Museums — East Bay
The African American Museum and Library (659 14th St.,
Oakland, 510-637-0200) houses an archive of 160 collections of diaries,
newspapers, oral history, and video recordings focusing on the Bay Area
and Northern California; a 12,000-volume reference library; and a
museum featuring changing exhibits.
Berkeley Art Museum (2625 Durant Ave., Berkeley,
510-642-0808) is a striking modernist structure with a collection of
14,000 objects; it’s a preeminent university museum.
The Exploratorium (Palace of Fine Arts, 3601 Lyon St., San
Francisco, 415-561-0399) is a science museum with hands-on,
family-friendly exhibits housed inside the ornate Palace of Fine
HABITOT Children’s Museum (2065 Kittredge St., Berkeley,
510-647-1111) features prizewinning exhibits, art programs,
multicultural performances, and even a toy-lending library for young
Judah L. Magnes Museum (2911 Russell St., Berkeley,
510-549-6950) preserves tradition for the Bay Area’s large Jewish
population, with 8,000-plus ceremonial and decorative items and an
Lindsay Wildlife Museum (1931 First Ave., Walnut Creek,
925-935-1978) affords visitors close encounters with eagles, owls,
bobcats, opossums, snakes, turtles, and other animals once treated at
its wildlife hospital but deemed unreleasable.
Lucky Ju Ju Pinball & Pacific Pinball Museum (713 Santa
Clara Ave., Alameda, 510-205-9793) is an old-school pinball palace that
also features rotating art exhibits.
Mills College Art Museum (5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland,
510-430-2164) focuses on women artists and curators with
well-installed, thoughtful, eclectic shows, and free admission.
The Oakland Museum of California (1000 Oak St., Oakland,
510-238-2200), an East Bay cultural institution since 1969, specializes
in art, history, and the natural sciences of California.
Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology (Kroeber Hall,
Bancroft Way at College Ave., Berkeley, 510-643-7649) has almost 4
million objects, and is the West’s oldest, largest anthropological
The USS Hornet Museum (Pier 3, Alameda Pt., Alameda,
510-521-8448) played a crucial part in WWII, recovered the Apollo
11 and 12 astronauts in 1969, and has been docked here since
Museums — San Francisco
The Asian Art Museum (200 Larkin St., San Francisco,
415-581-3500) houses 17,000 artworks from all over Asia in an
accessible location near City Hall.
The de Young Museum (Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden
Dr., San Francisco, 415-750-3600) showcases an extensive collection of
American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts; Mesoamerican,
Central, and South American artifacts; African art; and Oceanic
The Museum of the African Diaspora (685 Mission St., San
Francisco, 415-358-7200) traces the breakup and scattering of African
blacks across space and time with exhibits, programs, and events.
The Palace of the Legion of Honor (Lincoln Park, 34th Ave.
& Clement St., San Francisco, 415-750-3600) is the last of San
Francisco’s old-style museums, boasting an unbeatable view of the
Golden Gate, along with collections of ancient art, illustrated books,
European painting and decorative art, fine prints, and Rodin
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (151 Third St., San
Francisco, 415-357-4000), established in 1935, features high-profile
exhibitions that have fixed it at the center of the city’s art
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (701 Mission St., San
Francisco, 415-978-2700) is a venue for new-media conceptualism and a
good place to see what’s shaking in visual art before it migrates to
The Berkeley Community Theatre (1930 Allston Way, Berkeley,
510-644-6348), a 3,500-capacity venue located on the Berkeley High
School campus, has seen the likes of the Grateful Dead, Bruce
Springsteen, and Metallica.
The Fillmore (1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, 415-346-6000,
TheFillmore.com) is the place
where Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis recorded live albums back in the
day, and it’s still one of the best places in the world to see a
The Grand Ballroom at the Regency Center (1290 Sutter St.,
San Francisco, 415-673-5716) is a midsize room that boasts Scottish
Rite architecture, high ceilings, and a balcony for maximum viewing
The Greek Theatre (Gayley Rd. at Hearst Ave., Berkeley,
510-809-0100) is one of the most picturesque outdoor settings for live
music in the Bay Area; there’s not a bad seat in the house.
