Attractions in Berkeley

10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Berkeley

Famous for its prestigious university and prized for its eccentric bohemian spirit, Berkeley is a stimulating place to visit. The university’s inspiring neoclassical buildings stand tall in a wooded hilltop location overlooking San Francisco Bay. Although this idyllic setting is completely removed from the world, the campus was the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement and the renegade hippie counterculture of the 1960s. Chaotic and bustling, Sproul Plaza remains an intense scene of student activity: students, social activists and drummers still gather here to express themselves in ways that are impossible to ignore. In addition to being an intellectual center, Berkeley is a center for entertainment and gourmet dining.

The local organic food movement started here in the 1970s with Chez Panisse, a delicious French Californian-style bistro that is a must-stop for foodies. Tourists can enjoy a delicious meal in the gourmet ghetto and then watch a world-class performance at one of Berkeley’s award-winning theaters. Nature lovers also have a good reason to visit: the city’s beautiful parks and botanical gardens offer spectacular floral displays and stunning panoramic views.

Tourists can enjoy a delicious meal in the gourmet ghetto and then watch a world-class performance at one of Berkeley’s award-winning theaters. Nature lovers also have a good reason to visit: the city’s beautiful parks and botanical gardens offer spectacular floral displays and stunning panoramic views. Tourists can enjoy a delicious meal in the gourmet ghetto and then watch a world-class performance at one of Berkeley’s award-winning theaters. Nature lovers also have a good reason to visit: the city’s beautiful parks and botanical gardens offer spectacular floral displays and stunning panoramic views.

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1 U.C. Berkeley

UC Berkeley | Photo copyright: Lisa Alexander
 

One of the nation’s leading academic institutions, UC Berkeley is home to renowned professors, Nobel Prize winners, and an elite student body of more than 27,000 students. Despite the competitive environment, UC Berkeley has a peaceful, almost secluded feel. Located on a wooded hillside, the 178-acre campus is lush with shady redwoods, oaks and other trees. The rushing sounds of Strawberry Creek and chirping birds add to the serenity.

At the center of the campus is its most prominent landmark, Sather Tower, also known as the Campanile because it resembles the bell tower in Venice, Italy. Built in 1914, the Campanile Clock and Clock Tower was built of Alaskan marble and, at 307 feet, is the third tallest clock and bell tower in the world. In the early twentieth century, the Oakland Tribune described the campanile as a “beautiful landmark, visible from ocean liners.” Visitors can ascend to the observation deck at 200 feet to admire the beautiful 360-degree views of San Francisco Bay. The bells of the bell tower sound on the hour three times a day (at 8 a.m., 12 p.m. and 6 p.m.) with a recital of classical melodies for 45 minutes.

Other famous landmarks on campus include Sather Gate, the main entrance to campus; South Hall, the oldest building on campus, built in 1873; and Sproul Plaza , a hub of activity where students gather, social activist protesters protest, and buskers sometimes offer impromptu performances. Visitors will enjoy a look at Bancroft Library , wandering up the worn marble steps to the main reading room with its intricate artesonado (carved wood) ceiling and a portrait of the philosopher George Berkeley, the college’s namesake.

The UC Berkeley Art Museum & Film Archive has an extensive collection of more than 14,000 art objects and a similar number of films. TheCalifornia Memorial Stadium , built in 1923, is the campus football stadium, home of the California Golden Bears. Just above the stadium is the Strawberry Canyon Recreation Area, a beautiful place for hiking and birdwatching. The Hearst Neoclassical Greek Theater is a beautiful outdoor venue with a seating capacity of 8,500 used for a variety of performances such as world music concerts, the Berkeley Jazz Festival, and notable speakers. The UC Berkeley’s graduation ceremony also takes place in the Greek Theater.

For more insight into the culture of non-graduates, visit the Free Speech Movement Café, which displays documents from Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement in the 1960s. Students still come to this café for study accommodation. College Avenue, which borders the campus, is also a pleasant area with many cafes and bookstores.

2 Gastronomic ghetto

Gourmet Ghetto m anima / photo modified
Gourmet Ghetto m anima / photo modified
 

The opening of Alice Waters’ neighborhood bistro called Chez Panisse in 1971 was a pivotal moment in California’s culinary history — the beginning of a food revolution. This charming little French bistro would change the dining scene in America forever. During her undergraduate years at UC Berkeley, Waters spent a semester abroad in Paris, where she fell in love with French culture. After college, she lived in France for a year and fell in love with French cuisine even more.

