East Meets Best (Berkeley)

Hotels & Destinations
If this were a Charles Dickens story, we'd call Berkeley "A Tale of Two Cals. " First, there's the University of California, Berkeley (www.berkeley.edu), the intellectual and cultural hub of the city spawned by the university when it was founded there in 1863.

The other "Cal, " of course, is California cuisine, conceptualized by culinary pioneer Alice Waters more than 30 years ago. You'll find her landmark Chez Panisse (chezpanisse.com) on Fourth Street, an area so jam-packed with cheese shops, cafes and coffee emporiums (including the original Peet's) that it's dubbed the Gourmet Ghetto.

Berkeley's other charms as a meeting site can be summed up by its good weather. The Claremont Resort & Spa (claremontresort.com), the Grand Dame of the East Bay, was built in 1915 to capture the fancy of wealthy San Franciscans fleeing the city's summer fog, and today maintains its cachet as a preferred destination.

Another meetings option is The Doubletree Hotel and Conference Center (doubletree.com), located right on the Berkeley Marina, a pretty, 52-acre marina with sailboats, windsurfers and gorgeous views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.