The Herbst Theatre (401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco,
415-392-4400) is a stately venue featuring large murals, chandeliers,
and a gold-leaf ceiling. It’s an exquisite place for watching the
finest arts and culture performances, including dance, lectures,
classical music concerts, films, and more.
Historic Sweet’s Ballroom (1933 Broadway, Oakland, HistoricSweetsBallroom.com), a
magnificent 12,000-square-foot ballroom, channels an earlier, more
glamorous era of Oakland’s past.
Julia Morgan Center for the Arts (2640 College Ave.,
Berkeley, 510-845-8542) hosts a wide variety of events including the
Berkeley Opera, Berkeley Ballet Theater, a whole bunch of children’s
theater groups, a storytelling series, and world music and dance
The Lesher Center for the Arts (1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek,
925-943-7469) is home to the Center REPertory Company, Contra Costa
Musical Theatre, Diablo Light Opera Company, Festival Opera, Diablo
Ballet, and dozens of frequent visitors like Lamplighters, California
Symphony, and Smuin Ballet.
The ORACLE Arena (7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland, 510-569-2121)
and adjacent Coliseum are home to beloved local sports teams the Golden
State Warriors, Oakland Raiders, and the Oakland A’s, and they’re also
the biggest venues for entertainment in the East Bay.
The Paramount Theatre (2025 Broadway, Oakland, 510-465-6400)
once served as a movie palace, and is now home to the Oakland East Bay
Symphony and touring musical and comedy acts, theater, and ballet
Shoreline Amphitheatre (One Amphitheatre Pkwy., Mountain
View, 650-967-3000, ShorelineAmp.com) is the largest outdoor
venue in the Bay Area — it sits on more than sixty acres and
The Sleep Train Pavilion (2000 Kirker Pass Rd., Concord,
925-676-8742) is a midsize outdoor amphitheater nestled in the hills of
Concord’s outskirts toward Clayton, and kitty-corner from the Concord
Naval Weapons Station.
Zellerbach Hall (UC Berkeley, 510-642-9988) hosts the Cal
Performances series of truly world-class performances — from
Russian ballet to Mark Morris, Australian punk circus to Peking
acrobats, Ladysmith Black Mambazo to Cecilia Bartoli, Italian
commedia to Chinese opera.
Albany Bowl (540 San Pablo Ave., Albany, 510-526-8818) is the
place for casual fun or league bowling for those more serious; don’t
miss the bowl’s weekly Monday night Roc-N-Bowl, where you can enjoy
cheap games and pumping rock ‘n’ roll from 10 p.m. till 2 a.m.
Berkeley Ironworks (800 Potter Street, Berkeley,
510-981-9900) features a 45-foot-high climbing wall, and numerous
pathways and challenge levels to the peak.
Berkeley Skate Park (5th and Harrison streets, Berkeley,
510-526-5415) offers 18,000 square feet of cement for private lessons,
skateboard camp, or a birthday party.
The Broken Rack (6005 Shellmound St., Emeryville,
510-652-9808) has nineteen tables to fill the needs of billiards
Camp Winnarainbow (Laytonville off of Highway 101,
510-525-4304), founded by Wavy Gravy, has tightropes, hula hoops, and
juggling sticks for campers who play games, craft, and learn new
Diablo Rock Gym (1220 Diamond Way, Suite 140, Concord,
925-602-1000) is a climbing gym.
Great Western Power Co. (520 20th St., Oakland, 510-452-2022)
is a climbing gym.
iFly (31310 Alvarado-Niles Rd., Union City, 510-489-IFLY) is
the home of a vertical wind tunnel, which replicates the experience of
an outdoor airplane jump. The Lake Merritt Rowing Club (568
Bellevue Ave., Oakland) has been the headquarters for East Bay aquatic
fans for forty years. You can take part in a crew or cruise the lake on
your own for a morning workout, an evening class, or just to see the
lights of Oakland from the prow or stern of your very own vessel.
Oakland All Craft (499 Embarcadero Ave., Oakland,
510-444-7115) sells canoes and kayaks for a fresh new way to experience
the bay — plus lessons.