Waters appreciated the way the French cooked fresh seasonal ingredients from local markets and she brought this farm-to-table concept to her new restaurant. The menu is updated every evening as the dishes are made from the best ingredients available that day. Chez Panisse uses organic, locally grown fruits and vegetables and meat, fish and poultry sourced from nearby farms. Not only is Alice Waters an innovative restaurateur, she is also a food activist who has raised awareness of eco-friendly food and responsible farming. Recognized as one of the 50 Best Restaurants in the World by Restaurant Magazine, Chez Panisse is a major destination for foodies.

Many other restaurants in Berkeley were inspired by Chez Panisse. The area known as the “Gourmet Ghetto,” along Shattuck Avenue and Vine Street in North Berkeley, is home to a wonderful collection of gourmet restaurants. Some favorites include Lo Coco’s, an authentic Sicilian restaurant and pizzeria; Chaam Thai restaurant; the Espresso Roma Café in the French hotel; Masse’s Pastries which sells beautiful European cakes and French macarons; and Saul’s Delicatessen, which offers traditional Jewish fare and Klezmer music performances on Monday evenings. The Gourmet Ghetto has a lively European ambiance with its terraces, small bakeries, shops selling tasty food and colorful flower stalls. Visitors will also find locally owned boutiques,

3 Theater and music performances

Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Berkeley Repertory Theatre
 

A world-class cultural center, Berkeley offers an outstanding array of theater and music performances. On the UC Berkeley campus, Cal Performances presents a program of exceptional artistic performances in Zellerbach Hall; performance genres include classical music, piano concertos, jazz, world dance, ballet and theatre. Also on campus, the Berkeley City Club provides a theater space for the Central Works Theater, a local theater company that writes and produces world premiere performances. It’s worth going to a performance at the Central Works Theater just to see the Berkeley City Club, a historic hotel and private club. Built in 1930 and designed by Julia Morgan, the Berkeley City Club is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Several theaters are located in downtown Berkeley. The Berkeley Repertory Theater (2025 Addison Street) is a Tony Award-winning theater company that performs a wide variety of shows year-round, from classics by famous authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson and Shakespeare to contemporary Pulitzer Prize-winning plays and musical premieres. On the same street as the Berkeley Rep is a special sidewalk installation, the Berkeley Poetry Walk , with cast iron plaques of more than 100 poems.

Look for the poems of Allen Ginsberg, Shakespeare, Gertrude Stein and Alice Walker. The Aurora Theatre(2081 Addison Street) is another award-winning theater group; the company presents premiere performances in an intimate 150-seat theater, where no one sits more than 15 feet from the stage. Jazz enthusiasts will love the California Jazz Conservatory (2087 Addison Street), an independent conservatory and concert venue. Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse (2020 Addison Street) offers a program of traditional music from various regional, ethnic and social cultures, such as Swedish folk music, Arab-Cuban gypsy fusion, jazz, blues harmonica and hillbilly songs.

4 Lawrence Hall of Science

Lawrence Hall of Science Kai Schreiber / photo modified
Lawrence Hall of Science Kai Schreiber / photo modified
 

Above the main university campus, UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science offers the public a chance to learn about science and have fun in the process. The 45-seat Planetarium offers interactive programs with a beautiful digital projection system for a realistic impression of the constellations and our solar system including the planets and their moons. To enjoy some of the best stargazing in the Bay Area, bring your own binoculars or telescope and head to Lawrence Hall’s Plaza. In a clear night sky, this viewpoint allows viewers to see the moon, planets and galaxies far away in space along with the city lights of San Francisco on the horizon.

Animal lovers will delight in the interactive exhibits in the Animal Discovery Room. Visitors have a chance to hold gentle animals and learn about the habitats of more exotic animals. In the Ingenuity Lab, budding engineers can collaborate with Cal Engineering students to build a prototype or tackle an engineering challenge. Little ones will enjoy the Young Explorers Experience, special activities designed for preschool-aged children and younger. More challenging activities, summer camps and classes are available for older children. In the Ingenuity Lab, budding engineers can collaborate with Cal Engineering students to build a prototype or tackle an engineering challenge.

