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Exploring the great outdoors and beyond

Barney's Patio menu on a patio table.
Image Credit: Hannah Theodore

London is full of hidden gems that most students never discover in their time spent in the city. Many might find themselves wondering: besides college and university campuses what else is even here? 

But London is far more than just a city with a bunch of students. If you take the time to do your research and explore, you are bound to come across something that sparks your interest. 

“Live the ultimate student experience by hitting up a patio.”

If you ever find yourself bored in the city and at a loss as to how to fill your free time, here are some different, fun, educational and yummy activities bound to satisfy your varying needs. 

If you want to explore London’s food scene

Live the ultimate student experience by hitting up a patio. Barney’s is open all summer long from 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. downtown, offering pub grub and shareable appetizers perfect for an evening out. 

Barney's Patio sign
Credit: Hannah Theodore

If patios aren’t your thing and you still want the downtown vibe, grab an ice cream and walk around Richmond Row. Open since 2017, Roli Poli Ice Cream Co. is London’s first rolled ice cream shop. Their ice cream flavours are what some may call out of the ordinary— the menu features their signature “Avo-licious,” which is ice cream made fresh from avocado, as well as the “Apple iPie” that uses local apple fritters from The Fritter Shop to form its delicious caramel and cinnamon sugar-vanilla ice cream. 

Two words: Food. Truck. London’s food trucks are amongst the best in the area to offer fresh, unique food to foodies. Check out Rosie’s Streetery’s tacos and quesadillas for what some call the best Mexican food in town or Rocky Mountain Pizza for innovative 'zas and gourmet kebab wraps influenced by a mix of cultures and tastes.

If you want to reset and unwind in the great outdoors

Fanshawe Conservation Area, a five-minute drive from Fanshawe College’s London campus, is a little escape in the midst of the city with so much to offer. Whether it’s a bike ride, a hike through the trails, a picnic in the woods or an overnight camping trip filled with stargazing and s’mores-roasting, finding the time to be one with nature is bound to benefit both the mind and body. 

Interested in a naturalized area great for wildlife viewing? Komoka Provincial Park is open year-round for daytime use, featuring rolling meadows and forests full of hundred-year-old trees. It is located along the scenic Thames River, known for its plentiful species of fish as well as turtles and frogs along the shoreline. 

An outdoor bucket list isn’t complete without a day at the beach. Take a road trip to Port Stanley or Grand Bend for beautiful views and sandy coasts. Just the sound of the waves is sure to ease your mind. 

If you want to grow a green thumb and support local growers

Embrace strawberry season by picking your own, fresh and locally grown berries at Heeman’s farm. Reaching their peak ripeness in June and July, Ontario strawberries are a classic summer flavour perfect for adding to drinks, baking with, or enjoying as is. 

Want to add some new life into your dorm or student house? Pick up a cute new houseplant at a local greenhouse or garden centre. Parkway Gardens, located on Gainsborough Road near Hyde Park, is a great place to stop by to browse and admire the blooms. 

From April through December, Covent Market offers outdoor farmer’s markets in Rotary Square that highlight products of local farmers in Southwestern Ontario. The options are endless— fresh fruits and vegetables, local meats and cheeses, maple syrup, honey, preserves, breads, and baked goods can all be found within a kilometer radius. 

If you want to keep active

If group exercise isn’t your forte and you prefer to exercise solo or with a few friends, join a free Zoom yoga class and head to a local park.

Although some may argue against it, mini golf isn't just for kids. For under $10, you can advance your putting skills at Tin Cup Golf. The course is on a beautiful piece of land with greenery and plenty of space between holes to get your steps in. 

If you want a quick source of entertainment

Walk through the one-of-a-kind outdoor art pieces exhibited on Market Lane. These colourful wall murals take inspiration from London’s scenery, each bringing to life the visions of three talented artists. The pieces tie in many cultural influences together, celebrating the varying wonders of the Forest City.

Hop into your friend’s car and go to a drive-in to enjoy some buttery theatre popcorn and a film. One ticket to The Mustang Theatre can get you entry to two movies in a row. Even if what you end up watching sucks, at least you have popcorn.