What to check out while visiting Davis?

We have a daughter who’s currently waiting to hear back from Davis, and — since it’s not far from us — we thought we might go visit the town for a day trip during the lull in college application activity to get a sense for the place. (Aggie Day and Picnic Day are both on the calendar (if she gets in), but we’d love to check it out on a “normal” day as well.)

We’ve only every really driven past Davis on the highway, and stopped in once to grab food while on a roadtrip. It seemed … fine … but we’ve heard that the town is really charming. We’d love to see that aspect of it!

On the campus side of things, she’d be an Environmental Science and Management major, with a focus on agroecology, so we’ll be doing what we can to walk past student farms / gardens (though they’re mostly closed to visitors because of COVID) and related academic buildings, but if you have any suggestions on that front, we’d love to hear them.

What should we check out while visiting the town (or campus) of Davis to get a sense for the place, and to paint a picture of what life would be like for our daughter if she ends up going there?

My D is also waiting to hear back from UCD but we’re close and explore the town often, though not as much with covid.

Ideally, I’d bring your bikes or rent some there to explore the sprawling campus and adjacent downtown. Just bring a good lock as there are always lots of thefts. And wherever you park your car, read the signs as they’re known to ticket for going over time limits.

I’d think you could still explore the student farms/gardens as the campus is pretty open?

I’d also check out the Arboretum: UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden - Visit and Explore

Then head down 3rd street (cute street) toward downtown Farmer’s Market - used to be really fun Wednesday afternoons starting in spring with live music etc but I think they stopped that for now. Saturdays are still bustling, not sure about Wed: Calendar - Davis Farmers Market

From there you can explore the shops/restaurants downtown, which is pretty cute and not at all apparent from the freeway!

Maybe more ideas here: Things to Do
Have fun!


When are you planning on visiting? They go back to in-person instruction on Jan 31 so there will be more activity on campus and more offices open that week. If you can make it on a weekday, you will get a better feel of the hustle and bustle of student life.

Have you already been on a walking tour? If not, I would start there. Walk around the freshman dorm area (Tercero, Segundo), the ARC (rec center) and the MU (Memorial Union) with the book store, bowling alley, CoHo, food court, etc. The arboretum and cows are two other must sees. :cow:

There are lots of great restaurants in town where you can sit outside and people watch. That’s a good way to get a feel for the Davis vibe.

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Check out the Arboretum which is open to the public. Students especially in the Environmental majors can earn internship credit by working there for a quarter or two.

Also of interest might be the Raptor Center: California Raptor Center / School of Veterinary Medicine - Plan Your Visit

In town eats: Crepville, The Dumpling House, Mishka’s Cafe and Sophia’s Thai Kitchen.

My older son was an Environmental Science and Resource Management major if you have any questions, just PM.


Don’t know what your dietary preferences/restrictions are but if you eat meat I would make a stop at the Meat Lab.

Whenever I’m at UC Davis for work I stop by. My son is a carnivore (he was on the Paleo diet before it was a thing) and loves their products.

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These are incredible suggestions. Thank you all, for suggesting them! We’re looking forward to our visit.

Although we’re planning to do a quick trip there this weekend and will check out some of these, we’ll absolutely be back for a longer visit later this spring and will go for a walking tour and some more student interactions.

I’m just wondering, did your daughter get in, or will you be moving here? Davis is a great town for parents, but I seriously doubt that your daughter will spend any of her Freshman year buying meat at the Meat Lab. Just sayin’ :slight_smile:

The meat lab probably won’t be high on her list of activities, but who can say. :joy:

D22 did get in, and it’s currently one of the two schools she’s thinking about. (Still waiting for a couple, but they’re both reaches, so odds are good it’ll come down to UC Davis and Cal Poly SLO.) Although D22 wasn’t able to join us on our visit, her mom and I visited the campus and walked around town, and I subsequently visited it again with D25 for the Biodiversity Museum Day a few weeks back. People on campus definitely seemed pleasant, but it was hard to get a sense as to whether D22 would end up “clicking” with the people we saw around the school/town.

So although she hasn’t yet been to visit herself, she’ll go to Aggie Day in a few weeks, and has an on-campus guided tour over her spring break, and might also get back there for Picnic Day as well. So hopefully she’ll have a few chances to connect with folks and see how it’s feeling. Our hope is that a few visits will help make the choice a lot easier for her.

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