Unforgettable Things To Do In Berkeley

Things To Do In Berkeley: The Berkeley Hills is a magnificent tangle of arts and crafts homes and narrow winding streets that follow the natural terrain. In the hills, you’ll find rock parks—parks studded with massive rock outcroppings tucked into residential neighborhoods—and hundreds of pedestrian pathways that offer off-road shortcuts through the hills. Originally designed to give early 20th-century residents easier walking access to existing rail lines down the hill, the paths remain a hidden treasure of Berkeley. Explore independently using the Berkeley Path Wanderers’ Association Path Map or join a walking tour to discover the history and stories of the paths.

There’s way more to Berkeley than just the university (although we love that, too). Just across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco and north of Oakland, you’ll find a vibrant city packed with one-of-a-kind restaurants, unconventional museums, soul-soothing natural parks, and historic haunts. You just need to know where to look. Here are the best things to do in Berkeley—whether you want to eat, drink, explore, or play.

Fun Things To Do In Berkeley

Renowned for its prestigious university and appreciated for its offbeat Bohemian spirit, Berkeley is a fun place to visit. The university’s inspiring Neoclassical buildings stand loftily in a woodsy hilltop location overlooking the San Francisco Bay. The campus was the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement and the renegade hippie counterculture of the 1960s, and the chaotic and bustling Sproul Plaza continues to be an intense scene of student activity.

Besides being an intellectual center, Berkeley is a hub for entertainment and gourmet dining. The local organic food movement began here in the ’70s with Chez Panisse, a delightful French-California-style bistro, which is an obligatory 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 gorgeous parks and botanical gardens offer spectacular floral displays and stunning panoramic views. For more ideas, read our list of the top things to do in Berkeley.

Founded in 1890, the Botanical Garden has an exceptional collection of more than 13,000 plants from nearly every continent with an emphasis on Mediterranean plants. The expansive 34-acre garden is divided into several sections representing plants from California, the Canary Islands, Eastern North America, the Mediterranean Basin, Australia, Asia, Central & South America, the deserts of the Americas, and South Africa.

The Botanical Garden is in the Berkeley Hills and is most easily accessible by car or by taking the Berkeley campus shuttle (the H line) Monday through Friday. It’s a perfect place for nature walks and picnics, with picnic tables in four different areas of the garden. Other facilities include restrooms, a garden shop, and the Julia Morgan Hall. The Mather Redwood Grove & Amphitheater is used as the venue for a summer concert series.

Things To Do In Berkeley Today

The Berkeley Marina includes the city marina and the surrounding area, comprising more than 100 acres of parkland. César Chávez Park occupies the majority of the space, offering stunning panoramic views of San Francisco Bay’s three impressive bridges, Angel Island, and Alcatraz. The park is also home to miles of nature trails, picnic areas, and a 17-acre off-leash dog park, among other recreational activities.

Accessible via a pedestrian bridge over I-80, the Aquatic Park is another popular attraction at the marina, offering many recreational activities including non-motorized water sports, hiking, and bird-watching. Families will want to visit the Dream Land for Kids playground, an extensive play space filled with structures and equipment to help the kids burn off their energy and spark their imagination. More adventurous families will want to check out Adventure Playground, also located within the marina.

At the marina, you will also find the Shorebird Park Nature Center, home to aquariums, birds, and educational exhibits that explore the local wildlife and ecosystem. The center’s straw-bale building is another attraction in its own right, a green building that can be seen via a self-guided tour.

Nestled in between the Berkeley Hills and the San Pablo Ridge, Tilden Park is a beautiful natural space with many recreational attractions. Things to do at this 2,079-acre parkland include hiking the nearly 40 miles of hiking trails, as well as cycling and horseback riding. Other outdoor activities include an 18-hole golf course, the Regional Parks Botanic Garden with native California plants, and swimming at the park’s Lake Anza.

Kids are always eager to ride the charming carousel animals of the musical Merry-Go-Round. This antique carousel was handcrafted in 1913 with a menagerie of animals including horses, tigers, giraffes, toads, reindeer, zebras, and sea monsters. Tilden Little Farm is also a fantastic thing to do with kids. The farm has a naturalist program, and the Children’s Garden is used as an outdoor classroom to teach kids how vegetables and fruits are grown.

Near the Merry-Go-Round, a snack bar sells favorite carnival foods, like Coney Island hot dogs, pretzels, cotton candy, fresh-baked cookies, and ice cream. The park also has several delightful picnic areas, which may be reserved. Children and adults alike love the park’s small Steam Train, which travels along a picturesque hillside with sensational views.

Things To Do In Berkeley At Night

The Berkeley Rose Garden is set in a lovely terraced amphitheater surrounded by a 220-foot redwood pergola. With 1,500 rose bushes representing 250 varieties, the garden is a dazzling spectacle of color and beauty with peak season blooming in mid-May. The garden also offers stunning views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

The rose garden is adjacent to Codornices Park, with a tunnel beneath Euclid Avenue connecting the two and providing wheelchair access to the gardens. At the park, tourists will find a good scenic overlook, as well as several hiking trails among copses of redwoods, oaks, and bay trees. Families with younger children will appreciate the kiddie play area, as well as the school-age playground, which is equipped with ways for the kids to work off that extra energy.

