Spread across 1,232 acres overlooking San Francisco Bay, the University of California, Berkeley is home to over 30,000 students from all over the world and widely considered one of the top public universities in the country. Well known for its liberal and socially active student body, Berkeley has a progressive reputation that blends well with the dynamic urban environment of Berkeley, California. The city itself offers an abundance of things to do and is well known as a culinary destination.
Transportation: If you are arriving in the San Francisco Bay Area by air, consider flying into Oakland International Airport (OAK) rather than San Francisco International (SFO). The Oakland airport is smaller, easier to manage, and closer to Berkeley. Taxis and shuttles are available at both airports. From San Francisco, Rapid Transit (BART) is a great way to travel to UC Berkeley. The Downtown Berkeley stop is one block from the west side of campus, and about a 20-minute walk to the Koret Center. For schedule information for the downtown Berkeley station click here.
Mascot: Why are Berkeley athletic teams known as the Golden Bears? It dates back to 1895 when the 12-man track team competed outside the state, the first Cal team to do that. They proudly carried banners with a gold grizzly bear on them, the state’s emblem. After winning several of their meets, the Golden Bear became the symbolic guardian of the university.
Stay: Our top choice, the Graduate Berkeley delivers both style and good old collegiate charm, just a 5-minute walk to campus, and close to the Koret Center. (Graduate lovingly redid the Hotel Durant, which catered to UC Berkeley students and parents for over 80 years.) From tailgate barbecues in the back lot on game day to brews and burgers at Henry’s, the on-site restaurant, the Graduate aims to be more than a hotel but also a community hub. With San Fran’s hot Tartine Manufactory opening in the next few months for breakfast and lunch, we’d say they’re on their way to doing just that. Other choices nearby include the Hotel Shattuck Plaza, Courtyard by Marriott, and the Holiday Inn Express and Suites Berkeley. Approximately a 10-15 drive from campus, perfect for extended visits, the Claremont Club and Spa, originally a romantic castle, is an exclusive resort rich with history and tradition.
Student Spotting: Sproul Plaza, at the entrance to campus by the Sather Gate, is the prime campus space for demonstrations, rallies, student organizations tabling, and lunchtime speeches. Lower Sproul is a popular spot for festivals and concerts. While we were visiting one table was selling Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwiches, another was selling tacos, one for de-stressing with dogs, another to register to vote, and one asking for bra donations to support a local women’s shelter.
Coffee: To be extra alert for the tour, head to 1951 Coffee Company at the ASUC Student Union located on Sproul Plaza, a non-profit coffee house with a mission supporting refugees through job training. A Berkeley institution, we could easily linger away the morning at Caffe Strada, with a lovely patio to enjoy excellent coffee drinks, conveniently located across the street from campus. For a taste of how much students love Caffe Strada read this post by a recent graduate. Right off Shattuck, there is a Blue Bottle and a Starbucks across from the BAMPFA Museum.
Breakfast: Near campus Venus and La Note are favorite morning spots. La Note is especially popular with visiting families for weekend brunches, where dining on the lovely patio is like traveling to the French countryside. (Showcasing the food of Provence, La Note is also an excellent dinner spot.) If you have time, Bette’s Oceanview Diner, a Berkeley landmark, is approximately a ten-minute drive, located on 4th street in West Berkeley. The old school diner feel is charming, but it’s the seriously good food that’s the real draw. Famous for their soufflé pancakes, we loved our Mexican scramble with house-made chorizo and smoky black beans.
