Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Berkeley, CA

  • Published 2022/08/05

Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, the city of Berkeley is a warm blend of hippie culture, activism, and scholars.

The city has a diverse historical significance in the making of America.

Truth and tyranny have always been a part of the city.

The Free Speech Movement was started originally by Berkeley activists in the late 1960s.

It is a city with a small but esteemed reputation.

It sits on 10.5 square miles of land, with another 7.2 square miles of land extending over the waters.

Over the years, Berkeley transformed from an old activist city into an exciting travel destination.

You can visit Berkeley during any season due to its pleasant climate all throughout the year—although, to be specific, spring and autumn are when the city is at its best.

Despite being a small city, Berkeley has lots of places to visit and see, and one can choose depending on their interests.

These are the best things to do in Berkeley, California:

Enjoy Captivating Views from Grizzly Peak

The view from Grizzly Peak

Nathaniel Curiel /

Grizzly Peak is the highest point of the Berkeley Hills.

You can drive to reach the top to see one of the most fascinating views of San Francisco.

Entrance is free, there is a parking lot for your vehicles, and there are wooden trunk benches where you can have a seat and witness panoramic views of the city.

Eucalyptus forest at Grizzly Peak

SRGK Studio /

From this point, you can identify Napa, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the Bay Bridge, Oakland, and Silicon Valley.

You can start your tour of Berkeley by driving up to Grizzly Peak and witnessing the city’s most breathtaking views.

It would be best to visit this place at night to see the entire city lit up.

Gorgeous night lights of the city view from Grizzly Peak

AndreasEbbesen /

Embark on a Hiking Adventure in Tilden Regional Park

Mountain view from Tilden Park

Chris LaBasco /

This park is located on Grizzly Peak Boulevard and is a must-visit on your trip to Berkeley.

You can go hiking on the trail in the park.

There is gray, tropical greenery on the path.

There are two estuaries on your hiking path.

Landscape of Tilden Regional Park

Betelihem Mulubirhan /

You can come here and build a powerful bond with nature.

Several bridges are available to make your hike safer and more manageable.

The hike opens up to the gorgeous Lake Anza and is a perfect way to escape the Californian heat during the summer.

You can take a quaint dip in the lake or walk to Lake Anza Beach and relax on the sand.

A stream at Tilden Regional Park

novascape /

View Stunning Scenes from Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve

Sunset over Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve

DanielNevares /

Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve is a regional park on Claremont Avenue.

You can park your vehicles at the entrance.

At the entrance of the park, there are maps available to guide you through the trail.

They call it the Stonewall Panoramic Trail, and the path is even, save for a few steep steps.

The first upland you’ll see is impressive.

Once you arrive at the top of the trail, you get to see panoramic views of the city, Oakland, and San Francisco.

You can take some rest at the top because the hike may tire you, but the views will undoubtedly be worth it.

Explore Berkeley’s Iconic Telegraph Avenue

Students lined up in front of a sushi bar at Telegraph Avenue

Sheila Fitzgerald /

Berkeley is a city known for hippies and the liberal movement, and Telegraph Avenue is a symbol of the great historic movement.

The road is picturesque and looks like something straight out of a Hollywood film.

It’s lined with shops and restaurants.

One must-visit shop would have to be CREAM, well-known for its delectable ice cream sandwiches.

Buildings at Telegraph Avenue

BrokenSphere, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can find artists selling art and musicians singing on the roads here.

Telegraph Avenue is located in downtown Berkeley and will lead you directly to the world-famous University of California, Berkeley.

Inside the campus, you can see the entire Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay at some high points.

Street vendor at Telegraph Avenue

BrokenSphere, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Watch the Sunset at César E. Chávez Park

View of César E. Chávez Park hilltop

Staeiou, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When you come to César E. Chávez Park in the evening, you can see the beautiful sunset against the fields overlooking the upstanding San Francisco bay.

