Davis is a small city of about 68,000 people situated in the Sacramento Valley area of Yolo County.
The city is mostly known for being the world’s most bicycle-friendly city due to its wide roads, flat terrain, pleasant climate, and many bike paths.
Davis is considered to be a suburb of Sacramento: the larger city’s services and amenities are only 11 miles away.
However, Davis has many of its own attractions, including parks, restaurants, cafes, galleries, and cultural attractions. There are also plenty of shopping areas, such as the Davis Commons, Westlake Plaza Shopping Center, and Oakshade Town Center.
A range of festivals and events take place in Davis throughout the year, including the Whole Earth Festival, Celebrate Davis, Picnic Day, The Davis Music Festival, Davis Bike and Brew Fest, and Davis Transmedia Art Walk.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around Davis, California.
1. Learn About Local History at the Hattie Weber Museum
Situated in the old public library built in 1911, The Hattie Weber Museum is where you’ll learn all about the history and growth of the region throughout the years.
Inside this skilfully-restored building, you’ll see exhibits featuring a wide variety of artifacts that tell the story of Davis and the surrounding area.
Some of the permanent exhibits include Native Americans in Yolo, Coming of the Railroad 1868, History of the Davis Library, and Jerome Davis Ranch.
2. Get Outdoors and Keep Fit at the Davis Greenbelt
Keeping fit in Davis is easy when you have access to the Davis Greenbelt. This urban green space features a network of paved walking and biking paths that connect with other nearby networks.
Also inside this park area is an arboretum, a sprawling grassy area, and picnic areas.
3. Take in a Show at The Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts
The Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts is a modern and beautiful venue situated on the University of California campus.
The first thing you’ll notice about the venue is its striking exterior. The second thing you’ll notice is its chic interior. Inside, you’ll find the 1,801-seat Jackson Hall and the 250-seat Vanderhoef Studio Theater.
Throughout the year, a wide variety of performances are showcased, including modern dance, ballet, theatre, and orchestra.
4. Satisfy Your Hunger with Comfort Food at Cafe Bernardo
At Cafe Bernardo in Davis, you’ll sit down in a cosy and casual environment and enjoy a delicious European-inspired meal. In season, the menu is farm-to-fork, and your dining experience is much like one you would have at a cafe in Europe.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served. On the menu, you’ll find a wide variety of items, including soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers and main courses such as stroganoff, grilled salmon and penne pasta.
The on-site Wiki bar hosts happy hour and serves an array of beverages, including craft beers, signature cocktails, and wines.
5. Learn About Birds of Prey at the California Raptor Center
The California Raptor Center is a learning and research centre dedicated to the rehabilitation of injured raptors.
Each year, 350 injured and orphaned raptors are adopted by the centre, and about 60% of them get well enough to be returned to the wild.
The centre is open to the public. During a visit, you’ll see some of the birds of prey that are being cared for and learn about them and the care they are receiving during their time there.
6. Admire Fine Art at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art
Situated at the University of California, The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art is a beautiful fine arts museum with a wide variety of artworks on display.
The permanent collection predominately showcases old master prints, East Asian art, sculptures and ceramics. There are more than 6,000 works on display by artists such as Bruce Nauman, Wayne, Thiebaud, and Roland Petersen.
Artworks by graduating students are featured each year as well, and many events and lectures are held at the museum throughout the year.
7. Taste Local Wine at Great Bear Vineyards
Great Bear Vineyards is a beautiful wine estate situated on the edge of Davis. The estate features stunning, well-maintained grounds, rolling vineyards, the main homestead, and gardens that date as far back as 1860.
It’s the perfect atmosphere to enjoy a variety of first-rate wines made with high-quality grapes.
Visitors can sample these wines in the tasting room that is open on certain days throughout the month.
8. Head Outdoors and Admire Beautiful Gardens at Central Park
Central Park in Davis is more than a public park: it’s a beautiful green space filled with lovely gardens. Visitors have been coming to this park for several decades to get away from the noise and crowds of urban life and escape into a colourful world of flowers and plants.
Among the themed gardens is a variety of drought-tolerant plants, edible plants, and native plants. Some of the on-site gardens include Rose and Flower, Sensory, Vegetable, Meadow, and Waterwise.
Also showcased in the park is a collection of sculptures and paintings by local artists.
9. Browse the Davis Farmers Market
On certain days of the week, the Davis Farmers Market is the place to be to find quality, local items.
As you make your way through this lively market, you’ll see a wide variety of products available to purchase, including organic produce, prime meats, eggs, honey, flowers, herbs, and freshly-baked sweets.
The on-site market shed is where you’ll find handmade crafts, baskets, and other souvenirs.
10. Visit the US Bicycling Hall of Fame
It’s fitting that the US Bicycling Hall of Fame would be located in Davis since biking culture is such a huge part of everyday life in the city. The primary purpose of the museum is to collect, preserve and showcase the history of cycling.
As you make your way through this impressive collection, you’ll see many historic bikes, including some that belonged to Major Taylor and Frank Louis Kramer and bikes from every decade since the 1950s. The exhibits also feature artefacts and memorabilia related to cycling.
11. Go on a One-of-a-kind Adventure with SkyDance Skydiving
If soaring high above Davis and its surrounding area sounds like your idea of an exciting time, you’ll have the chance to do this – but you’ll only be in a plane for a short time. The rest of the time, you’ll be soaring high above Davis with only a parachute.
For over 30 years, SkyDance Skydiving has offered thrilling skydiving experiences to people of all levels. This skydiving training facility features the only drop-zone with an FAA waiver to jump over 28,000 feet. The expertly-trained and licensed team has done more than 25,000 skydives.
12. Learn About Science at the Explorit Science Center
Although geared towards children, the Explorit Science Center has interactive exhibits that people of all ages will find interesting.
This science museum aims to teach visitors about science and nature and inspire enough curiosity to continue that exploration beyond the museum experience.
Some of the museum’s exhibits include Mars, The Planets, Science Facts, Touring the Galapagos Islands, and Astronomy. Each one features interactive elements that make learning fun and engaging.
A variety of events and programs also take place at the museum throughout the year.
13. Spend a Day on the Greens at the Wildhorse Golf Club
Wildhorse Golf Club is situated in a scenic area of Davis surrounded by stunning mountain views. This prize-winning 18-hole, par-72 course has been named the best public course in the county. It features many facilities to ensure your day on the course is the best it can be.
The course features many hazards, including ponds, bunkers, and trees. If you need to brush up on your skills, there are practice facilities on-site, and lessons are available.
When hunger strikes, the Wildhorse Grill serves a variety of snacks, burgers, sandwiches, and beverages.
14. Dine on Japanese Cuisine at Mikuni Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar
Yes, sushi dishes are on the menu, and not everyone likes sushi. However, at Mikuni Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Davis, you can dine on a wide variety of traditional and modern Japanese dishes.
This chic eatery with a friendly atmosphere offers both indoor dining and outdoor dining on the patio.
On the menu, you’ll find an assortment of appetizers, salads, noodle-based dishes, and main courses such as chicken teriyaki, tonkatsu, and beef teriyaki. Gluten-free options are available, and sushi lovers will find an array of sushi dishes on the menu.
15. Immerse Yourself in the Arts at The Artery
At The Artery in Davis, the goal is to acquire, display and share the work of local artists with the world. This cooperative gallery showcases crafts and fine art by a number of artists, including Richard Bartlett, Heidi Bekebrede, Sharon Bloom, and Marie Brown.
As you make your way through the gallery, you’ll see watercolours, paintings, sculptures, woodwork, handcrafted jewellery, and photography.