Along the bright and bustling west side of Berkeley
lies the small neighborhood of Aquatic Park.
Two miles from downtown Berkeley and 12 miles from downtown San Francisco, this community along the waterfront is enjoying a renaissance as developers and residents renovate the historic buildings for modern tastes.
Based around the 70-acre park that gives the neighborhood its name, Aquatic Park nestles just south of the Berkeley Marina.
Today it has a blend of housing, long-established stores and new restaurants.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Within just a few close blocks of Aquatic Park, you'll find everything from world-class restaurants to casual hang-outs for students and locals.
Browse the selection of whiskeys or grab yourself a can of Pabst at Acme Bar & Company. Everything in this modern dive bar has been carefully chosen with impeccable taste, from the jukebox playlists to the pinball machines.
Looking for cheap beer and some of the best DJs in town? You'll find that and more on the patio at the Missouri Lounge. Popular with the college kids and young adults, chill and meet a new friend over the pool table.
For date nights or casual dinners with friends, head over to Paisan Berkeley wood-fired pizzas and classic Italian dishes, served with generous pours of wine, beer, or cocktails. Or head over by yourself for a Sunday brunch of eggs atop polenta while you check your email with the free Wi-Fi.
Or enjoy fresh, healthy fare for breakfast or lunch served all day at the Tomate Cafe. This is the place to go for organic, vegan, vegetarian, and more. The meat eaters come for the applewood smoked bacon and the huevos rancheros, and the vegetarians go for the tofu scramble and grilled herbivore sandwich.
History & Culture
The city of Berkeley in large part grew up around the University of California that was founded in 1868. At first a sleepy little town, the population exploded after the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, which left San Francisco devastated and Berkeley almost untouched.
With World War II, another wave of residents arrived to work in the shipyards. Civil rights advocates and political liberals found the city a connecting point and an energetic hub during the chaotic days of the '60s and '70s.
Today Berkeley still prides itself on being a forward thinking city with progressive policies and free thinking citizens. Aquatic Park is a highly desirable neighborhood thanks to its proximity to the water and its relatively affordable prices. Arts and culture are hugely important here: You'll find dozens of independent artists, studios, and classes within these few small blocks.
Thanks to its proximity to the city, Berkeley residents enjoy multiple transportation options every day. Many people own vehicles but use it mostly for out-of-city trips as parking within the Aquatic Park neighborhood tends to be difficult.
For local travel, most people choose to get around on foot or on bike. If you like biking, you can enjoy dedicated lanes and bike friendly roads in an area that supports bicycling as an eco-friendly and heart-healthy option.
You also have plenty of public transportation to choose from. Grab a bus to anywhere with Alameda or Contra Costa county through the AC
Transit System, or head just a mile west to the North Berkeley
BART Station for access to the entire Bay Area. UC Berkeley
students, employees, and guests can ride the free Bear shuttle around campus and to nearby stops. Car sharing and ride sharing is particularly popular thanks to support from the city.
The Aquatic Park area of Berkeley offers residents surprisingly affordable living. A one-bedroom apartment usually goes for around $1,800 to $2,000. For the San Francisco Bay Area — one of the most expensive cities in the nation — that's pretty good. Because of the high number of students and artists in the area, drinks tend to be pretty cheap, though a meal in this foodie-intensive market will cost you a bit more. Expect to pay $5 for a beer on a regular night but $7 for a sandwich. In Berkeley, getting around on foot or on a free shuttle is the way to go as much as possible. Getting to the city on public transportation will cost you $3.90 on BART or $5 for an all-day bus pass. If you do own a car, gas runs around 22 percent higher than the national average.
If you love organic produce and vegan and vegetarian options, Aquatic Park is your paradise. Choose from a range of co-op and independent stores to stock your fridge and pantry. Locals love Berkeley Bowl, where you'll find fresh fruits, veggies, meats, and fish right from the Bay. You can also find upscale ethnic markets of all kinds, including Mi Tierra for Hispanic groceries, Scandinavian delicacies at Nordic House, and Indian foods at Vik's Market.
You can spend hours exploring the various shops, studios, and stores along the waterfront or on Highway 134.
Get your bike fixed or your fixie back on its wheels with service from Street Level Cycles. This independent bike shop right on the water embraces the do-it-yourself spirit of Berkeley by providing studio space and expert support for bike owners and local youths to repair their own bikes, as well as putting used bikes and new accessories up for sale to support their programming.
Find something beautiful and one of a kind at the Berkeley Artisans studio, open on the weekends for tours and direct sales.The Ecology Center is terrific not only for eco-friendly gifts and goods, but for a connection to local environmental events and causes.
Aquatic Park is in no small part defined by the mile-long man made lagoon and the surrounding park that gives the area its name.
Get your exercise
on the bike and walking trail that surrounds the lake and goes all the way up to the Marina. Or take your kayak, canoe, or even your water skis out on the water. Kids love the castles and walkways of "Dream Land for Kids," designed by a local architect in collaboration with Berkeley school children. One thing you can't do though is fish: Aquatic Park is a wildlife preserve and home to many protected birds and fish species.
This area is also known for its events and community outreach. Join hundreds of your neighbors in launching your handcrafted paper lantern during the Japanese Lantern Ceremony. Discover your new favorite restaurant during Berkeley Restaurant Week. Or catch an art exhibit, community concert, and so much more in one of the many theaters or studios or at UC Berkeley.