Hidden gems around campus to show your family

Map of statues on UC Berkeley campus
Helen Xu/Senior Staff

We all know about the Campanile, but after you’ve taken visitors up and down the tower, where else should you go? The Daily Californian has some suggestions. 

This homecoming season, take your visiting friends and family to some of these lesser-known spots for an unusual tour of Berkeley!

The UC Botanical Garden

The UC Botanical Garden is located in the mountains above the campus, and it’s been part of UC Berkeley since 1890. The beautiful 34-acre gardens contain nine different sections with plants from different parts of the world, from Italy to South Africa. 

The Botanical Garden is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Pets, aside from trained service dogs, are not allowed due to the sensitivity of the garden’s plants. 

Admission to the Botanical Garden is free for UC Berkeley students and faculty, and costs between $7 to $15 for other visitors.

You can park right by the Botanical Garden for $1 per hour or take the Hill Line shuttle from the Hearst Mining Circle to the gardens for just $1. You can also walk to the garden from campus in about 20 minutes, although it’s a bit of a hike! 

Lawrence Hall of Science 

While you’re up in the mountains above campus, the Lawrence Hall of Science is a great place to visit, with its beautiful views of the Bay Area. 

“The Lawrence Hall of Science is a museum of science and learning for all ages,” said Prakamya Agrawal, a campus senior who works as a presenter at the Hall’s planetarium. 

Admission to the Lawrence Hall of Science is free for UC Berkeley students and faculty, $12 for seniors and children ages 3-17 and $15 for adults. 

The Lawrence Hall of Science also has $1-per-hour parking and is accessible via the Hill Line shuttle.

Current exhibits include the planetarium — which has regular shows six times daily — an animal discovery room and an augmented-reality sandbox.

Free Speech Movement Café

Berkeley has a long history of being a center of political movements. In the 1960s, UC Berkeley students started the Free Speech Movement, a movement aimed at enabling students to engage in activism, which spread to college campuses across the United States. 

At the south entrance of Moffitt Library, you will find a café commemorating student activism, with tables and walls decorated with original news articles and photos from the Free Speech Movement. The café represents a foundational part of UC Berkeley’s history, and the bulletin boards in and around the café are a great way to demonstrate to visiting friends and family the diversity and oddity of UC Berkeley. 

You can also refuel with the Free Speech Movement Café’s menu of drinks, soups, salads and sandwiches, made with sustainable and local ingredients!

Moe’s Books

Since 1959, Moe’s Books has been a landmark in the Berkeley area. This legendary bookstore, which turned 60 on Oct. 12, was founded by Moe Moskowitz. It has four different floors with thousands of affordable used books for every taste. In times when family-run bookstores are on the decline in favor of chains and online sellers, it’s wonderful to see an independent and historical bookstore still thriving. 

In addition to new and used books, posters, journals and comics, Moe’s Books regularly invites fascinating authors to give readings. You can find the authors and poets scheduled for the homecoming season on the store’s website. Drop by this famous Berkeley institution and discover what the website describes as “the joy of almost unlimited access to the greatest of the written word, in a store that thrives on its independence.” 

UC Berkeley’s statues

As UC Berkeley students, we spend a lot of time walking around campus. This homecoming season, invite your visiting friends and family to walk in your footsteps and see the diverse, and occasionally odd, art and sculptures that liven up our campus. 

You can start at the bottom of the campus, after grabbing something to eat or drink in Downtown Berkeley. Head up to the Eucalyptus Grove, where you’ll find a perforated metal sphere about as tall as a person. This is a version of Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro’s famous work “Sphere Within Sphere,” but most UC Berkeley students know it as “that weird ball,” as campus sophomore Marisol Montoya Aguilar put it. Either way, show your family this important UC Berkeley landmark!

Next, head up Frank Schlessinger Way to see “The Football Players,” a statue commemorating UC Berkeley’s 1898 and 1899 wins in the Big Game. 

Following Campanile Way up through campus, you’ll pass the Valley Life Sciences Building, which has some interesting multicultural architectural details and carvings on its walls. 

Turning right, you’ll walk through Sather Gate, with its stone carvings of naked men and women, onto Sproul Plaza. Here, you can find the invisible monument to free speech, a 6-inch circle of soil right at the center of the plaza, surrounded by a stone circle with an inscription explaining that this is a tube of free, lawless air extending forever up into space. 

Following Strawberry Creek up past Sproul Plaza to Faculty Glade, you’ll find Coach Pappy Waldorf’s statue and “The Last Dryad” statue across the glade from him, which he is said to be eternally gazing at. 

And once you’re there, you might as well end the tour with a full circle back to the Campanile to look at Abraham Lincoln’s enlarged face on the south side of the tower.

Contact Alexandra Feldman at [email protected].