As traffic on campus becomes intolerable and the lines outside of College Park’s bars grow longer than they’ve been since May, the fact of the matter is clear: school is back in session and this year, of course, is going to be different.
Isn’t that what we tell ourselves every year? We chop off our hair, buy a new pair of shoes and a 16-month planner and vow we are blossoming into the better, wiser versions of our past selves.
This year you will not be eating that dining hall quesadilla for dinner every night. You are over that one guy who turned on his vinyl Bon Iver album every time he tried to seduce you. And, for the love of God … No. More. Frat parties.
Well, you know what? DEAL. This year can be different. You will NOT let someone with a subpar taste in music into your bed. You will not hang out with those friends who drag you to a lackluster frat party every weekend.
And maybe this regrettable haircut will remind you to think twice the next time you take your mother’s fabric scissors to your hair the night before you head back to school.
But, in all seriousness, a change is bound to come for you in the next few months. And if you’re looking for something to make your year here in College Park a little less mundane than the last one, we’re here to help you switch things up.
We may not be able to set you all up on the dates you truly deserve, but we can supply you with …
“A Comprehensive List of the Coolest Places to Chill on Campus.”
THE MARYLAND FOOD CO-OP
The Maryland Food Co-Op definitely tops the list of my favorite places to chill on campus, and if you aren’t hip to it yet, get hip.
One of the great things about the Maryland Food Co-Op is that it does not attract patrons who are not interested in good food, good music and good people.
Some individuals may hear the words “Food Co-Op” and scoff about it being some “hippie shit.”
To an extent they are right.
However, the beauty is that the scoffers don’t go there. And that’s fine, because you won’t find this kind of person in or around the Food Co-Op.
The Food Co-Op’s patrons acknowledge that it is some “hippie shit” and they love it all the same.
So you can hang out there with your nose buried in your delicious, sprout-filled wrap, eyes bloodshot from shenanigans from the night before, quite undisturbed by any quick judgment.
The Food Co-Op started in the mid-1970s as an alternative option to the university’s pre-existing dining services. It is completely worker-owned, meaning everyone working in there really cares about the operation, from their delicious food to the overall vibe of the shop.
Everything they have to offer is either organic, locally grown, or purchased from small businesses, according to the Co-Op’s website.
Their sandwich line is a delightful place to get lunch in College Park, and if you come on “Taco Tuesdays” you will get one of their gigantic, vegan-friendly taco bowls because they’re delicious.
So go to the Co-Op.
Grab your Kombucha tea.
Chat up the people who run the place.
Then take a seat, whether it’s in the Co-Op or in the dining area right outside, and enjoy the flow of students who come through the Co-Op on a regular basis.
Okay, so you may think we’re kind of basic for putting this one on our list, but we stand behind the Mall all the way.
McKeldin Mall is the University of Maryland’s beautiful oasis.
It may be a pretty obvious place to chill, as it is often treated as the pinnacle stop on every campus tour, but it is for good reason.
You will find true diversity on the Mall, such as crunchy hiking fanatics comfortably tucked in their hammocks or slacklining between trees.
There are bound to be some barefoot dudes throwing around Frisbees or flying the remote-controlled helicopters they made in class dangerously close to your head. There will likely be many students lying in the sun. They may be be resting in the shade, reading, playing with their dogs, or petting their dogs.
And that’s just it.
What we like about this spacious chill spot is also what we like about attending a school as large as Maryland: if we want to avoid someone, we most certainly can.
It’s what makes one-night stands, ruined friendships and allergies to domestic animals so painless, and it’s what makes the Mall such a tranquil place to hang out in your spare time.
WMUC – RADIO STATION
Maybe, as a WMUC DJ, I’m (Daphne Pellegrino) biased, but the radio station is definitely one of the coolest places to chill on campus.
If you have a DJ friend, you should follow them to their show every week because this place is chill. If you don’t have a DJ friend, you should become the DJ Friend.
Or you could attend the live music performances they have there every Sunday evening.
Whatever it takes, you should try and get it on this hidden gem.
The walls are covered in cartoons and signatures from the DJs and musicians who have come through those same doors.
The couches are made of denim.
And if you ask nicely enough, you can check out WMUC’s two-story record library. It’s got a spiral staircase.
Need I say more?
SOUTH CAMPUS’ ROOFTOP GARDEN
So this spot is totally underrated, and if you mention it to your younger friends, there’s a good chance they’ll look at you as if you’ve discovered the Chamber of Secrets.
Located on the second floor of the South Campus Diner, the rooftop garden is another super chill spot to hang out on campus.
There is a garden. There are hammocks. There are picnic tables.
Sometimes students will bring live music and poetry out there. We’ve heard kids go there at night to smoke weed. We’ve never done that; we’re not that cool. Not that you should try that, even if you are cooler than us.
Take it easy, the semester’s only just begun.
THE MICHELLE SMITH PERFORMING ARTS LIBRARY
Quiet, surrounded by books on the works of Van Gogh and comfortable chairs. If you fall asleep in your cubicle, it’s quite likely no one will notice you because everyone is busy admiring the beauty of the library, studying for classes, or snoring along with you.
I found this gem last year when everyone and their grandmothers were studying in McKeldin.
The Clarice’s library is like McKeldin’s more creative, comfortable and serene cousin, with plenty of space and just good vibes – unlike McKeldin, which has seven floors filled with individuals who cranked up their stress levels and are cursing their professors.
However, it is cold in there so bring your Snuggie or XXL hoodie.
Also, check out The Clarice’s calendar and go to all their phenomenal events! Every Monday there are free student tickets for select venues.
BOARD AND BREW
First thing’s first: Oreo and Nutella Milkshake.
If you want be baptized in sugar immortality, you must get it.
Located near Bobby’s Burger Palace (which you should also go to if you have some money to spend), The Board and Brew is a quirky restaurant where you can play as many board games as you want, sip good coffee or beer and laugh with your friends at your incompetence or success until 2 a.m.
They have more than 500 board games available—from a nerd’s Valhalla to a fantasy fan’s paradise.
They have Open Mic’s every Tuesday, as well as trivia nights and tournaments if you are a hardcore-gamer. The staff is friendly and are very knowledgeable about every game, which is helpful when you don’t know what one is or which one to pick.
If you don’t have enough money for a Caprese Panini or the Brew Burger that’s topped off with hummus, you should definitely devour the sweet potato fries topped with cinnamon or sugar or the hummus plate.
DAIRY ICE CREAM AT STAMP
The rumor is that it’s not mass produced because it’s so high in fat.
That alone was the reason why I spent all my (Karla Casique) TerpBucks and cash last year at The Dairy, which is located at Stamp.
Rocky Road and Midnight Madness, the latter of which has double chocolate ice cream with chocolate ganache and creme de cocoa, were my absolute favorite flavors and I had no shame with how many times I ordered them.
Last semester, when the electricity went off campus-wide and the White House was on lockdown and the public thought ISIS was attacking the Capitol, the first thing I did was rush over to the Dairy to see if they needed “help” with their precious cargo.
If you don’t believe me, here’s proof.
Follow their Twitter for their specials and new recipes!
Daphne Pellegrino is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at email@example.com.
Karla Casique is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.