Top 17 Best Outdoor Activities in Berkeley, CA

8 min read

Destguides may receive commissions from purchases made through affiliate links in this article.

An aerial view of a city with buildings and greenery next to mountain ranges
Berkeley offers a range of fun outdoor activities

Berkeley is located on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay in California. It is considered one of the most socially liberal cities in the US and is home to the University of California's (UC) oldest campus.

Along with the famous university, you'll find many parks, forests, and hiking trails that can be easily accessed. There are also outdoor markets to explore and more unique attractions like Adventure Playground. So whether you come with your kids or alone, you won't run out of outdoor activities in Berkeley, CA, to enjoy!

As San Francisco is only a stone's throw away, the chance to see the Golden Gate Bridge and the other nearby famous California landmarks should not be missed either. Berkeley has more to offer than it might seem at first, so continue reading to learn more!

Organizing a last-minute visit to Berkeley?

Before traveling to Berkeley, book your accommodations and experiences ahead of time. See the short list of top suggestions below.

🏨 Top accommodations in Berkeley

☂️ Top tour and experience in Berkeley

17 Berkeley Outdoor Activities

Berkeley Things to Do Video

Check out our highlights video of Berkeley things to do.

Map of Berkeley Activities

A map of Berkeley. Use the map to explore all the things to do.

Map of Berkeley Activities

Show Interactive Map

Best Outdoor Activities in Berkeley, California

A green golf course with a flag and a small bridge next to green trees
Tilden Regional Park has an array of attractions, like a golf course

Explore Tilden Regional Park

Tilden Park is a 2,079-acre regional park located between Berkeley Hills and San Pablo Ridge. It is one of the best parks in Berkeley, California to visit.

Besides the forest, you can find a golf course, swimming lake, botanical garden, miniature train, and other exciting things to keep you busy while in nature. To learn more about the ecosystem, head to The Environmental Education Center, where you can find informational programs and permanent exhibits about the region's ecology.

Swim in Lake Anza

Lake Anza is a fresh-water lake in the beautiful Tilden Regional Park. The natural pool gets its water from springs and has a sandy beach, perfect for sunbathing. It is widely popular among visitors and locals, and for a reason!

During the swimming season, a lifeguard is there to make you feel secure while you enjoy yourself in the soothing water. Lake Anza has plenty of parking spaces, as well as changing rooms and picnic spots.

Touring Berkeley Campus is one of the many outdoor activities in Berkeley, CA
Berkeley Campus features lots of impressive buildings

Explore Berkeley Campus

The campus of the University of California in Berkeley is packed with remarkable buildings from the 20th century. The campus is considered the Central Park of Berkeley and is loved by both the students and locals.

A great view of the whole campus opens from Sather Tower, the best-known symbol of UC Berkeley. Be sure not to miss the grand UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, either!

🏨 Places to stay near the University of California, Berkeley

Meet the Community at Berkeley Farmers' Markets

Berkeley has three open-air farmers' markets that are open all year round. They're joyful meeting points where Californian farmers sell their locally grown goods directly to customers.

In addition to fruits and veggies, you can find pastries, nuts, juices, and much more. On top of all of that, Berkley's marketplaces are determined to recycle and compost as much as possible. Held three times a week in three different locations, these gatherings should be on the top of your Berkeley to-do list.

🏨 Accommodations near the Farmers Market

Go Wild in Adventure Playground

Adventure Playground is an urban park located at the Berkeley Marina. From zip lining to climbing to sliding, the outdoor attraction makes sure your kid has the best time possible.

For the creative-minded, Adventure Playground allows kids to build their own playground. It's one of the only places in the US where school-age children are allowed to paint, hammer, and saw to make creature fort-like structures! Don't worry; it's low risk, and your young architect will be supervised.

Flowering plants planted in steps with a covered walkway on top
Berkeley Rose Garden is home to 250 varieties of roses and 1,500 rose bushes

Admire the Historical Berkeley Rose Garden

Berkeley Rose Garden is a stunning attraction with 250 varieties of roses and 1,500 rose bushes. The garden was built to resemble a terraced amphitheater, and it offers views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the most famous landmarks in North America. The Berkeley Rose Garden is also home to four tennis courts, a tennis picnic area, and hiking trails.

🏨 Accommodations nearby Berkeley Rose Garden

Have Fun in Codornices Park

Codornices Park is located in a charming hillside setting in Northeast Berkeley. As one of the first parks in the town, it has grown with time. Today, the outdoor attraction has basketball and softball fields, multiple playgrounds, and BBQ picnic areas.

In addition, many hiking trails can be found in the forest. Codornices Park is connected to the Berkeley Rose Garden via an underground tunnel. As it has countless play options, it is the perfect place to visit with kids.

🏨 Places to stay near Codornices Park

A park with small fountains in the center next to green and purple trees
César Chávez Park is named after the civil rights activist

Fly a Kite in César Chávez Park

Located on the peninsula in Berkeley Marina, César Chávez Park is a spot with gorgeous panoramic views of San Francisco, Marin Headlands, and the Golden Gate Bridge. The outdoor landmark was named after the civil rights activist and labor leader, Chávez.

You can find hiking paths here, in addition to picnic areas, a wildlife sanctuary, and a kite-flying site. The park is pet-friendly, too! You can find an off-leash dog area where your favorite can run around freely.

