Located on the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft, and extending north to Sather Gate, Sproul Plaza is the locus of campus activity at the University of California, Berkeley (a.k.a. Cal or California to college sports fans). Walking through Sproul Plaza on a weekday, a student is more likely than not to be approached by one of many campus groups handing out flyers and brochures about their causes, clubs, and movements. Likewise, many student publications, such as the Heuristic Squelch, are handed out toward the north end of Sproul Plaza near Sather Gate. The north end is also home to many of the campus a capella groups, who perform at noon and in the early afternoon in the shade of the trees.

On the east, Sproul Plaza is bounded by Sproul Hall; on the west, one will find the Martin Luther King, Jr., Student Union building, the Golden Bear Center campus restaurant, as well as a second paved open area known as "Lower Sproul Plaza." Lower Sproul, so designated as it is lower in elevation than Upper Sproul, is bounded by the Cesar Chavez Center on the North, Zellerbach auditorium to the west, Eshelman Hall to the south, and the MLK building to the east.

Historically, Sproul Plaza and Sproul Hall have been the site of the many protests that Berkeley is known for. Most notably, the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s took place is this locale; the name Mario Savio] is still memorialized on the campus.

Sproul Plaza was once an extension of Telegraph Avenue, which ran right up to Sather Gate. The large circle that lies between the bridge over Strawberry Creek and the main part of Sproul Plaza was once a turn station for the trolley that ran along Telegraph.