An Insider’s Guide to Davis

by | Jan 16, 2024 | College Town, Culture, Fall/Winter 2023-24

Ashley Muir Bruhn ’01 has documented her jealousy-inducing travels to such destinations as Barcelona and Paris for her popular lifestyle and travel blog, Hither & Thither. And for the last few years, she’s added stories about her exploits in Davis since moving back to town.

A comparative literature major at UC Davis, Bruhn met her husband, Aron Bruhn ’02, at the Coho, where they both worked as students. They graduated, married and moved to Los Angeles, where they each earned graduate degrees — she in comparative literature and English, and he in medicine.

When they moved to New York — where Aron completed his residency, and she worked as a book editor — they launched the blog as a joint endeavor.

“We were trying to write emails to our family and keep them up with what was going on,” said Bruhn, who hails from Long Beach, California. “So this seemed easier, and he and I started writing it together, actually, as a diary of living in New York.”

In the early days of blogging, it became quite popular. And in the years since, her content has evolved to cover having kids — son Hudson and daughter Skyler — as well as their move back to Davis and buying a house.

“At first, I missed New York a lot,” she said. “But I immediately appreciated having more space and a backyard — and the promise of the kids biking everywhere when they were old enough.”

Bruhn documented her interior designs for their midcentury modern house, including the outdoor areas and redesign for the front yard. She’s also shared her favorite things to do in town and on campus.

Her background in publishing and content creation, as well as her knowledge of Davis, made her the ideal person to take over local guide The Dirt in 2019. The Dirt started as a calendar of events in the area in print and distributed for free, and Bruhn had ideas for expanded coverage and new branding.

The redesigned guide launched in March 2020 — just before the pandemic hit. She hand-delivered 5,000 copies to businesses in town. But the lockdown brought a lot of business to a halt. Bruhn kept The Dirt’s website updated and published stories online. The print issue didn’t return until late 2022, with help from a city grant for arts and culture.

“I remember walking by Philz Coffee, and [the March issue] was in there for a year and a half on a little display,” she said.

Despite the disappointing timing, Bruhn successfully set the publication on a firm path. With its return in place, Bruhn said she was ready to move on to other projects. A new editor has recently taken over. 

And she still writes a weekly post on Hither & Thither. See the sidebar for some of Bruhn’s favorite Davis-based recommendations.

“Writing those blog posts has helped me to appreciate Davis, to figure out what I would do if I was taking someone around,” she said. “It reminds me to take advantage of what we have.” 

Among her favorite places

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Davis Farmers Market

“We like to go on Wednesday or Saturday. We are so happy they brought back the evening market with the bands.”

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UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden

“I walk there multiple times a week, in all of its seasons. It makes me want to stop the people who are in there changing plants and say thank you. It’s the greatest thing.”

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Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts

“Mondavi is one of my favorite things about Davis. When we bike to go see someone at Mondavi, we are both looking at each other like we can’t believe this is here in our town.”

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Downtown Davis

“We like to show guests around downtown, have breakfast and walk around. I like how G Street is closed off [to traffic]. There’s a nice ambiance, and you see the students.”

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Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art

“We’ve taken visitors to the Art Spark  [featuring activities inspired by the art on view] on the weekends.”