Berkeley’s Greek Theatre may not be truly ancient, but the stone seats still whisper of great concerts past.
The Greek Theatre at U.C. Berkeley is a sight to behold: a huge outdoor amphitheater made of stone, it looks like it really could be from ancient Greece — in fact, the design was based exactly on the Greek theater Epidaurus, which dates back to the 4th century BC. Your ticket will get you a lawn seat (usually the most affordable option — bring a blanket to sit on and some warm layers, as you’ll be up high at the top of the venue), a place in the stone “bleachers” (the mid-tier option — layers and something comfortable to sit on like a cushion are a must here as well), or a general admission spot standing or sitting in folding chairs right by the stage (the option that’s closest to the action).
The venue boasts an 8,500-person capacity, yet maintains an intimate feel, and it’s one of the biggest outdoor amphitheaters for live music in the Bay Area. Artists like Hozier, Modest Mouse, and Bob Dylan have all performed here, and the venue is especially well suited for those once-in-a-lifetime concert experiences (such as trance super-group Above and Beyond’s all-acoustic show, which featured a couple dozen live orchestral instrumentalists and stopped by the Greek last May).
Snag tickets for this fall to see self-labeled “acid rap” artist Chance The Rapper with dance/alt rock fusion band Francis and the Lights (10/22), as well as soulful R&B songstress Ms. Lauryn Hill (11/4). Luckily, Downtown Berkeley is a hipster epicenter that will complement all of these chilled-out musicians, and there are more than enough before-the-show stops to fill out your evening (or even your whole day!).
Things to Do in Downtown Berkeley
Getting to this area of Berkeley from San Francisco or Oakland is as simple as hopping on the BART and hopping off at the Downtown Berkeley station.
In order to get to the Greek Theatre, you’ll have to walk through UC Berkeley’s campus, which has an entrance just steps away from the BART. It’s easy to spend hours meandering around there, checking out the impressive buildings housing lecture halls, libraries, and student centers. But before you head in, make sure to check out the university town side of Berkeley—full of restaurants, bars, yoga studios, street art, and shopping. With so many choices, the really hard part is deciding which to do before the event and which to save for later.
We suggest starting at the super trendy Asha Tea House (a couple blocks down Shattuck Avenue from the Downtown Berkeley BART station), where you can sip on boba tea or order matcha or coffee. Asha’s teas are responsibly sourced, and the shop isn’t afraid of mixing flavors for quirky, tasty results—think “pumpkin chai latte” milk tea or Fuji apple black tea. This place is laid-back and refreshingly pure in its alternative intentions, just like many of the artists you’ll see at the Greek.
From Asha, double back on Shattuck towards Addison Street to Half Price Books, a secondhand shop for books, movies, and music that’s great for treasure hunting.
Then—speaking of hunting for hidden gems—head to Crossroads Trading Co., a thrift store known for them. You’ll need to keep walking on Shattuck towards Durant Avenue (you’ll pass the BART station again and keep going). Once at Crossroads, make sure to be thorough in your shopping; you might even find something to complete your outfit for the night ahead.
We love this twinkly photo from @josephinetam123 😍✨Our Friday night will be full of music, great food and delicious brews, with a side of weekend happiness! Come by any time tonight to join us 🍕🍻🔥 #jupiterberkeley #jupiterbeer #jupiter #berkeley #stringlights #beergarden #weekend #fridaynight #firepit #craftbeer
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, get a real taste of Berkeley’s hipster scene at Jupiter, a lunch and dinner spot that doubles as a beer garden and serves artisan, honey-wheat-crusted pizzas alongside craft brews.
If you’re up for more, taste the city further at some of downtown’s best cafes with the yummiest, most sugar-filled sweets: PIQ Bakery (Italian bakery, pizza, and sweets), Cinnaholic (gourmet vegan cinnamon rolls), and Cream (handmade ice cream cookie sandwiches).
Ride out your coffee and sugar coma at the Beta Lounge, a bar known for its killer happy hour specials like the lychee martini. Located on Durant Avenue off of Fulton Street, Beta is about a five-minute walk from Jupiter.
The intricate beauty of passion flowers never ceases to amaze. This is Passiflora edulis, from South America. It is the species that produces the passion fruit of commerce. We have several plants growing in the Crops of the World Garden, and all are in blossom right now. #passionflower #passionfruit #instaflower #garden #instagarden #cropsoftheworld
If you’re new to Berkeley—whether that means from across the bridge in San Francisco or another state entirely—other great spots to check out in the downtown area include Sather Tower, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley.
From Beta, it’s time to make your way to your final destination: The Greek Theatre. Head towards Oxford Street on Fulton, and then stop at the corner of Oxford and Addison. From there, head into campus on University Drive, which you can follow all the way to the venue. Grab a snack from the onsite vendors; then cuddle up in your seat (or on your picnic blanket) for the ultimate night on the town.
Last night, Thomas and I were able to enjoy a special weekday date at a DMB show, thanks to my Momma. We've seen so many Dave shows, we've lost count. 25+??? And every show is magical. But this place, Berkeley's Greek Theatre, holds a special place in my heart. First of all, just look at that view. And more importantly, this is where T proposed to me back in 2008, at none other than a DMB show. • I'd walk halfway around the world just to sit down by your side. And I would do most anything, girl, to be the apple of your eye. • I love you @thinkwithmysticks #DMB25