For this post, I reached out to my fellow Instagram followers, and asked them about what they wanted to know more about/what their ideas were for my next post. I think it is important to let my readers have a say, rather than me coming up with topics all the time that I may just be speaking aimlessly about. The question I selected for this post from a fellow Gustie, is “What are some activities to do on the weekends or in spare time?
We are at the time of the year where it is becoming hard to find different things to do because of the lingering snow, leaving us with options such as Netflix, going to Dunkin more times than an average person would, or drinking certain beverages that make you regret it in the morning. While all of that is great, it can get a little old. It also doesn’t help when St. Peter isn’t exactly a place known to travel to on the weekends, unless you’re dying for an Arby’s roast beef sandwich, or a Kwik Trip chicken sammie. With that being said, here are ten ways to switch up your weekends and venture out off campus.
1. Mall Of America
I’m just going to go ahead and get this obvious one out of the way. Being someone who lives 10 minutes away from MOA, I never realized how intriguing it was to people here at school, or anyone outside of the cities. But thinking on it more, the mall actually is a great place to go on the weekend because it has something for everyone. First, a little retail therapy is never bad, except when going into Lululemon, looking at a price tag, and realizing your dreams of new leggings will remain a dream. Second, the amusement park. Who ever put an age limit on rollercoasters? If you feel like you are hitting rock bottom this semester, Spongebob’s Rock Bottom Plunge is the ride for you. My brother and his college buds made a trip to ride some rides every year, and honestly, I think it’s more fun to do that as we get older just because it is something different. Third, the mirror maze. If you want to feel confusion like you never have before, and see yourself from angles you have never seen, and wished you’d never seen before, give this a go! Fourth, I love all the food choices. Cadillac Ranch is my favorite restaurant in the mall, not just because the food is top notch, but also because of the mechanical bull, and the photobombing staff. If none of this sounds appealing, the people watching opportunities are like no other.
A weekend must, is to brunch. If you love brunch as much as I do to the point where you also use it as a verb rather than a noun, then this one is for you. To my Gusties, the Nicollet Cafe does brunch well, but what if I told you it could get even better? The first place I highly recommend making the trip to for brunch is “The Mason Jar”, also for being conjoined to “Cupcake” in Eagan. This place has been featured many places because the owners originally opened “Cupcake” after winning the baking competition “Cupcake Wars.” I have the privilege of living in walking distance from this place, and have seen it grow from a tiny shop selling pretty cupcakes, to a restaurant that serves amazing brunch that includes any kind of trendy dish you can imagine. My favorites are their egg scrambles, as well as their breakfast quesadilla, but there are so many more unique creations such as a breakfast hot dish (not casserole) and breakfast pizza. Best part? Finish it off with literally any flavor of a cream filled award winning cupcake. The second place I recommend, is “The Hilltop” in Edina. While it is in the land of the cake eaters, I promise you it is worth entering that territory for their build your own omelettes, breakfast potatoes, anything from the griddle, and their interesting sandwich combinations. Those who brunch know when it is done well, and this is one of those places that NEVER screw it up. It is a tiny little building notched up on a hill, which makes for a cool little atmosphere. Lastly, Valley Diner in Apple Valley. When I say diner, it really is. What makes this place great is all the unique omelette combinations. Ever had a Gyro omelette, chili omelette, or chicken fajita omelette? Didn’t think so. They’ve also got all the flavors of pancakes (coconut, strawberry, blueberry, chocolate chip), french toast (raspberry fritter, Pb&J, cinnamon crunch), and waffles that you can imagine. Hungry yet?
When I say go to Uptown, it is pretty broad, because there is lots to do and see there. Depending on the time of the year, the Chain of Lakes is always a big to do whether that be walking, biking, or just enjoying. My friends and I had a great time having a picnic by one of the lakes (picnic=pick up Punch Pizza). If watching a big body of water, or melting ice, isn’t for you, it is never too cold for window shopping while eating ice cream from Milkjam (home of the Jam Bun: ice cream in between two Glam Doll Donuts). You can even get adult (21+) ice cream, and in between donuts? Doesn’t get better than that. But really, Uptown is known for its night life, and the fact that it is mostly home to us younger folks which keeps the area “hip”. One of my most memorable experiences was going to Chino Latino and drinking out of a pineapple (it was THE “IN” THING during high school). Other popular places are their rooftop patios, Stellas, and of course the Pourhouse where a lot of music and events are held. There are lots of things to do in Uptown, you just have to find them.
4. Go to the Movies
I’m sure the person who asked this question was expecting more than me telling them to go to a movie theater. Before college, my family would go to the movies every week, but once I’m on the hill, I don’t even know what movies are playing. Sometimes, you never realize how much you enjoy a low key weekend, and that is totally ok! Going to the movies with friends is a happy medium between being social, and couch surfing while watching Netflix. One of the things my friends and I like to do to spice things up a bit is to see what ridiculous snacks we can sneak in without getting caught. So far, I have witnessed a whole pizza, Olive Garden, a DQ cake, and a family size bag of Sun Chips (the crinkly bag kind, that takes talent). You don’t have to make a whole day out of a weekend adventure because sometimes all you need is a solid two hours.
5. “Fancy” Night Out
This is one of those things that probably only needs to happen once. Have you ever gotten all fancy and went out to a really expensive restaurant, just to order something that doesn’t seem like it should cost $20 a plate? One thing I have come to find is that college students like cheap food, and feel a serious rush when defying social norms. I stole this idea from my brother and his friends because it looked too fun not to do on a weekend. Get a group of friends together, dress up all nice; suit and tie, or sexy dress, and go to your local McDonalds, Culvers, Taco Bell, Dominos, Jimmy Johns etc. While this may sounds insanely stupid, it is a great time with friends that doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet, and I promise you will never forget the stares you receive. There is power in numbers, so embrace the awkwardness, and the happy meal that you don’t want to actually admit is better than any $20 burger.
6. Campus Team Find
Don’t feel like going off campus this weekend, but also don’t feel like ending the night with the porcelain throne? Who said that night games aren’t for college students? For sorority, we participated in a team find. Being a group that is naturally overly competitive (we weren’t even competing for a prize, just bragging rights), this was one of the highlights of the year. The team find included running (literally, many miles) all over campus doing weird things, taking pictures of it, and of course, trying to keep teamwork in tact while yelling at each other to stop pulling up the rear. While it was kept PG ,as it should be for the most part, crab walking through the caf during the busy time of dinner was quite the experience. Other tasks we did were knock on a dorm room door of a stranger and ask if we could lay on their floor, try to make a half court shot, and take pictures with every statue on campus (there’s a lot at Gustavus). Just weird quirky things like that, as ridiculous as they may sound, are actually really fun. The best part was when time started to run out, we had to get creative and find loop holes. This included squeezing too many people into a car in order to get back to the starting point, which resulted in one of our sisters almost falling out as we took a very sharp (and fast) turn on ring road. Good thing campus safety wasn’t around! It is the most off the wall, downright weird, borderline unsafe college experiences that are the ones that we end up telling years from now.
7. Exercise Class
For those who know me and my passion for fitness, I can’t go a weekend without getting my workout in. A majority of people have the hardest time mustering up the motivation to work out on the weekend. That’s why you should try something new and out of the ordinary! Go to an actual yoga studio like Corepower in St. Paul, then follow it up with insta worthy overpriced smoothies. Yes, guys can do yoga, too, and I promise you will be knocked off your yoga pedestal by the end of a session. Part of the fun is knowing that you very well may make a fool out of yourself, and being totally ok with it. You know those Facebook events that pop up such as Yoga at Target Field, Goat Yoga, Aerial Yoga, Spin Classes, Color Runs, Bubble Runs, or even pole dancing exercise classes? We all know that they would be fun, but we never do them! I mean come on, who wouldn’t want a pygmy goat to jump on their back while doing downward dog? Get a group and do it!
