Davis is located just twenty minutes from Sacramento and it has a great music and art scene for a small college town. There are a number of free art events throughout the year and several public galleries. The latest addition is the Davis Transmedia Art Walk. It consists of over 50 works of art from new and classic artists. The downtown area alone has 23 murals and sixteen sculptures. The art walk is unique since the works are fitted with RFID tags. If you have the right cell phone application you can scan the piece and watch videos about the piece. Most of the pieces can be found between the eateries and shops. When we were passing through we kept spotting the various murals and sculptures. It provided the kids a chance to learn more about the art world. We talked about different art styles, genres and historical works. My kids loved the bright and colorful murals of Kerry Avrech-Rowland and the life size giraffe sculpture. My husband and I loved the photo-realist works of Guy Diehl and Mryon Stephens. Maps can be obtained at the Yolo Visitor's Bureau or on the website www.davisartwalk.com. They also have guided tours on the weekends throught www.natsoulas.com.
The Davis (originally Davisville Junction Station) Depot was first built by the California Pacific Railroad was first built in 1868 with characteristics of the Stick style with a truncated gable roof and wide overhanging eaves. The station connected to points west, east and north. After a fire burned down the station i 1914 the Central Pacific built a second depot, which was remodeled in 1986. The station was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and today is one of the top ten busiest stations in California.
Being an avid biker I was more than curious years back when the City of Davis announced construction of a Biking Hall of Fame. The hall of fame opened in April, 2010 at a site that was formerly the Davis Teen Center. The hall of fame contains an extensive collection of bicycles that was moved from the former New Jersey site to here but also a collection of bicycles that was in storage in Davis.
Unfortunately the Hall of Fame is only open Wednesday 4 to 6 pm and Saturday 10 to 2 pm. When I showed up on a Wednesday recently after 4 pm it was not open. So I took a few pictures through the window and will try again another time. Disappointing!
It's Wednesday afternoon and suddenly the area around Central Park comes to life. The U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame is open and a fixture of city culture for sometime opens up, the Davis Farmers Market. When I visited it was a mid Wednesday afternoon and several of the stalls were just setting up. Unfortunately when more of the stalls were open it was to dark to take better pictures.
A great time to visit the market is from March to October when many folks bring a picnic lunch and picnic in adjacent Central Park. A good time to visit, relax and enjoy some of the great local produce. W
For years the Davis Farmers Market has been a place to buy high quality locally grown produce. There are many varieties of organic produce and an interesting variety of crafts are also on sale. The market is open during winter from 2 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday from 8 am to 1 p.m.
Personally I just walked around the booths and purchased a few apples that were grown in the nearby Capay Valley. Prices seemed to be somwehat above what you would pay in the supermarket. There is however a lot of organic produce in the market that looked really good. A couple Davis restaurants and bakeries also sell food in the market.
Have a fascination for insects? Well not me either. However if you are in for something a really different or got a kid who is big on bugs then mosey over to the Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus. Located on the first floor of Academic Aspire the museum reports to be the seventh largest insect museum in North America? Is that a good thing I asked one of the student volunteers who staff the facility weekdays? Absolutely they indicated.
The facility is a combination museum and working campus laboratory. When I entered the museum I was promptly greeted by a student. The museum consists of a few displays and a gift shop however the main bugs are cataloged in big rolling file cabinets. So if I wanted Madagascar Cockroaches i guess they would go to M or C or the species name first?
I saw several students who were making slides and displays for the museum. This is a somewhat cool place to visit. However I still think kids would enjoy it more. They also offer group tours if you contact them in advance. Admission is free. Only bad news is that during the week to park for longer than a few minutes in the Mondavi Center Garage a parking pass is $ 7. Ouch, I just feel swatted.
Walking the campus on a school day weekday with students around or on a summer day with few students is a joy. The campus contains a myriad of interesting buildings. Ever since the school construction began in 1905 the University has been changing rapidly.
Take a walk around the Quad, the central area next to Freeborn Hall and see the majestic trees planted up to 100 years ago. Walk over to and beyond Music Hall and beyond to the Arboretum. Walk over to the new football stadium passing buildings for physical and social sciences. Stop back at Freeborn Hall for a coffee or soft drink. The campus is just made for walking.
The UC Davis Arboretum is something that must be seen and felt. As a student at Davis almost 40 years ago I can remember coming here and escaping into one of the many different environments that it has to often.
The Arboretum is a 3.5 mile loop that consists of at least seventeen different gardens or environments. Walking it feels like moving amongst a kaleidoscope of environments in a very short time. These include a conifer collection, a redwood garden, an australian collection, a garden of native plants, and a far east garden to name just a few. The arboretum is on both sides of Putah Creek which runs through it.
There are facilities for picnicking, studying and just kicking back and laying on the grass. The arboretum is open twenty four hours a day seven days a week. There is no entrance fee and there are several points of access to enter the arboretum. Parking during the weekdays is $ 7.00 for a permit but free on the weekends.
Having left the town of Davis in 1974, I had to croak when I first heard the controversy that was going on in Davis in 1985. A City built tunnel for toads?
The City was trying to build an overpass over a busy street to provide a better separation between bicyclists and autos. Environmentally concerned residents were concerned that the overpass would result in the death of toads who crossed from a dirt lot over to a small reservoir. Residents showed up at Planning Commission meetings asking that the overpass not be built becuase of impacts to the frog. After considerable debate it was decided to build a toad tunnel The resulting tunnel runs under the Pole Line Overpass and allows the frogs safe passage. The cost to the City at the time was about $15,000.
