Monday, May 4, 2015

Davis Picnic Day

If you had asked me when I was a student at UCD, if I could imagine myself returning to Picnic Day in the future with two little kids and my husband, I probably would have looked at you confused. Why would you bring your kids to an event that completely revolves around excessive amounts of day drinking? Well the answer to that question is quite simple...Picnic Day is a fantastic event that actually caters to families and children! The annual open house for Davis offers a calendar full of events starting with a parade in the morning and ending with the Battle of the Bands along Lake Spafford in the Davis arboretum. In between you will find special demonstrations and exhibits being held by the different colleges within the University and tons of activities for kids of all ages. While this day marks a very popular drinking event for UCD students, the drunken mess confines itself to the downtown area and is easily avoided if you make your way to campus by mid-day.

The campus alone is a beautiful place to explore and even on a busy day like Picnic Day, there is plenty of room to move about.
We always start our Picnic Day off with breakfast from Delta of Venus, which offers up some delicious scrambles and breakfast burritos made with organic ingredients. The portions are generous and the prices are really reasonable. From there we head over to First street to claim a good spot on the grass for the parade. I remember the first time we watched the parade was when our oldest was about 8 months old. It was the first time we had seen the Picnic Day parade (or even knew it existed!) and was probably the first time our 8 month old had sat still and been completely entertained for almost an hour without us doing a thing! Three years later, and the parade is still as captivating as ever for the kids, and gives us the chance to enjoy our coffee and watch the kids faces light up at the ever-changing scenery unfolding before them.

Someone is excited about the horses in the parade!


After the parade we usually make our way over to the Farmer's Market or onto campus to start exploring the different activities. Our first stop is always the Plant and Environmental Sciences building, where they have free popcorn and exotic fruit tastings, a free plant give-away (this year was tomato plants!) and a couple of craft stations for the kids. There are far too many offerings to be able to experience everything in one day, but some of the events that we have enjoyed over the last couple of years are the animal shows at Hutchinson field, the Multi-cultural Children's Fair at Hoagland Hall, Maggot Art, face painting and Honey tasting at Brigg's Hall, and the opportunity to milk a cow is always a popular choice as well! I love spending time with the kids on college campuses (see my favorites spots on the UC Berkeley campus here) and Picnic Day is such a wonderful opportunity to introduce college life to your kids.

Enjoying some crafts at the Multi-Cultural Children's fair.
UC Davis is home to both a viticulture and brewmaster program!

Checking out her new baby friend. This picture was followed by a petting and an attempt to share some edamame :)
Our final stop of the day is always The Battle of the Bands, where the UC Davis marching band, along with half a dozen other college bands from California, battle it out by taking turns playing songs (the bands cannot repeat a song once it has been played). Similar to the parade in the morning, this keeps the kids easily entertained for hours and gives the adults a chance to relax. For the last couple of years we have enjoyed a potluck picnic with our friends and happily watched the kids chase each other around and enjoy the music. This is definitely my favorite part of the day and the perfect opportunity to relax after being on our feet for most of the day.

You will find the Egghead sculptures across campus. Read the story behind them here.
For more ideas on what to do in the Davis when it's not Picnic Day, check out this post.

What are your favorite campuses to explore with kids?

The details: Davis is about an hours drive from Berkeley. The UCD campus offers FREE parking in their campus lots, which is an awesome perk that you only find in small towns. All of the events on campus are free as well. If you are going with kids, plan to avoid the downtown area after lunch, as it gets sort of crowded with drunk college kids. You can find a schedule of events the week before Picnic Day here

The facts: Gas/Toll: $15, 2 breakfast scrambles at Delta of Venus: $18, Lunch at Farmer's Market: $14

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