The first women’s college west of the Rockies, Mills has a small but spectacularly beautiful campus. The bell tower, library, student union and administration building were designed by Julia Morgan; the central alley, framed by double rows of enormous sycamores, looks like an idealized vision of campus life.
Although the grounds are private, the campus offers several opportunities for the community to visit. The art museum is open daily except Mondays. In conjunction with its exhibit of dance-themed works by Karen Kilimnik, it is sponsoring a “Monday Night Tights” festival of films about ballet through Dec. 3. The music department, which has a tradition of supporting experimental musical forms, offers frequent concerts and lectures. And the aquatics center is open to “Friends of the College” (anyone from the community) during lap and recreational swim times, for a daily fee.
Walking along Richards avenue from the MacArthur Boulevard gate, you pass the chapel, designed in the 1960s by Warren Callister. Its wood-and-concrete exterior blends into the surrounding grove of trees; inside, it is a soaring, 14-sided space that manages to update yet echo the classic California Craftsman style.
On the same side of the street is concert hall, with its tile roof and intricate Spanish Mission details. Continue toward the end of the street and you’ll find the shockingly modern graduate business school, whose environmentally friendly features include a drought-tolerant native fescue lawn.
Turn left on Kapiolani Road to find the art museum, with its courtyard flanked by massive fu dog sculptures. Leona Creek runs through the grove of trees nearby.
Getting there: Mills College is at 5000 MacArthur Boulevard, near Highway 13.
Cool stuff in the neighborhood: The Laurel District, along MacArthur Boulevard between High Street and 35th Avenue, has a number of cafes, restaurants, a bookstore, toy shop and hardware store.
More information: A campus map is available on the Mills website.