Ryan Chartrand

At first glance, it might seem that every Cal Poly student on campus is either studying or walking to class. But that does not mean the only thing to do on campus is homework . far from it.

From simply hanging out on Dexter Lawn to climbing the rock wall, Cal Poly offers plenty of activities right on campus for students to enjoy. Here are the top 10 ways to have fun on campus, in no particular order and with no car necessary.

Hike Poly Canyon or the “P”

Been sitting at your computer writing that essay for too long? Well, pull on your sneakers and head over to one of Cal Poly’s hiking trails. Located on campus, both Poly Canyon and the “P” are fun and accessible. Biology junior Shannon Murphy is a major Poly Canyon enthusiast.

“There are so many trails and you can go forever and it’ll never end. You can bike, hike, run, and have picnics and there are tons of deer, birds, lizards and squirrels,” she said.

The Poly “P,” or large white P on the hills behind the residence halls, is another popular destination point for students. The trail going up to the P is steep (and watch out for the horse manure!) but as graphic communication junior Alyssa Duhe puts it, “hiking to the P at night is one of the greatest things ever.”

Visit the horse unit

If you’re missing your dog or cat, take a trip up to Cal Poly’s equine unit and you’ll be sure to feel better. Located on Via Carta past Campus Market and Baggett Stadium, the Cal Poly Equine Center houses dozens of different horses, reared and trained by students. Bring an apple or sugar cube and make a friend! Just be sure to go during the springtime to see the foals.

Climb the wall at Poly Escapes

If you’re hankering for a little adrenaline rush, but only have an hour break between classes, the Poly Escapes climbing wall is perfect for you. Right behind the University Union (or UU), the climbing wall is free for all students and open six days a week.

“It’s a good place to take a break from classes and close enough to stop in for students,” said Jeff Stern, a business junior and Poly Escapes employee.

Bowl at Mustang Lanes

In the mood for something a little more low-key? Head over to Mustang Lanes, San Luis Obispo’s only bowling alley, conveniently located right inside the UU. The full-service bowling alley rents and sells shoes, balls and other equipment. Mustang Lanes also features an arcade and a billiards room complete with eight full-size pool tables. In fact, for students who seek improvement in their skills or just want a good time, the university offers bowling and billiards classes for credit.

Chemistry sophomore Nicole Martin has been hanging out in Mustang Lanes since she started attending Cal Poly.

“All my friends hang out here and so do I. I can even sit in the chairs and study. It’s great white noise,” she said.

Mustang Lanes is open every day from early morning well into the evening.

Visit Cal Poly University Art Gallery

Watch too many reality shows? Want something a little more … cultured? Then head on over to the Cal Poly University Art Gallery, located in the Dexter building, room 171.

The gallery has five exhibitions a year, most of which run for a month or so. Everything from international to local art to the annual spring showing of top student work is displayed. Whether you’re interested in traditional painting, graphic art, photography or something else entirely, you’re sure to find it on display here.

Create art at the Craft Center

If you’d rather create your own art, prepare to be challenged at the Craft Center, located across from Poly Escapes in the UU.

The Craft Center offers classes where you can learn to do anything from making earrings to shaping a surfboard. Woodworking, ceramics and stained glassmaking are other popular areas of interest. Students can also purchase quarterly passes, which enable them to work on personal projects any time the center is open.

Graphic communication junior Amy McGiven is one of these students. Thanks to the Craft Center, she’s built herself a hat rack and a skateboard.

“The center is a great place to forget about school and just get creative and fool around,” she said.

The Craft Center is open every day but Saturday. For more information, hours and class schedules, call 756-1266 or visit www.asi.calpoly.edu/static/craft_center.

Laugh at Smile and Nod

If you need to get your laugh on, there’s no better place to go than one of the Smile and Nod troupe’s improv nights. The group performs its unique and hilarious brand of improv comedy every weekend in the H.P. Davidson Music Center, room 212. To see a schedule of events, go to www.smileandnod.org. The cost is $5 per show.

“I love Smile and Nod. It’s really nice to just go laugh and have fun after a stressful week of school,” said business junior Melissa Feldman.

Grab coffee or ice cream at Julian’s

Featuring gourmet coffee, freshly baked pastries and delicious ice cream, Julian’s has long been the go-to place on campus for a pick-me-up. Whether your vice is sugar or caffeine, this coffee shop located on the bottom floor of the UU is the place to visit.

The friendly baristas will serve you anything from black coffee to a nonfat, no-whip, extra hot, extra shot latte with extra foam, along with a bagel, muffin, danish or donut.

Julian’s also serves as the university’s ice cream parlor, offering more than a dozen different flavors of Dreyer’s ice cream. Grab a treat with your friends while studying or hanging out in the UU, and life gets a little sweeter.

Catch a movie at Chumash Auditorium

For those who want a movie theater experience, minus the cost and the crying babies, Associated Students Inc. (or ASI) is here to help. Not-yet-released-to-DVD movies are regularly shown in Chumash Auditorium, located on the upper floor of the UU. The screen is big, the chairs comfortable and the audience large.

ASI employee and industrial technology senior Scott Head estimates that 200 to 300 people regularly show up.

To get a full schedule of movie screenings and other ASI events, go to http://www.asi.calpoly.edu/static/what_is_happening.

See a band during Concerts in the Plaza

Every week, ASI brings an artist or band to play during UU Hour. Past bands have included Augustana (known for the song “Boston”) and The Ataris. Since most students don’t have class during UU Hour (11 a.m. on Thursdays), the plaza is usually filled with students watching the concert.

So grab a drink from Julian’s, take a break from rock climbing and check out some live music when UU Hour rolls around.

There is a lot more to Cal Poly than studying and test-taking. From art to outdoor activities, from watching bands to shaping surfboards, any student can find something of interest to do on campus.

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