College towns are a peek into the youth of America as well as a center of culture, fun sports and great intellect.
The four years of High School go very fast and during this time we see enormous physical, mental and emotional growth in our children. As our children mature, they start to focus on whether or not they want to go onto college and if they do, most importantly, where?!?. For the student, the college search process can be daunting if not approached in a realistic and positive manner. The same holds true from the parent’s perspective in order to make the process, a painless right of passage. There are so many colleges to visit and choose from so why not take advantage and consider it an adventure to explore the city or town of its location. Not only do you get out of dodge, but it’s an excuse to do “due-diligence” on the college. Let’s admit it, if your child decides to spend the next four years there, how enjoyable can the college city or town experience be for the parents?
Recently, I had the privilege to visit my oldest son at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont. It was the end of September and the foliage, although not at its peak, was starting to burst through the mountains of Vermont. We checked into the Swifthouse, a lovely country inn. The rooms were comfortable and beautifully decorated in 1800s charm. Dinner was at the Storm Cafe, a quaint restaurant located on the banks of Otter Creek, with exceptional cuisine. After dinner, we had after-dinner drinks at Two Brothers, an Irish bar/restaurant serving pub fare with a large selection draught beers. The music playing was a combination of classic and alternative rock and the ceiling was plastered with dollar bills each signed by a bar patron. The crowd was a nice mix of students and visitors which made for a lively atmosphere. It was a pleasure to sit back and enjoy the vibe.The next day, we had many options such as the art exhibits, classical music concerts, lectures on current issues and the many sports events scheduled for the day. Since our son is on the football team, we chose to watch the Middlebury College vs. Colby College football game. After socializing at the well organized tailgate, we strolled into Alumni Stadium. The seating was located only on one side of the stadium which allowed for the magnificent Green Mountains of Vermont to showcase their beauty. I thought the foliage was changing colors as we watched the four quarters of the game. The beauty of the scenic mountain background was indescribable. After Middlebury defeated Colby, we went down to the field to congratulate the boys and take pictures against the breathtaking backdrop. The fun continued as the football players joined the team tailgate and shared their stories about the game.
After dropping off the much needed, requested items to our freshman, we had a quick bite at Sabai Sabai Thai Cusine, the only Thai place in town. Sitting by the front window , we saw a good sampling of the coeds at the school. Girls in cute dresses and boots, boys in either under armor, button downs or flannel shirts. All the hotels were completely booked and we had no hotel reservations for the night. So we headed north to Burlington, Vermont, the home of The University of Vermont. A wonderful, clean cut town that boasts one of the best ski teams in the country. UVM, Burlington is situated on the banks of Lake Champlain with New York’s Adirondack mountains in the background. It is the most picturesque school setting I have yet to see. We spent the night imbibing at the local restaurants and bars on or near Church Street. The next morning, after a fun-filled evening in Burlington, with freshly-brewed Speeder & Earl’s coffee in hand, we began the five hour drive home. Having come up the night before, we didn’t notice the hour long ride was mostly along Lake Champlain. Needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise to have the picturesque lake and mountains keep us company as we drove south through Vermont!