Little ones will enjoy the Young Explorers Experience, special activities designed for preschool-aged children and younger. More challenging activities, summer camps and classes are available for older children. In the Ingenuity Lab, budding engineers can collaborate with Cal Engineering students to build a prototype or tackle an engineering challenge. Little ones will enjoy the Young Explorers Experience, special activities designed for preschool-aged children and younger. More challenging activities, summer camps and classes are available for older children.

Adres: 1 Centennial Drive, Berkeley

Official site: www.lawrencehallofscience.org

5 Tilden Park

Tilden Park
Tilden Park
 

Nestled between the Berkeley Hills and the San Pablo Ridge, Tilden Park is a beautiful natural space with many recreational attractions. The 2,079-acre park features nearly 40 miles of hiking trails, an 18-hole golf course, and a botanical garden with native California plants. Children always love to ride the charming carousel animals of the musical Merry-Go-Round.

This antique carousel was handcrafted in 1913 into a menagerie of animals including horses, tigers, giraffes, toads, reindeer, zebras and sea monsters. Near the Merry-Go-Round, a snack bar sells carnival favorites like Coney Island hot dogs, pretzels, cotton candy, fresh-baked cookies and ice cream. Children and adults alike love the park’s little steam train, which drives along a scenic hill with sensational views. The park has several wonderful picnic areas, which can be reserved. In the summer, Lake Anza has a lifeguard and is popular for swimming.

It is possible to fish here all year round; catches may include bluegill fish, largemouth bass, sunfish and channel catfish. The lake even has a sandy beach that is sheltered from the wind and has plenty of sun. Some trails in the park are designed for biking and horseback riding. For those who want to see a real working farm, Tilden Little Farm is a fantastic place to visit. The farm has a naturalist program and the children’s garden is used as an outdoor classroom to teach children how fruit and vegetables are grown.

The park has several wonderful picnic areas, which can be reserved. In the summer, Lake Anza has a lifeguard and is popular for swimming. It is possible to fish here all year round; catches may include bluegill fish, largemouth bass, sunfish and channel catfish. The lake even has a sandy beach that is sheltered from the wind and has plenty of sun. Some trails in the park are designed for biking and horseback riding. For those who want to see a real working farm, Tilden Little Farm is a fantastic place to visit. The farm has a naturalist program and the children’s garden is used as an outdoor classroom to teach children how fruit and vegetables are grown.

The park has several wonderful picnic areas, which can be reserved. In the summer, Lake Anza has a lifeguard and is popular for swimming. It is possible to fish here all year round; catches may include bluegill fish, largemouth bass, sunfish and channel catfish. The lake even has a sandy beach that is sheltered from the wind and has plenty of sun. Some trails in the park are designed for biking and horseback riding. For those who want to see a real working farm, Tilden Little Farm is a fantastic place to visit. The farm has a naturalist program and the children’s garden is used as an outdoor classroom to teach children how fruit and vegetables are grown. In the summer, Lake Anza has a lifeguard and is popular for swimming.

It is possible to fish here all year round; catches may include bluegill fish, largemouth bass, sunfish and channel catfish. The lake even has a sandy beach that is sheltered from the wind and has plenty of sun. Some trails in the park are designed for biking and horseback riding. For those who want to see a real working farm, Tilden Little Farm is a fantastic place to visit. The farm has a naturalist program and the children’s garden is used as an outdoor classroom to teach children how fruit and vegetables are grown. In the summer, Lake Anza has a lifeguard and is popular for swimming.

It is possible to fish here all year round; catches may include bluegill fish, largemouth bass, sunfish and channel catfish. The lake even has a sandy beach that is sheltered from the wind and has plenty of sun. Some trails in the park are designed for biking and horseback riding. For those who want to see a real working farm, Tilden Little Farm is a fantastic place to visit. The farm has a naturalist program and the children’s garden is used as an outdoor classroom to teach children how fruit and vegetables are grown. The lake even has a sandy beach that is sheltered from the wind and has plenty of sun. Some trails in the park are designed for biking and horseback riding. For those who want to see a real working farm, Tilden Little Farm is a fantastic place to visit. The farm has a naturalist program and the children’s garden is used as an outdoor classroom to teach children how fruit and vegetables are grown.

The lake even has a sandy beach that is sheltered from the wind and has plenty of sun. Some trails in the park are designed for biking and horseback riding. For those who want to see a real working farm, Tilden Little Farm is a fantastic place to visit. The farm has a naturalist program and the children’s garden is used as an outdoor classroom to teach children how fruit and vegetables are grown.

