Berkeley (California)

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley is a city in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, in the United States. Famous for its liberal politics, Berkeley is home to the University of California Berkeley, an ethnically diverse community, and numerous cultural and culinary attractions.


Set on sparkling San Francisco Bay, Berkeley will surprise those who recall it as the counter-culture center of the Sixties. Free Speech and flower power are forever in the city “DNA,” but Berkeley has evolved into a culinary and cultural travel destination. You’ll still see more tie-dye per capita in Berkeley, but a deeper look reveals a dynamic city filled with superb theaters, restaurants, and shops. Berkeley's progressive, free-thinking environment has seen the birth of quality attractions, great food from many cultures, and of course the internationally renowned University of California, Berkeley. For a city of just over 100,000 people—barely a medium-sized city in the California context—Berkeley is extremely complex.


 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 58 62 64 67 70 73 74 74 75 73 65 59
Nightly lows (°F) 42 44 46 47 49 52 53 54 53 52 47 43
Precipitation (in) 5.0 5.2 3.9 1.7 0.9 0.2 0.0 0.1 0.2 1.4 3.3 5.0

   Data from NOAA (1981-2010)

Like the rest of the Bay Area, Berkeley has a mild climate, with wet, mild winters and dry summers. The high temperature is typically in the 60s degrees Fahrenheit (between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius). The city's position directly across the bay from the Golden Gate ensures that Berkeley gets its share of fog, with mornings typically cool and foggy, followed by sunny afternoons, with the fog returning at night. The city's location also means you may experience brisk winds coming off the bay if in an exposed area: typically, the marina or a hillside facing the bay.

Get in

By plane

By train

By car

By bus

By boat

There are ferries from Marin County and San Francisco to nearby Oakland, but are probably most useful as a scenic method of travel.

If you are traveling by private boat or charter yacht, Berkeley has a 1,000 berth marina, the largest municipal marina in the Bay Area. Both the Berkeley Marina and the Berkeley Yacht Club offer guest berthing.

Get around

Berkeley Map

By car

Cars are most useful far away from downtown (i.e. not near the campus) or in Berkeley's steep hills. It's often better to stay on the main roads unless you know your way because of the many road barriers to prevent through traffic in residential areas. Be mindful of cyclists and pedestrians; many cyclists often ride in lanes (as is their legal right in California), and pedestrians may expect cars to stop for them. Remember that as a motorist, you need to be especially cautious in order to avoid harming cyclists and pedestrians. Be very careful when driving near the University as students tend to have the mindset that they have the right of way. To further confuse drivers many roads near the university are one way roads (and can turn so spontaneously - so watch signs at major intersections) or are closed to certain drivers.

Parking can be difficult and expensive near campus and downtown. The easiest and most expensive means of parking is in one of the several garages. The biggest garage near campus is the Telegraph Channing Garage. Many stores on Telegraph have validation coupons discounting hourly parking 50% or $5 off all-day parking. Arrive after 8PM and pay only $4 night rate until closing. Most street parking is either metered or 2-hour, but free after 6PM . If you are visiting a resident, they can purchase one day, 7-day, or 21-day street parking passes (not valid in metered spots) for you at city services in downtown. If you are fortunate to find a non-metered street parking close to your destination, you can park for free—some people are known to wipe off the chalk mark left by the meter maid (normally back of rear tire) every three hours or so. Be warned: This is not legal. In an extreme emergency (i.e., ten minutes late for your final exam), you can almost always find parking near the UC Berkeley police station near Sproul Hall. You might get a ticket, but you'll definitely get a kick-ass parking spot. Be aware of street sweeping signs, street sweeping is usually once a month, but the day varies from street to street (even from one side of the street to the other), a good rule of thumb is that if it seems like the street parking on one side is too good to be true - double check it isn't street sweeping. City parking fines run from $48 (Street sweeping and lack of permit in 2 hours spot) to over $300 (Disabled spot violations) and city parking enforcement is particularly vigilant so be aware - you can and will get multiple tickets for the same violation if you don't move quickly (parking 30 minutes in the 5 minute yellow zone can yield 5 $80 tickets).

The Eastshore Freeway which runs along the city's western edge is part of a short concurrency of I-80 and I-580 that may confuse some drivers. Heading south on the freeway toward the Bay Bridge and San Francisco, drivers are simultaneously following I-80 west and I-580 east. Drivers unfamiliar with the area should ensure they know whether their destination is toward Oakland and San Francisco or toward Richmond and Sacramento. These cities supplement the route designations at entrances to this freeway.

