If you haven’t visited them already, you’ve likely heard tell of the gorgeous views from atop the Campanile, or from the Big C. But these spots can be crowded, and by the end of your four years, you might tire of them.
Luckily, there are plenty of lesser-known views scattered across campus. Oftentimes, access is blocked by pesky keycards and the like, but if you’re into delayed gratification and capable of some finesse, we’ve got some way-too-elaborate strategies to get you in.
And along the way in your pursuit of the campus’s best overlooks, you might just discover something new: a club you love, a subject you’re passionate about or a friend you’ll never forget.
Fifth floor of Berkeley Way West
This is one of the best views on campus, but it requires keycard access, meaning very few people ever enjoy it.
Here’s what you’ll need to do: Do well in your first-semester classes, and then second semester, apply to the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program, or URAP. Specifically, apply to positions in the public health department. Once you’ve been offered a position, you’ll need to ask your professor for the keycard application form. Once the paperwork is complete, swipe your Cal 1 Card once to enter the building and again to enter the offices on the fifth floor.
The corner of the building nearest Triple Rock Brewery features wall-to-wall windows, allowing for a completely unobstructed view of both Downtown Oakland and San Francisco, including the Golden Gate Bridge. On a clear day, this view is unbeatable — and if you find yourself there during sunset, get your camera ready.
Technically, the area is reserved for use by emeritus faculty, but no one will mind if you walk through and stop for a moment to admire the view.
University Club at Memorial Stadium
You’ll have to wait until your final semester at UC Berkeley to execute this plan, but it’s well worth it. The University Club, located at the top of California Memorial Stadium, overlooks the entirety of campus as well as San Francisco.
If you have a solid GPA, take the LSAT. Apply to the UC Berkeley School of Law, and if you’re accepted, attend the admitted students programming. If all goes according to plan, one of the events may be a dinner-and-drinks event in the University Club. Chitchat about your future career as a lawyer as you watch the glow of the setting sun bathe the campus in an orange light.
Sixth floor of Campbell Hall
Only UC Berkeley’s astrophysics students can swing access to this floor in Campbell Hall. And while not everyone wants to be an astrophysics major, anyone can befriend one.
Introduce yourself to any one of the astrophysics students you meet freshman year. Befriend them, or date them, or offer to buy them lattes at Yali’s Café. Once you’re friends, encourage them to pursue research opportunities and get keycard access to the top floor of Campbell. Eventually, they’ll want to participate in a poster presentation session. Offer to keep them company as they work late into the night in Campbell Hall, agonizing over poster font sizes. Once they’ve successfully submitted their poster to the printer, suggest a celebration: catching the sunrise from the balcony on the sixth floor. It’s a gorgeous view of campus, and you’ll want to return again and again.
Fourth floor of Eshleman Hall
Technically, anyone can access this view, but why ascend to the top of Eshleman Hall if you don’t have a good reason?
Join a club that looks interesting to you and work your way through the ranks. At some point, you’ll likely have to make a purchase on behalf of your club, and you’ll want the ASUC to reimburse you. Take care of the required paperwork and pop over to the fourth floor of Eshleman. Once you step out of the elevator, you’ll be greeted by wall-to-wall windows.
On a sunny day, you’ll have a bird’s-eye view of Lower Sproul Plaza that’s perfect if you’re into people-watching. You might see friends grabbing lunch, a dance team rehearsing its choreography or a group of skateboarders performing tricks.