University of California Berkeley
Berkeley is a college town, and fittingly the University of California (www.berkeley.edu) offers the most interesting places to go and things to see. To get a great view of the campus from above, take an elevator ride up the Campanile (Mon.–Fri. 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 3–5 p.m., adults $2, seniors $1), formally called Sather Tower.
If you prefer to wander around campus on your own, discovering the halls where students live and learn, the stadium (perhaps you’ll even see a protester up a tree!), and architectural details such as Sather Gate. Or stop in at the Lawrence Hall of Science (Centennial Drive, 510/642-5132, www.lawrencehallofscience.org, daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m., adults $10, seniors/ students $8, children $5.50) for a look at the latest exhibits and interactive displays.
Also on campus you’ll find the University of California Botanical Garden (foot of Centennial Dr., 510/643-2755, http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu, adults $7, seniors $5, children $2, daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m.), an immense space with an astounding array of wild plants from around the world. Botany buffs love to spend hours in this place, studying and examining plants outdoors, in the greenhouses, and in the “arid house” (a habitat for plants requiring extremely dry, hot conditions).
Others just come to amble through the peaceful plantings and perhaps stop to sniff a flower or two. You can see over 1,000 different kinds of sunflower, nearly 2,500 types of cactus, thousands of California native plants, and hundreds of rare and endangered plants collected from the world over.
If your visit to the area includes your teenagers, think about taking a free guided campus tour (510/642-3175, www.berkeley.edu/visitors/free_tours.html, Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m., Sun. 1 p.m.) to acquaint them (and yourself) with the UC and all it has to offer.
Like most major universities, UC Berkeley (always called “Cal” or “the Golden Bears” by its sports fans) maintains a wide range of sports teams, many of which compete at the NCAA Division 1 level. The Cal football team’s quality varies from year to year, as does the men’s basketball team. Cal’s main rival sits across the Bay at Stanford; the one serious college football game in the Bay Area each year is the Big Game between the two schools. Check out http://calbears.cstv.com for information about games of all kinds taking place during your visit.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition