7:30 p.m. Tuesday: Best Place to Make Much Ado About Something 

Bruns Amphitheater

A little more on the romantic end of things, the Bruns Amphitheater, nestled in the hills between Berkeley and Orinda, is a unique and charming outdoor theater. It's dedicated mainly to the works of Willie the Shake, but even if you're not a die-hard fan of the bard's work, the grounds alone will win your admiration. Parking is bountiful and free, footpaths are well-maintained, and the eucalyptus trees onsite are fragrant and provide shade on hot days. The seating at Bruns is nicely tiered -- there's room for 525 people, with not a bad seat in the house. Patio chairs are set up for most theatergoers, but the upper-middle section is reserved for anyone interested in bringing their own portable seating or spreading out on blankets. The great outdoors sprawls out behind the stage, and when set designers incorporate this natural background the results can be visually stunning. Toss in some balmy weather, a bit of wine and cheese (Slim Jims and cream soda, if you like), and a warm companion, and your evening is made. Hot chocolate and blankets (a limited supply of the latter is available at no charge) are essential on cold nights. It's best to avoid performances with large school groups or wedding parties (usually on the weekends), as such boisterous gatherings can detract from the peaceful, pastoral environment.

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