There is relaxing music being played here all the time, which may help calm your frazzled nerves.

Just picture this: pleasant views of the waves crashing against the rocks by the shore, calm music in the background, and the sun slowing setting behind the mountains and the night creeping in.

A wooden bench at César E. Chávez Park

Ijon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can buy a warm cup of coffee and get lost in the sights of nature here.

Plenty of people come here for jogging, strolling, and cycling.

You can set up a picnic here and have a lovely time.

Try the Best of Berkeley’s Local Cuisine

Berkeley restaurant

BondRocketImages /

Berkeley has an exceptional cuisine, and the food here is not like that of any other American city.

Some restaurants in the city have been open for a long time and represent the taste of Berkeley.

Bette’s Oceanview Diner on Fourth Street is a high-end yet affordable restaurant with a charming setting.

Interior of the bird restaurant

Emily Lawson /

They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner—out of all their menu items, their breakfast options would have to be their best offerings.

In case you would prefer to cook for yourself, the Tokyo Fish Market on San Pablo Avenue sells imported products from Japan that you can prepare at home.

Chicken sandwich from the bird restaurant

Emily Lawson /

View Various Plant Species at the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley

Gorgeous pond at UC Berkeley Botanical Garden

Sandy Steinman /

Located on Centennial Drive, the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley features over 10,000 plant species.

You can visually learn so much about the indigenous plant kingdom on this trip.

The vast botanical garden is located alongside a park and the Lawrence Hall of Science, from where you can view all the aspects of the garden.

There are rides, benches, and a fishing area in the park.

Welcome sign of UC Botanical Garden

Eric Broder Van Dyke /

Some plants in the garden are endangered and are hence carefully preserved.

The garden has a vast collection of succulents that have been collected and grown since the early 1990s.

There is also a tropical zone where herbs of different kinds are grown.

Pathway lined with plants at UC Botanical Garden

Eric Broder Van Dyke /

Stop and Smell the Roses at the Berkeley Rose Garden

Welcome sign of Berkeley Rose Garden

BondRocketImages /

The Berkeley Rose Garden is found on Euclid Avenue and is the perfect place to go on a leisurely walk in the summer, with pleasant scents all around you.

There are around 3,000 different rose plants in the garden, a red canopy, and an amphitheater.

There is a hiking trail in the garden if you want to blend in with nature.

The garden has footbridges, a picnic area, and tennis courts.

Daytime view of Berkeley Rose Garden

NicholasGeraldinePhotos /

The amphitheater is structured abstractly.

There are benches on each layer, and each layer has a different rose breed blooming in its soil.

The garden is the ideal venue for a romantic date.

Rose shrubs at Berkeley Rose Garden

NicholasGeraldinePhotos /

Have a Picnic at the Berkeley Marina

Boats docked at Berkeley Marina

Cavan-Images /

The Berkeley Marina is an urban delight in the western part of the city.

The harbor is used for sailing most of the yachts in Berkeley.

There is an idyllic park with fresh green grass, where you can lie down and feel the Californian breeze on your face.

There are fishing areas available, so you can have freshly caught fish for a delicious meal.

The marina is calm and picturesque, and summers here are exceptionally splendid and airy.

You can view the Golden Gate Bridge from the harbor.

There is a nature programming center close by if you want to make your visit an educational trip.

There is plenty to do here; there are playgrounds, scenic views, and restaurants that present the dock view.

Take in Views from Sather Tower

Night view of Sather Tower

Chao Kusollerschariya /

Sather Tower is a bell and clock tower located on the campus of the University of California, Berkley.

Its bell is the third-largest bell in the world.

It was given by Jane K. Sather in the loving memory of her husband, Peder Sather.

This 96-meter tall structure is the university’s most distinguishing feature, and people from across the world come here just to visit it.

View of Sather Tower's top half

EQRoy /

The tower is famous mainly due to its similarity to the Campanile de San Marco in Venice, Italy.