8. Best *insert food here* Hunt
Don’t deny it, we all have a certain food or drink that we drive a lot longer than we should in order to get it. Make a day out of finding a place that makes the best version of you and your friends’ favorite apps or meals because chances are, it will bring you good food, and some pretty cool little places to see. One good one to start with is malts and shakes. Yes, Shamrock shakes are back at Micky D’s, but it will never compare to a true malt or shake (and if you think otherwise, you need to just step back and re evaluate your sense of taste). I’ve heard of people going on hunts for the best cheese curds, pizza, ice cream, or in my family’s case, fruit cake, but a malt hunt will take you to some great places. The first place I loved going to growing up was Annie’s Parlour on the U of M campus. It was tradition to go here after every gymnastics meet and order a chocolate shake. I always told myself I could finish it every time, and spilled it because the big ice cream clump at the bottom would make my glass overflow from coming out too fast as I poured. Annie’s is fun to go to not just because of the malt, but because it is located on the second floor of an old building, overlooking campus. Not to mention, the food is good too! Being in a college town can really make everything more interesting sometimes. The second place I recommend taking your malt hunt to, is The Malt Shop in Minneapolis. It is a very close call between the two, but I am still a shake fan while my family remains malt fans. The malt hunt isn’t even about the malts, it is about these two places that are like nothing anything you’ve probably been to before. Have you ever wondered what it was like to use the bathroom in the same room, and at the same time, as the opposite gender? Go to The Malt Shop to find out.
9. Gymnastics Open Gym
This one may be a bit biased, but I guarantee that at least once in every person’s life, they have wanted to run an jump into the foam cube pit, or feel what it is like to walk on a springy floor. Guys are usually the first to say no to open gym, but once they get into the open gym, they are the last to leave. I am always fascinated about how fearless these guys get as they literally hurl themselves with no idea what they are doing into the pit, off the beam, into walls, over things, in between things…I could go on. Open gyms are great for releasing energy, stress, being competitive with friends, learning something new, or going back to childhood memories by bouncing on the trampoline for hours. It is great to feel like you can fly, and are invincible for a couple hours.
10. Roomie Grocery Haul
As those who are dedicated readers know, I always say it is the little things that count! I know I can’t speak for everyone, but between me and my roommate’s schedules, it is hard to spend quality time with each other. Going grocery shopping and planning meals to make together for the week is a great way to catch up, relax, and try to be proactive to see each other. Nothing solidifies a future movie night like buying the jumbo size bag of Skinny Pop. Grocery hauls aren’t glamorous; they usually consist of sweatpants, questionable footwear, and basically screams “it’s been a long week.” I like going to the store with my roomies because it really is never a dull moment. Between leaping down the aisles, trying to pick the bottom apple without the whole display falling, and making fun of every product that has a questionable name such as “meat chunks,” it is a productive, yet great way to relieve Sunday scaries. Psychology tells us that food is social, and instantly makes us happy, therefore, it is impossible to not have a fun time together while pacing aisles of happy snacks. As a college student, I can affirm that fruit snacks, and goldfish crackers make us happier more than any five year old ever could be. Something about being with each other in a totally normal and casual setting, deciding what’s left to get on the list, and pretending things aren’t dairy free, can be just what you need and you didn’t know it.
Weekends at college don’t have to be always the two extremes; do nothing, or do everything. They don’t have to fit stereotypes, expectations, or age groups. Weekends are meant to catch up on rest, but find things to do that aren’t harmful to your health or keep you isolated. It’s good to switch things up every once in a while, and it’s little things that are new such as sipping a malt, dressing up for a $3 meal, running through flying colors, watching people at the mall, making fun of a can at a grocery store, flailing in foam cubes, drinking out of an expensive pineapple, and trying a fajita omelette that will spice up your life more than you think.
Thanks for the question, I will continue to do Q & A from time to time! For now, it’s time to plan your weekend!