Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Davis, CA

  • Published 2022/10/27

Nestled in the Sacramento Valley in California, Davis is a charming city known for its astounding natural beauty, diverse wildlife, University of California Davis campus, remarkable museums, impressive art galleries, vibrant festivals, amazing farmer’s market, and numerous scenic parks.

It is the ideal destination to plan your next vacation without burning a hole in your pocket.

It offers countless fun things to do and incredible places to explore, which are majorly free for everyone.

Also known as a ‘Bicycle Friendly Community,’ you can explore this picturesque city and enjoy spectacular views by riding a bike on the trails that meander through the numerous greenbelts and parks.

Whether you are traveling solo or with your loved ones, Davis is the perfect place to book your holiday and escape the mundane and monotonous life.

Interested to know more about this place?

Here’s a list of the best things to do while vacationing in Davis, California:

Appreciate Nature’s Beauty at UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery

View of UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery

AlessandraRC /

Located on the banks of Putah Creek, this 100-acre arboretum dates back to 1936 and is affiliated with the University of California Davis Campus.

It is renowned for its picturesque manicured gardens that feature brilliantly colored flowers, over 22,000 diverse plants and trees, and the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve.

The arboretum encompasses 17 gardens used by the university’s students and staff for research purposes.

Hike on the miles of pathways and explore the gardens.

You can fish, swim, and boat in the tranquil waters of Putah Creek.

People strolling on a paved path beside a waterbody at UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery

Bev Sykes from Davis, CA, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The site is also home to a large number of diverse wildlife, including fish, amphibians, butterflies, reptiles, birds, ants, and more.

You can view geese, swans, ducks, turtles, frogs, salamanders, mallards, teals, herons, larks, kingfishers, snakes, lizards, bats, sparrows, peafowls, turkey, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, coyotes, squirrels, jackrabbits, hawks, and plenty more.

The plants and trees here include oaks, pines, conifers, cypresses, vines, cacti, eucalyptus, gooseberries, and several others.

Additionally, it features ancient wagon trails, a 19th-century reservoir, and picnic areas.

Enjoy a lovely picnic against the spectacular backdrops.

This arboretum is a must-visit in Davis.

It is open 24 hours, every day through all four seasons, and admission is absolutely free.

Explore Cycling History at U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame

Display of an antique cycle at U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame

AndrewDressel at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This renowned museum aims to highlight the history of American cycling and displays a multitude of historical artifacts, such as medals, champion sashes, photographs, numerous historic bicycles, posters, and more dating back to the 19th century and beyond.

Established in 1986, it was formerly located in New Jersey.

In 2009, it moved to Davis, which is known to be a bicycle-friendly community.

The organization’s objective is to promote cycling and encourage participation.

U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame has inducted many renowned cyclists who have made significant contributions to the sport, including Frank Kramer, Greg LeMond, Juliana Furtado, and several others.

Tour the museum and learn about the history of this sport.

It is open on Wednesdays from 4 pm to 8 pm and from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturdays.

The admission fee ranges from USD 3 to USD 5.

Children below the age of 6 can enter for free.

Shop Fresh and Organic at Davis Farmer’s Market

People at Davis Farmer’s Market

Davis Farmers Market” (CC BY 2.0) by eekim

Being one of the top tourist attractions of Davis, thousands of people flock to this market every week.

Located in Central Park, it offers fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, bakery goods, poultry items, plants, cheese, eggs, honey, olive oil, juices, seafood, desserts, and plenty more.

Cheese vendor at Davis Farmer’s Market

AlessandraRC /

All products are sourced from local farmers and producers.

Don’t forget to try out the mouth-watering tamales at this market.

Fresh produce at Davis Farmer’s Market

AlessandraRC /

It is open on Saturdays from 8 am to 1 pm throughout the year.

During the winter months, the market is also organized on Wednesday evenings from 2 pm to 6 pm in addition to the Saturday regular market.

The mid-week winter market features delicious beer and wine and is a popular spot for enjoying a lovely picnic.

A musician at Davis Farmer’s Market

AlessandraRC /

Appreciate Art at Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art

View of Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art

AlessandraRC /

Established in 2016, this renowned museum is a contemporary visual arts gallery affiliated with the University of California Davis campus.

Its permanent collection features outstanding artistic works by various highly successful artists associated with the university, including Wayne Thiebaud, Roland Peterson, Roy De Forest, and several others.

