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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Berkeley chapter.

My favorite trips are the spontaneous ones I end up deciding to go to solely because I felt like going on a side quest. Spending a couple of hours of free time in a new location I’ve never been to has been one of my favorite things to do this semester. Going on spontaneous trips to San Francisco, discovering new thrift stores and flea markets, and trying out new coffee shops has been one of my favorite joys of being at this school. Here are three things you can do on your next side quest. 

1. Finding new events 

There’s nothing more fun than attending random events in the city that you’ve never been too or heard of. Finding events can be done on social media pages or simple web searches. Some of my favorite places I’ve been to are the Renegade craft fair, Chinatown night market, San Francisco symphony, and the FOG art show. I love being able to look at different artworks, listen to live music, and try out new foods. Last week, I visited SFMOMA and viewed a special exhibit by Yayoi Kusama. Living so close to San Francisco, spending a couple of hours of free time in a new area leads to constant new adventures.

2. Exploring new shops and restaurants 

Between Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco, there are an abundance of new restaurants and shops to visit. Seeing new places posted online always made me curious and left me wanting to try to visit. My favorite new location I discovered was the Wardrobe Project, a thrift store in Rockridge that always has amazing finds and low-cost deals. The next side quest and finding a new place can simply be from walking from one location to another and seeing something interesting while going in that direction. Some places I frequently visit are the Curiosity Shop with different charms and rings in various bins, reusable arts and crafts shops with various recycled art materials, and the weekly Berkeley flea market. 

3. Finding new study spots

From coffee shops in Walnut Creek, Oakland, and San Francisco, trying different locations to study has become one of my favorite things to do. I would recommend taking a visit to Tellus Coffee in Walnut Creek and The Hidden Café in Berkeley for a peaceful study session in a new location that takes you outside the college atmosphere. I find new coffee shops on Yelp and discover different locations to go to as well as trying out different drinks. My favorite coffee shop near campus is Mind Coffee since it has a peaceful ambiance that helps me get started on my work. 

While having an overwhelming and stressful semester, going out to new places has become my form of relaxation while having the ability to explore new areas and locations. Having moved to the Bay Area just a year ago, I have explored a multitude of new locations and hope to continue going to different places as semesters go on. 

Melanie Wu

UC Berkeley '25

Melanie Wu is a second-year studying Media Studies with a Rhetoric Minor. She has an interest in writing and art. In the future, she hopes to work within marketing, communications, and PR.