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Cow town? Davis is more like bike, art, or cyclotron town.

Settled into cruise control as you drive Interstate 80 west of Sacramento, it's easy to miss the town of Davis. You see a water tower emblazoned with "UCD" poking above the trees on the freeway's north side, but that's about it.

But not 5 minutes off the freeway is an unusually eclectic Central Valley town. It's grounded in agriculture, but the influence of a major university has created a surprisingly diverse community here.

There's lots going on, and new maps and walking tours help you get around. And the handsome, recently refurbished train station is convenient for visitors who'd like to be free of their cars.

A new form of civic pride pervades a town that insists it's much more than just another bedroom community for sprawling Sacramento. Davis has a reputation as a testing ground for alternative ideas. Solar housing in the 1970s asserted a trend toward innovation that continues today, as PG&E and other sponsors prepare to open here a major research facility for photovoltaic power. Two biotechnology firms have located research sites nearby. And there's social innovation, too: Davis requires a provision for child care in most of its new housing developments.

Now, as some 20,000 returning students almost double the town's population, Davis really comes to life. You can tour the area the way the locals do-by bicycle. Bring your own, or rent one in town; 46 miles of bike paths weave through its 7 square miles.

UCD at 80: still evolving Always an important agricultural hub, Davis was named for a prosperous dairy farmer who lived here in the mid-1800s. But what kept the town from being just another notch in California's farm belt was the creation here, in 1908, of a research farm for UC Berkeley (60 miles west on 1-80).

That farm has grown into the UC system's largest campus, spreading across 3,600 acres. Courses in genetics, international relations, nutrition even brewery science-have brought the school a long way from its "aggie" roots. Not that those roots can be ignored: UCD may be the only university with a cyclotron next door to a hog barn.

A meander downtown Though small neighborhood shopping centers have sprung up on the town's outskirts, the 15-square-block downtown area functions as Davis's social and commercial heart. A new brochure with map locates dozens of specialty shops an restaurants; it's free from the Downtown Coordinator's Office, at 228 B Street (stop by during business hours, or write Davis's zip code is 95616).

Visitors can ride into town on daily Am trak trains from the Bay Area, the Cen tral Valley, and Southern California. It' a short walk from the mission-style trail station, renovated this summer, to shops lodgings, and the campus. For train time and fares, call (800) 872-7245.

You might start with a stroll downtown; along Davis's straightforward street grid, one-of-a-kind shops appear beside th standard pharmacies, stationers, and s on. Then, head out (by bike or car) t farther-flung diversions. Here are some noteworthy stops; numbers correspond to those on our map (opposite page).

Solar houses (1). Attractive communal plantings and greenbelts have softened the high-tech edges of the Village Homes solar community, completed in 1980. Walk, jog, or pedal through; start at the main green. To get there, head west 1 mile on Russell Boulevard from its junction with La Rue Road; turn right on Portage Bay E. and park in lot 2611-2655, just ahead. (It's a pleasant ride on good bike paths.)

Discovery center (2). You'll find hands-on exhibits of interest to all ages at the Davis Science Center, 1207 Sycamore Lane. It's open, free, from 2 to 4 Sundays. For details, call (916) 756-0191.

Farmers' market (3). Bushels of bright apples, persimmons, fall vegetables, and dried flowers border Central Park's east side at Fourth and C streets. Hours are 8 to noon Saturdays (till 1 on October 8 for annual fall festival), 3 to 6 Wednesdays. A Monday market, at Second and F streets, runs from 10 to 2.

Art galleries. Nationally acclaimed artists Robert Arneson, Roy De Forest, Manuel Neri, and Wayne Thiebaud (all UCD professors) periodically show works at the Natsoulas/Novelozo Gallery, in the Mansion Sguare shopping area at Second and E streets (4). Hours are 11 to 5 Tuesdays through Fridays, 8:30 to 10:30 Thursday and Friday evenings, noon to 5 Saturdays.

Exhibits at Pence Gallery (5), 212 D Street, range from older works to contemporary pieces by regional artists. Hours are noon to 4 Tuesdays through Saturdays.

