Updated: Aug 26, 2019
by Sarah Minos
Entering the gates of Western can be a magical moment for most. The large buildings, that beautiful hill that stands in the middle of campus, and, of course, the geese that seem to patrol every corner. You’d think: “Wow, this place is amazing! How could I ever want to leave? I’ve got everything I need right here!”
Western has many areas to visit–a grocery store, a bookstore, and countless places to grab a cup of coffee. However, when you enter the gates of Western, you’re not only a part of the university, you’re a part of London.
So, here are six recommended hot spots that are outside of the university bubble. These places are fun to enjoy and will make you a true London Local in no time. My challenge for you, a first-year Western student, is to visit every single one of these places before April comes around!
1. City Lights Bookshop
A bookworm’s haven. This used bookshop has been open since 1975 and has never failed to have so many books to choose from. I’ve even noticed them running out of shelf space and having to put books on stools, which is incredible because the entire store is made of shelves.
The first time I visited this shop, I genuinely spent three hours browsing. Time doesn’t exist in this store–just you and the pages of everything imaginable. Even if you aren’t exactly the reader type, I still really recommend checking this place out. It’s a perfect Sunday activity, and you’d be surprised to see what sorts of treasures you can find.
2. Covent Garden Market
It’s not quite like the Covent Garden in London, England, but it’s still adorable. Covent Garden Market has everything from local produce and around-the-world eats to tea, plants, and stunning handmade artisan gifts! This amazing market has so many trinkets and things to look at that are locally made, making it perfect for dorm room decorations. Also, as if this place isn’t cute enough, there are tables upstairs where you can sit down to enjoy a meal or a cup of coffee, or just hang out with friends – plus free Wi-Fi makes it an amazing study spot! Be sure to take in the pretty view looking out onto downtown.
3. Spageddy Eddy’s
If you’re obsessed with carbs, like me, and love cheap stuff, also like me, then you have to go to iconic London establishment: Spageddy Eddy’s. Here, you’ll find the biggest bowl of pasta you can imagine for $10. This place is remarkable with its delicious food and very unique vibe. I’m not going to say anything else because you need to go and eat a bowl of pasta ASAP.
4. Museum London
We have a museum in London?! You can visit the museum and check out the displays of art and artifacts they have to offer. Hours vary on the day, so make sure to check out their website for ticket prices and when you should head on down. They’ve also got exhibits going on all of the time which cater to every student around. The museum is a fun way to spend the day, so I highly recommend taking a bus downtown to check out what it has to offer.
5. The Rec Room
Located in Masonville Mall, the Rec Room is full of the nostalgic arcade games that shaped our childhood. This is the perfect way to spend a Friday night with a bunch of friends, grab some food and game tokens, and try to win that giant plush Yoshi that you’ve been eyeing. Like City Lights Bookshop, time ceases to exist at the Rec Room. I’ve spent hours at the Rec Room without spending much cash at all. I highly recommend checking this place out; it’s super fun and has a very cool atmosphere.
Oh, but I’ve gotta mention that after 11pm, it’s 19+. So, make sure to have your ID on you or make plans for afterwards.
6. Hiking Along the Thames
You’ve definitely seen it by now, that river that flows through campus, under the bridge by the north end. It’s actually quite enjoyable to hike along the river, and the best part, it’s free! There are trails all around it, so if you’re on campus, you can head to the University Bridge and begin your outdoor adventure. The hike is nice to do in both winter and summer! This is the perfect study break, and also a great way to get some fresh air and unwind.
London is full of things to do outside of campus. Have fun exploring, and I wish you all the best in your first year!