Even for those of us who have been at the same university for multiple years now, there are some things we're still discovering about our little town. Especially if it's your first time on your own, you're learning the basics of how to properly feed your body and the responsibilities of money on a larger scale. While you're at it, you're also trying to navigate a new city, and even if you're not that far from home there are still many spots left undiscovered by you.
It's important to not only familiarize yourself with as much of your college town as possible but to find these 9 handy places to keep in mind at all times.
1. The breakfast joint
Seems quite obvious. Whether you're recovering from a night out, craving a large greasy omelet, or need a joint to take your out-of-town guests to, it's important that you find your favorite breakfast joint in town. Whether it be a Bob Evans, an up-and-coming café, or a beat-up diner with the perfect amount of cheap, you better find this place quick. Before you know it your freshman year, you'll be begging for pancakes that don't taste like rubber from the dining hall.
2. Your bar
In a town like mine with more than a couple of bars, it's slightly more difficult to pick a favorite, and by no means do you have to. Your favorite bar will change more frequently than your classes, with different friend groups, moods, and time of the year. I would suggest being open to trying new bars and maybe suggesting to your friends on your way out the door that you try someplace different tonight. Try to choose a location you truly like for the atmosphere and service, despite who's going to be there.
3. Your "club"
Much like "your bar" (and "your club" might just happen to be the same place as "your bar"), your club of choice is the night-life location around town where you choose to turn up and let loose, usually in celebration or just cause you're feeling it! In my town, many bars and club-like bars are attached to one another to create options for their guests whose moods change throughout the night without the bar or club losing money from losing a guest. You're not likely to go here as much, but you'll always have a good night when you do (or it'll go horribly wrong, but it's worth the risk).
4. The burger joint
Whether it be a drive-thru chain or a pub, do yourself a favor and find the best burger in town (or even the next town over if you're a passionate burger-lover like me). My supporting evidence is: there's just nothing like a good burger. Yum.
5. The family restaurant
Ah, the parents are in town with maybe a sibling or two. You pull yourself together, roughed up from either a bad night or just pure school exhaustion, and the parents are asking for a good place to eat. You soon realize that besides "your bar" and "your club" you know of nothing else in town. Before long, you'll be driving down Main Street and your parents ask to eat at the club they're mistaking to be a restaurant you went to last night. So please save yourself and prepare next time.
6. The little shop
There are many different little shops in town, ranging from refurbished furniture to clothing boutiques, and it's important to take the time to step inside each and every one of them at least once. Truthfully, it won't hurt anything if you never do, but it'll help you see the town in a different light and not for the nightlife it usually sees from you.
7. The grocery shop
Of course, there's grocery stores and a Walmart where I usually stop across from the gym, but it's important to be aware of all grocery options in your city. You'll be able to help support small-town bakeries and farmers' markets that will help you feel more in touch with the community and not like the struggling college student that you are.
8. The productive coffee shop
That paper is due at five and there's an exam in tomorrow's 8 a.m. You need maximum focus, but you just can't help but continue talking to your best friend every five seconds in the union. Into the picture comes the productive coffee shop. True, its productive value may still be invalid if you bring your best friend along, but simply going alone or bringing earbuds can help you achieve the maximum focus you require plus a delicious coffee or two.
9. The trick spot
The trick spot is the ultimate location in your college town. It can solve any problem, conundrum, or awkward first date. The trick spot can be any location, including any of the previous locations listed above, used in circumstances like a serious talk, a first date, or showing your family you do know something about where your school is located. The trick to the trick spot is uniqueness: there's either a twist or something that can create conversation. My trick spot back home used to be a bookstore, even just Barnes & Noble, to create conversation from the diversity in the books. My spot now I enjoy going to even alone because of all the interesting conversation I overhear. Once you discover this spot, just like your first love, you'll know.
I hope this list helped you recognize some locations you still have yet to find in your town or maybe even jumpstart you into connecting with the city you're living in. Whatever it may be, I wish you the best of luck.