The Ultimate Travel Guide To Berkeley & Things To Do

Located in the Bay Area near San Francisco, Berkeley is a classic blend of history, art, culture, and cuisine, and serves as a breeding ground for writers, artists, and musicians. Berkeley is the home to the prestigious UC Berkeley also known as Cal, and the inception place of activism during the Civil Right Era.

Berkeley provides a plethora of mind-soothing tourist hotspots including various cafés, bookstores, meet-up points, and lodging options making it a nice weekend getaway in the Bay Area.

Best Time To Go To Berkeley

University of California, Berkeley
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University of California, Berkeley


Berkeley enjoys refreshing weather all year round – thanks to its location in the San Francisco Bay Area, the climate is usually mild – summers not too hot and winters not too cold!

A good time to visit is between June to August, which is also when a lot of tourists flock to the city so hotel and activities prices are usually on the higher side, choose December if travelers want to see the snow and enjoy the winter.

What To Know When Visiting Berkeley

Campanile architecture at Berkeley
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Campanile Architecture, Berkeley

Beautiful murals on walls, parks, and driveways can be found throughout the city, so a walking tour may be in order.

Berkeley is a very diverse city; it accepts people coming from different walks of life making its culture distinctly vibrant.

Berkeley has a series of small restaurants and shops that are authentic to the city and cannot be found anywhere else. The city ignites creativity in several different ways – murals, book cafés, hidden stairways in Berkeley Hills, and How Berkeley Can You Be Parade.

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Best Way To Get Around

Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berkeley
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Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berkeley

Berkeley can be reached via San Francisco or Oakland airport if visitors prefer air travel. Consider flying to Oakland, as it is a smaller airport, relatively easier to manage, and also, it is closer to Berkeley.

From either of these airports, visitors can take a taxi, which will be costly, or they can use BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), take a shuttle to BART, and BART to Berkeley!

Get down at “Downtown Berkeley” station and catch a BearTransitShuttle, or an AC Transit Bus to travel within the city. Visitors can also book an Uber for comfortable travel.

Related: 10 Must-Visit Places You Should See In California

Where To Stay In And Around Berkeley

Hotel Options, Berkeley 
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Hotel Options, Berkeley

Whether visitors are on a luxury trip with family enjoying a holiday, or backpacking Bay Area and looking for a budget stay, Berkeley has a lot of options to offer. It is well-connected with roads, so going from one place to another is not a tiresome task.

Listed here are some of the finest stay options based on budget.

Downtown Berkeley Inn

  • Located in the heart of the city, this budget hotel offers a lot of restaurants, shopping, and entertainment choices nearby.
  • Address: 2001 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, California 94704
  • Cost: $

Super 8 By Wyndham Berkeley

  • Located on University Avenue close to BART and the university campus, this renovated Motel offers all amenities that travelers expect. Right from TV and refrigerator to parking and 24-hour customer service.
  • Address: 1619 University Ave, Berkeley, California 94703
  • Cost: $

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Howard Johnson by Wyndham Berkeley

  • Located on University avenue, the 26-unit property offers free guest parking, TV, hairdryer, and 24-hour customer service and is near North Berkeley BART station, and CAL.
  • Address: 1512 University Ave, Berkeley, California 94703
  • Cost: $$ – $$$

Quality Inn University

  • This is a well-connected hotel and offers free breakfast, Wi-Fi, and a Business Center.
  • Address: 1761 University Ave, Berkeley, California 94703
  • Cost: $$ – $$$

Travelodge by Wyndham Berkeley

  • This hotel offers clean and comfortable rooms with security locks, this stay is four blocks away from Cal, and close to the downtown Berkeley BART station.
  • Address: 1820 University Ave, Berkeley, California 94703
  • Cost: $$ – $$$$

Bancroft Hotel

  • One of the best hotels if travelers can shell out extra money, located very close to the Cal, this green hotel offers bay and campus views with all the amenities.
  • Address: 2680 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, California 94704
  • Cost: $$$

