By Callie Booth
When you do a Google search for the most beautiful college campuses, it’s hard to find a list that doesn’t include William & Mary. From watching sunsets on the Sunken Gardens, to the views of Lake Matoaka at the Martha Wren Briggs Amphitheatre, it can be easy to spend most of your time on campus. Although it is important to spend a lot of time on campus your freshman year becoming acclimated to your new environment, it is also especially important to explore all that the greater Williamsburg area has to offer! With just a trip on a car or bus, it is easy to access so many unique locations around campus that every TWAMP (Typical William and Mary Person) should explore during their time at the College. So without further ado, here are my top five locations off campus that every William & Mary student should explore!
- College Creek
One of the best hidden gems in Williamsburg is the beach at College Creek. Located just a 10 minute drive from campus, this beach is a great place to take an afternoon break from studying. The beach is clean, not too crowded, and has beautiful views of the James River, which makes it a perfect location for some off-campus fun with your friends. For the best views, I’d recommend going to College Creek to watch the sunrise or sunset- it’s stunning!
- Busch Gardens
It is almost mandatory for William & Mary students to visit Busch Gardens during their time at the College. With its many thrilling roller coasters and many other attractions, visiting Busch Gardens is a perfect way to spend a day away from campus. Although tickets can be a bit pricey, every year William & Mary provides discounted tickets for students to visit Busch Gardens on one day during the fall semester. Busch Gardens definitely lives up to expectations, and is definitely worth a visit during your freshman year.
- Williamsburg Pancake Houses
When you drive through Williamsburg, it’s hard not to notice all of the pancake houses in the city. Although it may seem odd that there are so many of these pancake houses in Williamsburg, it is not surprising because of the large tourism industry in Williamsburg. Most hotels in the city used to not offer breakfast to their guests, which led to these hotels recommending pancake houses for breakfast. As more tourists came and needed breakfast before a day of sight-seeing, more pancake houses arose. Many of these are located just a short drive from campus, which has made trying the pancake houses a popular activity for many W&M students. Some of my friends and I, along with many other students I know, are even planning on trying all of the pancake houses in Williamsburg before graduation to determine which of them is the best. By visiting a pancake house, you’re also able to help support local Williamsburg businesses and have a well needed break from dining hall food.
After just a short drive down the Colonial Parkway, you’ll arrive in one of the best places near W&M to explore, Yorktown. Although this town may be most known for being the place where the Revolutionary War ended, there are so many other places to explore in town. In downtown Yorktown, you can explore all of the shops and restaurants next to the waterfront area where there are frequent festivals and farmers markets. Additionally, Yorktown also has a beautiful public beach which can be a great break from studying. Yorktown is such a cute and quaint town, and is definitely worth the short drive to get there from campus.
- Colonial Williamsburg
For W&M students, going to Colonial Williamsburg, or CW for short, becomes second nature. From taking a stroll down DoG street to visiting Kilwin’s for some ice cream, it’s hard not to find several students when walking through CW. Despite this being a common place for students to go, many don’t take full advantage of all of the events and activities that are available to them. As a W&M student, you get a free four-year pass to CW which gives you access to numerous tours and events, such as taking a tour of the Capitol Building or being able to explore the stunning gardens behind the Governor’s Palace. Additionally, there are so many side streets and small yet beautiful buildings in CW that you can visit. The CW house, which is a building in CW where two W&M students live each year, also puts on several free events for students throughout the year, including ghost tours, free ice cream, and movie showings. Although it can be easy to assume you’ve seen everything that CW has to offer, I’d highly recommend taking time to explore all of the hidden gems that is has to offer.
Callie is a rising sophomore originally from Rustburg, Virginia. She is planning on double majoring in psychology and sociology and hopes to attend law school or pursue a career in news journalism after college. On campus, she is the Associate News Editor with the Flat Hat, writes for the Botetourt Squat, and is on the executive team for Random Acts of Kindness Club. During her down time, she loves reading books, listening to Taylor Swift, and crocheting. A fun fact about her is that she is certified to drive a forklift!