After a few nights on campus, local attractions anchored by the Destinta movie theater and an assortment of Thai restaurants may start to seem a bit boring. Find a friend with a car, though, and the Middletown area offers a surprisingly vast assortment of “day trips” that will suit nearly every student’s taste and provide countless hours of diversion.
A staple for generations of Wesleyan skinny dippers, Millers pond is a refreshing way to cool off on hot summer days or test students’ stamina on winter nights. The Millers Pond State Park Reserve also offers 170 acres of hiking trails and a number of nice rocks for sunbathing. Millers Pond is approximately 10 minutes from campus, although difficult to get to without a car. For more information visit dep.state.ct.us/stateparks/parks/millers.htm
Displaying a barrage of nostalgia and kitsch before visitors even enter the building, Wild Bill’s provides an array of vintage clothing and collectibles. To get there, go down Vine Street past Washington Street. Vine Street turns into Newfield Street, and Wild Bill’s is located on the left.
Described as one of America’s oldest working farms, Lyman Orchards was established in 1741. In addition to other fruits, the farm grows 28 varieties of apples that customers can pick themselves while wandering through the orchards. A trip to Lyman Orchards is not complete, however, without visiting its market called The Apple Barrel to try the farm’s famous and award-winning apple pie. The store is open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For directions visit www.lymanorchards.com/contact/directions.shtml
Started in 1975, this New Haven club features live music most nights of the week and has provided an intimate atmosphere for both local acts and national tours from Ghostface Killah to the Fiery Furnaces. Located about 30 minutes south of Middletown, most nights find this intimate club packed with college students, especially from neighboring Yale University. Toad’s Place will feature Regina Spektor September 20, Yo La Tengo September 25. More information and a calendar of upcoming performances can be found at www.toadsplace.com.
West Farms Mall
For those more adventuresome students, here it is: featuring over 160 stores including Nordstrom, JC Penney, the Rainforest Café, and the same retail operations every other mall has, this is a Connecticut staple. For more information, visit www.shopwestfarms.com.
Wadsworth Falls State Park
For those in touch with nature, this escape located only five minutes away from campus features swimming, picnicking, fishing, hiking trails, swimming, and a lovely waterfall. Take Long Lane Road to the first stop sign, and turn right onto Wadsworth St. Open from 8 a.m. until sunset. For more information, visit http://dep.state.ct.us/STATEPARKS/parks/wadsworth.htm.
Dinosaur State Park
Only a short drive down I-91, The park features 190 million-year-old dinosaur tracks exposed inside a geodesic dome, as well as related exhibits, nature trails, slide talks, and other activities. Although geared towards the kids, you just might find yourself on a field trip to this historical treasure, and the dinosaur hand puppets are not to be missed. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.dinosaurstatepark.org.
Located just across the river, this open-pit mine features some daring rock walls and expansive water-filled basins. Across the bridge on Route 66, turn left onto Brownstone Avenue and the quarry is located on the right.
One can spend hours at the Book Barn browsing its huge collection of used books.
Located off I-95 in the town of Niantic, the store is set up in an old barn and has a wide variety of titles. It is also home to a number of cats that roam around the stacks and can be found sleeping on piles of books around the store. For directions, go to www.bookbarnniantic.com