If you’re looking to hit the mall, you’re in the wrong place. Berkeley doesn’t do cookie-cutter anything, including shopping. Instead, seek out ethnic items, one-of-a-kind crafts, and just plain cool stuff.
One of Berkeley’s most appealing shopping districts centers around Fourth Street, best known for its quality housewares and furnishings. Even if you’re not in need of a designer couch, it’s fun to check out the latest styles and get ideas in décor shops. There are also plenty of places to have a nice lunch, and a plaza that often hosts performing musicians. If you have kids who love all things creepy and crawly, head over to Fifth Street to pop into Vivarium, an exotic pet store with an astounding array of snakes, lizards, frogs, and tarantulas—fascinating even if you’re not considering a new pet.
Another worthy destination is the Addison Street Arts District, which is anchored around Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, a nonprofit community performance space long known as an outstanding spot for folk and world music. Stroll the Poetry Walk, a stretch of Addison Street sidewalk embellished with snippets poetry—the only place of its kind in the U.S.