5 Must Do Things at Rice University

Photo: faungg

In our series of Must Do Things Around Greater Houston, we take a look at Houston’s vast array of neighborhoods to bring you five fun, tasty, and enticing reasons you should give each a visit. This campus edition takes a closer look at one of Houston’s primary colleges and universities.

While you may not think of spending much time at Rice University (whether you’re a student or not), you may want to rethink hitting the 294-acre campus. For starters, it makes for a quite lovely weekend stroll (especially when its followed by a nearby wallet-friendly brunch). And catching a Rice Owls game or meet is always a good idea. But the fun and action doesn’t stop with sports and food. Here are five more ways to experience college life at Rice University.

5 Must Do Things at Rice University

  1. Shop local at the Rice University Farmers Market – Every Tuesday from 3:30pm to 6:30pm (rain or shine), dozens of vendors show up to the parking lot adjacent to Rice Stadium to show off locally-grown food and artisan goods. Head there to find everything from organic kombucha and handmade goat cheese to vegan tamales and heritage hogs. Don’t forget your cash. Click here for directions.
  2. Have a Twilight Epiphany – Head over to Shepherd School of Music and you’ll find the magnificent Twilight Epiphany Skyspace sittin’ pretty. Built in 2012 and designed by brilliant artist James Turrell (known for his The Light Inside tunnel at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston), the acoustically-engineered pyramidal structure is equipped with a LED light sequence that projects onto the roof and evokes the sun’s arc. The public is invited to view magical performances of light and sound, which occur at sunrise and sunset, on select days (reservations are free but required). Click here for directions.
  3. Get cultured through theater and art – Be sure to also catch the pop-up art installations from the Rice Public Art program, which works in collaboration with The Shepherd School of Music, the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts (VADA), the BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC) and the student organization Art Lab, among others. The Rice Players, the university’s oldest student-run theater company, puts on two large and a few small productions each year, typically in the 466-seat theater, Hamman Hall. Look out for announcements on upcoming productions on their Facebook. And at the Rice Cinema in the Rice Media Center, you’ll find a roster of films, from classics and indies to foreign features and documentaries.
  4. Have a drink in a hidden barIn Norse mythology, Valhalla is a majestic, great hall in Asguard, ruled by the widely revered god of healing, death, sorcery, knowledge, and battle, Odin. But at Rice University, Valhalla has been the unofficial hangout ruled by Rice’s graduate students for over 40 years. The no-frills bar, run by graduate students and alumni, is hidden beneath the steps of Keck Hall. Head here to get a taste of college life through cheap pints and bottles with some Les Givral’s banh mi at the side. Click here for directions.
  5. Go on a hunt for the university’s secret symbols – You may have already taken a stroll on the beautiful campus and taken in its majestic architecture, but next time you do so, you may want to look a little closer. Hidden in plain site, you’ll find secret symbols depicted on many of the university’s most prominent structures. Take, for example, Lovett Hall’s Sallyport arch, where you’ll find four heads depicting the four stages of college life carved into the columns. One portrays a satisfied senior, at peace with his accomplishments; another shows an anxious junior, his face full of worry as he is yet to fulfill his requirements. The third shows the all-knowing sophomore, now mature after having completed his first year; and finally, opposite him lies a giddy, goofy-faced freshman, excited for his college life to begin. But that’s just the beginning. This article from the Houston Chronicle does an excellent job highlighting some of the more fascinating symbolism on campus.
James Turrell, Twilight Epiphany at Rice University | Photo courtesy of Rice University
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Brooke Viggiano is a food and lifestyle writer residing in Houston. When she's not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she's on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the city. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .