Frugal Traveler: Berkeley on a Budget

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The interior is somewhere between the Great Hall at Hogwarts and Great Northern Hotel from a�?Twin Peaksa�? a�� antlers above the fireplace, vaulted ceilings and plenty of long wooden tables. In the Kerr dining room, we sat down and shared a thick, juicy burger ($9.95) and a soup-and-salad combo ($11) with club sandwich and Southwestern-style chicken soup.

Beyond the Faculty Club, any exploration of the Berkeley campus should include Sather Tower, or the Campanile, a 1914 landmark thata��s one of the tallest clock-and-bell towers in the world ($3 admission). I rode the elevator to the top of the 300-foot structure and was rewarded with a great panorama of the surrounding campus.

As far as views go, ita��s tough to beat, but the Lawrence Hall of Science, perched high above the city, managed to top it. The science center ($12 admission for adults, $10 for children) is a good place to take the kids, with $4 planetarium shows and fun exhibits like a giant six-foot sphere on which planetary data is projected.

Another contender for best views are the hills that buttress Berkeley, also worth exploring for the Craftsman and classic wood-shingled houses that help give the city its character. There are a number of small, peaceful parks to visit that even provide opportunities for some low-key rock climbing. Indian Rock Park was a favorite among those I visited, with easy bouldering and rewarding vistas at the top. (Nearby Grotto Rock Park was not as nice when I visited a�� it was covered in broken glass.) If youa��re really looking to get into nature, though, a trip to nearby Tilden Regional Park order tadapox tablet is a necessity. With nearly 40 miles of trails in the 2,000-plus acre park, I found it an ideal place to hike one sunny afternoon, amid Zen-like placidity and crisp, clean air.

Every budget-savvy traveler knows therea��s nothing better than free, as the parks are. But Dollar Day Sundays at Golden Gate Fields, which straddles the border of Berkeley and Albany, comes very close. Almost everything costs a dollar: admission, programs, hot dogs a�� even parking and beer. Ita��s cheap beer, granted, and the hot dogs are not exactly Top Dog-quality, but ita��s tough to complain when youa��re paying for everything with pocket change.

I took my whole family there one Sunday afternoon to eat, enjoy the festive atmosphere and watch the races. Unfortunately, our betting wasna��t as lucrative a�� my $2 exacta box bets in the fourth and fifth races didna��t pan out. Afterward, I headed to nearby Albany Bulb, a former landfill-turned-park, for an entertaining and unconventional hike. The reclaimed space, which crops out into the Bay, has different graffiti and public art exhibits, like a driftwood dragon looking out over the water.