A summary of summery things to do at UCSC

A guide to arts, culture and other happenings on campus

The wooded campus stays busy in the summer months. (photo by Carolyn Lagatutta)

When the summer fog rolls in, UC Santa Cruz and its off-campus facilities roll out a long list of things to do and see. From Shakespeare to sea stars to exotic plants and astronomy, there is always something interesting and fun to experience at UCSC. We’ve compiled some favorite options. Admission is free, unless otherwise noted.

Performances and lectures

Shakespeare Santa Cruz offers tales of mistaken identity, rebellion, and adventure for its 2012 season. Twelfth Night, Henry IV Part Two and The Man in the Iron Mask – the latter play adapted from the works of Alexandre Dumas -- are on tap this year.

Shakespeare Santa Cruz is a professional repertory company in residence at UCSC. Plays are held indoors on the UCSC Theatre Arts Mainstage and outdoors amidst the redwoods in the Sinsheimer-Stanley Festival Glen. The company’s season runs from mid-July through late August. Tickets may be ordered online at www.shakespearesantacruz.org or byphone at (831) 459-2159.

Santa Cruz is also home to the popular Dickens Universe, held this year from July 29-August 3. This event brings together scholars, graduate students, high school teachers and members of the general public for Dickensian conviviality and study. The program includes formal lectures by internationally distinguished scholars, seminars, small discussion groups, and a variety of social activities. The event usually sells out and has a waiting list. To find out more or to register, visit dickens.ucsc.edu/universe. Prices vary.

Staying fit and having fun in the summertime

By purchasing a recreation/wellness card or paying a day-use fee, members of the community have access to UCSC’s recreation facilities, which include tennis, racquetball and basketball courts; wellness center; running track and playing fields. Prices vary. For information, call (831) 459-2531. Alumni Association members receive substantial discounts on cards and day-use fees. For information, call (831) 459-2530.

A place for learning in the redwoods

The McHenry and Science & Engineering libraries house 1.3 million bound volumes, access to more than 12,000 periodicals, newspapers and special materials, along with special materials such as manuscripts, maps and slides.

Most of the resources are available to the public; borrowing privileges are available with a contribution to the Friends of UCSC Library or by joining the Alumni Association. Special Collections at McHenry Library contains rare, valuable and often fragile materials that do not circulate but can be viewed by appointment. For library hours visit library.ucsc.edu.

Learning from the natural world

Visitors to the UCSC Arboretum may stroll through its exotic gardens, go on a tour or take part in scheduled events. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children, and free on the first Tuesday of each month. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Norrie’s, a gift shop selling plants, pottery jewelry and more, is open every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Jean and Bill Lane Horticultural Library, a non-lending library of horticultural and botanical books is usually open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.

The Arboretum is located on Empire Grade between the campus’s main and west entrances. Visit arboretum.ucsc.edu or call 427-2998 for more information. The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems manages two locations: the 25-acre Farm near the main entrance to campus and the 2-acre Alan Chadwick Garden across McLaughlin Drive from Stevenson College.

Both the Farm and the Alan Chadwick Garden are open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a self-guided tour brochure available at the Farm entrance. Groups may sign up for docent-led tours. Visitors will see first-hand how to build fertile soil and control pests, recycle yard and kitchen waste, conserve water and encourage biodiversity. Special events and classes are scheduled throughout the summer. For more information, visit casfs.ucsc.edu or call (831) 459-3240.

Denizens of the deep

Visitors can view one of the largest whale skeletons displayed worldwide, touch living sea stars and hermit crabs, and enjoy spectacular views of the Monterey Bay at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, part of a UCSC marine research laboratory. Aquaria and exhibits feature the everyday tools of ocean exploration and focus on research done by scientists on site and around the world.

Skillful docents answer questions and lead tours at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m. Summer hours in July and August are every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission ranges from $4-$6. The Seymour Center is located at the west end of Delaware Avenue in Santa Cruz. For more information, call (831) 459-3800 or visit seymourcenter.ucsc.edu.

Looking at the heavens

The working Lick Observatory is located atop Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose and about 60 miles from campus. It is open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. seven days per week from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

The public is invited to view exhibits in the main observatory building, built in 1888. Enjoy an informal talk about the observatory history while taking a look at the Great Lick Refractor in the 36-inch telescope dome. These talks begin at the gift shop on each half hour beginning at 1 p.m. on weekdays and 12:30 p.m. on weekends, continuing until 4:30. Each talk is 15 minutes long and is free of charge.

Visitors also are invited to take a short walk to the Shane Dome to view the 120-inch reflector from the Visitors’ Gallery. Displays explain the Shane reflector, one of the major telescopes used to discover planets outside out solar system.Special events also are scheduled, including a Music of the Spheres program, which takes place on June 16 and 30, July 14 and 28, and August 11 and 25. For more information, visit ucolick.org.


Exploring the campus

The Office of Admissions offers campus tours year-round on weekdays. Reservations are required, and tours fill early. The approximately two-hour tour program starts at the Office of Admissions — Cook House, near the campus’s main entrance at Bay and High streets. The easiest way to schedule a tour is online. Visit admissions.ucsc.edu or call (831) 459-4118.