Oakland Ice Center (519 18th St., Oakland, 510-268-9000)
features public skating throughout all seasons, lessons for aspiring
figure skaters, or a hockey game or two for those willing to wield a
Oaks Card Club (4097 San Pablo Ave., Emeryville,
510-653-4456), open 24-7, has Texas Hold-em and 21st-century blackjack,
plus large-screen TVs keeping you posted on ball games around the
Trapeze Arts (1822 9th St., Oakland, 510-419-0700) teaches
and trains novices and experts alike, and hosts individuals, birthday
parties, and bridal showers.
Art Murmur (various Oakland galleries, OaklandArtMurmur.com), Oakland’s
First Friday downtown art stroll and Gen X/Y tribal gathering, is like
Critical Mass without bikes, Woodstock without mud.
Bedford Gallery (1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek, 925-295-1417)
does a fine job balancing public accessibility with aesthetic
excellence, assembling shows of museum quality.
Chandra Cerrito Contemporary (25 Grand Ave., Oakland,
415-577-7537), located on the mezzanine above Mercury Twenty Gallery,
generally shows two or three midcareer California artists who make
conceptual work with strong visual form.
Eclectix Gallery (7523 Fairmount Ave., El Cerrito,
510-364-7261) goes for weird humor: pop surrealism, kitsch, gothic, and
other lowbrow absurdism.
Expressions Gallery (2035 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, 510-644-4930)
fosters creativity with its classes, demonstrations, concerts, poetry
readings, and monthly meetings of the Collectors and Critics
The Float Center (1091 Calcot Pl. #116, Oakland,
510-535-1702) combines a flotation tank/alpha-wave retreat with an art
Giorgi Gallery (2911 Claremont Ave., Berkeley, 510-848-1228)
features an appealing mix of painting (including fresco), photography,
sculpture, and music.
Johansson Projects (2300 Telegraph Ave., Oakland,
510-444-9140), amidst of the First Friday crowds, presents thoughtfully
assembled, eclectic shows with professionalism and polish, but free of
LoBot (1800 Campbell St., West Oakland), founded in 2004, is
a “lower-bottom” 7,000-square-foot space that shows thematic group
shows of regional, national, and international artists.
Mama Buzz Cafe and Gallery (2318 Telegraph Ave., Oakland,
510-465-4073) is a rather cozy, funky casual food joint by day, and
comes alive at night with live music to accompany the art
Mercury 20 Gallery (25 Grand Ave., Oakland, MercuryTwenty.com) is a cooperative
gallery of “twenty elemental artists” that mounts monthly shows of two
of its mid-career members.
Pro Arts (550 Second St., Oakland, 510-763-4361), sponsor of
East Bay Open Studios since 1979, mounts contemporary art exhibits at
its 2,500-square-foot gallery and dedicated project space, while its
Gallery Store displays the artwork of member artists.
Richmond Art Center (2540 Barrett St., Richmond,
510-620-6772) offers classes in ceramics, paintings, weaving, and
jewelry, and workshops for artists of all ages in its
25,000-square-foot facility, which includes a 6,000-square-foot gallery
space and a sculpture courtyard.
Rock Paper Scissors Collective (2278 Telegraph Ave., Oakland,
510-238-9171) is an organization of volunteers that offers classes in
fashion, skateboarding, DJ-ing, crocheting, knitting, web design; a
gallery; a sewing and screen-printing art lab; a ‘zine library; and a
retail store for local artists and crafters to sell their clothes,
prints, ‘zines, and music.
Rowan Morrison Gallery (330 40th St., Oakland, 510-384-5344)
is a contemporary art gallery, book publisher, and store, featuring
‘zines, fine-art prints, paper goods, and artist’s books.
Swarm Studios + Gallery (560 2nd St., Oakland, 510-839-2787)
shows contemporary art (new media, installations) in its large gallery
and smaller project space while offering eleven studio spaces for
Alameda Theatre and Cineplex (2317 Central Ave., Alameda,
510-769-3456, AlamedaTheatres.com), a rehabbed 1937
historic theater and megaplex, has a certain charm — namely, its
fifty-foot screen, balcony, and Art Deco architecture courtesy of
Timothy Pflueger (who also designed the Paramount in Oakland).