Berkeley City Club

  • Designed by Julia Morgan, this historic hotel is an architectural marvel equipped with fine dining and a private social club.
  • Address: 2315 Durant Ave, Berkeley, California 94704
  • Cost: $$$

Rose Garden Inn

  • Located in the vicinity of Cal, this oasis offers a complimentary buffet breakfast, Wi-Fi, and limited parking.
  • Address: 2740 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, California 94705
  • Cost: $$$

DoubleTree by Hilton Berkeley Marina

  • The best thing about this luxury hotel is its location in Berkeley Marina, as it provides an amazing view of the Bay Area, San Francisco skyline, and Golden Bridge. The rooms are spacious and come with either balcony or patio.
  • Address: 200 Marina Blvd., Berkeley, California 94710
  • Cost: $$$$

Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites

  • Rated as one of the top hotels in the city, located near Interstate 80 in Berkeley. This hotel is an ideal stay option and one of the top picks for a luxury vacation.
  • Address: 1175 University Ave, Berkeley, California 94702
  • Cost: $$$$

Where To Eat

Cafes, Berkeley
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Cafes, Berkeley

Berkeley offers some of the best authentic cuisine experiences for travelers, the food joints are spread across the city and can be combined with sightseeing. Here are some of the recommendations for food lovers.

Shattuck & Vine Street Neighborhood

Shattuck and Vine Street is a culinary heaven! Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse attracted a lot of food enterprises, brands, and entrepreneurs to put up shops across Shattuck Avenue. If visitors are looking to grab to quick bite or indulge in a feast, this place offers a wide range of authentic cuisine and drink options.

Located on this street is Gourmet Ghetto, which offers food from across the world at a broad price range. Head on to Chez Panisse, which is an upscale American restaurant crafted by Alice Waters and dedicated to fresh and seasonal food. Check out the 400 different cheeses offered by the Cheeseboard Collective which is a worker-owned cooperative. The place hosts an organic farmer’s market every Thursday. Visitors can also sign up for a culinary walking tour, or just roam around the street and explore some of the finest culinary, gift shops, and self-designed jewelry shops.

If visitors are up for modern Indian cuisine, Hop on to Tigerlily or walk down a few steps to Epicurious Garden for Shushi or gelato. In the mood for some wine tasting? Look for Vintage Berkeley wine shop and get a reasonably priced bottle here. True coffee lovers can’t miss original Peet’s Coffee and Tea at the corner of Walnut and Vine shop to enjoy Berkeley dark roast java coffee, since 1966.

Masse’s Pastries is a combination of art and food that travelers should not miss when exploring this avenue. If sandwiches and salad sound good, try Gregoire. Book a culinary walking tour by Edible Excursion to experience the North Shattuck’s cuisine in the best way possible.


Berkeley downtown is filled with food corners ranging from quick bite shops to fine dining, do check out Gather for omnivorous cuisine and craft cocktails, Zino offers a fine dining Mediterranean cuisine option. Almare Gelato and Italian ice creams are all-time favorites.

Telegraph Avenue

This four-and-a-half-mile stretch is one of the most distinct commercial districts of Berkeley. It is the birthplace of lattes and has also made ice cream and sandwiches famous.

Check out The Bird and Top Dog, Henery’s, and Mezzo the sandwich and salad spot for food worth trying.

Best Places To Try Berkeley’s Authentic Drinks

Berkeley is the home to California microbrewing, started in 1985 at Berkeley’s Triple Rock and Brewery & Alehouse. The local brewery here has a fan following because of its artisan and alehouse fare.

Don’t miss Jupiter, which serves its handcrafted beers and ales with award-winning wood fires pizzas. Take a tour of Gilman Brewing Company to witness the award-winning brews and an authentic taste of Berkeley.

The best place to go for wine tasting in the city is West Berkeley, there is a one-block radius that hosts half a dozen wineries. Discover the tasty natural wines at Broc Cellars, Doney & Goat, Lusu Cellars, and Vinca Minor.

