Time to venture off-campus!
Stephanie Ashman, School of Music Mentor
While the WCU campus is always buzzing with activity, sometimes getting off-campus is exactly what you need after a long week of classes. The town of West Chester and the surrounding Philadelphia area is rich in arts, culture, cuisine, and offers lots to explore. Even though most everyone is without a car at least their freshman year, it is still completely possible to get around. Lucky for us, a change of scenery is not hard to find. You can walk across the street from campus in any direction and you’re in a lovely little neighborhood. Walk less than ten minutes and you’re in the heart of West Chester.
On a nice day, a stroll in town to check out the bakeries, cute boutiques, ethnic restaurants, and the never-ending festivals is a great way to spend your time. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, be sure to check out Kiwi, the local frozen yogurt place on High Street, Yori’s bakery located on Church Street, or my personal favorite on Gay Street, D’Ascenzo’s Gelato. I also recommend walking in the many art galleries in town or painting your own pottery at the Painted Plate on Market Street. There is also an old used bookstore on Church Street that’s always fun to look around. The books are very cheap, perfect for the college budget. The Chester County Historical Society is located in West Chester, walking distance from campus. I’ve heard they have great displays and special exhibits to enjoy. On Saturdays from 9am-1pm May through December, you can find a local farmers market on the corner of Church and Chestnut Streets. Expect fresh produce, delicious pastries, live music, and a great atmosphere. This is only one of the many special events and festivals, which seem to be constant in our lovely town. Definitively don’t miss the annual Restaurant Festival in September. It’s the perfect chance to sample food from the plethora of eateries we have to choose from. Craft, jewelry, and local businesses set up stands while bands play in the streets. It’s a good time! The other big event is the Old Fashioned Christmas Parade in West Chester. It is probably the longest parade you will ever see if you’re not already in it with the marching band. Be sure to get there early to watch or participate in the Jingle Elf Run. Everyone dresses up in crazy holiday outfits to run 2 miles around town before the parade starts.
Since you can’t get everywhere on foot, learn to love public transportation! It’s very easy to get on the 92 bus to Exton. You could go to the Exton mall, Mainstreet at Exton, and a variety of other fun places for $2 and maybe a 20-minute ride. King of Prussia is also a hot spot for shopping since it wins the title for largest shopping mall in the United States! The buses are very easy to understand, safe, and will get you where you need to go. Check out the SEPTA schedules online to plan your trip. There is also now a shuttle bus to the Exton Train Station, which allows easy access into the city. If you are new to the Philadelphia area, like I am, be sure to plan trips to the Museum of Art, the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Franklin Institute, ball games, concerts, and so much more. This is only the beginning of what a big city like Philly has to offer.
One other excellent transportation resource I would like to introduce is Zipcar. When walking and taking the bus just won’t do it, this may be the answer. Zipcar is a rental car service and has a WCU campus location. In the parking lot by Lawrence there are two cars that can be reserved with a Zipcar membership and an hourly fee. All the information is on their website and as a member myself, I highly recommend it!