The tower is also home to fossils from Los Angeles’ La Brea Tar Pits and Museum.

An elevator inside the tower takes passengers 500 feet above ground level, giving astounding views of the Bay, San Francisco, and the Golden Bridge.

View of Sather Tower's carillon

Sundry Photography /

Watch Artistic Films at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Building sign of Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Ameer Mussard-Afcari /

The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is another noteworthy site within the University of California, Berkley grounds.

It opened in 1970 and features a massive collection of vintage paintings by renowned artists like Robert Mapplethorpe, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and many others.

The Pacific Film Archive broadcasts international films on screens and has a library filled with online directories of the films.

Interior of Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The MATRIX Program for modern-day art is a must-see for art enthusiasts.

Make sure you plan your visit when an exhibition is going on, as they are always diverse and marvelous.

You can also witness staged dances and musical events at this museum.

Exhibit in Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Indulge in Lip-Smacking Cuisine at the Gourmet Ghetto

Signpost of Gourmet Ghetto

Diablanco, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The cuisine in Berkeley is so delightful.

There are a variety of restaurants for you to choose from.

The Gourmet Ghetto is one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Berkeley.

The area gave birth to a lot of food concepts that are popular today.

Chez Panisse macarons at Gourmet Ghetto

eric molina, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

They serve local and organic food, among countless other culinary delights.

You can start your visit to this district by trying the famous Chez Panisse started by Alice Waters in 1971.

Cheese Board Collective Pizzeria is another well-known restaurant in the area, known to serve one type of vegetarian pizza every day.

Explore the Rocky Trail at Indian Rock Park

Aerial view of Indian Rock Park

SnapASkyline /

This park on Indian Rock Avenue is known for its scenic views of the Bay and the city.

Indian Rock Park is situated at the top of a hill, and you have to take a trail to get to the top, where you can see all the views of the city, the Bay, and the bridge.

You can also go rock climbing here.

People come here all the time to do photoshoots.

There are similar volcanic eruption formations around the area, but the largest ones you’ll find are at the Indian Rock Park.

Geek Out at the Lawrence Hall of Science

Exterior of the Lawrence Hall of Science

SnapASkyline /

The Lawrence Hall of Science is one of the University of California, Berkeley’s major attractions.

It is open to the public, and there are lots of scientific experiments on display for visitors to see and learn from.

There is a planetarium that projects constellations and the solar system; it is a fun learning experience.

Sunstone at Lawrence Hall of Science

Tim Ereneta from Berkeley, CA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can identify the stars, all the planets, the sun, and the moons.

If you come here at night, make sure you carry a pair of binoculars so you can stargaze under the moonlight.

You can identify some prominent stars in the sky on a clear night.

An Animal Discovery Zone is set up, where you can learn about animal history, species, and habitats.

Aerial view of the Lawrence Hall of Science

SnapASkyline /

Sample Exquisite Wines at Donkey & Goat Winery

Donkey & Goat Winery has been around since 2004 and takes pride in being Berkeley’s first-ever natural winery.

While their wines are handcrafted in Berkeley, their grapes are grown in Napa Valley and various other organically farmed vineyards in California.

The winery features a cellar and tasting room, and you can sample the different kinds of wine they sell and even learn about the art of winemaking.

The best time to visit this place is on a weekend, as there is much less rush and the place is calm.

You can also purchase some of their fine wines to commemorate your trip!

Engage in Outdoor Fun at Live Oak Park

A creek at Live Oak Park

Burkhard Mücke, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Live Oak Park is a public parkland and leisure area in Berkeley, California, and is positioned in the heart of several North Berkeley communities.

It is one of the city’s oldest and most naturalistic parks.

The park’s 5.5 acres of natural space are contrasted with buildings that serve as the hub of the community.

Arts and crafts fireplace at Live Oak Park

Burkhard Mücke, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Live Oak Park is also the location of multiple neighborhood festivals and provides various recreational options.

