Why: Architecture students’ boldest notions can romp free among the hills on the back side of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

What: Cal Poly is among the nation’s top schools of architecture. Its students and professors started testing ideas in Poly Canyon as early as the 1960s, but lately there’s a spring Design Village event (April 26-28) in which students test their temporary structures and sometimes sleep in them. Luckily for the rest of us, those 9 acres and the rest of the canyon are usually open to the public. It’s a hike of about 21/2 miles from campus to the farthest structure, but your mileage will depend on how tempted you are to probe the structures. There are about 20 projects and plenty of shade.

Info: Follow the campus map to Village Drive and Poly Canyon Road. Walk northeast on Poly Canyon Road, a gated dirt route that follows Brizzolara Creek. After about 3/4 of a mile, you’ll see a stone arch. Step through and the canyon will open before you.

— Christopher Reynolds