Adres: 2501 Grizzly Peak Boulevard, Orinda

6 botanical garden

Charlie Nguyen Botanical Garden / photo modified
Charlie Nguyen Botanical Garden / photo modified
 

Founded in 1890, the Botanical Garden is an exceptional collection of more than 13,000 plants from almost every continent. Due to the local climate, the emphasis is on Mediterranean plants. The extensive 34-acre garden is divided into several sections containing plants from California, the Canary Islands, Eastern North America, the Mediterranean Basin, Australia, Asia, Central and South America, the deserts of the Americas and South Africa. The Mexico/Central America section has a cloud forest and the California section has an oak hill.

Located in the hills of Berkeley, the botanical garden is easiest to reach by car or by taking the Berkeley campus shuttle (the H line) Monday through Friday. The botanical garden is a perfect place for nature walks and picnics; the campsite has picnic tables in four different parts of the garden. Other facilities include toilets, a garden shop and the Julia Morgan Hall.

The Mather Redwood Grove & Amphitheater is used as a venue for a summer concert series. The admission price includes a docent-led “Plants of the World” tour on the first Wednesday of the month and every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 PM.

Adres: 200 Centennial Drive, Berkeley

Official site: https://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu

7 Telegraph Avenue

Just outside the university gates, Telegraph Avenue draws crowds of students who come to hang out, do some shopping or grab a quick bite to eat. With its eclectic shops, Telegraph has retained some of the 1960s bohemian atmosphere. Hints of Berkeley’s colorful counterculture heyday can be seen in the vintage record stores and tie-dye clad post-hippies roam the avenue.

Above all, Telegraph focuses on starving students with affordable sandwich places, bagels, pizza by the slice, fast food and casual in-store dining. Bookstores and record stores are the other top reasons why students and residents frequent Telegraph. The legendary record stores Amoeba Music and Rasputin Music and Moe’s Books are Berkeley institutions.

8 Claremont Hotel

Claremont Hotel Doug Letterman / photo modified
Claremont Hotel Doug Letterman / photo modified
 

This grand historic hotel enjoys a spectacular location on a sprawling wooded estate in the Berkeley Hills, overlooking San Francisco Bay. An impressive West Coast landmark, the Claremont Hotel dates back to the days of the Gold Rush when a Kansas farmer named Bill Thornburg built a castle and several horse stables on the extensive grounds. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1901 and the current resort was built in 1915. The hotel has a pleasant veranda, an elegant lobby and luxurious rooms. Amenities include tennis courts, three outdoor pools and a restaurant with beautiful views of the bay. Due to its romantic setting and elegant reception rooms, the Claremont Resort is a popular location for weddings.

Adres: 41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley

Official site: https://www.fairmont.com/claremont-berkeley/

9 Berkeley Marina

Attractions in Berkeley
Image
 

Berkeley Marina

The Berkeley Marina has a boat bay popular for water sports such as canoeing, kayaking and water skiing, while the marina is used to moor sailboats. Many visitors enjoy a stroll along the Berkeley Marina and then birdwatching at the adjacent Shorebird Nature Center or at the Waterpark . For children, the highlight is the Adventure Playground which focuses on creative play such as painting and fort building. Another attraction for children is the Dreamland Playground in the water park. This special playground features imaginative wooden castles and walkways that encourage children to explore. Aquatic Park also has picnic areas, a frisbee golf field and a rowing center.

10 Berkeley Rose Garden

Attractions in Berkeley
Berkeley Rose Garden K.Oliver / photo modified
 

The Berkeley Rose Garden is a beautiful terraced amphitheater surrounded by a 65-foot pergola. With 3,000 rose bushes, including 250 varieties, the garden is a dazzling display of color and beauty. The garden also offers beautiful views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Adres: 1200 Euclid Avenue, Berkeley

Where to Stay in Berkeley for Sightseeing

We recommend these convenient hotels in Berkeley, with easy access to the university and fantastic restaurants:

  • Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel: 5-star luxury, Oakland Hills location, beautiful pools, fine dining, tennis courts, full-service spa and salon.
  • Hotel Shattuck Plaza: mid-range boutique hotel, central location, organic cuisine, fitness center.
  • Holiday Inn Express Berkeley: affordable rates, near the BART station and restaurants, free breakfast and parking, helpful staff.
  • Knights Inn Berkeley CA: budget hotel, convenient location, clean rooms, comfortable beds.

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