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 35,000 students and a full-time faculty of 1,600.
Below are a few places of note on campus:
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 at Telegraph Ave., 510/642–5215, visitors.berkeley.edu, open weekdays 8:30–4:30, tours at 10 am (also 1 pm in Apr.)
Sather Tower. Weekend campus tours leave from this landmark, popularly known as the Campanile, at 10 am on Saturday and 1 pm on Sunday. 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. at 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, botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu, $10, free 1st Wed. of month, open daily 9–5, closed 1st Tues. of month.
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. The archive is a major venue for foreign, independent, and avant-garde film. BAM/PFA is closed until 2016, when it reopens at a new location: Oxford St. at Center St., 510/642–0808 museum, 510/642–1124 film info, www.bampfa.berkeley.edu.
Berkeley Visitor Information Center. The center is the starting point for the free, student-guided tours of the campus, which last 1½ hours and start at 10 on weekdays. University Hall, Room 101, 2200 University Ave., at Oxford St., 94720. 510/642–5215. Weekdays 8:30–4:30.
Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. The museum's collection counts almost 4 million artifacts, of which fewer than 1% are on display at any time. The Native Californian Cultures gallery showcases items related to the native peoples of California. Changing exhibits may cover the archaeology of ancient America or spotlight the museum's especially strong ancient Egyptian holdings. Kroeber Hall, Bancroft Way and College Ave. 510/642–3682. hearstmuseum.berkeley.edu. Free; guided tour $5. Wed.–Sat. 10–4:30, Sun. noon–4.
Lawrence Hall of Science. At this dazzling hands-on science center, kids can look at insects under microscopes, solve crimes using chemical forensics, and explore the physics of baseball. On weekends there are special lectures, demonstrations, and planetarium shows. Popular (and free) stargazing sessions take place on the first and third Saturday of each month, weather permitting. Centennial Dr. near Grizzly Peak Blvd. 510/642–5132. www.lawrencehallofscience.org. $12. Daily 10–5.
Sather Tower. Student-guided campus tours leave from Sather Tower, the campus landmark popularly known as the Campanile, at 10 on Saturday and 1 on Sunday. The 307-foot structure, modeled on St. Mark's Tower in Venice and completed in 1914, can be seen for miles. The carillon is played daily at 7:50 am, noon, and 6 pm and for an extended 45-minute concert Sunday at 2. Take the elevator up 175 feet; then walk another 38 steps to the observation deck for a view of the campus and a close-up look at the iron bells, each of which weighs up to 10,500 pounds. South of University Dr. $2. Weekdays 10–4, Sat. 10–5, Sun. 10–1:30 and 3–5.
Sproul Plaza. Sproul Plaza, just inside the U.C. Berkeley campus border on Bancroft Way, was the site of several free-speech and civil-rights protests in the 1960s. Today a lively panorama of political and social activists, musicians, and students show off Berkeley's flair for the bizarre. Preachers orate atop milk crates, amateur entertainers bang on makeshift drum sets, and protesters distribute leaflets about everything from marijuana to the Middle East. No matter what the combination, on weekdays when school is in swing, it always feels like a carnival. 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 the 34-acre University of California Botanical Garden. Free garden tours are given Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 1:30. Benches and shady picnic tables make this a relaxing place to take in breathtaking views. 200 Centennial Dr. 510/643–2755. botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu. $9, free 1st Thurs. of month. Daily 9–5. Closed 1st Tues. of month.
University of California, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive. The collection at the university's flagship museum spans five centuries. Look for Jonathan Borofsky's enormous orange-red Hammering Man sculpture, which can be seen from the outside through the museum's floor-to-ceiling windows. Among the other noteworthy holdings here are a series of vibrant paintings by abstract expressionist Hans Hofmann. The downstairs galleries, which house rotating exhibits, are always free. The museum's raw foods café is famous, and you can also find some cooked options, too. The Pacific Film Archive, on the ground floor, has a library and hosts programs about historic and contemporary films, but its main theater sits across the street at 2575 Bancroft Way, near Bowditch Street. 2626 Bancroft Way, between College Ave. and Bowditch St. 510/642–0808; 510/642–1124 film-program information. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu. $10, free 1st Thurs. of month. Wed.–Sun. 11–5, Fri. 11–9.
Berkeley, California, 94720, United States