Skip to content

Reflection Pool, Berkeley by Landis Bennett.

Practical Information


Berkeley is a city of just over 100,000 people located north of Oakland in the East Bay section of the San Francisco Bay Area. The metropolitan Bay Area has a population of about seven million, and stretches from the wine valleys of Napa and Sonoma in the north to Silicon Valley and San Jose in the south. Berkeley is directly opposite the Golden Gate and extends east from the bay shore to the crest of the Berkeley Hills, with the campus located just at the base of the hills. It is a famously liberal town, known for alternative lifestyles and leftist politics, as well as strong coffee and fine food.

The University of California was founded in Berkeley in 1868. It has grown to become one of the world's leading educational and research institutions, now with ten campuses throughout the state. UC Berkeley, or Cal, dominates the local social, political, and economic scene, with 20,000 faculty and staff and 34,000 students.

Eating and Drinking

We will provide coffee, tea, other beverages, fruit and pastries on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday mornings.

We will probably take orders and have sandwiches brought in for "VR-101" on Friday. For lunch on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday there are a number of small restaurants adjacent to campus at North Gate (where most of our activities will be located) and South Side.

If you are at Beer on the Balcony on Friday we will probably order pizza, or you can go out on your own.

The World Wide Panorama reception on Saturday (drinks and snacks) is free. Dinner on Sunday, the banquet and awards ceremony, is included in your registration.

Monday afternoon most of us will be in San Francisco on field trips, and many will elect to stay for dinner. It is of course a city famous for its restaurants of all kinds.


This is not being planned as a family event. Each participant must be registered and paid to attend "VR from the Basics", the plenary day, or the sessions/panels/workshops. Family members and guests are welcome at the social events, but must pay individually for the banquet.

Family members looking for entertainment during our activities will find some interesting museums on campus. Even better are the Oakland Museum of California (take BART to the Lake Merritt station, closed Mondays and Tuesdays), and the Exploratorium (the museum of science, art, and human perception) in San Francisco (closed Mondays).

San Francisco Bay cruises are popular, or you can take a ferry from Oakland's Jack London Square to the Ferry Building in San Francisco. The main tourist areas in San Francisco are Chinatown and Fishermans Wharf/Ghirardelli Square. The main shopping area runs from Market between 4th and 5th to Union Square. San Francisco is a great walking city (though steep!) and has excellent public transit.

If the family likes to hike there are many fine parks around the bay (require a car for access). Muir Woods, Mount Tamalpais, and Angel Island State Park in Marin (west from Berkeley), Coyote Hills Regional Park (south), and Mount Diablo State Park (east) are particularly outstanding. Also Point Reyes National Seashore and various units of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Winery tours and wine tasting in the Napa Valley are also popular, though mostly for adults.

Local Customs

Berkeley is one of the most anti-smoking places on the planet. You may not smoke in any public building, during group activities (even outdoors), in outdoor seating areas at restaurants, or within 30 feet (10 meters) of any door or window. If you break the rules people are sure to mention it to you.


Berkeley has a mild Mediterranean climate, nearly frost-free, with almost all rainfall during the winter, November to April. The average daily high for mid-June is 72° F (22° C), the daily low 54° F (12° C). The chance of rain is close to zero, but the chance of overcast (high fog blowing in from the ocean) is 35%.

Just because this is California, don't expect it to be warm - when the fog blows in through the Golden Gate it can feel like the North Pole, even in summer. Keep a sweater or light jacket handy, the temperature (at Beer on the Balcony, for instance) can change from balmy to chilly in a matter of minutes. If you go to the beach or the Golden Gate Bridge take a warm jacket and long pants.

What to Do When You Arrive in Berkeley

If you have arranged for campus housing check in at the Summer Visitor Housing office, Stern Hall at Hearst Avenue and Highland Place (the northeast corner of campus, up the hill from Geography). You can move in to your room after 3 pm. If you will be arriving after 6 pm contact summer housing at (510) 642-5925 to let them know.

Next, check in for the conference and sign up for field trips with Delores Dillard. On Friday she will be in Room 507 McCone Hall (the Geography Department office) from 4 pm until 7 pm. On Saturday she will be in the foyer of the Lipman Room in Barrows Hall from 9 am until 6 pm. Late check-in will be possible at the plenary session on Sunday morning.

If you need to store luggage temporarily, on the first or last days of the conference, bring it to Delores in the Geography department office, room 507 McCone Hall.