Exterior of Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art

AlessandraRC /

The museum is also highly appreciated for its remarkable architecture, featuring a ‘Grand Canopy’ made of aluminum beams.

It is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, and admission is absolutely free for all.

Visit this museum to appreciate the thought-provoking and inspiring art.

Building sign of Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art

Chris Allan /

Explore the Colorful Gardens at Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven

This picturesque bee garden features a broad array of plants, flowers, and bee species.

It is an outdoor museum that aims to conserve bees by growing plants that support them.

The haven is a gift to UC Davis from the ice-cream company Häagen-Dazs.

In this garden, you can observe the bees and learn interesting and lesser-known facts about them.

Hike on the pathway and feast your eyes on gorgeous views of outrageously colored flowers that are spread throughout the site.

The various plants and trees growing here include sunflower, strawberry, apple, plum, peach, pomegranate, licorice mint, cornflower, maiden pink, chocolate cosmos, wallflower, California fuchsia, Douglas iris, beeplant, hummingbird sage, and plenty more.

Explore the enchanting gardens and watch the bees.

It is open every day of the year from dawn to dusk, and admission is free.

Watch a Movie at Davis Varsity Theatre

Front view of Varsity Theatre

lynn friedman /

This popular theatre dates back to 1950 and forms a significant part of the local culture of Davis.

It has two screens that present a broad array of independent and foreign films.

It is also known for its beautiful 20th-century streamlined modern architecture.

Get tickets to a show at this theatre and have an amazing time.

Get Close to Majestic Birds at California Raptor Centre

This facility aims to take good care of injured and abandoned raptors.

They take in around 350 birds annually and treat them at their rehabilitation center.

Approximately 60% of these raptors are released back into the wild after recovering.

The remaining birds that couldn’t be set free owing to permanent injuries or disabilities reside at the center and are looked after by the staff.

You can view these birds and learn exciting facts about them at the museum.

This place also provides hands-on training in taking care and treating injured birds to the public.

Take a tour of the raptor center and watch rescued owls, eagles, hawks, kestrels being treated.

Located on the UC Davis campus, it is affiliated with its School of Veterinary Medicine.

It is open to the public from Monday to Saturday, and admission to the site is absolutely free.

Spend a Fun-Filled Day at Explorit Science Center

This is an amazing place to visit if you’re traveling with kids.

It features a broad array of hands-on activities and interactive exhibits that help children learn important foundational skills and encourage curiosity among them.

Kids can learn about the human body, planets, stars, animals, geography, and plenty more while solving quizzes and challenges and performing fun experiments.

The motive of this organization is to make learning fun and more interesting while helping the kids develop skills such as critical thinking, decision making, observation, and more.

The admission fee is USD 5 per person.

Children below the age of 2 can enter for free.

Learn about science, have fun, and spend quality time with your loved ones here.

Go Wildlife Viewing at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

Scenic view of Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

Quyen Tat /

Encompassing over 16,000 acres, this site is home to a multitude of diverse birds, snakes, turtles, frogs, grasshoppers, invertebrates, and plenty more.

It features wetlands ideal for wildlife viewing, birding, and nature exploration.

A bird at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

Chris Allan /

You can find mallards, jackrabbits, desert cottontails, marsh wrens, egrets, muskrats, American coots, hawks, meadowlarks, white-faced ibis, coyotes, beavers, yellow-billed magpie, river otters, herons, and several others.

Explore the riparian forests and enchanting ponds, enjoy watching the birds and wildlife and appreciate nature’s heavenly beauty.

A river at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

AlessandraRC /

This also happens to be a great place to watch the sunset.

It is open to the public throughout the year from dawn to dusk.

Admission is free for all.

Flock of birds over Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

James Sakaguchi /

Groove to the Beats on Make Music Day

This vibrant annual festival takes place on 21st June at UC Davis Wyatt Deck and is a recent tradition of this city that began in 2017.

The Make Music Day festival is celebrated internationally across 120 countries.

It is open to everyone, and admission is free.

It features musical performances by anyone willing to participate.

There is no age bar, and one need not be a professional musician or artist.

The festival aims to celebrate music from worldwide and includes piano, drums, singing, orchestra, violin, and plenty more performances.

It starts at 8 am and continues till 7 in the evening.

In addition to the celebrations at the university campus, several free events take place at various street corners and plazas of Davis.

Be a part of the festivities and experience the amazing local culture.

Taste Some Wines at Great Bear Vineyards

This award-winning winery dates back to 1860 and is renowned for its fine quality, delicious wines.

