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While San Francisco revels in its reputation as an arts mecca, locals know to head to the oft-overlooked East Bay for some of the finest theaters, museums, and art districts in the country. By Charles Runnette


Berkeley Art Museum
One of the largest university museums in the United States, the BAM is also one of the country's cutting-edge teaching institutions, presenting thought-provoking conceptual and contemporary exhibitions. This fall's lineup is no exception: Don't miss Grapefruit (October 18 to March 28, 2007), a collection of photographs from Yoko Ono's 1966 book of instructional pieces, which, incidentally, inspired John Lennon to write Imagine. $5 to $8 admission. 2626 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, (510) 642-0808, www.bampfa.berkeley.edu

Pacific Film Archive
With 500-plus screenings each year, the PFA presents a variety of American and international films - from restored, rare Russian constructivist shorts of the 1920s to the latest kung-fu epics from Hong Kong to classic American films. This fall, the theater is showing screenings of François Truffaut's Jules and Jim, Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game, and Federico Fellini's La Strada, among many others. $5 to $8 admission. 2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, (510) 642-1124, www.bampfa.berkeley.edu

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Oakland Museum of California
This repository of Californiana is dedicated to examining the art, history, and nature of the great Golden State through exhibits (like the annual Fungus Fair, California Wildflower Show, and Days of the Dead exhibitions) that appeal to a broader cross section of the population. This fall, the OMCA kicks off an exhibition called California as Muse: The Art of Arthur & Lucia Mathews, which features the work of two Arts and Crafts artists who helped rebuild the area after the devastating 1906 earthquake. $5 to $8 admission. 1000 Oak Street, Oakland, (510) 238-2200, www.museumca.org

Emeryville Celebration of the Arts
The tiny town of Emeryville, a 1.2-square-mile enclave hugging the eastern base of the Bay Bridge, is home to hundreds of artists. And while most of them have regular open-studio visits throughout the year, every October (7 to 29 this year) they host their biggest event, the annual Emeryville Art Exhibition, which includes works from local painters, sculptors, photographers, ceramists, glassblowers, and more. Free admission. 5630 Bay Street, Emeryville, (510) 652-6122, www.emeryarts.org

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Berkeley Repertory Theatre
After this fantastic little playhouse won the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 1997, the secret was out. Acting as the anchor of a mini arts district in downtown Berkeley (a theater, the Capoeíra Arts Café, a jazz school, and a music venue are all within spitting distance), this trendsetter boldly stages plays few others would touch, and the productions are often so successful that they end up in the big league on Broadway. 2025 Addison Street, Berkeley, (888) 427-8849, www.berkeleyrep.org

Cal Performances
It all started 100 years ago with a season that featured a landmark performance by the legendary Sarah Bernhardt in Racine’s Phèdre. Today, the internationally celebrated arts-presenting program of UC–Berkeley has changed a bit, but it still attracts a wide range of the world’s greatest artists to the campus every year. This season alone will feature Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan (October 20 and 21), Wynton Marsalis Quintet (October 25), Lyon Opera Ballet (October 27 and 28), Gate Theatre of Dublin’s Waiting for Godot (November 1 to 5), and the Moscow Circus (November 3 and 4). (510) 642-9988, www.calperfs.berkeley.edu