Berkeley is most well known for its University of California campus, but the vibrant city has so much more to offer. Rich in art and cuisine Berkeley is home to a wide range styles to explore. Situated across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco and north of Oakland, Berkeley is a perfect destination in northern California.
1. Visit the University of California Berkeley Campus
UC Berkeley is one of the best public universities in California and the United States. Take the self guided tour of the campus or the free walking tour to learn more about the university and its accomplishments. UC Berkeley is the home of the Freedom of Speech Movement and it is where the first divorce legislation came where neither spouse had to claim some kind of failure in the other to request separation.
Make sure to go to the top of the Sather Bell Tower, known as the Campanile, for great views of the city! It is the third tallest bell tower in the world, so be prepared for amazing views.
Fun Fact: The UC Berkeley campus was designed by the same landscape architect as Central Park in NYC.
2. Walk down the historic Telegraph Avenue
Telegraph Avenue is not only a historic street but it is one of the most colorful and vibrant streets in Berkeley. Make sure to visit Amoeba Music, where you can buy vinyls, second-hand CDs and an unsurpassed selection of unique things. Another stop you must make in Telegraph Street is Moe’s Books, where you can find interesting second hand books as well as new books.
3. Visit the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley
The UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley offers 34 acres full over 10,000 types of plants from different landscapes around the world. It is beautiful to just stroll through the garden and enjoy countless flowering plants in the warm sun.
4. Enjoy the view from the hill at Lawrence Hall of Science
For a fantastic view of the Bay and San Francisco including the Golden Gate bridge you have to visit the Lawrence Hall of Science. From there you can see the entire skyline of San Francisco. We parked at the Lawrence Hall of Science and snapped some photos!
5. Go out and enjoy nature in Berkeley
A few miles from downtown Berkeley you can enjoy 2,000 acre of nature at the Tilden Regional Park. There are several hiking paths and biking trails to just get away from the busy city and immerse yourself in the wilderness. The park also has a steam train that goes around the forest, Lake Anza, the Little Farm, the Botanical Garden and an antique carousel.
6. Go for a stroll at the Berkeley Marina
The Berkeley Marina is by far our favorite spot in Berkeley, as you can see the full glory of the San Francisco Bay. One of the most cool things to do in the Marina is to attend the major annual kite festival in July. During the festival people pilot their huge kites, it is quite a show!
7. Go beyond Berkeley’s downtown and explore its diverse neighborhoods
Each neighborhood in Berkeley has its own personality and it is great to visit them all to get a better sense of what Berkeley has to offer.
- Grab a bite at the Gourmet Ghetto: One of the best things to do in Berkeley in a day is visit the original Peet’s Coffee and the Cheeseboard Collective.
- Go shopping in Elmwood: This neighborhood is known for shops, delicious restaurants, and a small cinema.
- West Berkeley: Walk down 4th Street, this four block long street is full of independent stores including vegan clothing, and other cool unique shops and many delicious restaurants like Bette’s Oceanview Diner.
- Enjoy the artistic district of Lorin: In Lorin you will find many murals and antique stores, quirky boutiques, and small bakeries and restaurants near Ashby BART. The long Solano Avenue has the feel of a revitalized classic Main Street built up on art.
Where to sleep in Berkeley?
If you choose to use Berkeley as a hub to discover nearby areas like Oakland, San Francisco and Tri-Valley the best place to sleep in Berkeley is the Graduate Berkeley Hotel.
The unique vibes at the Graduate Berkeley mix local traditions and the building’s long history. Just a short walk to UC Berkeley the comfortable and relaxing accommodations are perfect for every visitor.