase a smaller home that's already been expertly remodeled, West Berkeley is a great place to start.
Natural parklands are interspersed within the neighborhood, with four grassy parks, playgrounds, and countless places for bike riding, jogging, walking and strolling. Best of all, this neighborhood is walking distance to the shores of the Berkeley Marina, where locals enjoy windsurfing, kayaking, fishing and simply enjoying the beautiful scenery along the water's edge. And Aquatic Park is popular with dogs and people alike for their scenic vistas, picnic tables and Frisbee golf course.
LEARN MORE ABOUT WEST BERKELEY:
SFgate.com on the San Pablo Corridor - //www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/eb/sanpablo/
West Berkeley Shuttle - //www.westberkeleyshuttle.com/
One of Berkeley's most affordable communities, Westbrae is an older Berkeley neighborhood full of character, cultural diversity, and residential tranquility. Gorgeous community gardens, a spacious park, playgrounds and a soccer field make it an ideal place to raise a family.
Westbrae's tree-lined streets are attractive and well kept. Homebuyers have their choice of Craftsman bungalows, Spanish-Revival cottages, and post-war suburban-style homes as well as a few remaining early Victorians and farmhouses from when the town was first settled.
The jewel of Westbrae is the three-acre Cedar-Rose Park, a grassy expanse featuring two fenced children's playgrounds, picnic areas and public tennis courts. A jogging track, pool, and more are also open to the public at the local middle school. For shopping, Gilman Avenue is the spot. Some of our favorite places are Boogie Woogie Bagel Boy, Berkeley Natural Grocery, Mama Lan's Vietnamese Restaurant, Coffee Conscious, and New Leaf Garden Gallery, which specializes in garden fountains and sculptures.
LEARN MORE ABOUT WESTBRAE:
SFgate.com on Northbrae & Westbrae - //www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/eb/westbrae./
Internationally known for its cultural diversity, environmental sensitivity, and dynamic academic life, the leafy university town of Berkeley is a model California city that its residents are proud to call home. Urban culture and the arts, innovative shops, and gourmet restaurants here beautifully co-exist with charming homes, tree-lined neighborhoods, winding streets, lush parks, fragrant gardens and attractive walking paths.
With so much character and flavor, Berkeley's many distinct neighborhoods offer something for everyone, as does its range of architectural styles. Homebuyers can choose from stunning homes high in the hills, charming Victorians, Craftsman bungalows, stately older homes, wooded hillside retreats, and magnificent period revival homes. Many Berkeley homes are notable for their singular architectural styles, some of which were designed by famed architects Bernard Maybeck, John Hudson Thomas and Julia Morgan.
In addition to the close proximity to the prestigious University of California, Berkeley residents also enjoy convenient freeway access to San Francisco, Oakland, and the Silicon Valley. And, just minutes away, Tilden Regional Park is comprised of 2,065 acres of open meadows and forests with spectacular views of the Bay Area. Within its boundaries are miles of splendid hiking and biking trails, a botanic garden, picnic areas, an 18-hole golf course, and a lake for swimming. Families especially enjoy the historic carousel, petting zoo, steam train, pony rides, and environmental education center.
I call Berkeley home and, once you taste it for yourself, you might want to as well.
LEARN MORE ABOUT BERKELEY:
Berkeley Official Website - //www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/
"The Berkeley Voice" online - //www.insidebayarea.com/berkeley
Berkeley Unified School District - //www.berkeley.k12.ca.us/
Bay Area Private Schools - //www.baprivateschools.com/
Berkeley Parents Network - //parents.berkeley.edu/
Berkeley Convention and Visitors Bureau - //visitberkeley.com/
Tilden Park - //www.ebparks.org/parks/tilden
Berkeley Parks - //www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/DepartmentHome.aspx?id=8506
UC Berkeley - //berkeley.edu/
Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association - //www.berkeleyheritage.com/
Berkeley Path Wanderers Association - //www.berkeleypaths.org/mapsandmore/map.htm