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A group of teachers and parents founded Habitot Children's Museum in 1998 with one specific mission in mind: to foster children up to 6 years old by encouraging their creativity and natural curiosity. Today, the 4,000-square-foot museum backs up this mission with research—gleaned from studies by scientists, psychologists, and educators—positing that healthy play spurs social skills, creative thinking, and problem solving, laying the foundation for kids to succeed later in life and imprison boogeymen in their booby-trapped closet tomorrow.

At Habitot, kids find such opportunities at small-scale exhibits and themed play areas throughout the museum. Aspiring firefighters steer a small-scale truck, race through a pretend burning building, and maneuver the hose and nozzle from a fire hydrant, all while donning coats, boots, and helmets. Young explorers press buttons, turn dials, and issue commands for pretend space launches inside a 13-foot model rocket ship or navigate a vertical floor-to-ceiling maze designed to mimic worm tunnels. At the waterworks table and pumping station, young engineers manipulate water using buckets, funnels, waterwheels, and pitchers to help them understand H2O’s unique properties, such as how it keeps boats afloat on the arms of a thousand mermen. (At different times throughout the year, the staff transforms this area with a different theme; at times it’s been a car wash, a marine-science lab, or the racing grounds for a rubber-ducky regatta.) Visitors can tap into their inner Van Goghs at the art studio, where they play with soft clays and go nuts on a paintable wall. Habitot also hosts year-round children's camps with themes such as beaches, transportation, space, castles, and science.

2065 Kittredge St.
Berkeley,
CA
US

More than 80 stainless steel Italian fusti containers line the walls at Amphora Nueva, ready to dispense samples and full bottles of aged balsamic vinegar and single-varietal, extra-virgin olive oil harvested from farms in both hemispheres. The shop’s globe-spanning selection process isn’t just for variety—it also ensures freshness year-round, in accordance with the old saying “It’s always olive-oil season somewhere.” The curators of this bounty select Italian white and dark balsamic vinegar as well as unique specialty oils, including roasted butternut squash, pumpkin and Italian truffle.

Once they’ve added them to the casks, they post harvest dates, acidity levels, and polyphenol counts for each product to give an idea of its antioxidant content and flavor strength. Each staff member touts a comprehensive understanding of the chemistry and uses of olive oil and vinegar, always happy to share recipe ideas to jazz up everyday dinners or science fair volcanoes. They’ll also help put together gift sets and wrap any bottle for free.

The business, whose retail shop stands on a sloping street lined with trees and cottage-like storefronts across from the Claremont Hotel, has been in business for nearly a century. Beneath its high ceilings, however, the atmosphere harkens back to far more ancient times, with a marble tasting counter and oil containers balanced atop the rough clay of the giant, authentic amphorae that give the company its name. Guests stop in not just to do some shopping but to take in a laidback learning experience—the San Francisco Chronicle found a visit to the shop “as much fun as it is educational,” and manager Nate Bradley reported to Diablo Magazine that they’ve occasionally “had people spend two hours in here just exploring.”

2928 Domingo Ave
Berkeley,
CA
US

Property Location
A stay at The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa places you in the heart of Berkeley, convenient to Judah L. Magnes Museum and Berkeley Art Museum. This 4-star hotel is within close proximity of Memorial Stadium and Berkeley Art Museum.

Rooms
Make yourself at home in one of the 131 air-conditioned rooms featuring minibars and flat-screen televisions. Cable programming along with video-game consoles are provided for your entertainment. Private bathrooms have designer toiletries and hair dryers. Conveniences include safes and desks, as well as direct-dial phones with free local calls and voice mail.

Rec, Spa, Premium Amenities
Relax at the full-service spa, where you can enjoy massages, body treatments, and facials. You're sure to appreciate the recreational amenities, which include 3 outdoor swimming pools, outdoor tennis courts, and a health club. This hotel also features wireless Internet access (surcharge), a concierge desk, and supervised childcare/activities.

Dining
Satisfy your appetite at the hotel's restaurant, which features a bar. Dining is also available at a coffee shop/café. At the end of the day, relax with your favorite drink at a bar/lounge.

