Campus hangouts and hideouts: Directions to the five most secluded areas at FAU

Dylan Bouscher

FAU is home to 30,000 students, which makes finding peace and quiet on campus a challenge.

Here’s a set of directions to the five most tranquil areas on the Boca campus:


Photo by Michelle Friswell.

1.  Engineering East Building 


Directions: Start in front of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. Turn toward the Nursing building, and take a left on the sidewalk in front of you. Walk (or ride) past Lot 2 and into the white building you’re facing: Engineering East. Once inside, take the elevator to the top floor. When you emerge, you’ll see the rooftop garden.

Best time to visit: Early morning, late afternoon

Worst time to visit: Midday

The rooftop garden offers free Wi- Fi, multiple seating areas, an excellent view of FAU Stadium and Innovation Village, and an outdoor walkway lined with native plants. The plants are irrigated from the condensation collected by the building’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning units.


Photo by Michelle Friswell.

2. Astronomical Observatory

Directions: Come out of the Engineering East Building and take the sidewalk west toward the Breezeway. When you reach it, turn right and head toward the north end, with the Campus Recreation and Fitness Center. As soon as you reach the end of the Breezeway, turn right. Take the sidewalk east until you see the College of Science on your right. Go inside and take the elevator to the fourth floor. When you come out of the elevator, follow the signs on the wall guiding students to the FAU astronomy observatory.

Best time to visit: Public viewing sessions are the first Friday and third Tuesday of every month, year-round, according to the observatory’s operator Erik Vandernoot.

Worst time to visit: Varied depending on cloud cover.

Viewing times are subject to change when interesting astronomical events occur, according to the observatory website. New students taking an Intro to Astronomy class can receive four points extra credit by visiting the observatory at night, and two by visiting during solar observation hours. Extra credit hours are Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for solar observations, and Fridays from 8 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. according to the site. Parking is available in Lot 4 until 2:30 a.m. during public viewings.


Photo by Ryan Murphy.

3. Twin Banyan Trees

Directions: There are two banyan trees east of the breezeway, in front of the Social Science and Kenneth R. Williams Administration buildings. Whether you’re sitting at a table under these trees, climbing them, or sitting on one of their branches, these trees are the most popular campus hideaway.

Best time to visit: Early morning, early evening

Worst time to visit: Midday

The tables near the trees are almost always occupied when the Florida sun reaches its brightest, hottest point in the day. Some students climb up and lay back in the hammock-like branches of the banyan to study while others do parkour off them.


Photo by Ryan Murphy.

4. Anne Boykin Healing Garden 

Directions: Climb out of the banyans and make your way to the Social Science building. Walk straight through the center of it toward the Libby and Harry Dodson Auditorium. Turn left before walking into the auditorium, make a right down the sidewalk, and another right into the College of Nursing. Once inside, walk through the doors to the walled off, tai chi garden in the center of the building.

Best time to visit: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Worst time to visit: After 4:30 p.m.

There are two paths from the entrance which lead to two more doors out of the garden. The garden features a seated area with wooden rocking chairs and benches with rocks arranged into a maze. Students driving to school will find parking closest to the garden in Garage II, by the Arts and Letters building. The door leading to the garden from inside the nursing building is locked after 4:30 p.m. There are, however, two other entrances along the outer wall of the garden.


Photo by Melissa Landolfa.

5. Tortuga Trail

Directions: Exit the College of Nursing and head west toward the Breezeway. Walk north down the Breezeway, pass the campus rec center and cross the street. The FAU Stadium will be on your right, take a left and walk until a wooden sign on your right shows you the start of the Tortuga Trail.

Best time to visit: Early morning, early evening

Worst time to visit: Midday

The Tortuga Trail is lined with stumps and logs to keep students from getting lost in the surrounding brush. The trail diverges into three more: the Green Trail, the Blue Trail, and deepest in the woods is the Red trail, which ends at Lot 5, next to FAU Stadium. The other trails lead back to the start, near the colleges of business and education. This year around Halloween, the FAU branch of SEEDS is expected to transform it into a trail of terror, with volunteers dressing up the trail and scaring students who walk it. SEEDS is an education program in the Ecological Society of America. Parking Lot 5 is closest to the trail, and nearby are conversation areas where burrowing owls nest.