Boasting curiosities like exotic reptiles, live music and an enchanting “castle in the air,” Berkeley’s Fourth St. neighborhood has a variety of treasures in store for the bigs and littles alike. Located in the city’s western end, this flat streetscape comes alive with families and their canines on weekends, drawn-in by its charming shops, great restaurants, beautiful trees and outdoor patios for soaking up the sun. The next time you’re looking for a weekend hangout spot, we recommend checking out these Fourth St. crowd-pleasers for a local experience the whole family will enjoy.
Five Little Monkeys
Does your little one love books? Arts & crafts? Building things? Imaginative play? Fourth Street’s resident toy store—Five Little Monkeys—has all that and more for your half pint to explore. Even better is that the two-level store, which offers toys for children up to 13 years old, encourages pre-purchase, hands-on exploration of their selection of creative, educational and sustainable toys that deliver BIG on playtime. A great opportunity to visit is during one of the store’s special events, which include Rainy Day Crafternoons, maker-style summer activity classes, sale days, etc.
1810 Fourth St., Berkeley, CA
Castles in the Air
Transport your craft-loving kiddos to a truly magical world—one that they possibly create themselves—with a visit to Fourth Street’s charming Castles in the Air shop. There you’ll discover eclectic treasures from around the world—such as spotted mushrooms that look like they jumped from the pages of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, tiny fairy houses, glass glitter, stamping equipment, ribbons and stickers galore—to name a few eye-catching items. Inside the walls of this shop, touted by its owners as a “studio for the imagination,” the possibilities are endless and your child will leave inspired. Everything, including the jewelry, pens, stationary, books, cards and store classes that might appeal slightly more to adults, is extraordinary. Visit. You won’t be disappointed.
1805 Fourth St., Berkeley, CA
If you’ve got a little glam-lover in your life, Jest Jewels is a must-see. Store owners traverse the globe to places like Paris, Italy, Africa and beyond to bring its patrons an eclectic and affordable selection of trendy fine and fashion jewelry, hair accessories, purses, bags, hats, scarves and gifts. For those who are ready, in-store piercings are also available. Whatever your pleasure, Jest Jewels will bring the bling to your family’s Fourth St. excursion.
1791 Fourth St., Berkeley, CA
Situated just off Fourth St.’s main drag is the perfect place for your creative little cabbage: Paper Source. Naturally, there’s a wide selection of papers in every color under the rainbow, but the store exceeds expectations by also offering a diverse range of DIY materials, such as crafting kits, stencils, rubber stamps, glitter, paper punches, scrapbooking supplies and more. You can book a workspace appointment at Paper Source for creating your own project with some helpers, or take one of the store’s Crafting Workshops (there’s a kids party option, too) to have a project led by an instructor.
740 Hearst Ave., Berkeley, CA
Bonus Options: Take a detour from the aforementioned kid-pleasers to check out other great shopping options on Fourth Street like The Gardener, Builders Booksource, Anthropologie, Sur la Table and the Apple Store.
Market Hall Foods
Just down the row from Peet’s Coffee, Berkeley’s Market Hall Foods delivers the same high-quality foods as its better-known flagship store in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood. For families exploring the Fourth Street neighborhood, it’s our recommended spot for your choice of a plethora of picnic fixings to enjoy on the patio outside its front door. With an incredible cheese counter, specialty grocery items and a deli offering a variety of to-go items like sandwiches, salads, appetizers, entrées, pizzas, etc., even the pickiest palates with be pleased. Factor in the market’s claim as the Fourth St. neighborhood’s only full-service bakery and it has everything needed to hit your fam’s sweet spot.
1786 Fourth St., Berkeley, CA
Bette’s Oceanview Diner
Bette’s Oceanview Diner is the OG of Fourth Street eateries, having been around the neighborhood since the early ‘80s. And there’s good reason there’s still a line at the door during peak hours: Bette’s serves up some of the best California diner fare you’re going to find in these parts. The restaurant—which features a retro diner décor complete with a 1957 Seeburg jukebox and outdoor patio—is particularly known for its breakfast dishes (read: lemon ricotta pancakes) but also serves great lunch selections as well. There’s plenty of tasties on the menu for your half-pint to enjoy, just be sure to arrive early to avoid the line.