Grand Lake Theater (3200 Grand Ave., Oakland, 510-426-3556,
restored movie palace from the 1920s, features a Wurlitzer organ
performance prior to movies shown on Friday and Saturday nights, a
dazzling marquee, and retro elegance in its 900-seat main auditorium,
complete with art deco murals.
Landmark Shattuck Cinemas (2230 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley,
510-464-5980, LandmarkTheatres.com), the art-house
chain’s spiffiest East Bay outpost, plays first-run movies on ten
screens, with auditoriums decorated in faux-Egyptian, ersatz-Arabian,
and late-period Plex Moderne.
Orinda Theater (2 Orinda Square, Orinda, 925-254-9060) is an
art deco gem nestled in the Orinda Village center.
Pacific Film Archive (2575 Bancroft Way, UC Berkeley,
510-642-1124, BAMPFA.berkeley.edu) is a world-class
repository of films and cinematic lore since 1966.
Rialto Cinemas Cerrito (10070 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito,
510-814-2400, RialtoCinemas.com) is an attractively
renovated 1937 Art Deco duplex that plays a mix of mainstream,
first-run movies and more obscure indie titles.
Rialto Cinemas Elmwood (2966 College Ave., Berkeley,
510-433-9730, RialtoCinemas.com), a bite-sized
miniplex, has carved out a niche for itself with art and foreign films
— the ideal mix for globally minded college town auds.
AMCTheatres.com, BrendenTheatres.com, Cinemark.com, RegMovies.com are the corporate plexes
you’ll want to check out if it’s uniformity, a giant box of candy, and
the latest Hollywood blunderbuss you crave.
Aurora Theatre Company (2081 Addison St., Berkeley,
510-843-4822) offers a heady selection of smart contemporary plays,
including many West Coast premieres, mixed in with a few classics by
Shaw, Ibsen, Strindberg, Pinter, the Greeks, even Mae West, all in an
intimate theater-in-the-round almost right next to Berkeley Rep.
Berkeley Repertory Theatre (2025 Addison St., Berkeley,
510-647-2949) has kept up such a high standard of excellence on its two
stages in recent years that it stands head and shoulders above larger
California Shakespeare Theatre (100 Gateway Blvd., Orinda,
510-548-9666) boasts a lovely outdoor amphitheater in the Orinda hills,
where every summer Cal Shakes does a couple Shakespeare plays, as well
as irresistible offerings by Shaw, Wilde, and Dickens.
Central Works (2315 Durant Ave., Berkeley, 510-558-1381)
makes every one of its plays a collaborative creation of the artists
involved, whether they’re dramatic adaptations of literary classics or
examinations of pressing political issues, all staged in a cozy
theater-in-the-round in the elegant Berkeley City Club.
Contra Costa Civic Theatre (951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito,
510-524-9132) puts on comedies and musicals, mysteries and dramas from
Sondheim to the Marx Brothers to Agatha Christie with unusually solid
Impact Theatre (1834 Euclid Ave., Berkeley, 510-464-4468)
shows might be polished or rough, but they’re always fun and
fast-paced, conveniently located in a pizza-parlor basement right next
to the Cal campus.
Shotgun Players (1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, 510-841-6500)
have become a South Berkeley fixture with their own solar-powered
theater where they offer an eclectic mix of new plays (Adam Bock, Eisa
Davis, Mark Jackson) and challenging work from Caryl Churchill, Mamet,
Brecht, Garcia Lorca, or whoever they haven’t tried yet.
Woman’s Will (510-420-0813, WomansWill.org), the East Bay’s all-female
Shakespeare company, does one show for free in the parks over the
summer — usually Shakespeare, turning the Elizabethan custom of
all-male casts on its head — and often an autumn indoor show as
well, whether it’s Brecht or Wilde or an unusual choice like Aphra Behn
or Mac Wellman.
Axis Dis/Abled Dance Company (1428 Alice St., Ste. 200,
Oakland, 510-625-0110, AxisDance.org) makes ethereal dance out of
the struggle to achieve grace; on crutches, in wheelchairs, or
able-bodied, they epitomize the indomitable spirit of humanity.
