The city buses have obnoxious alarm bells that go off every time the door opens. The fact that there are bars on the Chamber of Commerce office tells you something.
I visited Berkeley to use the science libraries. They are the best I have ever used -- they are of international stature. The campus, with its groves of century-old redwoods and two streams, is restful. However, serious students take heed. I have never seen as many drug paraphernalia shops as I saw on Telegraph Avenue, which is immediately to the side of campus.
Walk Euclid Avenue to the Berkeley Rose Garden. This area is known as Northside.
Berkeley is charming. I visited Berkeley in 2006 and was impressive by its famous scenery. At UC-Berkeley's campus, I feel lovely, enthusiastic with my friend. I want to stay here for a short traveling.
The heart of Berkeley, in many respects, is indeed the UC campus. Take your time -- above all, savor the company of the trees. Slowly walk through and around each grove, make your way through some of the buildings -- particularly Wheeler Hall, with its massive stories of lessons past -- and muse as to where the students have gone with what they learned, debated, embraced, and refused.
Berkeley is beautiful. I just went there this afternoon (mid-November). It's like autumn in summer -- there are falling red leaves like in cold places, but the weather is warm and nice!
Of course most visitors to Berkeley go to Telegraph to shop, but there are plenty of other areas that offer a completely different type of shopping experience, if the begging teenager/dirty hippie scene isn't your thing. Try College Ave (go several blocks past the dorms) and Fourth Street. Fourth Street is a bit trendier, but both are pleasant, though too yuppie-ish for some.
Berkeley is an extremely politically liberal city that is home to the first established University of California, more affectionately known as "Cal". Berkeley is very friendly, diverse area that is rich in character. An organic and hippie lifestyle is definitely promoted and practiced by most of the people that live there. You may want to stay at a hostel in Berkeley to use it as a base for exploring San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area.
Driving through Berkeley can be a headache due to the one-way streets and vast number of pedestrians. Parking is also usually sparse and expensive, so walking is truly the best way to explore. Biking may be difficult due to the hills and traffic. A BART station is also within walking distance, which makes traveling to San Francisco and other parts of the bay quite accessible from your Berkeley hostel (except late at night).
Telegraph Street is the main street in town that has quality second hand shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Homeless and buskers will likely be seen but are harmless. Street vendors are usually out selling handmade crafts and jewelry, which can make original gifts. Berkeley has a great variety of international cuisine, including Thai, Indian, Greek, and Ethiopian. Whole Foods upscale grocery is also near-by but is of course a little pricey.
When you want to venture out from your Berkeley hostel, there are many things to do in town, including spending a day at the Lawerence Hall of Science, taking a yoga class, attending a football game, or even just relaxing in the Rose Garden. There are many local music acts performing most nights of the week and a lively bar scene that's not to miss.