Hello friends! The semester is winding down, and I know that a lot of people (myself included) are trying to make the most of living in Berkeley and I-House before having to leave. If you’ve spent most of your time here studying and hustling, then take a break, and check out some of my personal favorite Berkeley sights!
Of course, one of the iconic symbols of Cal! You can go to the top for free with Cal Student ID, and get a BEAUTIFUL view of the entire Bay Area. The history of Sather Tower is also fascinating, from how it received its title as the third tallest clock tower in the world, to how there are hundreds of fossils tucked away in the base. Even if you don’t enter the Campanile, you can still hear the bells being played by students, and that alone often makes me smile!
I’ve probably visited the Botanical Gardens a dozen times in the last two years – seriously, I highly, highly recommend checking it out. Free with Cal Student ID, the Berkeley Botanical Gardens are considered one of the best in the world, and it’s the perfect location for a picnic, hike, or even just checking out different flora, organized by continent and country.
The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is free with SID, and its current rendition only opened in 2016. The multi-storied museum mixes modern and traditional art, and is a must-see when you go to downtown Berkeley.
4. Indian Rock
Indian Rock is a 1.18-acre public park on the slope of the Berkeley Hills. Easy to reach via bus, it’s a free opportunity to climb boulders and catch the sunset. It takes a bit of coordination, but I love bringing a small picnic and warm blankets, and spending a few hours here with friends during the warm summer months.
5. Free Speech Monument
Not many people know this, but the small gray circle on the ground, near Sproul Hall, is actually a Free Speech Monument! Written on it are the words, “This soil and the air space extending above it shall not be a part of any nation and shall not be subject to any entity’s jurisdiction,” and the small hole in the middle is an endless tube of unregulated space that rises forever upward into space. Literally, no country or person owns it, and the university really fought to allow this monument to stay. Check it out!
6. Tilden Regional Park/Fairy Post Office
I like hiking, and, more importantly, I like cute things. Situated in the Curran Trail is a tree, and inside the tree hollow is a fairy post office. People actually leave little letters there for travelers to pick up, and it’s always a magical moment when you stumble upon it.
Inside the Valley Life Sciences building, there is an actual Tyrannosaurus skeleton. Honestly, that thought alone should make you want to check it out, but I recommend going during the holidays, so you can see Mr. T-Rex festively dressed up.
The museum (free with Cal Student ID) is home to one of the biggest collections in North America. Unfortunately, space is limited and only a few artifacts are out at any given time, but it’s still an amazing place to spend a few hours at!
9. Moe’s Books
This four-story tall book store is home to everything imaginable, from cool posters to textbooks to the latest young adult fiction (YA) novels, and they even have second-hand books, if you want something to read that’s a bit cheaper. I admit, I am a huge fan of Moe’s, and I have no regrets spending money on physical copies of my favorite novels.
10. Sheng Kee Bakery
Berkeley students REALLY like Boba (tea with tapioca pearls) – this is a well-known fact all throughout all of California. However, my personal favorite place, both for convenience and taste, is Sheng Kee Bakery. Located on Southside, near the ASUC Student Union, Sheng Kee has a huge variety of Asian pastries and tea, for a decent price. I recommend the Hokkaido egg tarts and jasmine green tea!
Let us know what you think of these, or if you have your own favorite, in the comments below!