Lunch: Located in the heart of campus in Sproul Plaza, The Golden Bear Café serves grab-and-go sandwiches and made-to-order meals including sushi, bento boxes, salads, grilled items, and made-to-order smoothies. Also on campus, close to the visitor’s center, the International House Café is a popular spot for soups, salads, sandwiches, and fresh juices. Adjacent to campus, and down the street from the BAMPFA Museum, Gather caters to those looking to sample California fare showcasing “head to tail” and “root to shoot” food. A short drive (or longer walk) from campus the Cheeseboard Collective, has a legendary following for their vegetarian pizza of the day with vegetables purchased at the local farmers market. Don't be intimidated by the lines - it's worth the wait and moves fast. It’s a fun, lively place with people eating inside or spilling out onto the tables out front, often accompanied by live music. Make sure to get a helping of their excellent green salsa to spice up your slice. After lunch pop into their cheese shop, bakery and espresso bar right next door. Nearby Gregoire has become a dining hit thanks to the cult status of their crispy potato puffs. Order these to go, alongside the excellent sandwiches and have a picnic in Tilden Park. (Gregoire has limited outdoor seating and is mostly take away) Saul's Restaurant and Delicatessen has been serving matzo ball soup, pastrami sandwiches and other Jewish food staples to happy residents for over thirty years. Enjoy hearty portions of tacos, enchiladas, and other Mexican dishes at Picante. Sleek and modern, Great China specializes in Northern Chinese cuisine and has a well-priced lunch special that includes soup, salad, and dessert.
Casual: Wood-fired pizzas, a fun vibe, and handcrafted beer pack in the local crowds at Jupiter, housed in an old livery stable from the 1890's. The back garden with ample seating and a fire pit is a big draw! Comal has a winning combination of excellent modern Mexican fare, killer cocktails, and a big outdoor patio. In the mood for Japanese? Ippuku fans rave about the grilled chicken yakitori while Iyasare is known for their ramen and tempura, a short drive from campus in the heart of the 4th Street shopping district. Share some mezes and kebabs at Cafe La Med, or indulge in gumbo, po’boys and fried chicken at Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen. La Marcha is a lively spot for tapas and paella.
A Step Up: The birthplace of California cuisine began right here in Berkeley in 1971 when chef Alice Waters, an early pioneer of the local food movement opened Chez Panisse with the idea of serving simple seasonal food. The Café at Chez Panisse, located upstairs, started serving diners in 1980 offering an alternative to the set menu served in the Restaurant downstairs. The Café serves a moderately priced à la carte menu for both lunch and dinner. People make pilgrimages to eat at Chez Panisse so reserve well in advance. Can't get in, head to the Berkeley Social Club for eclectic Asian-American fusion or Rivoli for upscale California cuisine.
Sweets & Late Night Snacks: A true Berkeley classic, Top Dog, is open until 3 am on the weekend. Serving 12 types of dogs - there is something for everyone! Students live on pizza at Fat Slice on Telegraph Avenue. King Pin Donuts, a student favorite, will satisfy your sweet tooth. Ici serves made from scratch ice cream using organic ingredients in two locations in Berkeley, one on University Avenue, close to campus. The flavors change daily with creative offerings such as lemon verbena raspberry to banana curry to bourbon chip, but there’s always vanilla and chocolate available. And it gets even better—Ici pipes the tips of their cones with house-made chocolate!
Local Attractions: Great views can be had at the top of the Campanile, one of the world's highest clock towers and one of Berkeley’s most recognized sights, visible everywhere on campus. (There’s a $4.00 admissions fee) You can't miss the striking exterior of BAMPFA, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive across from the main campus. Stop in to see the latest exhibit or check and see if any film screenings or lectures are taking place that coincide with your visit. There is a small café, Babette’s that offers fresh seasonal fare at breakfast and lunch. The Greek Theater, located right on campus, is a legendary outdoor venue modeled on the theater of Epidaurus in Greece. Attracting top musical acts such as Dave Matthews and the Grateful Dead, check the schedule to see what’s happening while you're in town. Nature lovers will enjoy visiting the UC Botanical Garden, open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. One of America's great cities is just across the bay. Hop on the BART and depending on where you're going in San Fran the ride will take between 20-40 minutes.
Cable Car Tour
— Quotes From Campus —
UC BERKELEY FAST FACTS
Berkeley Blue & California Gold
Average - 1480
Average - 32
Large - 27,857 Undergraduates
110 Sproul Hall, #5800
Berkeley, CA 94720-5800
(p) (510) 642-6000
NCAA Division I
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