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Welcome to Cvent's Meeting and Event Planning Guide to Berkeley, a city guide for meeting professionals. A vibrant city by the San Francisco Bay, Berkeley is a place of big ideas, a thriving cultural scene, innovative restaurants, unique neighborhoods and outdoor recreation, all perfectly outfitted for both meeting and leisure travel. While the 18-square-mile city still honors its 1960s iconic past, it has evolved into a culinary and cultural destination that is nationally recognized as an environmental, solar and green leader. Berkeley's cosmopolitan atmosphere can be found throughout its unique neighborhoods, as well as its unique venues ranging from grand ballrooms and conference hotels to LEED-certified spaces, restaurants and performance venues. Berkeley specializes in green meetings, as well as those reflecting the city's intellectual climate and thought leadership, which stems from the resident UC Berkeley campus and its vibrant student and faculty population.
The Northern California city is ideally situated in the San Francisco Bay Area, adjacent to Oakland, 10 miles from San Francisco, 40 miles from San Jose and 75 miles from Sacramento. Delegates can reach Berkeley via three nearby major airports, Oakland International Airport, San Francisco International Airport and Mineta San Jose International Airport. Situated just 15 miles from Berkeley, Oakland International Airport serves over 12 million passengers each year, providing nonstop service throughout the U.S., Mexico and Europe. Located 25 miles from Berkeley, San Francisco International Airport holds the title of one of the world's 30 busiest airports, serving more than 44 million passengers in 2012. The sleek, light-filled Mineta San Jose International Airport sits 45 miles from Berkeley and serves more than 8 million passengers each year, providing nonstop service throughout the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Japan. Both Oakland International Airport and San Francisco International Airport provide direct access to Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) service, which serves three underground train stations in Berkeley. In addition to BART train service, Berkeley visitors and delegates can hop aboard the AC Transit bus system, which serves Berkeley, downtown San Francisco, Foster City and San Mateo. Operated by UC Berkeley, the Bear Transit shuttle service, open to all, runs throughout campus and the surrounding vicinity, and even stops at the Downtown Berkeley BART station.
Situated on San Francisco Bay and boasting spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline, the resort-like DoubleTree by Hilton Berkeley Marina serves as Berkeley's largest meeting venue. The 378-room certified green hotel features 16,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, including the 5,088-square-foot Islands Ballroom, which overlooks the San Francisco Bay, as well as two executive meeting centers and the 1,320-square-foot Quarter Deck. Meeting amenities include full catering and audio-visual services, while hotel amenities include an indoor lap pool, fitness center and on-site Bay Grille and Lounge.
In addition to the DoubleTree by Hilton Berkeley Marina, Berkeley is home to the Hotel Shattuck Plaza, a historic property located two blocks from UC Berkeley. The recently renovated Shattuck Plaza offers nearly 8,000 square feet of meeting rooms and banquet space in six public meeting areas with multiple setup options and state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, including the Whitecotton room and the Crystal ballroom. The Graduate Berkeley is also a top meeting choice, with boutique charm and upscale group space that will wow guests.
Berkeley is home to a variety of unique meeting and event spaces offering the very best in hospitality, culture and group entertainment. The 34-acre University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley features 13,000 species grouped by regions of the world on a hilly site overlooking the campus. The botanical garden offers a variety of private tours throughout garden spaces, species collections and majestic redwood grove, as well as features such private event rental spaces as two conference center meeting rooms and the 200-person Stephen J. Mather Redwood Grove and Amphitheatre. Heralded as Northern California's premier Thoroughbred horse racing facility, Golden Gate Fields welcomes groups to gather in its 300,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, offering panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and the San Francisco skyline. Groups can gather in the 5,230-seat Club House, 1,560-seat Turf Club and 7,960-seat Grandstand, among other spaces, as well as take advantage of all-inclusive group dining packages. Visitors and locals never pass up a chance to visit the UC Theatre and Berkley City Club, which both offer excellent group space for a variety of events.
Unique cultural venues in Berkeley include UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science, a public science museum and center for research named after the university's first Nobel Laureate. The Lawrence Hall of Science welcomes groups to hold daytime and evening events amongst its interactive exhibits, labs and classroom spaces, as well as its 275-seat auditorium, expansive lawn and outdoor patio. One of the largest university art museums in the country, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive houses more than 16,000 objects and 14,000 films and video, characterized by the themes of artistic innovation, intellectual exploration and social commentary. The museum welcomes private events in such spaces as its 234-seat Museum Theater and multi-tiered terraces overlooking the sculpture garden. One of Berkeley's celebrated performance arts organizations, Berkeley Repertory Theatre is known as a national leader in innovative theater and the East Bay's first resident professional theater. The Berkeley Repertory Theatre welcomes groups of 10 to 600 people to gather in its 16,000 square feet of event space, which includes its 401-seat Thrust Stage and 448-seat Roda Theatre.
