There always seems to exist that one student on Zoom who participates with vigor, has the face cam on and extensively uses the “raise your hand” function. If you consider yourself that student, I commend you—you really carry the class along. I am no fan of Zoom University, but I am a fan of silver linings. For the other 70% of students—or silent Zoom squares—check out some road trip ideas that can accompany your lecture podcasts and brighten up your average Zoom days. And I didn’t forget about you Bears that don’t have access to a car up on campus—brave the bus for the final five.
Read on to discover these road trips from UC Berkeley that’ll provide that silver lining you need in 2020.
1. Bixby Bridge (Big Sur) — 133 miles south; 2 hour 15 minute drive
Both sight-seers and Instagrammers flock to Bixby Bridge’s beautiful view. The drive—while a little over two hours—will grant you the coastal highway for the final stretch. Bixby stands 260 ft tall, stretches over the creek below it and overlooks the Pacific. As you can imagine, a profile picture on Bixby Bridge would make any Instagram profile way more entertaining. “I stopped by the bridge after going to see Big Sur and it is beautiful and worth the drive,” CSUN Junior Vahagn Bagramian said. If Bixby whets your nature appetite, about 20 minutes further down the highway sits Big Sur—a stretch of coastal highway known for its state parks and beaches. If you want that naturalistic-profile picture or to simply enjoy a good coastal view, pack up a lunch for the day and listen to that lecture recording on the way down.
2. Napa Valley— 35 miles north; 45 minute drive
For all the old juniors and seniors, this winery will liven up your bland weekday nights and would be a special destination for any wine-lover out there. The rolling green hills stretch incredibly far in all directions. Heading out a little earlier to watch the sunset over the hills would be a fantastic addition to your wine filled night. Pricing (and tours are hard to come by right now due to Covid-19) fluctuates a bit with this one so make sure to look around and pick a winery that won’t break the bank. Grab your designated friend driver and head on up for the day.
3. Lake Tahoe — 179 miles northeast; 3 hour 15 minute drive
You don’t have to ski or snowboard here but your shredder friends will probably make you. More of a weekend getaway, Lake Tahoe has plenty of Airbnb cabins available that your responsible friend can study in. “My friend actually has a cabin up there and yes, I do in fact shred,” UC Berkeley Senior Chan-Il Kim said. Snowboarding and skiing make for a big part of the winter Tahoe experience. Lake Tahoe’s exceptionally clear water and surrounding greenery allow for beautiful photos and even better experiences. The calming vibe offers high-quality relaxation and renting a cabin to get away with your friends has become quite the weekend phenomenon. Either way, be safe, have fun, listen to those lectures and enjoy nature.
4. Mount Diablo Summit — 35 miles east; 1 hour 10 minute drive
Hikers, mountain drivers and nature lovers alike, should make the trek on over to experience Mount Diablo. If the name alone doesn’t make you go, then hopefully that breathtaking view from the summit will. You can drive or hike to the summit but one way or another, make it to the summit. From Mount Diablo’s summit, green stretches farther than the eye can see; try and go on a clear day so that you don’t end up just gazing into the clouds. The mountain has been an inspiration to pop culture like the Percy Jackson series and Diablo the video game which was named after the mountain itself. All in all, the summit makes for the perfect day trip and opportunity to bask in the accomplishment of hiking 13.2 miles up to the top.
5. Thor’s Well — 565 miles; 9 hours 15 minutes
Known as the “drainpipe of the Pacific,” Thor’s Well—a seemingly never-ending sinkhole off the Oregon coast—is a monster of a trip. But for those with an itch to drive the coast or experience the amazement of nature, you might want in on this one. Be sure to have plenty of snacks, a full tank of gas and a reliable car—unless the unreliability excites you, then go for it. The sinkhole mysteriously never fills up despite water continually filling it, making the well a popular destination for both photographers and marine adventurers. If you do decide to make a weekend adventure out of this, do be careful of the waves and bring a raincoat.
The final five on this list are for those Bears who don’t have access to a car. Remember to be safe on the bus and go with a friend.
6. The Golden Gate Bridge — 5 hours 15 minutes by public transportation
The Golden Gate Bridge has been a tourist attraction since its creation. You can rent a bike to ride across, or use those iconic Berkeley calves and walk across. Walking typically takes about an hour and half depending on how many breaks you take. New to the Bay Area? You must try this—at least once. “It was so fun, but rent the bike. Seriously, rent the bike,” UC Berkeley Junior Helen Lee said. Enjoy the bay weather, take a friend and hopefully a bike to coast along this San Francisco classic.
7. Alcatraz Island — 2 hours by public transportation
Alcatraz probably takes the cake for the most famous prison award, known for its unique island set up in which you need an actual ferry ride to get there. Fun fact, the prison held Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelley (not the rapper) the famous bank robber. You do need to purchase the $40 ticket in advance. “The ferry ride was actually very fun. I don’t get seasick but some other people definitely did,” UC Berkeley Junior Katie Koo said. Although a little pricey, any history buff will truly enjoy the trip. Alcatraz takes a little more planning but offers a fun way to escape Zoom for a day and indulge in some interesting prison history that dates all the way back to the 1930s.
8. Chinatown — 1 hour 15 minutes by public transportation
From frighteningly cheap yet delicious food, to swords your kid brother could only dream of—SF’s Chinatown holds so many hidden treasures . Personally, I have bought 5-tshirts for $7, eaten some of the best fried chicken and found Bruce Lee movies on the cheap in Chinatown. Good Mong Kok Bakery sells dim sum and barbeque pork buns for about a $1 a dish. Next door lies New Golden Daisy, otherwise known as some of the best fried chicken you will ever eat. Experience New Golden Daisy’s authentic feel and arrive ready with your pockets jingling because they only take cash. “Their chicken is so crisp. It is excellent fried chicken,” UC Berkeley Junior Mirsol Kim said. Go check out these two restaurants for a day and the rest of the gems that sit in Chinatown waiting for you to discover.
9. Aquarium of the Bay — 1 hour 15 minutes by public transportation
In need of a date idea? Or just enjoy the hypnotic view of colorful fish floating in giant tanks? Aquarium of the Bay takes you on an hour and a half walk in a tunnel under a massive fish tank. Currently, you do need to buy tickets in advance ($30) but the tunnel makes for a cute walk-and-talk style date. The aquarium sits right on Pier 39, where you can find loads of restaurants and shops to keep you busy if you mistime the bus. Aquariums not your thing? The Pier—Fisherman’s Wharf area altogether—remains worthy of a few hours where you could swing by Biscoff Coffee Corner, Trish’s Mini Donuts or get a piping hot bread bowl of San Francisco’s famous clam chowder. An aquarium, donuts, coffee and delicious chowder sounds like a successful day trip to me.
10. Land’s End Labyrinth—2 hours by public transportation
Created by a local artist Eduardo Aguilera, the labyrinth features an intricate design symbolic of “peace, love and enlightenment” watched over by several local artists and trail lovers. The labyrinth—a free visit and hike to get there—can be found by starting in the Land’s End main parking lot. You can take a bus out there but it might be faster to Uber after reaching the union square. The short hike becomes very worth it once you make it to the labyrinth and have the amazing view of the Golden Gate. Make sure to take a friend and ask around if you get lost—most people there want to see the extravagant view of the labyrinth just as much as you do.