Smairh and her four friend pose for a photo at Six Flags
My friends and I at Six Flags New England

As I moved through my first year, I increasingly started exploring Conn’s surroundings. In the beginning, as I didn’t have a car, I thought it was going to be hard to run any errands or even leave campus, but the Camel Van made it easy to reach downtown New London, the train station, Target/Walmart and even the bank. I began to discover hidden nooks and crannies around the area with my friends, which made our weekends more eventful.

Reaching downtown New London is simple as it’s the Camel Van’s first stop. The van drops off students at New London’s Union Station and everything is a short walk from there.

Things to explore in and around New London:

  • Walking around downtown New London on a pleasant fall morning is a treat. Visit Sarge’s, a comic book and video game shop; check out New London’s mural walk, a walking tour highlighting 16 outdoor paintings; and stop by the Custom House Maritime Museum. 
  • New London houses a few cozy coffee shops frequented by Conn students. Among them are Washington Street Coffee House and Muddy Waters Cafe. I highly recommend one of Muddy Water’s croissant sandwiches! 
  • Harkness State Memorial Park is close by and students cane bike there to enjoy an afternoon. Bikes can be borrowed from Charles E. Shain Library. 
  • Ocean Beach, also accessible by the Camel Van in the fall, is an easy getaway for students. 

Just over the bridge from New London is Mystic, Connecticut. Although the Camel Van does not go this far, it is easy to reach via Uber, Zipcar or if a friend has a car. When visiting Mystic, I recommend:

  • Walking on the pier and eating ice cream from Mystic Sweet Shop. All of their ice cream and fudge is homemade. I had the best strawberry and coffee ice cream of my life there. Their hot fudge is also great added to any flavor. 
  • Food is a big part of my life and as a full-time college student I also am always looking to save money. That is how I ended up stumbling upon Samurai Ramen in Mystic. The restaurant is relatively inexpensive and their portions are amazing.

A bit further away, these are great options to consider when you have a relatively chill weekend in the semester available:

  • About 20 minutes away is Holmberg Orchards, a fun place to spend a couple of hours apple picking in the fall. A bit further away (around 30 minutes) is Bishop’s Orchard which I have visited. Bishop’s Orchard had both apples and pears, which you can pick and eat to your heart’s content. 
  • Six Flags New England is actually located in Agawam, Massachusetts. But it’s two minutes away from the Connecticut border. If you crave adrenaline rushes, this is the place for you. They have roller coasters which go backwards, upside down and sideways. My friends and I went there the day before the fall semester started and although it requires a bit more planning than usual, it is worth it.