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A university town perhaps most famous as the setting for the Free Speech Movement and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in the 1960s, Berkeley is a one-of-a-kind city, not least for its fabulous setting. The Berkeley hills to the east frame the city, which slopes gradually toward the Bay and offers sensational vistas west toward San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Marin county. A bastion of liberalism, the tree-shaded town has heaps of character. Coffee shops and jazz cafes steep in bohemian intellectualism, and there's no shortage of globe-spanning restaurants (including Alice Waters' world-renowned Chez Panisse). The leafy University ...

A university town perhaps most famous as the setting for the Free Speech Movement and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in the 1960s, Berkeley is a one-of-a-kind city, not least for its fabulous setting. The Berkeley hills to the east frame the city, which slopes gradually toward the Bay and offers sensational vistas west toward San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Marin county. A bastion of liberalism, the tree-shaded town has heaps of character. Coffee shops and jazz cafes steep in bohemian intellectualism, and there's no shortage of globe-spanning restaurants (including Alice Waters' world-renowned Chez Panisse). The leafy University of California campus, with its splendid architecture and Sather Tower campanile, exerts a strong influence on the town, notably along Telegraph Avenue – still a beacon for hippie counter-culture types. The Berkeley Art Museum and the Hearst Museum of Anthropology, on campus, are must-visits, as is the Lawrence Hall of Science in the forested hills, where Tilden Park has trails. Whether for a spa treatment or meal, don't leave town without visiting the grand-dame Claremont Resort Hotel. Bay Area Rapid Transit offers a speedy connection to San Francisco.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Any time of year; winter can be cool and rainy, and morning fogs are common in late summer.