Basketball and tennis courts, a community center, and play spaces for young children are available at Live Oak Park.

Watch a Performance at Berkeley Repertory Theatre

The Berkeley Repertory Theatre, a renowned performing arts theatre and acting school is situated on Addison Street.

The theatre began as a storefront stage in 1968.

It progressed and became among the most avant-garde performance spaces in the country.

The theater has two stages and hosts numerous debuts of plays later played on Broadway and in London.

The theater hosts performances on the Berkeley site and tours some of its works around the nation.

Shop for Products at Ecology Center Farmers’ Markets

The Ecology Center Farmers’ Markets are where California producers sell fresh, locally produced vegetables and farm-processed items to locals and tourists alike.

The Ecology Center Farmers’ Markets are outdoor bazaars in three different Berkeley neighborhoods: Downtown Berkeley, North Berkeley, and South Berkeley.

They highlight regional California products and are devoted to helping modest farmers engage in sustainable farming.

Fruits, vegetables, nuts, baked products, jam, olive oil, pork, cheese, delicious cuisine, nursery plants, and flowers are all sold at their markets.

Special occasions at the marketplaces include musical performances.

Choose a Room with a View at Claremont Club & Spa

Exterior of Claremont Club & Spa

Ameer Mussard-Afcari /

Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel, offers the finest of the Bay Area by skillfully mixing its rich 19th-century heritage with the present.

Their resort’s charm is evident, with expansive rooms and exceptional craftsmanship everywhere you turn.

With its rich history and grandeur has become a Bay Area landmark.

Interior of Claremont Club & Spa

ZikG /

The Claremont Club & Spa has every amenity you’d anticipate from a renowned California resort.

The 276 classically modern guest rooms and suites offer the ideal environment to take full advantage of the resort’s prime position.

Numerous accommodations provide unmatched vistas of the San Francisco cityscape and bay.

Bring Your Kids to Adventure Playground

Entrance to the Adventure Playground

Rhododendrites, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Adventure Playground is a unique asset providing free outdoor play areas for kids and families.

It first opened its doors in 1979.

After World War II, Europe was where the idea for Adventure Playgrounds first took hold.

Play area of Adventure Playground

BR Fairbanks /

Lady Marjory Allen, a landscaping architect and child advocate observed children playing in “typical” asphalt and cement playgrounds.

Park visitors can have fun playing on the numerous forts, boats, and towers that kids have designed and created, riding the zip line, or crafting with tools like hammers, paint, and recyclable materials.

A child playing Adventure Playground's broken piano

Paul Marcus /

Other Things to Do Nearby

Spend a Day at Muir Woods National Monument

Pathway at Muir Woods National Monument

MNStudio /

Muir Woods National Monument is famous for its California redwoods, which are a breed of plant species known for their long lifetime, enormous trunks, and tall height.

Some trees are so huge that you can drive your car through their trunks.

It would be best to come to this place during the daytime, as it can take an entire day to hike around.

There is a two-mile walk to the entrance, and maps are available to guide you to the monument.

Welcome sign of Muir Woods National Monument

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Alternatively, you can choose to hike and witness the greenery and the place’s area up close.

The hike begins on the Dipsy Trail and ends at the Ben Johnson Trail.

The path takes around two hours to cover, and you can see the ocean views and spend some time with nature.

You can set up a quick picnic in the green area and take in the place’s serenity.

Giant redwood trees at Muir Woods National Monument

Martin Valigursky /

Final Thoughts

Berkeley is a bustling city with lovely parks, top-notch museums, and interesting attractions.

The serene outdoor areas in Berkeley’s rolling hills are ideal for nature enthusiasts.

Berkeley’s beautiful parks and botanical gardens provide breathtaking vistas and amazing floral displays.

The best things to do in Berkley offer a wealth of magnificent scenery, fascinating cultural sites, and leisure activities.

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