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UC San Diego Campus Highlights

UC San Diego Campus Highlights

UCSD is a vibrant campus with beautiful architecture, art exhibits, and a lively campus community.

Roubina Al Abashian


5 min read

February 17, 2023

Disclaimer: is not receiving any type of compensation for reviewing any of the products or services mentioned in this article.

The University of California, San Diego, more commonly known as UC San Diego or UCSD, is one of the most iconic institutions for higher education in California and the nation as a whole. Considered one of the leading research universities in the world, UC San Diego is a dream for every high school graduate. It is not just the education that makes the La Jolla-based university a desirable destination for many, but the university’s sprawling and awesome campus. Thanks to all the fun things to do around UC San Diego, people often forget that there are at least a dozen more within the campus grounds. Whether you just enrolled, visiting the area, or are a parent checking up on your favorite freshman, here is a list of all the standout places you should see inside the UCSD campus.

The architectural brilliance we know as Geisel Library is the highlight of UC San Diego’s campus.

1. Geisel Library

Geisel Library is the shining star of the UC San Diego campus. It is the main library building of the university and was named in honor of Audrey and Theodor Seuss Geissel—you might know the latter as the beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. The distinctive building is intended to look like a hand holding a stack of books. Its design is a prime example of brutalist architecture, which emerged in the 1940s, with traces of futurist architecture as well. Anyone who has the slightest interest in Southern California architecture knows this building is worth seeing up close.

While the exterior is worth dozens of photographs in your camera roll, the inside is equally as astonishing. The eight-story building houses the library’s collection of roughly 7 million prints, study spaces, staff offices, a cafe, and the artistic works of Dr. Seuss himself. If you only have time to visit one place on the UCSD campus, Geisel Library should be it.

2. Epstein Family Amphitheater

The Epstein Family Amphitheater is a state-of-the-art outdoor performance venue inaugurated in the fall of 2022. Its unique design provides the best grand entrance to the University of California, San Diego. A custom-made acoustic shell covers the stage, optimizing how sound moves through the space. The 2,850-seat amphitheater is considered one of the best music venues in California, hosting performances by classical quartets, rock and pop performers, dance groups, and student DJs. When the university decided to build the amphitheater, it had the students, the whole San Diego community, and visitors in mind. Attending a performance here should be on top of your San Diego itinerary.

Between its movie theater, numerous eateries, and meeting rooms, it’s no wonder that Price Center is the life of UCSD.

3. Price Center

If you’re looking for the UCSD college hotspot, Price Center is the place to be. With four floors and a surface area of 430,252 square feet, Price Center is the spacious building students need to improve their day-to-day campus experience. Not only does the building serve as a student affairs office, it includes two food courts, a bookstore, a movie theater, meeting rooms, and a dance studio, among many other amenities. As one of the largest student centers in the country, Price Center serves more than 30,000 individuals a day. It’s well worth the trip to get your finger on the pulse of the UCSD campus.

4. LionTree Arena

A fan of sports or not, a visit to LionTree Arena (formerly known as RIMAC Arena) is a must during any UC San Diego campus tour. The 5,000-seat arena is home to the UC San Diego Tritons men's and women's basketball, volleyball, and fencing teams. The adjacent Triton Soccer Stadium hosts the university’s men’s and women’s soccer teams’ matches. Considered one of the best basketball arenas in the state, LionTree Arena is one of the highlights of the UCSD campus. If you happen to be in San Diego on a game night, bring your pom poms and join the crowd in cheering for the Tritons. 

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Perched on the seventh floor of Jacobs Hall, Fallen Star is a UC San Diego campus highlight that can’t be missed.

5. Stuart Collection

One of the most known facts about San Diego is that the county is an arts leader in the country. Visitors can see art installations and paintings, adding a unique touch to each corner they’re on. Some unique art installations in San Diego County include those scattered throughout the UCSD campus. Founded in 1981, the Stuart Collection comprises over 20 installments across campus, featuring commissioned sculptures with both traditional works and site-specific ones. All of the pieces are worth seeing, but some stand out more than others. If you’re short on time, make sure to check out a few standout pieces.

The grassy area under Sun God is a popular rendezvous and celebration area among students.

Sun God 

The first of many Stuart Collection installations, Sun God is the creation of Niki de Saint Phalle, standing tall and colorful on a grassy area between the Mandeville Auditorium and the Faculty Club since 1983. The multi-colored, bird-like creature is 14 feet in height and placed atop a 15-foot pedestal. Over the years, Sun God has become a landmark on campus. Students have adorned the beloved statue with giant sunglasses, a cap and gown, and even earphones on different occasions. There even is an annual Sun God Festival that takes place during springtime. Snap a selfie with Sun God when you visit the UCSD campus.

Fallen Star 

Fallen Star has long been considered one of the top unique places to visit in California. The little blue house has been perched off the edge of Jacobs Hall since 2012. The creation of South Korean artist Do Ho Su, the fully furnished house is accessible only during certain days and times of the week, but it's worth going through the trouble. Just remember not to spend too much time in the house, because you’ll feel lightheaded because of its slanted floors.   

Kids admire the cushiness of this rock-solid bear, while adults wonder at how its pieces are attached together.


Bear is the strongest, yet softest, creation among all Stuart Collection installations. The 23-foot-six-inch Bear was created in 2005 by Tim Hawkinson, who combined eight boulders, totaling 180 tons, to bring this delightful surprise to life. This creative piece of art sits inside the Academic Courtyard, between three engineering buildings, and brings joy to every passerby’s day. What makes Bear mind-boggling is that it’s unknown how the eight rocks are secured and attached together to give the impression of a bear. Your La Jolla getaway should include a stop near Bear, especially if you’re in the city with the kids—you’ll want to take as many photos with Bear as possible.


One of the older installations of the Stuart Collection, Trees (1986) is the work of Terry Allen. The piece was created from three trees that were cut down to make room for new buildings, stripped of their leaves, and encased in lead. Two of the three trees stand tall in the eucalyptus grove between the Geisel Library and the Faculty Club, while the third is at the entrance of the Geisel Library. The one in front of the library is silent, but the other two actually talk to you. One emits pre-recorded songs, while the second emits poetry. Together these trees create a modern enchanted forest, and you’re invited to hear their whispers whenever you're on the UCSD campus.

There’s so much beautiful architecture and art pieces to be seen and snapped at the University of California, San Diego, that a short visit wouldn’t do the trick. Whenever you’re in or near La Jolla, set a few hours aside for a thorough tour of the campus to enjoy every bit of it.

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