10 miles NE of San Francisco
While Berkeley has lost some of the counter-culture cache that made it famous in the 1960s, it’s still fun to visit the iconic University of California at Berkeley and its surrounding town. Despite the media portrayal, the university is more academic than psychedelic with 22 Nobel Prize winners over the years (8 are active staff). Today, there’s still some hippie idealism in the air, but gone are the days of free love and violent protests. The Summer of Love is present only in tie-dye and paraphernalia shops and like elsewhere in the Bay Area gentrification is reshaping Berkeley’s vibe. As San Francisco’s rent and property prices soar out of the reasonable range, young people, artists, and everyone with less than a small fortune are seeking shelter elsewhere, and Berkeley is one of the top picks—although Oakland is gaining popularity—a lively city teeming with all types of people, a beautiful college campus, vast parks, great shopping, and some incredibly deliciously affordable restaurants.