Why You Don’t Have to Be a Banana Slug to Enjoy UCSC

UCSC Meadow

The Santa Cruz community often has mixed opinions about UC Santa Cruz.

Since the school’s opening in the 1960’s the campus has used a lot of community resources, and has increased traffic and population, to the chagrin of some locals.

However, UCSC has a lot to offer everyone in Santa Cruz, not just the students and faculty.  Here are some great things to do at UCSC which every member of the community can take advantage of.


UCSC is often recognized for having one of the most beautiful campuses in America, and because it’s a public university, it’s all open to anyone who wishes to enjoy it.  There’s the Arboretum, which has tons of plants rare for this part of the country.  There are the farm and garden, which are open to self-guided tours.  There are also about 25 hiking and biking trails — here’s just one example.  You can get a free map on campus at the OPERS office.


The amount of plays and musicals put on every year on campus is huge, and the variety can be overwhelming.  From cultural groups like Rainbow Theatre and the African American Theater Arts Troupe, to performances put on by the theater department, theater at UCSC has enough to entertain any viewer.


Although UCSC doesn’t get a lot of outside performances from big-name bands like some other UC campuses do, the college does have a thriving music department.  Just about every week during the academic year you can find some concert to attend, whether it’s a jazz band, a classical concerto, or a vocal show like the quarterly gospel choir performance.


The Sesnon and Smith Galleries on campus each can rival any Bay Area gallery.  Both feature a mix of student and outside work, and have even had such big name artists as Pablo Picasso and Ansel Adams.  They both also feature artwork from successful local artists.


UCSC isn’t a Division 1 school, and it certainly isn’t known for its athletic prowess. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth watching.  The Banana Slugs have taken the top trophy in some lesser-known sports like Women’s Rugby, and routinely do well in more traditional sports like basketball, soccer, and baseball.  There’s been an effort on campus for years to try to put Slug sports on the map, and active fans are one of the big necessities in making that happen.  If you can’t get a ticket to a Warrior’s game or a Derby Girls‘ match, why not make the trip up to campus?

Got any secret hiking trails you want to share, or any other tips about what to enjoy at UCSC?  Let us know in the comments!

Top Photo By Marlith, via Wikimedia Commons

About Blair Stenvick

Blair Stenvick is a freelance writer who has lived in Santa Cruz for four years.

  • Lisa M. Rose says:

    There is also the spectacular Seymour Marine Discovery Center!

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