By public transit

Public transportation is thus an important consideration in getting to and around downtown and near the university. BART is the fastest connection to Oakland and San Francisco. The Berkeley BART station located in Downtown Berkeley is usually the best option for travelers; the Ashby station is in a seedier part of South Berkeley and the North Berkeley station is located in a residential neighborhood near University Ave. AC Transit goes places BART doesn't, such as the trendy Fourth Street commercial district (line 51B), the upscale Rockridge neighborhood (line 51B to 51A) and the resurgent Temescal commercial district in nearby North Oakland (line 1 or 1R). Check for trip planning for more information.

By bicycle

Weather permitting, the best way to get around quickly near downtown Berkeley or near campus is on bicycle. Bicycle theft is a serious problem in Berkeley; if you ride your bike, be sure to lock your front wheel as well as the frame. Some choose to remove the seat as well, however this precaution is likely unnecessary if you are only leaving your bike for a short period of time and not overnight. AC Transit buses have racks on the front for bicycles. Bicycles are allowed on BART, but not on San Francisco bound trains during morning rush hour, and do not bring your bicycle in the first car. Check with BART before you leave or you'll get a warning from BART Police and forced to wait until permitted or else face a fine and a stern look from the officer. Folding bicycles are always allowed.

On foot

Walking is the least expensive and most effective means of getting around downtown and near campus. You will very quickly outpace most drivers near campus. Take BART or AC Transit to the Berkeley station in downtown (the North Berkeley station is in a residential neighborhood).


Campanile, University of California, Berkeley







Berkeley is a culinary wonderland, renowned for its restaurants. From casual to candlelit, Berkeley's restaurants share a passion for great taste. With more than 350 restaurants in town, there is a great array of cuisine choices. Culinary adventures extend beyond restaurants and cafes to encompass tours, tastings and more.


Downtown and University

Gourmet Ghetto

North Berkeley

West Berkeley


Downtown and University

Gourmet Ghetto

Solano Avenue


West Berkeley




Berkeley has a host of fine drinking establishments. Wineries and breweries are also in the mix, with free tours and tastings offered at a number of venues.

Cafes and Coffeehouses

Being a college town, Berkeley has a number of great cafes catering to a variety of interests. From quiet places to read to live music, Berkeley has a cafe for you.


This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget up to $100
Mid-range $100-200
Splurge over $200

In addition to offering a wide range of lodging accommodations, Berkeley hotels and inns are increasingly eco-travel friendly. As of January 2013, more than 60% of the rooms in Berkeley are certified “Green” by the Bay Area Green Business Program (BAGBP). If you are looking for chain hotels the nearby city of Emeryville is south of Berkeley and is home to more national brands.





Stay safe

West and South Berkeley, especially near Oakland, can be unsafe at night. In 2001, Berkeley was reported to have the second-highest crime rate for large California cities, though many Berkeley crimes are drug-related. While the north side is quieter and generally safer, use common sense and avoid walking alone at night. Also be aware of your surroundings: the more bars on windows, generally the less safe the area. Bicycling is generally a safe way to get around at night; for those who prefer not to ride, free night escorts are provided by the University of California police near campus: call +1' 510-642-WALK (9255).

Berkeley has a well-deserved reputation for protests, riots, and strikes, and you may see a protest or two in progress during your visit. However, the vast majority of protests today are raucous but protesters are typically strictly nonviolent. (The same cannot always be said of the police, and it's worth keeping a wide berth of any in-progress police action unless you're willing to risk a rib or two.) The last time the National Guard was called in to patrol the city was 1991.


The eastern area of the UC Berkeley campus is surprisingly forested, and might be a good place to get away from some frustrations. The Marina has a nice one-mile loop walk. It's windy enough for kites almost every afternoon but is often wind-free in the morning. The Whole Foods on Telegraph at Ashby has massage therapists standing by to ease your tensions.

Note that the entire downtown and campus area is extremely packed, and traffic correspondingly congested, on Cal football game days. These take place on about half the Saturdays during the fall semester, from late August to mid December.

Go next

When locals (and students) need to get out, they often head to "The City" -- San Francisco. It's easy to get to by BART train and a logical next step of exploration—assuming, of course, you didn't just come from there! Oakland, just south of Berkeley, is a large and diverse city as well, with many ethnic neighborhoods less frequented by tourists than those of San Francisco.

Smaller cities around Berkeley worth checking out include Emeryville to the southwest, Albany to the north, El Cerrito further north, and Walnut Creek to the east.

The hills above Berkeley and Oakland, including Tilden and Wildcat Parks, are easily accessible by foot, car, or bicycle, and offer many hikes with spectacular views.

Further out from Berkeley, you might consider striking out to Angel Island for the day or an overnight camping trip. Marin and Sonoma Counties are moderate drives from Berkeley as well. You might also try wine tasting in the Napa Valley. Northeast is Sacramento, the state's capital city.

Routes through Berkeley

Sacramento Richmond  N  S  Emeryville Oakland
San Francisco Emeryville  S  N  Albany Sacramento
San Rafael Albany  N  S  Emeryville Oakland

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 13, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.