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Fine weather across every season, scenic coastal terrain and SF Bay setting make Berkeley a great place to play outside. Hiking, biking, swimming and golf are here, as are kite flying, bird watching, botanic garden walks, rock climbing and fishing. And a few more sports, like Frisbee golf and bocce ball, just waiting to be discovered.
To prepare for your day exploring the outdoors, we recommend fueling up with organic fare from The Sunnyside Café in downtown Berkeley. For something lighter yet nutrient-dense, opt for a smoothie at the nearby Juice Appeal.
Berkeley boasts two world-class botanic gardens. The University of California Botanical Garden is set in Strawberry Canyon, overlooking the San Francisco Bay. Its 34 acres contain plants from around the world arranged by region and include a Chinese Medicinal Herb Garden and Rainforest House. Famous for its large number of rare and endangered species, it’s a delightful setting for a stroll.
Over in Tilden Park’s Wildcat Canyon, the East Bay Regional Parks Botanic Garden is dedicated to the native plant life of California’s many clearly defined floral areas, such as seacoast bluffs and coastal mountains, interior valleys, arid foothills, alpine zones, and two kinds of desert. Reputed to contain the largest collection of California native plants in the world, it is tucked neatly into the beautiful Berkeley Hills.
One of Berkeley’s many parks, the Berkeley Municipal Rose Garden is considered by many to be the finest rose garden in Northern California. This beautiful setting is graced with 3,000 rose bushes (representing some 250 varieties). Right next to the spectacularly thorny vines are the Rose Garden Tennis Courts, with a view that will make it hard for you to keep your eye on the ball!
Head west to Berkeley’s bayfront, a recreation hub with many activities for all ages. The Berkeley Marina is headquarters for boating, fishing and fresh air. Fine dining restaurants provide breathtaking views of San Francisco Bay and the working marina; bay and dining cruises embark for fun-filled voyages. Outdoor recreation opportunities include the Adventure Playground, the Shorebird Nature Center, an off-leash dog area, and the San Francisco Bay Trail, part of 90-acre Cesar Chavez Park.
As daylight fades on a gorgeous Northern California day, follow the setting sun for dinner at Skates on the Bay. The Berkeley Marina restaurant has best-in-Berkeley waterfront views and a menu that spotlights sparkling fresh seafood and savory steaks. As night falls, Skates’ picture windows fill with twinkling stars and San Francisco’s city lights brightly reflecting across the bay.
Get your second outside day rolling with a French power breakfast at La Note in downtown Berkeley. If your itinerary is starting later in the day, we recommend the German kitchen Gaumenkitzel for lunch (or brunch on weekends), serving authentic European-style comfort food. Everything from the spatzle to the sausage is made from scratch and with fresh, healthy ingredients.
Charter a sport-fishing excursion from the Berkeley Marina and head out the Golden Gate for salmon, halibut and other tasty catches. Landlubbers can take an invigorating stroll out on the Berkeley Pier, which juts more than a half-mile into San Francisco Bay.
For those looking to tee up, we recommend an afternoon tee time at the picturesque Tilden Park Golf Course. This 18-hole championship affair built in 1937 wends its way through the park’s redwoods and pines, and features a 3-tier driving range.
Tilden offers a bounty for non-golfers as well, including hiking and biking trails, Lake Anza for swimming, and Jewel Lake for quiet reflection and communion with Berkeley’s great outdoors.
Catch a golden California sunset (and a three-bridge view) from the observation deck at Lawrence Hall of Science or atop Indian Rock Park, before heading down the hill for dinner at the top of Solano Avenue. You’ll find something satisfying and flavorful up and down the Ave. A good thing, too, because one thing about being outside is that it tends to make you hungry!