Top Five Summer Sights in Berkeley and the Bay Area
June 20, 2010

These are my top five picks for great summer sights in Berkeley and the Bay Area.

What are some of yours? Let us know so we can visit!

1. The UC Botanical Garden

While the Botanical Garden is a great place to visit all year-round, summer is my favourite time to go up there. It’s free for students ($7 for adults) and on the weekdays, there’s a handy bus to take us up there as well. The Garden is divided up into specified regions, such as California, Austrolasia, and the Tropical House to cite just a few. While UC’s plant haven isn’t the biggest botanical garden I’ve ever been to, it was big enough that I needed at least two days to see the entire thing. There’s a superb view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the rose garden at the top of the hill, a peaceful sanctuary at the zen pool, and some amazing hidden waterfalls.

2. Golden Gate Park

Running through the center of San Francisco, Golden Gate Park is full of things to do. Visit the California Academy of the Sciences where you can see nearly 40,000 animals and learn all about the wonderful world we live in! If you like flowers, Golden Gate Park hosts the San Francisco Botanical Garden as well as the Conservatory of Flowers. Other highlights include the National AIDS Memorial Grove and the Japanese Tea Garden. Other than the main attractions, Golden Gate Park is a fun place to walk, run, bike, rollerblade, play frisbee, volleyball, or any other outdoor sport you could think of. The park often hosts summer music festivals as well, which draw a huge crowd.

3. Berkeley Rose Garden (and Cordornices Park)

If you like looking at a variety of shapes, colours, and scents in roses, this is a must-visit in June and July. The garden looks like it was once an amphitheater, with steps and rows descending from just below the street level. It’s fun to see all of the different rose varieties, sit on a bench and read a book, or play tennis at the accompanying courts. Just across the street (or under the street through the awesomely long tunnel) is Cordornices Park, which boasts an epic concrete slide that scares even the bravest of adults. Folks always leave flattened cardboard boxes for the exciting ride.


4. Ocean Beach

I may be a bit biased since this is the only local beach I’ve visited, but the place is just fantastic over the summer. It’s at the far edge of Golden Gate Park and while it might not be warm enough for swimming, there is still lots to do! I’ve laid on the beach tanning, taken walks, built sandcastles, and watched people surf of fly kites. Just be warned, the fog can roll in at strange points in the afternoon, so you’ll want to get out there earlier in the day.

This is the fog that you want to avoid.

5. Berkeley Marina

Take the bus down to the Marina and you can fly kites, have a picnic, sail, go kayaking, or eat a tasty meal at Skates on the Bay. I’ve personally only been over here for sailing, but they have the occasional kite festival and I’ve heard the view is pretty epic. They shoot off some fantastic fireworks on the 4th of July as well 🙂

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