Twenty-five isn’t necessarily that big of a number. By the time you turn 25, you’re already halfway to 30, and you don’t gain any cool new rights. Twenty-five dollars can get you about two meals at Swings. Twenty-five minutes is probably just enough time to take a shower and change before the Zoom lecture you probably don’t want to go to anyway. Twenty-five feet is ~just~ enough to have a couple of friends over for some socially distant fun…but in reality, 25 miles is kind of a generous radius. With all of the COVID-19 restrictions that the University has had to put in place, they blessed students with such a large area to explore (trust us, Vassar students can’t even leave campus…). Though masks and social distancing are still necessary, there are plenty of cool things to do within the bound of 25 miles that are within walking, biking, and driving distance (if you’re one of those lucky students with a car, or if you can beg for a ride from a friend).
Indian Hill Cemetery (1/2 mile)
Right next to the tennis courts on Vine Street, Indian Hill Cemetery provides a quick and easy escape from the liveliness of campus. The cemetery itself dates back to 1850 and is the local haunt of many of Middletown’s historically prominent families. Although cemeteries may seem ~spooky~, we promise you Indian Hill is a quiet refuge from campus life. We highly recommend walking to the top of the hill when the light is right: witching hour, some may say. Keep an eye out for spirits or other wandering souls.
Middletown Farmers Market at Union Square Park (1/2 mile)
Only half a mile away from campus (woohoo!), this farmers market is a great way to support local workers and snag some fresh produce while the University’s food co-op is out of service. Unfortunately, they don’t take points, but it’s worth it. The market takes place every Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., so it’s also a nice way to start the weekend and unwind. Keep in mind that we’re all guests in Middletown: wear your mask, keep your distance, bring hand sanitizer, and always say please and thank you.
Long Lane Farm (1 mile)
Strap on your work boots, and don that flannel you thrifted, and head on over to Long Lane Farm, the fully functional farm on the far side of campus. Keep an eye out for the eggplant (teehee) sign and you’ll know that you’ve arrived! The farm is a lovely place to take a walk or log three hours doing a farming shift if you really want to get down and dirty. Fun fact: if you complete 20 hours of farm work, you actually can start getting paid for your labor. Talia spent an hour and a half there on Sunday clearing weeds and had to say it was pretty cathartic. We also have it on good authority that the farm has tons of basil right now, so if you’re inspired to do some cooking you should definitely stop by.
Harbor Park (about 1 mile)
Home of the WesCrew boathouse and the beloved Canoe Club, Harbor Park has plenty more to offer to Wesleyan students besides paddling. The park’s boardwalk stretches along the Connecticut River and is perfect for a jog, or walk if that’s more your speed. Don’t let the construction keep you at bay; there is still some greenery perfect for a picnic. Take your quarantine bae, or a good group of friends (or maybe both?), and enjoy!
Outdoor Movies (on your own or at Vox Church):
An American classic that made a comeback this summer, outdoor movies are a great way to socialize safely even as the leaves change. You’re more than welcome to steal your roommate’s twin-xl sheets and try to set up one of your own with one of your film major friends (who else would lug a projector to campus?) or you can head over to Vox Church for their free outdoor movie screening on Sept. 25. Fair warning, the movie is family-friendly, so if you’re looking for something a little more college-oriented we suggest sticking to Netflix Party or taking advantage of the University’s online film series.
Wadsworth Falls State Park (2 miles)
While we don’t suggest chasing waterfalls, we highly recommend checking out Wadsworth Falls. Wadsworth is a 285-acre park that’s perfect for hiking, biking, and watching the leaves change as we head into another lovely New England Fall. While we know it’s more comfortable to stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to, it’s definitely worth going out of your way for Wadsworth.
Middletown Nature Gardens (about 2.5 miles)
If you want to go just a bit further than Long Lane Farm, Middletown Nature Gardens might be the place for you. Established in 1995, the Gardens are 18 acres of weird birdhouses (we all know birds aren’t real), local wildlife, and, well, flowers. Not sure how to get there? @wes.walks has the trail all mapped out for you on their Instagram!
Miller’s Pond (6 miles)
Thanks to Hannah, we were able to make a quick trip out to Miller’s before the weather suddenly got chilly. While Talia was a bit too chicken to fully get in the water, Miller’s gives students the opportunity to submerge themselves in clean, natural water and get a hike in all during the same excursion. The bolder among you may choose to cliff-jump into the water, but if you’re scared of heights, you can force your friends to wander around the pond until you find a nice sunny rock to lay on.
Savers in Newington (11 miles)
While the beloved Meriden location may have closed, the Savers in Newington is here to stay (for the foreseeable future). Whether you need a new pair of high-waisted jeans, cowboy boots (so on-trend right now) or want to grab some accouterments to furnish your bleary Hi-Rise, Savers has it all. Grab a few friends, a mask, and get thrifting. One person’s give-away is a liberal arts student’s treasure.
Castle Craig at Hubbard Park (16 miles)
Live out your Taylor Swift “Love Story” music video fantasies at Castle Craig, a short hike with beautiful views of the castle ruin and the kingdom of Connecticut. For those of you who aren’t a Swiftie stan, the castle is also accessible via car (we promise we won’t tell anyone if you drive instead of hike). The inspiration for the castle is debatable, so if you’re still looking for a thesis topic we might have just saved you.
Hannah Docter-Loeb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Talia Zitner can be reached at email@example.com.