My husband grew up in a college town where attending sporting events was the obvious answer to any family’s need for cheap, wholesome entertainment. Since our kids have passed through the toddling stage, he’s enlightened me on the value of the Cal athletic department in our own backyard; my family has been to basketball games, baseball games, soccer and rugby matches, and gymnastics meets, many of which are free for them to attend.
Which Cal Sports Are Free For Families?
Some sports are ticketed (Baseball, Football, Gymnastics, Soccer, Rugby, Volleyball, and Basketball) and others are free admission always.
The free sports are generally what the athletic world calls Olympic sports: Track and Field and Swimming and Diving events. Also free are Men’s Gymnastics, Rowing, Tennis, Golf, Lacrosse, and Women’s Water Polo.
Where Can you Watch Athletic Events for Cal teams?
There are various fields, stadiums, and aquatic centers on and around the campus. Don’t forget to bring proof of vaccination (card, picture of the card, state of California QR code) and a form of identification for everyone 12 and older.
At the Haas Pavillion, home to Gymnastics, Basketball, and Volleyball, kids enjoy scrambling around on the bleachers when they get antsy at the event. There’s plenty of room for them to do that. Cheerleaders and the dance team perform during basketball games, except when students are on breaks from school. There’s often other entertainment like youth scrimmages and DJs to keep kids entertained during halftime or breaks in play. Concession stands are open for purchasing traditional stadium snacks, but outside food and soft plastic water bottles are also allowed in Haas Pavillion. (Many fans stop by Yogurt Park for a pre-game treat.) Check out the venue’s list of permitted and prohibited items before leaving for a game. Keep in mind that small (4.5″ x 6.5″) or clear bags are best if you’re bringing outside items, though diaper bags are permitted if searched upon entry. If you’re visiting with babies or toddlers, diaper changing stations are in both the men’s and women’s restrooms on the third floor concourse behind section 10.
At the Rugby Stadium up on Rim Way, behind the football stadium, you’ll find a beer garden and refreshments, including warm pretzels. The Softball field is just beyond Rugby.
The Baseball Field, Evans Diamond, is on campus, and conveniently located near the food options on Oxford in Downtown Berkeley.
Swimming, Diving, and Water Polo are at two aquatic centers off of Bancroft Way.
Soccer and Track and Field are located at Edwards Stadium, which is at Fulton Street and Bancroft Way.
Where to Park for Cal Events
Plan to park in a paid parking lot (there are several) as street parking is generally limited to two hours or metered in the streets around the Cal Campus. There is a multi-story parking lot on Channing and Telegraph that we like. Downtown Berkeley BART is a good option for going to Haas Pavillion, Edwards Stadium, or Evans Field, but the walk is long enough that you’ll want a stroller for toddlers.
What about Cal Bears Football?
Football is a much larger and more expensive event. We’ve put all our football tips — including parking in one article about taking kids to Cal football games.
Here are upcoming Cal Athletics events to consider:
Related: While on campus, take a ride to the top of the Campanile.