Business, Other Amenities
Featured amenities include a business center, audiovisual equipment, and a technology helpdesk. Event facilities at this hotel consist of conference/meeting rooms, small meeting rooms, and a ballroom. Parking (subject to charges) is available onsite.

41 Tunnel Road
Berkeley,
CA
US

Property Location
A stay at Hotel Shattuck Plaza places you in the heart of Berkeley, walking distance from Berkeley Repertory Theater and Berkeley Community Theater. This 4-star hotel is within close proximity of Sather Gate and Doe Library.

Rooms
Make yourself at home in one of the 200 air-conditioned rooms featuring flat-screen televisions. 37-inch high-definition televisions with cable programming provide entertainment, while complimentary wireless Internet access keeps you connected. Private bathrooms have designer toiletries and hair dryers. Conveniences include desks and complimentary newspapers, as well as cordless phones with voice mail.

Rec, Spa, Premium Amenities
Take advantage of recreation opportunities such as a fitness facility, or other amenities including complimentary wireless Internet access and concierge services.

Dining
Satisfy your appetite at the hotel's restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dining is also available at a coffee shop/café, and room service (during limited hours) is provided. At the end of the day, relax with your favorite drink at a bar/lounge.

Business, Other Amenities
Featured amenities include a 24-hour business center, limo/town car service, and business services. Planning an event in Berkeley? This hotel has 18000 square feet (1672 square meters) of space consisting of a ballroom, banquet facilities, and a meeting/conference room. Parking is conveniently located nearby.

2086 Allston Way
Berkeley,
CA
US

As the father of a 2-year old, Tim Alley found himself running around to playdates scattered throughout the Bay Area, scooting to toddler-friendly lessons in art, gymnastics, and dance. While he loved the programming, he wished that he and his daughter weren't confined to such a tight schedule. So, he turned to his brother-in-law, Tom Limbert, head teacher at a local preschool, and they began to work on their own children's studio at Studio Grow—a supplementary preschool atmosphere with a focus on unstructured learning where children can play throughout the day. True to its name, Studio Grow now welcomes tots at three area studios. Though programs and amenities vary by location, kids might frolic through a color-splashed dance room, construct crafty masterpieces from watercolors, play-doh, and crayons in an art room, or plunge into ball pits. At all three locations, kids can tinker in a room filled with puzzles, toy trucks, dress-up clothes, and lego building sets. in a slide-filled run room. Instructors stay on hand throughout each romp, ready to lead Berkeley guests through sing-alongs or immerse Concord’s small listeners in story time. Teachers may also balloon a giant primary-colored parachute over the playroom for kids to scurry under and use to shield themselves from sudden broccoli storms. Though staffers emphasize unstructured play, they also lead summer camps for children up to aged 6 with guided romps through the studio; as well as Friday-night babysitting sessions, where kids of all ages can play sans parents until 10 p.m.

1235 10th St
Berkeley,
CA
US

The next time you're on the roof of a five-story building, look down at the ground, and you'll get a rough idea of just how high people climb at Touchstone Climbing. The gym's seven locations feature lead walls that rise as high as 50 feet off the ground, though height isn't the only dimension that makes the space feel immense. Each spot has at least 11,000 square feet of climbing terrain, not to mention as much as 3,000 square feet of bouldering.

To prevent newcomers from feeling intimidated by the magnitude of the environment, the gym holds introductory classes. During these sessions, participants learn the basic techniques they'll need if they want to conquer the gym's crack systems and boulder problems. The classes are also an opportunity for students to scope out the terrain features at each location, such as Diablo Rock Gym's steep prow, which juts out crookedly like a thumbs up from a dizzy ballerina. While they're at it, the visitors might notice something else: the social nature of the gym. As the San Francisco Chronicle recounts, the fact that lead climbs require two people means that climbers are constantly asking around for new partners and chatting back and forth as they ascend.

Each location also boasts a weight room, cardio machines, and a studio space for everything from yoga to spinning to core classes.

800 Potter St
Berkeley,
CA
US

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