Tour the picturesque vineyard and taste their exquisite wines.

Enjoy the surreal views of the captivating sunset from the vineyard while relaxing and sipping on your drink.

You can spot owls, coyotes, jackrabbits, squirrels, and more at this animal-friendly site.

Colorful and pretty wildflowers are spread throughout the place.

The vineyard is also very popular for picnics, photoshoots, and lavender picking.

A variety of entertaining events are organized here throughout the year, including musical performances, Halloween parties, birthday parties, and more.

Watch Shows at the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts

Exterior of Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts

AlessandraRC /

The Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts is home to some of the most amazing music performances, plays, dance recitals, and talks you could possibly imagine.

It also hosts conferences, seminars, and social functions.

The performing arts center was built in 2002, thanks to a generous gift from Robert and Margrit Mondavi.

The lobby is made entirely out of glass and sandstone for a surprising, modern look.

Daytime view of Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts

AlessandraRC /

It was Portland, Oregon, Boora Architects who designed the facility to be a box within a box: one structure enveloped by another that serves multiple purposes.

Boora wanted the patrons to enjoy the music of the orchestras or other artists as if they were taking place in an enclosed soundbox away from the noise of cars and trains.

Another excellent design feature is the movable panels.

Browse Regional Art at Pence Gallery

Located in downtown Davis, this gallery highlights artistic works by regional and local talent.

Established in 1975, it consists of three gallery spaces and presents 12 exhibitions annually.

It also offers various educational programs catering to all age groups and hosts numerous workshops throughout the year.

It is open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 11:30 am to 5 pm.

Attend the free receptions that are organized on the second Friday of every month from 6-9 pm and enjoy delicious wine and food while exploring outstanding works of art.

Check Out the Diverse and Exotic Insects at Bohart Museum of Entomology

Butterfly exhibit in Bohart Museum of Entomology

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Affiliated to the UC Davis campus, this museum dates back to 1946.

Its aim is to educate its patrons about diverse insects and facilitate research in the field of entomology.

Its collection of over 7 million insect specimens attracts 12,000 patrons every year and numerous researchers.

You can also get close to and hold some of the live insects at this place.

Insect collection in Bohart Museum of Entomology

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The museum’s collection is one of the largest in North America and features specimens from all over the world.

Tour the museum, check out the fascinating exhibits, and learn interesting facts about various insects.

It is open from Mondays to Thursdays from 9 am to 5 pm.

Admission is absolutely free.

Interior of Bohart Museum of Entomology

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Build Bikes at Davis Bike Collective

Bike Forth is a DIY shop that lets you build or repair bikes under the guidance of their trained volunteers.

All required parts, tools, and equipment are provided to you.

Bring along your friends, share tools, and enjoy this unique experience of building bikes together.

They aim to educate patrons about the various tools and help them develop the skills required to fix or build bikes.

It is an amazing group activity and learning experience, which is fun for all age groups.

Go Hiking in Davis Greenbelt

Small tunnel at Davis Greenbelt

Adhishb at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Davis has over ten interconnected greenbelts spread throughout the city, featuring verdant hiking trails, dense foliage, street art and sculptures, sprawling greenery, picnic areas, bike bridges and tunnels, sports fields, and plenty more.

It encompasses Covell greenbelt, Rose Creek greenbelt, Mace Ranch greenbelt, Aspen greenbelt, Wildhorse greenbelt, Willowcreek greenbelt, and several others.

Enjoy an invigorating hike here or explore the greenery on a bike.

Bring along a lovely picnic to enjoy while appreciating nature.

It is also a great place for a refreshing morning workout or walking your pet.

Pick Berries at Impossible Acres

Impossible Acres is a small farm situated in northern California, located between the towns of Winters, Dixon, Davis, and Woodland.

The small farm specializes in direct marketing of produce to locals, visitors, and other businesses.

Impossible Acres is open to the public for two main seasons: the Pickin’ Patch and the Pumpkin Patch season.

During the Pickin’ Patch season, which runs from late May through mid-July, there are small orchards where families can go to pick their own summer produce.

They have apricot trees and berry patches set up with pluots that are ripe enough to pick during this time of year.

The Pumpkin Patch season opens in October.

Fruit from Impossible Acres is ideal for those who desire a bit of fresh fruit on their table that doesn’t travel far before making it into your kitchen.

Enjoy the Flowers at the Carolee Shields White Flower Garden and Gazebo

The Carolee Shields White Flower Garden and Gazebo is an idyllic little spot behind a grandiose UC Davis administration building.