Now interestingly enough after the toad tunnel was built the toads did not at first use the tunnel. So the tunnel was lit with little heat lamps. However the heat lamps burned and in some cases killed the toads. There was also a problem with birds who looked at the holes as a place for fresh toad meals.
Toad Hollow was constructed as a monument to celebrate that the toads had a way, even though they weren't using it, to get across the road. In late 1999, the walkway at the northeast entrance to the Davis Food Co-Op on G Street was designed "Toad Lane" by the City Council, an occasion celebrated on the front page of the local newspaper.
The Toad Tunnel reached another level of distinction in January 2000 with the release of The Toads of Davis, a childrens book written and illustrated by local author Ted Puntillo, Sr. The Toads of Davis tells the story of the Davis Toad Tunnel in a unique way: through the eyes of the toads.
So now Davis, California is looked at as the City in the country that can tell you how to and how not to build a toad tunnel.
As its name implies Central Park is located pretty square in the middle of Davis. between C and 4th Streets. Within the parks grounds is the Davis Farmers markets, a superb carousel, two playgrounds, a fountain that children run through, horseshoe pits, picnic areas and a pavilion.
Central Park when I was going to school was much less developed than it is now. I always saw it as a place to come to and relax away from the campus. It was also almost a midway stopping point from my apartment in my senior year of school. However today the park is much different. Today it is highly developed yet still a place where you can find some peace and solidarity in a green and relaxed setting.
Sitting in the northern half of the park is the,"The Flying Carousel of the Delta Breeze." The Carousel is human-powered as the operator sits in a recumbent bicycle seat and pedals to make it rotate. The carousel was opened in 1995 The seats are animals that have been hand carved. The carousel operates during the farmers market and other events in the park. All money goes to the local school district.
On my first of three journeys back to Davis I noted that there is an Occupy Davis group camping at one end of the park. Their intention is to take back public land and show that there is widespread solidarity for Occupy Wall Street in Davis.
Remotely located off of Old Davis Road on the UC Davis campus the California Raptor Center (CRC) is an interesting place to visit and understand more about raptors. Raptors are carniverous birds of prey that are distinguished by long sharp talons. CRC is an educational and research facility dedicated to the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned birds of prey (raptors).
The CRC takes in more than 200 sick, injured, and orphaned raptors each year, successfully returning about 60% to the wild. They also provide hands-on training in the care and management of birds of prey to those interested in rehabilitation, and offer educational programs to schools, ecological and environmental organizations, and the university community.
After a long search to find the CRC I finally arrived mid afternoon. I walked around a series of cages that held a variety of raptors from eagles, hawks, owls and a falcon. I could tell that many of the birds had been injured. There is a small museum located at CRC that goes over some of the habits of raptors and included a display of some of the more common raptors. What is most striking about this place is it remoteness and the feeling that I got that this is a safe heaven for injured birds. A very well run facility and interesting to tour. Incidentally, for groups of six or more the CRC offers guided tours.
The CRC is open Weekdays and Saturday 10 to 4 pm.
Located in Downtown Davis and adjacent to Central Park is the Hattie Weber Museum.
The museum contains a wide variety of exhibits regarding the history of Davis. The exhibits included areas on the history of the University, many period instruments including typewriters and tape recorders, and many great pictures of the town years ago. There were also some nice letters showing conversations between folks in Davis over the years.
The museum changes exhibits several times a year. Past exhibits have included the history of bike lanes in Davis, early Davis schools 1870-1900, and an exhibit celebrating the year Davis was chosen to be the University Farm.
I liked the museum. I spent about 30 minutes there. The staff person was knowledegable and helpful.. I didn't like the fact that certain current businesses had displays in the museum including a brewery and winery. I wish that the museum could be open more days a week but realize that may be a funding issue.
The museum is currently only open Wednesday and Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is free.
Tucked away on a quiet shaded street in Davis is the Pence Art Gallery. The gallery has been in Davis since 1976 and is named after one of its original founders. Pence began with the mission to provide high quality art exhibits and educational art programs to the residents of Davis and the surrounding area.
I first went there on a Monday, a day that the gallery was supposed to be closed. You enter through a side door on the way to the rear of a courtyard. There are two floors. The first was devoted to current shows and the second floor more long term art work. The first exhibit was a series of creations by local artists honoring the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico. There was an impressive series of altars, sculptures and photographs in the exhibit. The second exhibit was by Shirley Hazlett and contained a series of paintings on cloth, silk and canvases. The paintings seemed understated to me however the minor transition of colors made me think about the artist's motivations in preparing her work.
I found the Pence to be a very relaxing place. While I am no art critic I found the exhibits to be enjoyable and of high quality.
The gallery is open from 11:30 to 5:00 p.m; Tuesday through Sunday.
The Varsity Theater is located in Downtown Davis on 2nd Street. This historic 1950 Art Deco movie house is a remnant from an era before the days of compartmentalized boxed theaters. The theater specializes is presenting art and independent films.
Central Park is on the edge of Downtown Davis. The park offers and opportunity to
escape the summer sun. A sanctuary of shade is offered by the trees of the park. It is a pleasant diversion to downtown and can be a nice place to relax. A farmers market is held at the park on Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons.
The U.C. Davis Arboretum offers some pleasant walks. The Arboretum features a canal that opens into a lake. Paved pathways for walking, jogging, or biking line the banks of the canal. A fair amount of ducks can be found in and near the water.
Various small groves occupy the Arboretum. Each has its own theme. Squirrels take up residence throughout the groves. A stroll through manicured groves and scenic canal can be quite nice.
Admission is free.