Berkeley Travel Tips

Berkeley is a small city of neighborhoods and districts that is exceptionally pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, made even more so by a gentle four-season climate and scenic setting. There’s a lot to see and more to do, ranging from a sizzling restaurant scene to cultural arts adventures and outdoor recreation.

For help planning a visit or if you just have a question, please feel free to call or stop by the Visit Berkeley Information Center.

VISITOR INFORMATION CENTER

2030 Addison Street, #102
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 549-7040 / (800) 847-4823

Open: Mon - Fri, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (excluding holidays)

Population

Berkeley: 112,580
Alameda County: 1,510,271
California: 37,253,956
Source: US Census 2010

climate/weather

Berkeley is a four-season destination with a Mediterranean-like climate where extreme temperatures or inclement weather are extremely rare. The following can be used as a general guide:

                           MAX      MIN    MEAN     RAINFALL

Winter                    56        43         50         12.06"

Spring                    63        48         56           2.50"

Summer                 70        54         62             .38"

Fall                         70        53         61           8.22"

Annual                    65       50          57          23.16"

time zone

Pacific Standard Time (GMT minus 8 hours)
Daylight Savings Time (GMT minus 7 hours) runs from the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November.

Directory Assistance

For local numbers, dial 411
For long distance, dial 1 + area code + 555-1212
For toll-free numbers, dial 1 (800) 555-1212
Not all 800, 877, and 888 numbers work from outside the United States. As an alternative, try a direct toll number or a fax.

emergency assistance

Dial 911 toll-free from any private or public telephone to obtain police, fire or medical assistance.
For non-emergencies in Berkeley, call:
Police Dept: (510) 981-5900
Fire Dept: (510) 981-3473

rules and regulations

Sales Tax: 8.75%

Liquor Laws: Legal drinking age in California is 21. Picture identification may be requested at any time. Bars are open until 2 am. Liquor stores are open seven days a week. California State Law prohibits the sale of alcohol beverages from 2 am to 6 am.

Smoking Laws: You must be 18 to purchase tobacco products. Smoking is prohibited on public transportation and in public buildings, including bars and restaurants. Smoking is prohibited within 20 feet of any entrance, or exit, or air intake vent to any building that is open to the public, except while passing on the way to another destination. Smoking is also prohibited within 20 feet of any bus stop.

Driving regulations

Drinking and Driving: It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in California with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher. If you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, you must submit to a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol content.

Helmets: Helmets are required for bicyclists under 18 years old and all motorcyclists.

Required Documents: You must carry a valid driver's license from your home state or country. The minimum age for drivers is 16 with training, 18 without.

Seat Belts/Restraints: Seat belts must be worn by all passengers. Children under 8 years old or less than 57" tall must be in an appropriate safety seat. 

Right on Red: Drivers may turn right at a red light after making a full stop, unless signs indicate otherwise.

Road Conditions: Call the California Department of Transportation for 24-hour roads information at (800) 427-7623. For local and regional traffic information, dial “511” or visit www.511.org

Vehicular Accidents: You must report an accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles if anyone is injured or killed, or if more than $500 in damage is incurred.

Cell Phones: It is illegal in California to drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving. It is also illegal to use write, send, or read text-based communication on an electronic wireless communication device, such as a cell phone, while driving.

parking regulations

Colored Curb Markings: Painted curbs mean that parking is controlled. The colors on curbs mean:

Yellow Curb: Reserved for commercial use for loading and unloading merchandise or materials. Regulations are enforced Mon - Sat from 7 am - 6 pm, unless posted otherwise. Some metered parking spaces can be yellow zones during certain hours.

Red Curb: Designated “no stopping, standing or parking” under any circumstances. Regulations are enforced 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Green Curb: Short term, restricted or limited time parking. Zones are marked with signs indicating 5 minutes to two hours limited parking. Regulations are enforced Mon-Sat from 9 am to 6 pm, unless posted otherwise.

White Curb: Passenger loading zones. Unless signs are posted, drivers of the vehicle must remain in the car for only 3 minutes to drop off or pick up passengers. Drivers cannot leave their vehicles. Regulations are enforced 24 hours a day, seven days a week, unless posted otherwise.

Blue Curb: Designated for vehicles displaying valid Disabled placards or Disabled Person license plates from any state. Regulations are enforced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Fines for vehicles parking at a disabled parking place without a placard are set by the State of California, and begin at $275.

Visitor Parking Permits

Visitor Parking Permits may be purchased by Berkeley residents for their guests in advance of their arrival, by mail or in person, at the Customer Finance Service Center, 1947 Center Street, 1st Floor, (510) 981-7200.  1-day permit: $2.25; all one-day permits expire on June 30 of the current permit year.  14-day permit: $23.00; 14-day permits are valid for 14 consecutive calendar days. Additional restrictions may apply; contact the Customer Service Center at (510) 981-7200 for information.

road & traffic conditions

Bay Area Travel Guide: 511

Highway Patrol: Emergency calls 911; Non-emergency calls (707) 551-4100

Road conditions: (800) 427-7623

bicycle storage

Located at 2208 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley Bike Station offers free valet parking, 24-hour self service parking, bike rentals, repairs and sales, classes and events.  Please visit the website for current hours, rules & regulations. 

international visitors

Customs: You must complete customs and immigration formalities at the first point of arrival in the United States, whether or not it's your final destination.

Currency: For currency conversion, please contact:

Currency Exchange International (CEI)

2301 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 704-1900
website

Located inside Mechanics Bank in Downtown Berkeley, CEI is a full-service currency exchange office able to buy and sell banknotes and traveler's checks from more than 80 countries. 

Electricity: U.S. electrical current is 110 volts.

Foreign Language Assistance: Dial (888) US-1-INFO for free access to emergency services and travel assistance in more than 140 languages.

Required Documents: Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for visa, passport, and health requirements.

Travel Insurance: There is no compulsory or government plan in the U.S. Travelers are advised to purchase travel and health insurance in case of emergency.

sister cities

Berkeley’s first sister city contact was established with Sakai, Japan on March 15, 1966. The most visible reminder of the Berkeley/Sakai relationship is the giant sundial at the foot of the Berkeley Pier, donated by Sakai in 1974. The two cities have an active student exchange program in which high school and college students spend a month visiting families in the sister city.

  • Sakai, Japan (est. 1966)
  • Gao, Mali (est. 1985)
  • Jena, Germany (est. 1989)
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