The garden is welcoming only by moonlight, so it’s a perfect spot for the annual ‘Moonlit evenings.’

With its vine-covered gazebo and curving paths, it provides a beautiful setting for numerous wedding ceremonies held here during their season.

The garden got its name from Carolee Shields, the wife of one of the founding fathers, Peter Shields.

She dedicated more than twenty years of her life to creating new gardens to add to this historical site.

It’s a wonderful green escape that is completely organic, with a beautiful array of trees, shrubs, and flowers on display.

There are also several lovely shady benches that you can sit on while walking through this verdant scenery.

Drop by Wildhorse Golf Club to Play and Snack with Friends and Family

One of Northern California’s top practicing facilities is found at Wildhorse.

Each hole is framed from the tee by prize-winning course architect Jeff Brauer using trees, bunkers, wetlands, and Covell Creek.

The fairways are well-maintained, and you can see mountains to the west and east.

A new, high-tech synthetic range strip typical of upscale facilities was recently erected at Wildhorse Golf Club.

The Wildhorse Golf Club takes pride in offering golfers an amazing experience, and part of that is making visitors feel at home in their newly renovated grill.

Stop into Bunker’s Bar & Grill for a delectable array of appetizers, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, and beverages from a comprehensive beverage menu if you need a relaxing break between rounds.

Wander around the Hattie Weber Museum

Exhibitions at the Hattie Weber Museum show the legacy and history of Davis, California, and the surrounding region.

For the benefit of its residents, the Museum’s objective is to gather, protect, and exhibit the collective memory of the City of Davis.

Some tourists are shocked to discover a museum beneath the building’s “Library” sign.

The Davis Free Library and the Yolo County Library once resided in the structure, which is why the sign is located there.

The First Davis Library, Davis Streets with Pioneer Names, a History of the Chiles Family, Jerome Davis, The Coming of the Railroad, and other exhibits are all on display at the Museum.

Take a Look at the Exhibits in the Artery

The Artery is a collective gallery of artistic expression and contemporary crafts founded in 1974 and run by artists.

They concentrate on supplying high-end, distinctive fashions and handcrafted goods for your homes and closet.

They feature all artists in Northern California, many of which are based in the Sacramento area.

Various ornamental and useful ceramics, wood, glassware, sculpture, paintings, drawings, photography, and jewelry are available at The Artery.

In the adjacent gallery, group and solo exhibits allow collaborating artists to advance and try out novel concepts, keeping their work vibrant and new.

Since the gallery is staffed by members, browsing at The Artery is a unique opportunity.

There are possible options for phone orders, bridal registries, gift packing, gift cards, and custom orders.

Grab a Burger and Sip on Brews at Burgers & Brew

Burgers and Brew were started nearly 15 years ago by two brothers who wanted craft beer and a good burger produced with only Niman Ranch meat and the finest ingredients.

They serve the best cuts of beef with a traditional burger and a contemporary touch.

Burgers & Brew offers more than 50 taps of craft beer in addition to its broad menu.

They’re confident you’ll discover something delectable with their 25 burgers and specials selection.

All burgers are a half-pound of antibiotic- and hormone-free Niman Ranch beef presented on a sesame bun with mayonnaise, lettuce, onions, and a touch of pickles, along with your selection of french fries or salad.

Burgers & Brew is a favorite spot in Northern California to enjoy burgers and craft brews.

Capture Your Unforgettable Experience at SkyDance Skydiving

Prepare to take the plunge with SkyDance Skydiving!

Since 1987, SkyDance SkyDiving has been in business in Davis, California, and introduced the first tandem skydiving program in the region.

They are the sole dropzone in Northern California to provide tandem skydives over 22,000 feet and the only dropzone with an FAA waiver for skydiving above 28,000 feet.

There has never been a perfect time to experience what the flare is all about, with recently rebuilt facilities and a supportive, energetic community!

To allow skydivers to share their experiences with friends and family, SkyDance SkyDiving provides video packages.

Make sure to document the excitement and joy on camera!

Final Thoughts

The illustrious city of Davis is a spectacle that will leave you speechless.

There are so many things to do, and the variety is immense!

You may also get the chance to meet its adorable people, learn about its history, and explore every corner of it.

As an adventure enthusiast, you’re free to choose what to see and where to go in this charming city, and be sure not to miss the chance.

See also: Best Restaurants in Davis, CA

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