A feast for the senses, thanks to its rich architectural heritage, hundreds of arts organizations, artists and performers, dozens of historic monuments, park-like UC Berkeley campus and more than 350 restaurants, Berkeley is passionate about its past, present and future. Comprised of varied neighborhoods, the pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly city is well loved for its specialty boutiques and food shops, farmers markets, gentle four-season climate and beautiful Bay Area setting.
Originally home to the Ohlone people and then a mix of open land, farms and ranches when Alameda County came to be in 1853, Berkeley experienced rapid growth in the early 1900s, after thousands of people came to the largely unscathed Berkeley after the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Berkeley was known for its postwar and Civil Rights activism on its campus, which came to climax in 1964, when UC Berkeley provoked a mass student protest by banning the distribution of political literature on campus. That student protest developed into the Free Speech Movement and made Berkeley a focal point for the hippie movement, which particularly flourished in the Telegraph Avenue neighborhood.
Today, Berkeley's diverse neighborhoods honor the city's past and look toward its future. The vibrant Downtown Berkeley district is known for its strong arts scene, Poetry Walk, family-friendly attractions and regional transport access. Connecting Downtown Berkeley with the Telegraph Avenue business district is the park-like campus of UC Berkeley features landscaped grounds, historic architecture and wide walking paths through redwood and eucalyptus trees. Founded in 1868, UC Berkeley serves as the original University of California campus, and enjoys a sterling reputation as a leading educational and intellectual center.
One of the Bay Area's oldest commercial districts, the Telegraph Avenue neighborhood is a bustling area that attracts students, locals and visitors. The Fourth Street neighborhood is a shopping mecca along wide sidewalks lined with sycamore trees, street festivals and musicians, while North Berkeley is known for its European ambiance and "Gourmet Ghetto" area, home to innovative restaurants and the birthplace of California cuisine. The chic Solano Avenue neighborhood bridges Berkeley and Albany with a one-mile stretch of more than 400 businesses, including many mom-and-pop shops.
Aside from its museums, performing arts venues and great shopping, Berkeley features a variety of outdoor recreation options, ranging from exploring bayfront trails to playing championship golf, rock climbing, kayaking, sailing and skateboarding. Visitors and locals alike frequent the 2,079-acre Tilden Regional Park, home to a botanic garden, antique menagerie carousel, sandy beach, Lake Anza swimming area and much, much more.
Berkeley's passion about food shines through in its variety of innovative, influential restaurants and dozens of specialty food shops. Restaurants range from upscale epicurean spots to casual ethnic eateries. COMAL serves earthy, modern interpretations of dishes from throughout Mexico, while Agrodolce welcomes guests who want an authentic Sicilian atmosphere and delicious traditional dishes. Fourth Street's Zut! specializes in Mediterranean and American cuisine, while Downtown Berkeley's Gather Restaurant serves seasonal farm fare. Not to be missed, Chez Panisse, the birthplace of California cuisine in the 1970s, serves a daily changing fixed menu inspired by the market in its restaurant space, as well as daily-changing a la carte selections in its cafe.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Berkeley's mild Mediterranean climate is one of the city's year-round assets. Berkeley features an annual temperature averaging a high of 65°F and a low of 50°F, as well as an average 23 inches of rain, with most falling in the fall and winter months. Winter temperatures average a high of 56°F and a low of 50°F, while spring temperatures average a high of 63°F and a low of 56°F, summer temperatures a high of 70°F and a low of 62°F and fall temperatures a high of 70°F and a low of 61°F. Berkeley very rarely experiences extreme temperatures or inclement weather conditions.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Berkeley Marina
Boasting a resort-like ambience and spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline, the DoubleTree by Hilton Berkeley Marina also features 16,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space. The 378-room certified green hotel on Berkeley Marina puts delegates within easy reach of Fourth Street and Shattuck Avenue shopping, as well as near BART service. The hotel's largest event space, the 5,088-square-foot Islands Ballroom, overlooks the San Francisco Bay and can divide into four distinct spaces. Additional meeting and event venues include the 2,704 square foot Bayview Ballroom, the Executive Meeting Center's five rooms, which range from 486 to 1,485 square feet, and the Sierra Nevada Executive Meeting Center's three rooms, which range from 650 to 1,300 square feet. Meeting amenities include full catering and audio-visual services, while hotel amenities include an indoor lap pool, fitness center and on-site Bay Grille and Lounge.