For those who wind up wandering around fourth street, do try Wine SoCru for an elevated tasting experience.

Top Things To Do In Berkeley

Autumn Season, Berkeley
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Autumn Season, Berkeley

Berkeley has a lot to offer, some of the best architecture, viewpoints, cafés, gardens, shopping streets, cultural plays, and cuisine experiences.

Kids will love Adventure Playground which offers a unique experience for kids, friends, and families. Kids love the hand-made climbing structures, tool library, worktables, and zip line!

Drop by the Lawrence Hall of Science to ignite kids’ minds with science and history. Be it building bridges, interacting with animals, or watching a 3D movie and viewing a planetarium, this Hall has it all.

Book Collection, Berkeley
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Book Collection, Berkeley

Take a tour of the much acclaimed UC Berkeley, and witness 178 acres of architectural marvel. Start with Koret Visitor Center which offers a complete tour of the campus; for those short on time, go for the self-guided tour option.

Take the elevator at the Sather Tower to reach the top of Cal’s most iconic building, here a 200-foot level platform provides a beautiful view of the entire Bay Area and the Cal campus. Take a walk around Strawberry Creek to get in Zen mode.

Take a photo at the marble steps of Morrison Library which serves as a spot for graduation photos. Look around for Founders Rock which is the heart of the campus.

When in Berkeley, be sure to experience the rich arts and culture, catch a couple of shows in the Downtown Arts District, and visit the BAMPFA to witness visual arts including more than 20 exhibitions and 450 film screenings each year.

Unfold Berkeley at Telegraph Avenue, which beautifully captures the soul of Berkeley! It’s a vibrant blend of Berkley’s evolution through time. Go shopping, explore music, learn about Berkeley’s history, catch a concert or games, and eat some of the finest cuisines at this center.

Visit Tilden park, especially during the sunset to catch a breathtaking view of the Bay Area. This park also offers hiking trails, a lake area, a botanic garden, and eye soothing landscape.

Explore the best authentic cuisine at Shattuck Avenue, shop for gifts and jewelry, and taste the famous Coffee of Berkeley.

Best Berkeley Neighborhoods To Explore

Bay Area Skyline
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Bay Area Skyline



Like other cities, Berkeley’s downtown is the heart of the city surrounded by restaurants, coffee shops, and entertainment hubs like the Repertory theatre.

Tilden National Park

Located in the east of the UC Berkeley campus, this 2077-acre park boasts breathtaking bay views, with a rich botanical garden. This park is loved by children specially the interactive little farm, steam train, and vintage carousel.

The visitor can soak in the sunset which is a hike away – the paved Nimitz way, this park also offers various sightseeing like Lake Anza swimming site, golf course, and various picnic spots. Check out the Tilden Park website to learn about various events happening in the park.

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)

Located in the heart of Berkeley downtown, this is a concoction of an art museum, a repertory movie theater that has an extensive collection of approximately 28000 artworks and 18000 films and videos.

It is a delight for art lovers and serves as an educational space for UC Berkeley scholars and the public. Don’t forget to check their website for the latest exhibitions and films.

Berkeley Marina

Located on University Avenue, this city park is a quick getaway for nature lovers. The vast grassy land provides perfect picnic spots along with running trails, and bike paths.


Located on college avenue, south of the UC campus, this neighborhood offers a peak into World War II architecture and century-old designs. Packed with cafés and shops, this is a nice place to explore.

4th Street

Located north of University Avenue, this stretch is one of the busiest places for refined shopping and eating in the city. The street hosts more than 70 shops that are designed keeping in mind the love of artful living and fashion.

For the love of books, coffee, and design, visit this street and witness the live coffee roasting while reading books by favorite authors.

