Affordable Adventures

Activities Around the Bay

By Matthew Strickland

Due to the demands of academic pursuits, students often ignore recreation. This can affect productivity and tax mental capacity. For students living on a budget, it may seem that recreation is out of the question.

However, even with limited transportation and budget constraints, the Bay Area offers many day trips and local getaway opportunities. Even without a car you can get to some great places. There are day trips and rewarding activities that are readily accessible via public transportation. The Bay Area has some of the best public transportation in the state, so take advantage of local transit and live it up. [See also “Health and Wellness: Self-Care for Students” for information about the AC Transit EasyPass, free for BCC students.]

The BCC Voice consulted David Davenport, an urban transportation planner who has worked with the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District for the past decade. He has a degree in City and Regional Planning from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. A Berkeley Calif. resident, Davenport has some great suggestions for accessible urban and rural activities. “With the public transportation available in the Bay Area there is no reason we can’t enjoy some of the great places that the Bay has to offer,” Davenport explained. He also points out the reduced carbon footprint and the advantage of avoiding DUI’s when using public transportation. Davenport is knowledgeable when it comes to activities in the East Bay, Marin, the North Bay and the Peninsula. “We have great day trip and overnight activities around the bay,” states Davenport, “So, there is no reason to feel you can’t have some fun,” adding, “Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego have public transportation, but it is not as networked. Bay Area transportation works very well.” He suggests some local activities involving the East Bay Regional Park District. There are AC Transit buses available to provide transportation to Tilden Park and the numerous activities offered there. Whether a trip to the carousel, the miniature steam trains, Lake Anza, the golf course, the botanical gardens or the many scenic hiking trails, there is fun to be had.

The Chabot Space and Science Center is also a great destination. The Planetarium replicates astronomical events — an indoor show that is spectacular and educational. The Laserium is a fantastic laser light show set to a musical theme. A popular theme is Pink Floyd, a visual treat. AC Transit offers easy access to the Space Center, which makes this an inexpensive, yet rewarding outing. Be sure to check out the $5 First Fridays deal.

Davenport emphasizes that transit links are easily made from San Francisco and Marin. At BART’s El Cerrito del Norte Station, bus route 40 to the San Rafael Transit Center opens up limitless possibilities. From San Rafael you can travel north to Napa, Sonoma or Mendocino counties. Many routes are available from Market Street in San Francisco, including routes to the North Bay, Point Reyes, Stinson Beach, Muir Woods and Mt. Tamalpais. You can arrange for accommodations through Airbnb and take a bus to Stinson Beach for an easy-to-reach, car-free getaway. Consider camping at Samuel P. Taylor State Park, which is great for hiking and home to the Inkwells swimming hole.

The Bay Area offers day trips and overnight getaways within reach via public transportation. AC Transit’s Line F goes from Berkeley to the Trans Bay Temporary Terminal Station in San Francisco, or you can take BART to the Embarcadero station. It is a short walk to the F Muni train, which runs along the Embarcadero, for access to San Francisco’s historic streetcars, which are fun to ride and worth the wait. Take note, this route alternates between modern buses and the classic streetcars. Trips are offered about every ten minutes. Along the route are sites like the San Francisco Ferry Building, from where you can access Tiburon, Sausalito, Jack London Square, Angel Island and Vallejo via ferry. A ferry ride is a good way to catch some spectacular views of the bay and offers a new perspective of the eponymous geographic feature. If you are willing to make reservations well in advance, there is even camping available on Angel Island.

The F Line travels along the water front, delivering you to Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can enjoy local seafood and take in the waterfront sites. Consider picking up a hot loaf of sourdough and some butter at La Boudin Bakery. Sourdough is a San Francisco staple. The giant fish sandwiches at Polly’s are big enough to fill up two hungry people. Take a walk along the wharf and check out the fishing boats. Breathe in the sea air and experience classic San Francisco.

Pier 39 is a collage of various shops, artists and street performers. The sea lions are often part of the show. Though it is a tourist trap, you will have a blast. Fun is to be had for locals, tourists and new arrivals to the Bay Area. If you have never been, it is worth the trip. You can catch the ferry from Oakland to here as well.

Do some exploration close to home and make the best of your limited budget. There is some great recreation to be had. Don’t let lack of transportation impede your fun.

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