In a world where there isn’t a pandemic, there is this fun little college town called Davis, California with tons of entertaining and unique things to do. Even though I only experienced 7 months of living in Davis before the pandemic hit, my experience is that of a first-year student.
I wanted to share what I might have been looking for when I started applying. I know it may be hard right now to picture what these fun experiences may be and what it’s usually like in Davis, so here’s a list of some of the most popular, campus-specific, and even underrated things to do in Davis as a first-year.
Visit the Davis Farmer’s Market
The weekly Farmer’s Market in downtown Davis on Saturday mornings is what makes Davis stand out as a friendly and collective community. Here you’ll find students and residents of Davis listening to live music, enjoying food and drinks from the various vendors, and sitting in the grass with their friends. The Farmer’s Market holds a special place in my heart because the first time I visited was with my mom after orientation. I still remember how I DEVOURED the fresh blackberries we bought during the drive home and how I couldn’t wait to get more for myself when I was officially a student in the fall. If you’re one of those people who love recommendations, you’ll want to try the famous apple cider in the fall, the amazing cinnamon rolls, and the fresh-pressed juices.
Attend Aggies sporting events
My favorite thing to do during the week to get a break from studying, especially when I lived on campus, is to attend any and every sporting event. One thing I never took for granted was living next to the Pavillon and baseball field in Segundo, where I’d often find myself when I missed watching sports with my dad. During the week, I love attending basketball games which always have fun and engaged student body. On the weekends, the gymnastics meets are full of energy and late afternoon football games are the best place to either cheer in the student section or chill in the grass on either end of the field with friends. The UC Davis Division One football program is definitely one of my favorite perks of choosing Davis. That and the free t-shirts, scantrons, and cowbells I've received at our sporting events.
Hutchinson Parking Garage sunsets
If you’re a sunset fanatic, Davis is the place for you. One of the BEST spots for enjoying the sunsets is the Hutchinson Parking Garage right next to the Pavillion. From an insider, trust me; this is the best place to unwind, de-stress and talk things through with friends. On the top level, you’ll see students skateboarding/rollerblading, taking pictures, and camping out in the back of their cars to watch the sun go down. One of my other favorite spots is the football field, where afternoon games are next-level by sunset.
Picnic in the Arboretum with friends
Being from southern California, specifically the desert, I found it super strange to see so many students sitting on any and every open patch of grass on campus. Little did I know I’d turn into one of those students who study, socializes, and naps in the grass. My favorite thing to do in the grass is to have a picnic in the arboretum. One time, my roommate and I took advantage of a sunny day during the winter quarter and biked to the arboretum with a picnic blanket and snacks from the Segundo Market. There we watched the ducks and got a serotonin boost from the many dogs of Davis on their daily walk through the arb. Because Davis is such a community-oriented school, you’ll always be able to find someone to picnic with.
Reserve a game in the Bowling/Game Room
One of the on-campus hidden gems is the bowling alley located at Memorial Union in the basement. This place is underrated but is definitely one of the best places I’ve made memories with my roommates on campus. The first time I ever went with my friends, it was about 8 p.m. on a Friday and even though we didn’t know what we wanted to do, we weren’t ready to let the night die early. So we got on our bikes and rode over to the MU where we went to the bowling alley and couldn’t stop talking about how it was the perfect thing to do that Friday night. The Gunrock Gaming room is also located in the MU with computers and TVs for console and PC gaming that you can use with friends and other students. I’ve never been myself, but I’ve heard once in a while a professor will pop in to play games with students.
Explore Downtown Davis
Because downtown is literally right next to campus, it’s the center for most leisure activities off-campus. When I think of things to do in Davis, the first thing that pops into mind is all of the amazing and diverse restaurants downtown. From A Street to G Street, you’ll find dozens of diverse restaurants. Some of my favorite go-to's are Philz Coffee, Davis Creamery, Burgers and Brew, Ali Baba and Crepeville and some other student favorites include Thai Canteen and Cafe Bernardo. There are also several boba spots downtown and streets upon streets of unique shops and second-hand stores to check out while you’re here.
Visit campus animals
If you’ve heard anything about Davis, you’ve probably heard the misconception that it just smells like cows. I mean...it does, but not all over campus. It's mostly just near ...you know... the cows. Nonetheless, the Dairy Barn is one of the most visited and snapped spots on campus. Visiting the cows never fails to remind me how gentle those giants are. They’re the sweetest! Besides our beloved cows, we have so many squirrels (which you don’t have to travel far to see -- they’re everywhere), horses, and llamas. Also, Therapy Fluffies brings dogs of all kinds to campus around finals and they’re arguably the most anticipated visitors to campus by students.
It’s hard to just list off 7 fun things to do in Davis -- there are infinitely many more. Picnic day and movie nights on the football field are some of the big ones, but my favorite stories to tell happen to be the little details that happened between. From the feeling of biking in the rain to people watching in the grass; those are the memories that make Davis fun. Explore UC Davis to learn more about campus life, housing, and clubs/communities.