Perched on a wooded hillside, the 178-acre U.C. Berkeley campus is lush with shady redwoods, oaks, and other trees. At the center is its most prominent landmark, Sather Tower. Built in 1914, the campanile bell and clock tower were constructed from Alaskan marble, and at 307 feet tall is the third tallest bell and clock tower in the world. Visitors may ascend to the observation platform at 200 feet to take in the marvelous 360-degree views of San Francisco Bay. The clock tower’s bells chime on the hour and perform a 45-minute recital of classical melodies three times a day.

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Other famous landmarks on the campus include Sather Gate at the main entrance to the campus and South Hall, the oldest building on the campus, built-in 1873. Sproul Plaza is another well-known landmark, made famous as the gathering place of early free-speech activists. It is still a hub of activity where students gather, social activists protest, and street musicians sometimes offer impromptu performances. For more insight into the undergraduate culture, head to the Free Speech Movement Café, which displays documents of Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement in the 1960s.

Visitors will enjoy taking a look at Bancroft Library, wandering up the well-worn marble steps to the main reading room with its intricate artesunate (carved wood) ceiling. The Neoclassical Hearst Greek Theater is a beautiful 8,500-seat outdoor venue used for a variety of performances, such as world music concerts, the Berkeley Jazz Festival, and noteworthy speakers. The U.C. Berkeley graduation ceremony also takes place at the Greek Theater. College Avenue, which borders the campus, is also a pleasant area with many cafés and bookshops.

14 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Berkeley
  • Botanical Garden at UC Berkeley. Botanical Garden | Charlie Nguyen / photo modified. …
  • Berkeley Marina. Boats at Berkeley Marina. …
  • Tilden Park. Quiet woods of Tilden Park. …
  • Berkeley Rose Garden at Codornices Park. …
  • Sather Tower and the U.C. …
  • Theater and Music Performances. …
  • Indian Rock Park. …
  • Telegraph Avenue.
Worth visiting and walking around. Of course, UC Berkeley has a great reputation as one of the best Universities in the world. However, this review is for tourists. UC Berkeley is worth walking around as the architecture of a lot of the buildings is unique and interesting.
  • Tilden Regional Park Little Farm. 238 reviews. Parks. …
  • The Berkeley Rose Garden. 204 reviews. …
  • UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley. 268 reviews. …
  • Museum of Paleontology. 14 reviews. …
  • Albany Aquarium. 185 reviews. …
  • Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. 66 reviews. …
  • Tilden Regional Park. 362 reviews. …
  • Berkeley Pier. 54 reviews.

Things To Do In Berkeley Tonight

Originally unveiled in 1903, the Greek Theatre is the longest-running outdoor amphitheater in the country. A century later, the open-air theater remains an electric place to catch a show. In the 60s, the amphitheater earned a groovy reputation, hosting musicians like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane, and The Grateful Dead (The Dead played the Greek no less than 29 times over the span of a dozen years). Today, the spot is a popular venue for indie rock bands like Now Arcade Fire, The National, Death Cab for Cutie, and LCD Soundsystem.

Trek through Tilden Regional Park to discover panoramic views. Start at Inspiration Point—get there early, as the parking lot fills up fast—and take the 8.2-mile Nimitz Trail. The paved route weaves through Berkeley’s hills, revealing glimpses of San Francisco across the bay, crossing from Tilden into Wildcat Regional Park. The trail also traverses a range of landscapes, from pines, sequoias, and scrubland to eucalyptus groves and grassy hills. If you’re seeking a similarly awe-inspiring payoff with a bit less effort, drive up to the top of Grizzly Peak. The steep, winding road leads to various pull-outs and overlooks—an ideal place to watch the fog roll in at sunset.

The Cheese Board offers a rotating selection of nearly 400 types of rare cheeses from around the world, as well as fresh-baked bread and pastries. A couple of doors down, Cheese Board also has a pizzeria where they bake a different sourdough-based pizza each day, five days a week. Typical (though unusual) combos include peaches, mozzarella, arugula, Dunbarton Blue cheese or corn, pasilla pepper, onion, mozzarella, and Valbreso feta cheese. Just down the street, you’ll come across the legendary Chez Panisse. Chef Alice Waters is an icon in her own right, serving dishes that are unwaveringly seasonal, sustainably sourced, and organic. If the four-course prix fixe is too splurgy, head to the Chez Panisse cafe upstairs, where you can order a la carte dishes for lunch or dinner.

Legendary public university UC Berkeley (the number one public university in the world) had a lot to offer visitors. Sign up for a free campus tour, which begins every day at 10 am to get an overview, or explore the massive grounds for yourself (you’ll find everything from a running creek to a eucalyptus grove among the historic buildings). Before you leave, make sure to take in the view from the top of the Campanile, the world’s third-tallest bell and clock tower.

The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive encompass more than 16,000 films and videos and over 19,000 works of art. The original 1939 building got a sweeping expansion and upgrade in 2016, melding the old museum with a new 35,000-square-foot addition. The new portion includes two film theaters, a performance space, a cafe, an art-making lab, a reading room, and more. The art collection spans old and new, from Ming and Qing dynasty Chinese paintings and old master prints to modern works by Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Helen Frankenthaler.

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