The Bay Area Sights


University of California

University of California Review

Known simply as "Cal," the founding campus of California's university system is one of the leading intellectual centers in the United States and a major site for scientific research. Chartered in 1868, the university sits on 178 oak-covered acres split by Strawberry Creek. Bounded by Bancroft Way to the south, Hearst Avenue to the north, Oxford Street to the west, and Gayley Road to the east, Cal has more than 30,000 students and a full-time faculty of 1,500.

Below are a few places of note on campus:

Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive. The museum's collection spans five centuries and is strong on mid-20th-century art, particularly abstract expressionist works; admission to the downstairs galleries is free. The Pacific Film Archive, at 2575 Bancroft Way, is a major venue for foreign, independent, and avant-garde film. 2626 Bancroft Way, at Bowditch St. 510/642–0808, film info 510/642–1124,, $10, free 1st Thurs. of month, open Wed.–Sun. 11–5, some Fridays 11–9.

Berkeley Visitor Information Center. You can get your bearings here and find out about campus events. Free, 90-minute tours leave from here on weekdays. 101 Sproul Hall, Bancroft Way and Telegraph Ave. 510/642–5215,, open weekdays 8:30–4:30, tours at 10 am.

Sather Tower. Weekend campus tours leave from this landmark, popularly known as the Campanile, at 10 am on Saturdays and 1 pm on Sundays. The 307-foot structure, modeled on St. Mark's Tower in Venice, can be seen for miles. For a view of the campus and beyond, take the elevator up 175 feet, then walk another 38 steps to the observation deck. Elevator $3, operates weekdays 10–4, Sat. 10–5, Sun. 10–1:30 and 3–5.

Sproul Plaza. The site of free-speech and civil-rights protests in the 1960s, the plaza remains a platform for political and social activists, musicians, and students. Preachers orate atop milk crates, amateur entertainers bang on makeshift drum sets, and protesters distribute leaflets about everything from marijuana to the Middle East. Walk through at noon for the liveliest show of student spirit. Telegraph Ave. and Bancroft Way.

University of California Botanical Garden. Thanks to Berkeley's temperate climate, about 13,500 species of plants from all over the world flourish in this 34-acre garden. Free tours are given on Thursdays and weekends at 1:30; the views are breathtaking. 200 Centennial Dr., 510/643–2755,, $10, free 1st Thurs. of month, open daily 9–5, closed 1st Tues. of month.

Updated: 05-02-2014

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