Take A Tour in Berkeley

Tours are great ways to get introduced to a new area in a short time. And, if you're a local, an in-depth tour of a familiar attraction can be interesting and enlightening.

Consider these stimulating tours of top Berkeley places. For details, please visit venue websites.

1. UC Berkeley Campus Tour

Led by student guides, this 90-minute guided accessible walking tour gives an overview of the campus and highlights history and architecture. All tours cover housing and dining, academic structure, applying to Berkeley, undergraduate colleges and graduate schools, and safety and health. Some additional specialized tours are also available, including an admissions tour and residence hall tours.

  • When: Tours generally commence at 9:30 am. See website calendar for availability and details.
  • Cost: Free
  • Reservations: Required.
  • Good to know: You can visit the student union for lunch, and many more dining spots are available nearby on Telegraph Avenue.

2. TCHO Chocolate Factory Tour

Everything you always wanted to know about chocolate is explained during the TCHO chocolate tasting and factory tour. All of the chocolate is organic and 100% plant based. The factory equipment is strictly shiny, streamlined state of the art. In other words, you won’t be seeing Willy Wonka or any Oompa Loompas here! Must be age 7+; no pets.

When: Varies. Check website.

Cost: Fee; includes 25% off purchase in the factory store.

Reservations: Required; sign up here.

Good to know: You’ll be given a lab coat and hair net to wear before entering the factory!

3. UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley

Located in lush Strawberry Canyon, this 34-acre garden is home to more than 10,000 kinds of plants organized into nine major geographic collections. More than 2,200 are rare and/or endangered. Noteworthy sights include a rhododendron dell, a redwood grove, and a California area that occupied about one-third of the Garden and represents about 25% of the state's flora. It is one of the larges species collections of California native plants worldwide!

  • Tour times: Saturdays and Sundays at 1 pm.
  • Cost: Free with garden admission
  • Reservations: Recommended for non-UCBG members and available here.
  • Good to know: Pets are not allowed in the Garden due to the sensitivity of the plant collection. Only trained service dogs are permitted, but must be cleared at the Kiosk by Garden staff. The Lawrence Hall of Science is just a little farther up the road.

4. Regional Parks Botanic Garden

Established in 1940, this 10-acre garden located in rambling Tilden Regional Park collects, grows, displays, and preserves native California plants. Tours usually last about an hour and are appropriate for both adults and children.

  • When: Saturday at 2 pm, Sunday at 11 am and 2 pm, and some holidays at 2 pm.
  • Cost: Free. Admission to the garden is also free.
  • Reservations: Not needed.
  • Good to know: Pets are not permitted. Tilden Park’s Little Farm and the Merry-Go-Round are nearby.
A tall evergreen surrounded by other lush, green trees at the Tilden Botanic Garden in Berkeley, CA

5. Berkeley City Club

Designed by architect Julia Morgan--who graduated from U.C. Berkeley in 1894 with a B.S. honors degree in civil engineering, and who famously designed Hearst Castle--the magnificent landmark Berkeley City Club features Moorish and Italian Gothic elements and is decorated with oriental rugs and vintage furniture. It is a visual delight. A guest room can be seen by request if one is available. Tours last 45 minutes.

  • When: Tours are offered on the fourth Sunday of the month, January-November. Drop in between 1 and 3:30 p.m.
  • Cost: Fee.
  • Reservations: Not needed.
  • Good to know: On-site Julia’s Restaurant and Morgan’s Bar are open to the public, but never on Sunday. Telegraph Avenue is just two blocks away.

6. Edible Excursions

Edible Excursions walking tours feature culinary destinations around the Bay. Berkeley's Edible Excursions tour focuses on the famous foodie mecca known as North Shattuck, which is home to Alice Waters’ world-renowned Chez Panisse restaurant. Among the tour stops are the historic Cheese Board Collective to sample pizza and gourmet cheese and the original Peet’s Coffee.

  • When: North Shattuck: Saturdays 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Cost: Fee.
  • Reservations: Required.
  • Good to know: You’ll get plenty to eat during these samplings. Plan your "before and after" meals accordingly.

7. Berkeley Historical Walking Tours

The Berkeley Historical Society offers neighborhood walking tours and special events. The Walking Tours are offered in the spring and fall. The Berkeley Historical Society Musuem is also a wonderful experience, filled with treasures from the past with relevance for the present and future.

When: Check website for calendar.

Cost: Fee.

Reservations: Required.

8. Telegraph Berkeley Tour

Experience Telegraph Avenue and the people who inspired and shaped its history with exclusive images, stories, and audio recordings, on this app-based tour curated in partnership with UC Berkeley and the Telegraph Business Improvement District. Points of interest along Telegraph Avenue are highlighted, with many historical references.

  • Cost: free download at the App Store and Google Play: “Telegraph Berkeley Tour.
  • Good to know: Headphones are not required!

9. Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association house tours

The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) is Berkeley’s non-profit preservation organization whose mission is to promote, through education, an understanding and appreciation for Berkeley’s history, and to encourage the preservation of its historic buildings. BAHA's main annual event is a spring house tour.

  • When: Check website for date.
  • Cost: Fee
  • Reservations: Required.
First Unitarian Church

These are just some of the many tours you can take to see all of the beauty in Berkeley. Meanwhile, check out our travel itineraries for even more inspiration.

Award-winning travel writer Carole Terwilliger Meyers, a native San Franciscan, holds a B.A. degree in anthropology from San Francisco State University and an elementary teaching credential from Fresno State College. She is the author of eighteen books, the editor of five books, and the mother of two children -- with whom she has been through the road wars and in the travel trenches first-hand. Learn more about Carol at https://www.berkeleyandbeyond2...

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