Susan Yee

Guide to Davis

Ashley Muir Bruhn is the writer and photographer behind Hither and Thither, a travel and lifestyle blog. Previously based in New York, she now lives in Davis, California, with her husband and children, and contributes to Sacramento’s blooming creative community. If you’re looking for beautiful content about travel, parenting, and style—with a little dose of Northern California flair—hop on over to Hither and Thither and enjoy!

With the highest number of bikes per capita in the U.S., a walkable downtown core, a world-class performing arts center, and a steady stream of students that keep the city youthful and multicultural, Davis has a lot to love. Don’t let the causeway come between us, Sacramento—this university town is just a 20-minute drive from Midtown, and offers something worth-your-while on any given day of the week. So, I’ve put together a mini-guide to help you make some plans…


But first, coffee. You have options—Temple has a location in Davis, while Mishkas has been roasting beans downtown for years. That said, I’d start at the Pachamama Coffee Cooperative coffee bar inside the John Natsoulas Gallery[CLOSED]

Known for their fair trade, organic pour-overs, locally-based Pachamama is wholly-owned by coffee farmers around the world and supports families in Peru, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico, and Ethiopia.

Sit at the bar or take your coffee to go. Then, check out the latest exhibition in the Natsoulas gallery in back or head across the street to the lawn at Davis Commons. You can borrow a picnic blanket from Whole Foods [CLOSED] or walk into the UC Davis Arboretum (there’s a bike path leading back from the parking lot).


Catch a movie at The Varsity! Built from 1949-50, the Streamline Moderne-style building is a historic landmark that tends to show independent films. There’s a cafe on one side, a gelato and candy shop on the other, and you can bring in items from either. If the movie is good (or even if it’s not), cross the street and enter VINI, a wine bar, to keep talking about it afterward.

Note: Tuesday tickets are discounted to $8.50 after the first two weeks of screening.Wednesday:

The Saturday Davis Farmers Market in Central Park is legendary—it routinely makes roundups of the best markets in the country. Packed with stalls of local, farm-fresh fruits and vegetables (much of it organic), meats, eggs, flowers, dry (and baked) goods, the market boasts goods grown by or made by local sellers. It’s not to be missed. But it’s the Wednesday Picnic-in-the-Park edition that has become a beloved local ritual. Every Wednesday in the summer from 4:30-8:30 pm (March through October), you can shop the farmers market, grab dinner and drinks from the food stalls, and then spread out a blanket on the lawn for live music and good conversation.

There are also plenty of things for kids to explore—like a bicycle-powered carousel (of course), bounce-houses, pony rides, and a rock wall, in addition to two playgrounds. Ours are usually lured away only with the promise of a popsicle from Fat Face—a market favorite that makes small-batch, seasonal popsicles in creative flavors like Avocado with Kefir Lime.  Thursday:

Drink local! Sudwerk, Davis’s very own microbrewery for the past 25 years, is a must for any itinerary. But, Trent Yackzan (the grandson of Sudwerk Brewery’s co-founder) and Ryan Fry opened The Dock—where California Dry Hop Lager and Märzen Amber Lager are poured alongside a rotation of five experimental drafts on tap—and given the brewery a reinvigoration.

The beers are award-winning, and there’s a lot of science that goes into getting that cold-one just right. The UC Davis Master Brewers program is just upstairs and, no surprise, the head brewer is a graduate.

The atmosphere is low-key and friendly—kids are welcome (family dogs, too)—and it’s not uncommon to find live music on the weekends. The Dock operates separately from the Sudwerk restaurant next door, so order take-out and grab a table between rounds of corn hole. Friday:

Davis Downtown hosts 2nd Friday ArtAbout every month—a self-guided art walk featuring exhibitions and receptions in local businesses and galleries, as well as public art around town. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the city’s core. There’s usually wine and live music offered as well. (Find a map for this month’s ArtAbout here.)

Of course, on any given Friday, there’s plenty of great food around town. Grab lunch at Bernardo’s or El Toro Bravo, order cocktails at Our House, eat dinner outside at Bistro 33 (at the old town hall) or on the patio at Seasons, tuck into Burgers and Brew and enjoy a view of the park, or indulge in some pizza at Sacramento’s own Hot Italian.

Hope to see you in town! How to get to there:

Davis is just a 20-minute drive from Midtown on Hwy 80—Exit Richards/Olive Drive to go downtown.

The city is 15 minutes west on the Capitol Corridor route. The Amtrak station is downtown, so bring your bike!

Of course, even if you don’t bring your own, biking is a great way to get around once you arrive—you can rent one from B&L or Ken’s for the day. The city is covered in over 100 miles of bike paths, lanes, and trails so be sure to print-out a hard copy of the Davis Bike Map or pick one up at a local bike shop before you ride.

Photos | Susan Yee