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5 things to do at Rice University

Houston University Campus Offers Many Ways to Explore | Courtesy of Rice University

In our Must do things around Greater Houston series, we take a look at Houston’s vast array of communities, neighborhoods and destinations to bring you five fun, tasty, surprising and engaging reasons why you should visit them.

While you might not expect to spend much time at Rice University (whether you’re a student or not), you might want to think back to the 294-acre campus.

For starters, it makes for a really nice weekend walk (especially when followed by a nearby brunch). And catching a Rice Owls game is always a good idea.

But the fun and action don’t stop at sports and food. Here are five more ways to experience college life at Rice University.

5 things to do at Rice University

  1. Shop for local produce at the Rice University Farmers Market – Every first and third Sunday of the month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Feel Good Group and Rice Village District hold a lively local farmers market near Amherst and Kelvin. Show up to support local farmers and small business owners, meet your fellow Houstonians and sip, vibe to music, and shop for fantastic handicrafts while you do it. Get directions to the Rice Village Farmers Market.
  2. Have a Twilight Epiphany – Head to the Shepherd School of Music and you will find the magnificent Twilight Epiphany Skyspace is pretty. Built in 2012 and designed by the brilliant artist James Turrell (known for his The light inside tunnel at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts), the acoustic pyramidal structure is equipped with an LED light sequence that projects onto the roof and evokes the arc of the sun. The Skyspace structure is open and accessible to the public throughout the day, with light sequences occurring daily at sunrise and sunset. It’s free and open to the public, with a suggestion to arrive 10-15 minutes early to secure a spot. Get directions to the James Turrell Skyspace.
  3. Cultivate yourself through theater and art – The Moody Center for Arts is at the heart of the arts at Rice, offering three exhibit galleries, as well as pop-up and permanent installations and artwork on campus. Also, don’t miss the pop-up art installations of 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. Incidentally, the Shepherd School of Music has unveiled a brand new iconic opera house, the Brockman Hall for Opera, completing a vision more than two decades in the making and featuring a three-tier, 600-seat European-style theater with an orchestra pit for 70 musicians. The Rice Players, the university’s oldest student-run theater company, offers two major and a few minor productions each year, usually in the 466-seat theater, Hamman Hall. Watch for announcements about upcoming productions on their Facebook. And at the Rice Cinema at the Rice Media Center, you’ll find a slate of films, from classics and independent films to foreign feature films and documentaries.
  4. Have a drink in a hidden bar – In Norse mythology, Valhalla is a majestic great hall in Asgard, ruled by the widely revered god of healing, death, sorcery, knowledge, and battle, Odin. But at Rice University, Valhalla has been the unofficial hangout run by Rice graduate students for more than 40 years. The no-frills bar, run by graduate students and alumni, is tucked away under the steps of Keck Hall. Head here to get a taste of college life through tall glasses and cheap bottles. Get directions to Valhalla.
  5. Go on a hunt for the secret symbols of the university – You may have walked around the beautiful campus before and admired its majestic architecture, but the next time you do, you might want to take a closer look. Hidden within an ordinary site you will find secret symbols depicted on many of the university’s most important structures. Take, for example, Lovett Hall’s Sallyport Arch, where you’ll find four heads representing the four stages of college life carved into the columns. One depicts a contented senior, at peace with his accomplishments; another shows an anxious junior, his face full of worry because he hasn’t yet fulfilled his requirements. The third shows the sophomore who knows everything, now mature after completing his first year; and finally, across from him is a dazed and clumsy freshman, excited for the start of his college life. But this is only the beginning. This article from Houston Chronicle does a great job of highlighting some of the most fascinating symbols on campus.
James Turrell’s ‘Twilight Epiphany’ lights up twice a day at Rice University | Photo: Jeff Fitlow; courtesy of Rice University

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Brooke Viggiano is a Houston-based food and lifestyle writer. When she’s not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and Houston Press, she’s on the hunt for the coolest events in town. You can follow his thoughts on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .

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