A year ago I sat down to write 7 Fun Things to Do in Davis. As a junior from Southern California, I have expanded my Northern California horizons quite a bit over this past year. So here I am with another idea—seven adventures you can have beyond the Davis city limits.
1. San Francisco and Berkeley
As a Davis student, you might hear the most well known place to visit outside of Davis being referred to as “The Bay,” “SF” or “The City.” When visiting, driving up to one of the many lookout points to get a glimpse of the city’s most iconic landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge, is a must. Picnics in Dolores Park and walking around Ghirardelli Square and Pier 39 are also popular activities. Seeing all of the seals basking in the sun on the pier is one of my favorite sights.
Being from SoCal, I have noticed that the food scene in SF is more bustling than it is in LA. I’ve heard that the ramen is incredible in “The City,” so I’m planning a trip soon, when I can spend an entire day restaurant hopping and trying all the unique and incredible food. The city of Berkeley is known for great food, too. A friend of mine also recommends visiting the monthly So-so Market that’s hosted by a vintage shop where you can thrift and buy from local vendors and artists.
If you don’t have a car, you can still get to SF using the Amtrak train and then hopping on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (a.k.a. BART). You can also get to Berkeley using the Davis-Berkeley Shuttle offered to UC Davis and UC Berkeley students!
2. Bodega Bay
This adorable coastal town was the first place I visited outside of Davis. Here, you can expect to find little shops dedicated solely to things like kites and taffy. There are also INCREDIBLE views of the cliffs and the ocean and marine life everywhere you look. If there is one recommendation throughout this entire blog that I want you to remember as a takeaway, it is to get the fish and chips (or any sort of seafood) at one of the restaurants there. It doesn’t matter where you go—each place I have been to has always left me wanting more.
Bodega Bay is also home to the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory. I visited to film a video all about this town for the “In the Middle of Everywhere” video series with my fellow communications intern, Dawson. [Editor’s note: Bodega Bay video coming soon.] During and after my visit, I nearly changed my major to marine and coastal science just so I could study on-site there during the summer months. For a view of the lab, check out this TikTok I made!
3. Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is an amazing day trip at any time of the year. I will never forget the first time I visited; all the leaves on every tree were changing into an array of warm colors. We hiked for stunning views of the lake and walked around the villages of South Lake Tahoe and King’s Beach before finishing our night at Truckee, a fun town a short drive from the lake.
In winter, trips to the Tahoe area are quite popular among students and campus clubs, whether you go to hang out with friends at a cabin or hit the slopes for snowboarding or skiing. I had no experience snowboarding, but decided to visit Boreal with some friends to try something new. It was by far one of my favorite memories outside of Davis.
I also took a trip to Tahoe as part of the “In the Middle of Everywhere” series. Dawson and I went to the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe at Incline Village where we went snowshoeing, visited the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center for a tour, ate burritos on a 10-foot pile of snow and ended the day with a few thrift store stops. I made a TikTok that’s a glimpse of my day behind the scenes of filming. [Editor’s note: Lake Tahoe video coming soon.]
Sacramento is super close to Davis and full of fun stores and restaurants to visit. If you are near the California State Capitol, I highly recommend visiting Capitol Park, especially to see the amazing rose garden. There are so many wonderful varieties, which makes it perfect for a fun picnic or taking pictures with friends! If you’re looking for something more interactive, you have to visit the Sacramento Zoo. There are so many cool exhibits, and you might even be able to hand-feed the giraffes.
The historic part of the city, affectionately known as “Old Sacramento,” is full of cool spots. Evangeline’s is a shop full of everything from tarot cards and fun socks to masks and swords. On the second floor you can find their costume shop with wigs in every texture and color possible. For a quick bite by the river, check out one of the amazing seafood restaurants.
Sacramento has a little bit of everything, from NBA basketball to malls and river tubing, so you are bound to find fun experiences around every corner.
Last year, my roommates and I decided to spend spring break in Yosemite to explore the great outdoors. This was my first time visiting, and let me tell you, it lived up to the hype! Half Dome, Yosemite’s biggest attraction, was always watching over us as we hiked and explored. When we weren’t hiking, we spent our time at my roommate’s cabin where we baked and decorated cakes, played cards and watched a scary movie. I highly recommend packing up a few Davis friends for a trip to Yosemite.
Most people associate Napa with wineries and wine tasting, but if you’re not 21, there are still plenty of things to do. One recommendation is to do the Flip For It Challenge since downtown Napa has plenty of restaurants to explore. In this challenge, you and your friends progress from a beverage for the road to appetizers, then entrées and finally dessert (winner chooses the location and loser buys of course). I did this on my last trip to Napa and started the day with coffee from Dutch Bros in Davis, skipped appetizers, had lunch at Gott’s in Napa and ended with a Pizookie from BJ’s in Vacaville on the way back. While we were in Napa, we explored antique shops and picked out outfits for each other at the Kohl’s downtown. Since Napa is so close, it’s so easy to make a day out of random activities in a place other than Davis.
7. Roseville and Auburn
About a 45-minute drive in the other direction from Napa is the city of Roseville. On a weekend where I want to get out of Davis but not commit to a full day trip, I pack my friends up in my car and head out. My favorite attraction is the Westfield Galleria Mall, a large indoor shopping center with dozens of clothing stores and niche shops. In one of my favorite trips to Roseville, my roommates and I went to Texas Roadhouse for dinner, clobbered a few golf balls at Top Golf (which was about $10 each for an hour of play for five of us) and then finished the night off at Crumbl Cookies!
Another popular activity among Davis students is to head to the city of Auburn, near Roseville, for several amazing hiking trails. Though I’ve personally never been, I have seen several friends and student organizations on campus post their day trips there! Check out this website for some of the best trails.
There are so many things to do outside of Davis—this is only my top seven!
One of my favorite ways to get ahead on my homework is to plan one of these trips as a reward when I finish my school work. As a student, it can be hard to manage a work-life balance. But with so many fun activities like these to serve as motivation, your weekends and breaks are bound to have some of your best memories in college.
Alexa Carter is a third-year communication major with a minor in professional writing. She is from sunny Palm Springs, California, and came to Davis for a change of pace (and weather!). She has been a social media intern at UC Davis for a year and a half, and there’s nothing she loves more than sharing her experiences at Davis with a curious community.