Trip 101's Top Five Berkeley Activities

BY Special to Visit Berkeley July 08, 2018

Trip 101 checks in with a Best of Berkeley list.

Trip101’s Five Top-Notch Activities Worth the Trip to Berkeley, California

Just off the eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay, your next excuse for adventure in Northern California has gone by the same name since its founding in the late 19th century. Berkeley is the hub to a brilliant assortment of local and international art, a vibrant academic culture, and enough recreation to satisfy even the most dedicated adventurer. Discover why so many travelers fall for local sights and sounds, with our recommendations for the top five activities available to Berkeley visitors!

1. Berkeley Marina:  The Berkeley Marina is an adventure in itself. Located on the western edge of the city, it’s a protected park characterized by a picture-perfect waterfront, with more than 100 acres of wide open space. Outdoor trails, along with bird watching opportunities and the sheer wonder of the Pacific Coast, give the Berkeley Marina status as a go-to outing, whenever you’re in the area.

Bring the entire family along for the journey, and visit the Shorebird Park Nature Center onsite, with wonderful educational opportunities for any age. Then take the fun outside, where you can get to know the great Berkeley outdoors. If you decided to bring your well-behaved pet, rest assured that with more than 15 acres of certified off-leash space, your four-legged friend will love the region as much as you do.

The Marina also hosts regular events, for some of the nation’s most recognized holidays! The last weekend of July is time for the annual Berkeley Kite Festival, a sky-high good time.  A diverse set of restaurants and a waterfront hotel, the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton Berkeley Marina, round out the natural elements of the area.  For date night, an afternoon in the park, or your next family vacation, make sure to stop by Berkeley Marina.

 2. Lawrence Hall of Science:   Open every day of the week, the Lawrence Hall of Science offers hands-on, innovative learning that the entire family can easily enjoy. Whether you’re a local student, or simply a fan of exciting academia, you’ll find a constantly rotating portfolio of exhibits and displays, in the hills just above the campus of the University of California, Berkeley.  Among the marvels and token scientific items on display at the Hall is the 1939 Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded to Ernest Orlando Lawrence, the namesake of the site itself. Permanent, staple attractions onsite include Science on a Sphere, a seismograph synchronized to the UC Berkeley Seismographic Station, and the KidsLab, a safe play area for children in kindergarten and younger. Also of interest to brave visitors is the Insect Zoo, where visitors enjoy close proximity to creatures like hermit crabs, tarantulas, cockroaches, and more.

3. University of California Botanical Garden:  One of the most aesthetically pleasing locations in all of Berkeley area, this garden preserved and maintained by UC Berkeley offers locals and visitors alike the opportunity to gaze upon homegrown beauty. Open every day from morning until evening, it’s a must-see for botany buffs, or anyone who likes being outside surrounded by nature. Conveniently categorized by family, scientific, and common name, plant species are further denoted by specific tags, if they are rare or otherwise endangered. These tags allow visitors to recognize exactly what they’re looking at during a visit, as they meander through species arranged largely by geographic origin. Sourced from Mediterranean soils, the University of California Botanical Garden proves truly a world-class collection of diverse plant species. Take advantage of the knowledgeable botanical experts roaming the grounds and stop by the Garden Shop on your way in or out, to bring a bit of botanical magic home with you.

4. Tilden Regional Park:  This outdoor expanse of explorable open space is so much more than a neighborhood park. With more than 2,000 acres of untouched Pacific ridgeline, Tilden Regional Park is a personalized park experience in the making. Looking for a swim? Check out the cool waters of Lake Anza. Prefer to roam the grounds? Take in the sunshine as you stroll trails like Wildcat Peak or Pine Tree. Trailhead markers call out the difficult level of each individual adventure, allowing you to match your individual preferences with the ideal experience. Local public transportation can take you here, where Northern California’s ample amounts of sunshine await. Attractions at the park include the Merry-Go-Round, Steam Train, and Little Farm, where children can watch and interact with animals. Tilden Golf Course is a championship track that winds through tree-lined fairways just minutes from the heart of the city. 

5. Adventure Playground: 
For a playground to qualify as a top attraction, it must take “play” to a new level. This is certainly the case when it comes to Berkeley’s Adventure Playground, ranked by National Geographic as a Top Ten Playground in the United States. Children of all ages find themselves captivated by the many opportunities at the Adventure Playground, everything from painting to fort-building. Nearly 40 years old, the Adventure Playground has become an iconic Berkeley destination. Recognized by media outlets such as the Boston Globe, Newsweek, and NPR, it’s a play space that consistently outranks the competition, for the variety and quality of activities available. Watch your child enjoy a zip line, use real hand tools to create something new, and climb across innovative platforms and play structures. The best part? Access is free to the Adventure Playground, provided your group contains less than five children.

Explore Berkeley’s Sights and Sounds

Berkeley, like so many explorable towns that decorate the California coastline, is known for drawing visitors outdoors, to witness picture-perfect lakes, hiking trails, sunsets, and more. And with a summer Mediterranean climate that typifies the majority of its days, you’ll rarely find yourself hampered by inclement weather conditions. Instead, Berkeley offers a package of activities that easily rivals those of California’s big-name cities, and offers visitors world-class attractions, without heavy accompanying price tags! For more destination guides and accommodation reviews, check out Trip101.

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