On campus: piglets to pigskin To locate specific campus sites, pick up a free map at the information kiosk at UCD's south entrance; hours are 7:30 to 6 weekdays, 8 to 5 Saturdays, 10 to 3 Sundays, To reach the kiosk, take the UC Davis exit (Old Davis Road) off 1-80 and follow signs to the campus. For maps by mail, write to UC Davis Information Services, 129 Mrak Hall, Davis 95616.

Free campus tours, arboretum walks. Student guides give an overview of campus life on 1 -hour walking tours; they begin at the south side of Mrak Hall at 11:30 and 1:30 weekends (for weekday tours, by reservation, call 752-05 39). Self-guided tours are also available; ask at the information kiosk.

The 2-mile-long University Arboretum follows the arc of Putah Creek, on the main campus's south side; paved paths run its full length. Shields Grove, at the main campus's southwest end (see map), features droughttolerant but far-from-dull plants.

For self-guiding walks and brochures (some free, some about $), stop by arboretum headquarters; hours are 8 to 5 weekdays (closed noon to 1). Guided 1 1/2-hour walks (topics change weekly) are offered Sundays at 2; call 75 2-2498 for details.

Performances. UCD always has plenty of entertainment. October events include the Boston Chamber Music Society and Ballet Hispanico of New York. For details, call 752-2523 between 8 and 5 weekdays. For a list of all 1988-89 events, write to UC Davis, Committee for Arts and Lectures, 104 Freeborn Hall, Davis 95616.

A trio of galleries. The Richard L. Nelson Gallery (125 Art Building, Room 124, open noon to 5 weekdays and 2 to 5 Sundays) displays items from the university's fine arts collection.

Native American beadwork, basketry, and pottery fill the CN. Gorman Museum (Temporary Building 111; open 1 to 5 weekdays). Contemporary works are also on display.

Professional and student artists show their works in the Memorial Union Art Gallery (on the union's second floor, open 9 to 5 weekdays, 2 to 5 Sundays).

Veterinary facility. In this pod of blueroofed buildings, students at the state's only veterinary teaching hospital work on everything from iguanas to thoroughbreds. Tours run Saturday mornings, October through May. Call 752-1507 two weeks ahead for required reservations.

Quickie classes. Tap into UCD's resources by taking a one-day workshop or weekend seminar through University Extension; it offers dozens of classes year-round. For a free catalog (includes descriptions, fees, and enrollment information), call (800) 7520881 during business hours,

Farm critters. Get your fill of oinks, moos, and baas at various facilities. Look around outside the hog, sheep, dairy, and horse barns, and you're likely to see the university's four-legged residents.

Championship football Catch the Aggies at Toomey Field (see map) on September 24, October 15 or 29, or November 12; all games are at 7 Pm., except at I on October 29. Davis's team has won more consecutive conference titles (17) than any other in the country Ticket prices range from $1.50 for children to $7.50 adults; call 752-1915 between 9 and 4 weekdays. Meals, B & Bs, bikes You'll find plenty of informal, inexpensive eateries in this college town; one of our favorites is The Mustard Seed, at 231 G Street; it's open 11 to 5 daily.

For more formal dining, try Colette (802 Second Street), featuring seasonal foods in a creative menu. Reservations are advised; 758-3377. Michele's (409 Second Street; 756-5591) serves good country French fare. Try the local Tremont wines; the vineyard's Carmine, from a new genetic cross, is especially good. Both places serve lunch and dinner daily.

For dessert, beeline for Colleen's Creamery (Third and A streets).

The chamber of commerce (229 B Street; 756-5160) and most lodgings can provide other dining suggestions.

The Davis Bed 'n' Breakfast Inn (422 A Street; 753-9611) has 18 rooms with private baths; cost is $49 double with full breakfast. The Partridge Inn (521 First Street; 753-1211) has seven rooms, $42 to $85 with continental breakfast. The University Inn Bed & Breakfast (340 A Street; 756-8648) has three rooms at $55 double with full breakfast ($45 without). All three B & Bs lend bikes to guests.

You can rent a bike for $7 to $10 a day at the B & L Bike Shop (610 Third Street); it's open 9 to 6 weekdays, 9 to 5 Saturdays, noon to 4 Sundays. The staff can also suggest routes around town.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Davis, California
Publication:Sunset
Date:Oct 1, 1988
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