1807 Fourth St., Berkeley, CA
Situated a short detour off the Fourth St. district’s main thoroughfare, Café M serves up modern American comfort food for breakfast and lunch—and offers a great kids menu. The café’s sunlit spaces and eclectic décor are part of its charm and it offers indoor and outdoor seating in a prime spot for people watching and stretching little legs. We recommend trying the Café M Salad or the Shrimp Tacos from the menu, along with a Grapefruit Mimosa. Bonus: The café is a short walk from the must-visit East Bay Vivarium.
1799 Fourth St., #F, Berkeley, CA
When it comes to Fourth St. people watching, entertainment and caffeine fixes, Peet’s Coffee is THE SCENE. Aside from Peet’s array of offerings that customers have come to love, this particular location of the chain is perfectly situated in the heart of Fourth Street and features a large patio perfect for taking a respite from shopping. On the patio, your littles can also safely explore and mingle with a bevy of similarly-sized buddies while dancing to the live music that fills the air on weekends.
1776 Fourth St., Berkeley, CA
Another great spot for some chill time and a cultural experience is Teance, a serene, widely-acclaimed tea shop situated down the way from Peet’s. Stop in for a warm cup of tea or peruse their fine selection of handcrafted teas that they have culled from the best tea growing regions of Asia to bring to you. You can sample teas in the sky-lit, in-store tasting room while guided by a tea sommelier or enjoy your cup outside on the patio while your half-pints play.
1780 Fourth St., Berkeley, CA
Want to get your tot a little treat that’s high in health benefits? Head over to Fourth Street’s Project Juice, where you can one-stop-shop your family’s daily fruit and veggie requirements via the shop’s variety of superfood smoothies, cold-pressed juices and cleanses. In a rush? Check out one of Project Juice’s grab & go juices in flavors like Flavor No. 10, Swizz Beetz and Beta Bomb. Also available in-store: plant-based foods including soups and salads and nutrient-based snacks.
1911 Fourth St., Berkeley, CA
East Bay Vivarium
Spiders and snakes and lizards—oh my! While visiting Fourth St., be sure to include a side trek to the East Bay Vivarium for a truly unique experience. A world of reptiles and arachnids awaits you there, including boas, pythons, geckos, iguanas, chameleons, turtles, spiders and various other colorful creatures. Your little lizards will love taking in the exotic eye candy, especially the pond outside “EBV’s” front entrance, where they can spot tiny turtles poking their heads out of the water. Even if you don’t end up bringing a new scaly pal home with you, it’s worth the visit as a memory-maker.
1827-C Fifth St., Berkeley, CA
Brushstrokes Studio, Inc.
A short drive away from Fourth St., you and your minis can pop into Brushstrokes Studio to get your creative juices flowing. The studio welcomes drop-in visitors who want to engage in some pottery painting, canvas painting, glass fusing or mosaics—even if you’re a beginner! Other options include registering for one of Brushstrokes’ art and design workshops or classes and camps for kids. You can even book an appointment to have the studio’s staff help you imprint your baby’s tiny hand or footprint in clay or pottery as a special keepsake.
745 Page St., Berkeley, CA
A worthy detour for families visiting the Fourth St. neighborhood is the Berkeley Marina, located a short drive to the west. Aside from more than 100 acres of waterfront park space and breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Berkeley Marina also offers seven miles of easy trails for your half pints to explore, not to mention picnic areas for a family lunch, ample off-leash zones for dogs and educational info at the Shorebird Park Nature Center. We recommend visiting the park early on a Sunday afternoon, when you’re sure to spot a cornucopia of colorful kites blowing in the bay breeze. Top off your visit with a stop at the Berkeley Marina’s Adventure Playground, a widely acclaimed spot where kids are encouraged to play, ride a zip line and build creative makeshift structures (sturdy, closed-toe shoes are a must).
201 University Ave., Berkeley, CA
Bonus: The Fourth St. neighborhood is very Fido-friendly, with most of the shops allowing well-behaved dogs inside and restaurants permitting them on their patios and outdoor spaces. If you bring your pup, be sure to visit George, a shop just for them.
Got a place you like to visit on or near Fourth St. in Berkeley? Give us the 411 in the comments!
—story and photos by Kathy Chouteau