Oakland International Airport (OAK)
Located 15 miles from Berkeley, Oakland International Airport serves over 12 million passengers each year, providing nonstop service throughout the United States, Mexico and Europe. Passengers can choose from a variety of shopping and dining options, as well as visit the Oakland Aviation Museum, open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM. The airport offers hourly, daily, economy and premier parking options, as well as access to Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) service.
Airline carriers serving Oakland International Airport:
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Approximate taxi fare: $80 USD
Situated 25 miles from Berkeley and 14 miles outside of downtown San Francisco, San Francisco International Airport is one of the world's 30 busiest airports, serving more than 44 million passengers in 2012. The four-terminal airport recently unveiled its new Terminal 2 after a $383-million renovation. The new 640,000-square-foot terminal offers a number of shops and restaurants and a pedestrian bridge to AirTrain, the airport's fully automated people mover. Nearly all of the airport's eateries are branches of local restaurants, bars and cafes, while the airport's mix of bookstores, gift shops, travel outfitters and luxury boutiques have ties to local purveyors as well. Traveling between terminals is easy thanks to AirTrain, a fully automated people mover that runs 24 hours a day. AirTrain's Red Line collects all terminals and terminal garages, as well as provides direct access to the BART station. AirTrain's Blue Line connects all terminals and terminal garages, as well as provides direct access to the BART station and the airport's Rental Car Center.
San Francisco International offers hourly, daily and long-term parking options, as well as provides direct service to the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Rapid Rail system. The airport is also home to the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, a 7,000-square-foot public exhibition space with various transportation artifacts. Designed to resemble a 1930s San Francisco air terminal, the library and museum are open Sunday through Friday from 10 AM to 4:30 PM. Admission is free and groups of up to 250 people are welcome to hold private events in the sprawling space.
Airline carriers serving San Francisco International Airport:
A modern bus system owned by the public of the East Bay region, AC Transit serves 13 cities throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties, as well as downtown San Francisco, Foster City and San Mateo. AC Transit's 364-square-mile service area includes 114 bus lines and approximately 5,600 stops; several bus lines serve Berkeley attractions and connecting transit systems. Local fare within the East Bay is $2.10 for adults and $1.05 for children ages 5 to 18, while transbay fare is $4.20 for adults and $2.10 for children ages 5 to 18. Children under age 5 ride free; transfer fees apply.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the Bay Area's 104-mile-long light rail system serves 44 stations throughout San Francisco and the East Bay region via five light rail lines that run daily. BART serves three underground train stations in Berkeley, which include Downtown Berkeley, North Berkeley and Ashby, providing service to and from San Francisco, Oakland, Walnut Creek and other major destinations. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 4 AM to midnight, Saturday from 6 AM to midnight and Sunday from 8 AM to midnight. BART fares are set by mileage; children age 4 and under ride free. BART also provides connections from San Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport for Berkeley-bound travelers. Passengers can board the BART station at San Francisco International Airport's International Terminal G or take the AirBART shuttle bus at Oakland International Airport to get to and from BART service.
Anyone can ride Bear Transit, UC Berkeley's shuttle service, which runs throughout the campus and the surrounding vicinity, including a stop at the Downtown Berkeley BART station. Bear Transit's H line runs 7:35 AM to 7:26 PM, while the P line runs from 6:45 AM to 7:30 PM and the RFS line from 6:45 AM to 6:10 PM. Fare aboard the H and P lines is $1 per ride, while RFS line fare is $1.50 per ride. Passengers can utilize Bear Transit's free night shuttle service from 7:45 PM to 2 AM.
Berkeley's Amtrak platform, located at 700 University Avenue under the University Avenue underpass, provides access to the Capitol Corridor Route, which runs between the Sacramento region and the Bay Area several times daily.
The Rental Car Center at Mineta San Jose International Airport features counters for Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Fox, Hertz, National, Payless and Thrifty. Easily accessed via its AirTrain service, San Francisco International Airport's Rental Car Center houses counters for Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Fox, Hertz, National and Thrifty, while Payless is represented off-airport. Rental car companies represented at Oakland International Airport's Rental Car Center include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Fox, Hertz, National and Thrifty.
Visitors traveling to Berkeley via Oakland International Airport should expect to pay about $53 in taxi fare, while those traveling via San Francisco International Airport should expect to pay about $80 and those traveling via Mineta San Jose International Airport should expect to pay about $120.
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