Mary Armentrout (510-289-5188, MilkBar.org), a Dadaist choreographer, hosts
fantastic avant-garde dancers doing strange things with the furniture
in her monthly Milkbar series at studio #223 in the old Sunshine
Biscuit Factory (81st Ave. off San Leandro Blvd., Oakland).
Diamano Coura (1428 Alice St., Oakland, 510-733-1077,
DiamanoCoura.org) is a
first-rate troupe that does classic dances of West Africa.
Oakland Ballet Company (510-465-6400, RGFPA.org) dances the Ballet Russes classics as
if they were Shakespeare — with heart, soul, passion, and
Omega West (Geocities.com/athens/ithaca/3186)
is the foremost liturgical dance company in the United States, based at
the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley.
Savage Jazz Dance (510 490-6068, SavageJazz.org) fields sexy, high-energy
musical movers in a big range of moods, from haunting melancholy
(Ellingtonian blues) to hilarious.
American Bach Soloists (415-621-7900, AmericanBach.org) specialize in music of
AVE/Artist’s Vocal Ensemble (Ave-Music.org) is a professional choral
ensemble directed by Jonathan Dimmock.
Berkeley Opera (510-841-1903, BerkeleyOpera.org) surprises with
sometimes brilliant, sometimes bizarre productions.
Berkeley Symphony (510-841-2800, BerkeleySymphony.org) is often
adventurous but not quite polished.
Cal Performances (510-642-9988, CalPerfs.berkeley.edu) is UC
Berkeley’s performance series that offers the finest assortment of
classical, jazz, dance, and world-music concerts you will find west of
the Hudson River.
Chanticleer (415-252-8589, Chanticleer.org) is a world-famous men’s
Composers, Inc. (415-512-0641, ComposersInc.org) presents concert
series of contemporary American music.
Del Sol String Quartet (415-374-0074, DelSolQuartet.com) is an award-winning
new music ensemble.
Earplay (415-585-9776, Earplay.org) is an ensemble that performs new
Kronos Quartet (KronosQuartet.org) is a world-renowned
new music champion.
Left Coast Chamber Ensemble (415-642-8054, ChamberMusicPartn.org) is an
ensemble that performs new music.
Magnificat Early Baroque (800-853-8155, MagnificatBaroque.org) often
programs rare fare.
Mills College’s Center for Contemporary Music (510-430-2171)
is always on the cutting edge of thought-provoking electronic and new
MusicSources (510-528-1625, MusicSources.org) has a concert series
that features local and international artists, plus a library of 16th-
to 19th-century works, a collection of antique keyboards, and
Oakland East Bay Symphony (510-444-0801, OEBS.org), led by Music Director Michael Morgan,
programs with the community in mind.
Oakland Opera (510-763-1146, OaklandOpera.org) surprises with
sometimes brilliant, sometimes bizarre productions.
Other Minds (415-934-8134, Otherminds.org) presents concerts of
innovative music from composers from all over the world.
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (415-252-1288, Philharmonia.org), led by buoyant Music
Director Nicholas McGegan, showcases some of the finest soloists and
guest conductors on the planet.
Pocket Opera (415-972-8934, PocketOpera.org) is in a class by itself,
offering the indefatigable octogenarian Donald Pippin’s witty
translations and priceless spoken commentary.
Quartet San Francisco (QuartetSanFrancisco.com) is a
Grammy-nominated ensemble that performs new music.
San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (415-278-9566,
SFCMP.org) is an ensemble that performs
San Francisco Early Music Society (510-528-1725, SFEMS.org) puts on early music concerts.
San Francisco Symphony (415-864-6000, SFSymphony.org) is an internationally
San Francisco Opera (415-864-3330, SFOpera.com) has all the star power, glamour,
and cheap standing room one could ask for.
San Francisco Performances (415-398-6449, Performances.org) also offers the finest
assortment of classical, jazz, dance, and world music concerts you will
find west of the Hudson River.
UC Berkeley’s Center for New Music and Audio Technology
(510-643-9990, CNMAT.berkeley.edu) is always on the
cutting edge of thought-provoking electronic and new music.
Volti (415-771-3352, VoltiSF.org) is a cutting-edge choral group
of new music specialists.