By Camilla Marais | Culture Editor

The Orinda Movie Theater shows a different free movie on the first Thursday of every month. (Courtesy of Anthony Riggins)

As August turns to September, hundreds of Gaels return to campus. Whether returning from overseas adventures, music festival mishaps, or post-internship exhaustion, coming back to sleepy town of Moraga and its abundance of deer can be a shock to many students’ systems. However, even though the quaint setting of Saint Mary’s differs from a bustling city or European market, that does not mean that students are banished to a meek and mild semester. You’re thing could be bar-hopping, themed nights at clubs, midnight bike trips or something else. Whatever it is, the Bay Area has got you covered.

One of Lafayette’s hidden gems is Coffee Shop, a Walnut Creek based cafe with brilliant coffee, cocktails, and bites. Whether you’re looking for a solid study spot or something spiked to sip on, Coffee Shop is open all day for your needs. They also offer gourmet flatbreads and upscale salads for sustenance, so there really isn’t any reason for customers to leave throughout the day. 

For a night of relaxing entertainment, the Orinda Movie Theater shows a free movie on the first Thursday of each month. The select movies range from thrillers such as “A Nightmare on Elm Street” to old school classics such as “American Graffiti”. This event understandably attracts a large crowd to Orinda, so regulars suggest getting in line at least an hour before showing time (a perfect opportunity to review study guides or grub on some takeout in downtown Orinda).

When it comes to class, few bars are as up to par as Walnut Creek’s wine headquarters, Residual Sugar. With dark wood finishes, glossy copper decor, and a superb happy hour, this bar is more than your local dive. While Residual Sugar has an extensive and impressive enough wine list to excite your parents, its vibe is wonderfully relaxed and unpretentious. Good for both wine connoisseurs and first-time-Vinos alike,  Residual Sugar is a stunning spot worthy of your weekends.

It should come as no surprise that some of the most exciting clubs in the Bay are nestled in the streets of Oakland, and The Layover Music Bar in the heart of downtown does not disappoint. With alternating DJs and bands, if you find yourself on their dance floor after 10, you’re in for a treat. Dancing and drinks go hand-in-hand, and The Layover provides reasonably priced cocktails that pack a punch. You can be looking for a girl’s night out or a nightcap of note. Either way, The Layover will keep you busy until the wee hours of the morning.

Interestingly, one of the most fascinating and vibey places in Berkeley doesn’t serve alcohol at all. The Bay Area’s first Kava Bar, called MeloMelo, serves tea from the South Pacific made from the roots of the Kava Kava plant “Piper methysticum.” MeloMelo shares, “Whatever your reason to consume kava, whether it a be socially driven desire, to help reduce anxiety, for better sleep, to try a new experience, or even just as a more positive alternative to your day to day (or night by night) lifestyle- we say Welcome!” With the bar’s eccentric, modern decor and thumping house music, MeloMelo is definitely the spot to try something new.

While San Francisco houses an infinite number of cute cafes, electric clubs, and popping bars, one of the most original and exciting events the city has to offer is its famous “Midnight Mystery Rides.” The organization describes their monthly event as a kind of  “flash mob in that dozens of total strangers converge at a location (announced the day of the ride)”. The secretive and exciting allure of the ride attracts the masses, as strangers from all over the city embark on these adventures at twilight. Bring a friend, some booze, and some warm clothes, and prepare to explore San Francisco with a new crowd.

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