Sometimes you just need to get out from under the artificial light of the library and into the sun and fresh air of the Bay Area. But where do you go? There are plenty of spots around campus but they’re often full of students getting work done, relaxing, or having a bite to eat. What if you need a bit more space? What if you’ve grown tired of the same old spots at Cal?
Don’t worry. We’ve got a list of some great places that are sure to meet your needs the next time you want to get outside.
Ohlone Park of West Berkeley has a lot to like. The several blocks it spans offers plenty of field and court space for a pick-up soccer or basketball game. It’s also the gateway to the Ohlone Greenway, a five-mile long stretch of paved road that runs between Berkeley and El Cerrito while weaving through other local parks and green spaces. If you’re looking for a place to use your bike or a great running path this is a good option. Lastly, if you’re a dog lover you can hang out in the dog park section of Ohlone and make friends with the local canine population.
If you like rock climbing or awesome views of the Bay Area you should give some consideration to Indian Rock Park. While not as sprawling as most of Berkeley’s other parks, Indian Rock Park condenses it’s fun into a nice collection of mammoth rocks grouped together in the Berkeley hills. You’ll find it in the midst of a quiet neighborhood which allows you to focus on the surrounding nature. If you want an easily accessible sunset spot that’s not usually crowded you should check out Indian Rock.
Codornices has a little bit of everything. Great views of the Bay Area from the Rose Garden across the street, a huge field for softball and other games, plenty of group BBQ spaces, tennis and basketball courts, walking trails, and its famous concrete slide. It’s also only a few blocks from the Berkeley campus which makes it easy to get to. If you need a place for sports away from Cal or have a large group event that needs space for activities and is easy to get to then Codornices is really your best bet.
This hidden gem in the Berkeley hills can feel a bit out of the way but that’s what makes it a perfect spot if you’re looking for something a bit more secluded. Bolte Park is a fine spot for a picnic or quiet reflection at any time of the day. However, the best time to visit is definitely the late evenings since the park’s location in the hills offers some really great vantage points for watching the sunset over the Bay Area.
Cesar Chavez Park is great for those looking to get a really good view of they bay or simply a decent spot for a run. A massive waterfront park, this place has plenty of space for all types of activities. It’s public tables, grills, and large fields make it a great BBQ or event location for large groups. For an extra special reason to check out the park you can visit during the annual Berkeley Kite Festival. This is a wonderful opportunity to see some awesome kites, meet tons of interesting people, and even buy and fly a kite of your own. This does mean the park can be a bit windy at times so be sure to bring a jacket.
While King is more of a kids park, it has a few things going for it that make it worthy of this list. King offers up (outside school hours) a running track and field that’s open to the wider Berkeley community. It’s a bit out of the way in North Berkeley but that helps reduce crowds and offers up a quiet place to run. If you’re looking for a good spot to get some cardio in, need some space to play a bit of soccer, or searching for a location to host an ultimate frisbee game you should consider checking out King School Park. Also, after your workout, you should consider grabbing a delicious slice of pizza from Gioia a couple blocks down the street to reward yourself.
Looking to get as close to nature as possible in Berkeley? Tilden Park should be at the top of your list. Deep within the Berkeley hills, Tilden Park is full of things to see and try. Plenty of beautiful running paths snake through the park and are even better on hot days when the heavy forest canopy blocks out the sun for a cooler trek. Additionally, if you really need to cool off, the park’s lake is a great option. For a special treat, check out the parks’ Little Farm. A place filled with all sorts of farm animals you can interact with and learn about. With so much to try, Tilden is a spot where you’ll always be able to discover something new.
Live Oak Park in North Berkeley offers many of the same resources as Codornices but at about a third of the size. What it has over Codornices is its location near the city’s Gourmet Ghetto. Few things can beat an afternoon at the park followed by dinner at one of Berkeley’s great nearby restaurants. Many locals come by to make use of the park’s basketball and tennis courts as well as sunbathe on the park’s North lawn. If you’re looking for a BBQ spot and Codornices is full Live Oak usually has some space. The park also hosts Berkeley’s Himalayan Fair where you can experience Indian and Tibetan music and dancing along with a chance to pick up a few souvenirs.
Often overlooked due to the nearby Cesar Chavez Park, Berkeley’s Aquatic Park has some unique features that make it worth your consideration. The Park’s lake offers up boat and kayak rentals on weekends to visitors looking to get out on the water alone or with friends. It’s also where you’ll find to city’s functioning frisbee golf course (worth trying at least once). Finally, if you’re into bird watching the park has some amazing opportunities being so close to the bay.
The next time the weather is good you’ll be ready to make the most of it. So get your bike, soccer ball, and picnic basket and check out one (or all) of these awesome spots.
Remember, you can always find this list and lots of other great community crafted lists on the Gojurn app (available for iOS and Android). Discover a place you think should be on this list? Let us know here.