Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
As you arrive at Swarthmore, you’ll begin to explore the campus’s large lawns and close amenities without any assignments yet lingering in the air.
However, the hours you spend playing icebreakers in the Rose Garden will feel like a different lifetime when next week comes and you begin scouring McCabe for the right carrel or wondering where you can find food after 6:30 p.m.
To ease the transition, and to offer the advice we wish we’d received as freshmen, the Gazette editors offer this list of our favorite places to study, eat, and squander free time on campus and in Philadelphia.
The daytime crowds at the coffee bars, whether students are getting a refill of coffee or avoiding Sharples’ lunch menu in favor of sushi, slow down in the evening, making Kohlberg and Science Center good candidates when looking for a place to study either alone or in a small group.
And if you prefer a more quiet workspace, you can find an empty seminar room upstairs in Kohlberg or hunt around Science Center’s split-levels for a comfortable lounge (the couches near the computer science laboratories and the table at the bottom of the stairs to the basement are two good starting places).
Another option is Paces Café, behind Essie Mae’s in Clothier Hall – better know as Tarble, where you can spend the evening studying stag or chatting with friends over bottomless one-dollar coffee. The Café, open from 9:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m., Sunday through Wednesday, also offers nightly specials ranging from the pie out of Waitress to burgers, alongside a set menu of snacks and desserts, including milkshakes and nachos.
Paces also houses Pub Nite (hosted by Senior Class Officers) on Thursdays and student-organized parties most Fridays and Saturdays during the semester. If that’s not your scene, just downstairs in the basement of Clothier (yes, you are allowed to walk down the nearly unfindable staircase behind Essie Mae’s prep area), the SCCS Game Pit offers Rock Band, Smash Bros., Mario Kart, and other video games displayed over a new (well, half-year-old) projector.
When Crum Creek and the bamboo grove aren’t offering the escape you need, Philadelphia is just a short train ride from campus. Restaurant Week, an annual Philadelphia tradition, is one good excuse to take the SEPTA to Center City. From September 30 through October 5, and again from October 7 through October 12, over 130 restaurants in Philadelphia offer three-course dinners for 35 dollars per person. Many also have a lunch menu that rings up at 20 dollars per person.
The Free Library of Philadelphia offers an annual calendar of events worthy of the 20-minute commute. This fall’s ticketed lectures, which generally cost 7 dollars to attend, include Junot Díaz (Sept. 29), Wyclef Jean (Oct. 1), Barbara Kingsolver (Nov. 9), Zadie Smith (Nov. 27), and Bob Woodward (Dec. 10, $32), among others. Free programs also occur throughout the fall, most of which are held at the Library’s Central Branch on Vine Street between 19th and 20th Streets.
If you’re looking to put the books down for an evening out, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a staple in Philadelphia’s art scene, while smaller galleries along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, such as the Rodin Museum, offer collections that, if not as vast, feature works by similarly established artists.
On North 7th Street, the Electric Factory is the oldest concert venue in Philadelphia and continues to offer a strong seasonal lineup (upcoming associated acts range from Bruce Springsteen to Tyga) and, if you’re interested in theater, keep an eye on the Telephone Bronco Theater Company, a group founded by several Swarthmore alumni and based in New York and Philadelphia.
Nick Gettino ’13 is Managing Editor (and a former Co-Editor in Chief) at the Gazette. To reach him, email email@example.com.