Indian Rock Park

This is a perfect spot for gazing at the sunset; visitors can witness the breathtaking scenery unfolding in front of them as the sun sinks beneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

San Pablo Avenue

Witness the evolution and diversity of Berkeley culture at this avenue, visitors will find every bit of the world doing their business in this happy place. Here they will get some of the best avocado toast, thin-crust pizzas, and handcrafted cappuccino in town.

It is a student-friendly neighborhood offering famous board games and free popcorn for grad students. Shop for home décor at the famous Mignonne Décor or check out the pricey Victorian frame at Ohmega Salvage.

Visitors can find some exclusive jewelry at Kiss My Ring, and some really cool gifts at Juniper Tree Supplies.

Golden Gate Field

Sports enthusiasts will not want to miss this place, it is a one-stop place for horse watching, sports watching, and there are rooms with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating facility that broadcasts several sports simultaneously.

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Best College Spots – Cal

Established in 1868, also known as Cal, The University of California, Berkeley ranks among the top universities in the world and inspires thousands of students every year to pursue their dream from this campus.

Stretched across 178 acres, this oak-covered campus hosts some notable architecture and artifacts including the historic Sproul Plaza which is the center for student activity and the platform of the Free Speech Movement, Sather Tower which is the third-tallest bell and clock tower in the world, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology which hosts more than 3 million artifacts, Botanical Garden, and Hearst Greek Theater, Lawrence Hall of Science which is a fantasy land for both children and adults as the hall features exhibits including engineering, animal, astronomy along with planetarium shows, dinosaurs.

It also hosts 3D film screenings. UC Berkeley hosts a clock tower, UC Berkeley Campanile, which provides the most breathtaking view of the entire Bay Area.

Campanile, UC BerkeleyVisit The Beautiful Botanical Garden In The Campus

Stretched in around a 34-acre area, this botanical garden is home to more than 10,000 varieties of plants from across the world.

Tourists can get a tour of this garden which starts at regular intervals. Unwind under shades of trees and grab a quick bite while enjoying this pleasant garden.

Telegraph Avenue District

Telegraph avenue is located near the UC Berkeley campus, it serves as a venue for socialization and gathering for UC Berkeley students, and it is known for its roots in the 1960 Berkeley Protest.

This is ground zero for the counter-culture that makes Berkeley quirky.

The street is filled with cafés, bookstores, and numerous street vendors. Some of the landmark music and bookstores include Rasputin Music, Amoeba Music, and Moe’s Books.

Get sumptuous food Koja Kitchen and the Melt. Grab UC Berkeley T-shirt and an iconic tie-dye shirt at shops in this neighborhood.

Koret Visitor Centre

This is the starting point for visiting UC Berkeley campus, this is a 1 hour 30 minute, student-guided tour and requires online reservation beforehand; visit the website for more info.

How To Spend A Perfect Day In Berkeley

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Berkeley, California

Berkeley has a lot to offer to its travelers, the rich and vibrant culture of the city is visible in its architecture, cuisines, and art. A perfect day in Berkeley should include a visit to the acclaimed UC Berkeley campus where visitors can spend time in the Botanical garden, Sather Tower, Sproul Plaza, and Lawrence Hall of Science.

Spend the afternoon visiting BAMPFA, the art museum and repertory movie theater, and exploring the Shattuck and Vine Street and witness some of the authentic cuisine that Berkeley has to offer. The evening should be reserved for a nature walk at Tilden park especially during the sunset to capture the beautiful scenery of the sun dipping down on the Bay Area.

Late evenings can be spent shopping on 4th street or Downtown.


Q: What is the best time to visit Berkeley?

Best time to visit Berkeley is between June to August when the temperature is moderate and the city is lively.

Q: What activities does Berkeley offer?

Berkeley is a college town known for art, botany, history, and the San Francisco Bay. The city of San Francisco itself, the most walkable place in the US, is only a short day trip away.

Q: What is Berkeley known for?

Berkeley is known as a college town that’s convenient to the rest of the Bay, including San Francisco. It’s one of the must-see places in California for art, culture, and more.