University of California Berkeley
||San Francisco, CA|
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UC Berkeley is the oldest and highest ranked of the UC campuses. The center of campus life is at Sproul Plaza. Two rows of London Plane trees and community bulletin boards pinned to the max with flyers lead to Sather Gate, the greenish bronze entrance to the center of campus. Student groups set up tables to inform students and invite them to join. Historical demonstrations took place here against the Vietnam War in the 1960s, and still take place today against the current war. Sproul Hall and its steps formed a stage for these demonstrations. It's nice to sit on the sloped grass beside Sproul Hall, and students can be found here in the afternoon warming up in the sun (when it's not overcast). Another nice spot are the tables and chairs outside Golden Bear Cafe, which are raised above Sproul Plaza and afford a pretty view of Sather Gate and the London Plane trees.
People watching is great fun at UC Berkeley. Sit on one of the benches beside the London Plane trees and watch the students rush by. If you walk south from Sproul Plaza you will be on Telegraph Ave, a wild scene of sights and smells that revolves around a certain green substance. This is the south part of campus where many student dorms are situated and the campus buildings have grown around businesses like Hotel Durant that were previously there.
North of Sproul Plaza, climb the tower/campanile to see lovely views on all sides (see info below). Walk around the hilly north end of campus and smell the eucalyptus air. Student residences north of the campus such as on La Loma Ave feel so high up, it's lovely. Here on a sunny day, you can see for miles. Because it is slightly inland, Berkeley has better weather than San Francisco, with more relief from the coastal fog.
UC Berkeley is densely built-up with a mix of stark 1960s buildings and more lavish buildings like Hearst Hall (play frisbee on the lawn in front of this beauty). To escape the city feel, head east to UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, where you'll be in the misty forest amongst amazing trees.
For a great hangout with a less cramped, open feel and good food, head to Solano Avenue. For amazing food, check out Gourmet Ghetto on Shattuck Avenue. College Ave also has many cute-looking cafes.
Great Place to Stay
A great place to stay to be a part of the college scene is Hotel Durant, a quirky hotel with a collegiate flavor in the South Campus area. It is a mix of ultra-clean, luxury accomodations, and lamps that look like- well. you'll just have to see for yourself. A poster for the film "The Graduate" donned the wall in our room, along with a painting with themes of science and nuclear energy. Door keys look like student IDs. Walls are dark-toned and bedheads are black leather. It's much more exciting than your typical cheesy hotel room with paintings of a rowboat on a lake and floral accents here and there. Refreshing! From Hotel Durant there are lovely views of the bay and of the Campanile, a true princess tower, at night. You can walk just one block to Telegraph Avenue and two blocks to Sproul Plaza from Hotel Durant.
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UC Berkeley Visitor Services is located at 101 Sproul Hall, Berkeley CA 94720.
Parking is very difficult around here, but you can find more parking on the hilly streets where people dare not parallel park! These streets are north of campus, for example, Euclid Ave or Le Roy Ave.
You can take an elevator to the top of the campanile for great views! M-F 10-4, $2.
Hotel Durant, 2600 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, call (510) 845-8981.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.