As important as academics are in college, it’s also nice to be able to relax and have fun in your free time. Many colleges boast about the plethora of activities available off-campus. But what if you aren’t attending school in a busy city like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago? Sometimes it can feel like there’s nothing to do in a small town.
I’m from a city that is full of shops, activities, and entertainment. So when I started college in a small Midwestern town, I had no clue how I was going to keep myself busy. I didn’t have a car, and taking the bus to the nearest big city was too expensive to do often. How, then, was I to avoid getting tired of my new town?
Thankfully, I discovered that even small towns can have a lot to offer college students. Here are fourteen things to do in a small town to beat boredom and make the most of your college town life.
1. Volunteer in the Community
Use your school’s career center or a website like Volunteer Match to find local organizations that could use your help.
Whether it’s coaching a kids’ sports team, painting a mural, or sorting donations at a food kitchen, there’s probably a position that matches your interests. By volunteering, you’ll be able to get out of the college bubble and connect with your new community.
2. Embrace Nature
Your town probably has several different spaces dedicated to nature; for example, parks, trails, and nature preserves.
Even if you’re not a “nature person”, you can probably find a way to use these spaces.
Go running at a local park instead of on the treadmill at your school’s gym. Bring your art supplies to a trail and draw the flora and fauna. Organize a picnic, or even just read a book outdoors.
3. Visit an Art Gallery
Don’t just walk by the art galleries in your town; see what the town’s artists are up to. Galleries change their artwork throughout the year, so this is an activity that will never get old.
4. Free Concerts
If there are music-related events in your town, don’t hesitate to go! While you probably won’t be familiar with the local musicians, you can still enjoy dancing along to their songs.
5. Outdoor Movie Screenings
In warmer months, many towns offer free movie screenings in community parks. This would be a nice change if you usually watch movies on a laptop in your dorm room. Make sure to bring a picnic blanket and some snacks!
6. Trivia Nights
Often, local restaurants or bars will host weekly trivia nights. Form a team and have fun testing your knowledge of a wide variety of categories.
7. Holiday Festivals
Oktoberfest, Christmas tree lightings, Spring carnivals… small towns know how to celebrate the seasons! What’s more, these events are usually on the main street, which is probably just a short walk from your school.
8. Visit the Farmers’ Market
Weekly farmers’ markets are common in small towns. Even if the town usually seems empty, the streets will be busy during the market.
If fresh and local food is important to you, this is a fun way to do your grocery shopping.
If you’d rather stick to the dining hall, farmers’ markets usually have a variety of non-food vendors as well. For example, you can find locally-made soaps, accessories, and plants.
9. Go Kayaking
Does your town have a lake or river? If so, find some friends and rent kayaks. Personally, I recommend going close to sunset, when the lights from the town are reflected in the water.
10. Go Bowling
When was the last time you went bowling? This classic hobby is a great way to spend an evening, as many bowling alleys also have food and arcade games.
11. Get Brunch
Want a break from dining hall food but sick of the restaurant options? Catching up with friends over brunch is a great way to spend a weekend morning. (For extra fun, be sure to wear a cute brunch outfit!)
This would be especially fun combined with one of the less time consuming activities on this list.
12. Go to a Sports Game
If you have a favorite sport, consider attending a local minor league or high school sporting event.
13. Use Public Transportation
Spend a day figuring out how to use the local bus. You could even get off at a random stop to acquaint yourself with a new part of town!
14. Learn About the Local History
Many small towns have a local history museum. Using this as a starting point, learn a little about the history of your new home. Once you have an idea of what makes the locals proud to live here, maybe you won’t find it so boring after all!
Do you go to college in a small town? What are your favorite things to do in a small town?
Were these ideas helpful? How do you avoid boredom in your town? Let us know in the comments!