Shop at the Berkeley Flea Market

Berkeley Flea Market is an international outdoor bazaar in South Berkeley. You can find everything from art and ethnic cuisine to household goods. It is open from Saturday until Sunday, morning till evening.

The market has been around for nearly 50 years and continues to celebrate its existence with music, art, and a buzzing community. Food trucks, handmade crafts, and antiques bring together a diverse crowd.

Rock Climb in Indian Rock Park

If you're looking to exert yourself, don't miss out on the chance to visit Indian Rock Park. It is situated in the Northbrae area in Berkeley and offers a nice challenge and great views over the San Francisco Bay Area.

This attraction is perfect for an open-air lunch, as it includes a picnic area with a fireplace and BBQ. It is open from the early hours of the morning until the late evening.

A body of water surrounded by grass, trees, bushes, and a red house in the distance
Exploring Aquatic Park is one of the best outdoor activities in Berkeley, CA

Take a Walk in Aquatic Park

Aquatic Park is a diverse 100-acre outdoor space that offers multiple different activities to unwind. If you're searching for an energetic break, you can find a disc golf course and an outdoor gym on the west side of Aquatic Park.

For a more relaxed time, the park offers a lovely picnic area and a walking trail. More than 67 acres of the attraction are taken up by a stunning lagoon where you can boat or canoe.

Be a Kid at Shorebird Park Nature Center & Adventure Playground

Shorebird Park Nature Center is a scenic outdoor area along the water with a nature center containing fish and other animal displays. The attraction also has several play areas for kids and picnic sites dotted around.

The Adventure Playground, adjacent to Shorebird Park, is every Berkeley kid's dream. It is located at the Berkeley Marina and is free to use. It opened in 1978, and kids here can play among forts, ride the zipline or build structures, like clubhouses, out of recycled items provided on-site

A board that reads "University of California Botanical Garden," surrounded by trees
The UC Botanical Garden has more than 12,000 species of plants

Learn About the Wildlife in the UC Botanical Garden

The UC Botanical Garden is a living museum with one of the most diverse collections in the United States. It is made up of more than 12,000 species of plants from all around the planet.

In addition, the Botanical Garden has various workshops and programs for you to get even more familiar with the blooming world around us. You can find the event list for their summer concerts and open-air markets on their website.

Spoil Yourself with a Good Meal

When it comes to food, Berkeley does not mess around. It is the birthplace of Peet's Coffee and Californian-style restaurant Chez Panisse.

As Berkeley is a student city, many great budget places can be found, too - Picante, Cheese Board Pizza, and Vik's Chaat Corner are only some examples.

The UC campus hosts numerous pop-up restaurants that offer excellent cuisine from all over the world. One thing is for sure - you won't leave Berkeley hungry.

Ameer Mussard-Afcari/
A building with a board that reads "Welcome to Golden Gate Fields," and two flags
Golden Gate Fields is a horse racing track and that holds events all year

Feel the Adrenaline in Golden Gate Fields

Golden Gate Fields is a horse racing track located along the coastline of the San Francisco Bay Area. It is the leading thoroughbred racetrack in Northern California. There are events held here all year round, as it is a go-to place for excitement and adrenaline seekers.

The track itself lies on 140 acres of land in the cities of Berkeley and Albany. It has been featured in videos, movies, and novels, and should not be missed on your trip to Berkeley!

Best Outdoor Activities Near Berkeley, CA

A red suspension bridge between two mountains with a body of water underneath
Don't miss going to the Golden Gate Bridge in neighboring San Francisco

Visit the Famous Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in the world and is located only 35 minutes from Berkeley. The legendary mile-wide construction connects San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean and is perhaps California's most internationally known symbol.

Whether you decide to walk across the 227-meter-high bridge or have a look at the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center, you simply cannot leave the area without visiting.

🏨 Place to stay close to the Golden Gate Bridge

A green mountain with fog in front of it under a cloudy sky with sun rays
Mount Tamalpais State Park has beautiful trails that offer breathtaking views

Hike in the Trails Around Berkeley

There are 41 charming hiking trails in and around Berkeley, all of different lengths and sceneries. You can go by bike or on foot and make it a multi-day camping trip or just a few-hour workout.

Challenging but gorgeous trails can be found around Mount Diablo State Park and Mount Tamalpais State Park. If you fancy a swim at the end of your hike, do the Wildcat Gorge and Lake Anza Loop.

In Conclusion

Berkeley is the perfect spot for a getaway. If you desire to get away from your busy work life but still fancy a bit of nightlife on the side, the youthful city on the shore of San Francisco Bay is just for you.

With stunning mountains and forests, Berkeley is a favorite among nature lovers. It is also a good holiday spot for kids, as it has more outdoor play areas and parks than you could count. Be sure to bring your camera and come hungry! It is a city that won't disappoint.

Give us feedback about this article

Written by Kirke Männik

kirkemannik FORMER WRITER As a full-time traveler, Kirke has visited 47 countries and 4 continents. She collects adventures wherever she goes, exploring the world through cultures and the people she meets.

Want to keep exploring?

Subscribe for discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Thank you for subscribing

We will be in touch soon with discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Want to keep exploring?

Subscribe for discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Thank you for subscribing

We will be in touch soon with discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Want to keep exploring?

Subscribe for discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

By entering your email address you agree to our terms and conditions, Privacy policy, and consent to receive emails.