Back to school time is right around the corner. Let’s get to class and take a look at some of the college towns that have made it on the Pack Up + Go destination list. Keep reading for great recommendations for activities + places to eat while you are in town.

Whether you are going back to school yourself or just stopping by for a visit, you will find plenty of fun things to explore!

Written by Christina Potenza

Image Courtesy of    Southern Kitchen

Image Courtesy of Southern Kitchen

Colleges + Universities:

Grab a Bite:

Iron Paffles and Coffee: Never heard of a Paffle before? It’s pastry dough cooked in a waffle iron to make a unique + delicious treat. At Iron Paffles + Coffee, they use Paffles to make delicious breakfast sandwiches, choose between sweet and savory options to satisfy any cravings you may have. 

($) 214 W Water St Charlottesville, VA 22902

Mon-Wed: 7AM-3PM, Thu-Sun: 7AM-8PM

Brazos Tacos: Brazos Tacos is a great spot to stop in for a quick + casual lunch in Charlottesville! Their tacos have unique but delicious fillings and they even have some vegan + vegetarian options available! At Brazos, you buy each taco individually so you can pick a couple of different tacos with different fillings to make a complete meal!

($) 925 2nd St Charlottesville, VA 22902

Mon-Wed: 7AM-8PM, Thu-Sat: 7AM-9PM, Sun: 8AM-3PM

Oakhart Social: Oakhart Social is a great place if you are  looking for a date-night spot or looking to enjoy a nice dinner with friends. Their well-crafted menu is designed to combine delicious flavors for a meal that will leave you wanting more. The best part of Oakhurst Social? It is designed with the shared experience in mind making it a great place to enjoy a meal with friends + family! Both reservations and walk ins are welcome.

($$) 511 W Main St Charlottesville, VA 22903

Sun-Thu: 5PM-12AM, Fri+Sat: 5PM-2AM

Only in Charlottesville:

Monticello: Thomas Jefferson was one of two presidents to call Charlottesville home. Make a visit to Monticello, Jefferson’s historic home and learn about American history + the founding of the United States!

931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy Charlottesville, VA 22902

Sun-Thu: 8:30AM-6PM, Fri: 8:30AM-5PM, Sat: 8:30AM-7PM

Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection: The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection at the University of Virginia is the only museum outside of Australia dedicated to the exhibition + study of Indigenous Australian art. Even if you aren’t an art-fanatic you are going to want to be sure to stop by and take a look at this unique + historic collection.

400 Worrell Dr Charlottesville, VA 22911

Tue-Sat: 10AM-4PM, Sun: 1PM-5PM

Image Courtesy of the    University of Michigan

Image Courtesy of the University of Michigan

Colleges + Universities:

Grab a Bite:

Northside Grill: Northside Grill is a family-owned + operated diner that is a great place to get breakfast while in Ann Arbor. Be sure to try the Michigan Pure Maple Syrup with your meal!

($$) 1015 Broadway St Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Open Daily: 7AM-3PM

NeoPapalis: In the mood for pizza? Head over to NeoPapalis to grab some of the best pizza in Ann Arbor. Their pizza dough is allowed to raise for at least 3 days and their ingredients are fresh to create a delicious, soul-warming meal.

($) 500 E William St Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Sun-Thu: 11AM-10PM, Fri+Sat: 11AM-11PM

Aventura: Aventura is an authentic tapas bar designed to give diners an authentic Spanish dining experience right in Ann Arbor! Known for their paella, they are definitely worth a visit while in Ann Arbor!

($$) 216 E Washington St Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Open Daily: 3PM-12AM

Only in Ann Arbor:

Matthaei Botanical Gardens: The Matthaei Botanical Gardens are a fun + beautiful place to explore while you are in Ann Arbor. Whether you explore the gardens, take a peaceful walk along one of the trails, or enjoy the artwork, you are going to have a wonderful time at the Botanical Gardens!

1800 N Dixboro Rd Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Sun-Tue: 10AM-4:30PM, Wed: 10AM-8PM, Thu-Sat: 10AM-4:30PM

Graffiti Alley: Graffiti Alley is unlike anything you will find anywhere else and if you are a fan of street art you aren’t going to miss it! Walk along and admire the cool graffiti and maybe stop and take a few pictures while you are there!

521 E Liberty St Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Image Courtesy of    Cornell Law School

Image Courtesy of Cornell Law School

Colleges + Universities:

Grab a Bite:

Collegetown Bagels: If you ask students in Ithaca their favorite place to grab a quick breakfast, they are going to suggest you check out Collegetown Bagels! Stop in and get a bagel or a sandwich in the morning to start out your day in Ithaca.

($) 415 College Ave Ithaca, NY 14850

Open Daily: 6:30AM-2AM

Allechant: If you are ready for lunch or maybe you would prefer a more traditional dining setting for breakfast or brunch, head over to Allechant. This cafe is a beautiful + cozy place to enjoy a great meal! They are cash only so be sure to visit the ATM before you stop in!

903 Hanshaw Rd Ste 13 Ithaca, NY 14850

Tue-Fri: 8:30AM-2:30PM, Sat: 9AM-2:30PM, Sun: 10AM-2PM

Saigon Kitchen: After a busy day of exploring you are going to want something delicious to eat for dinner. Saigon Kitchen is a Vietnamese restaurant with a large menu with plenty of options for you to enjoy in their modern but relaxing venue.

($$) 526 W State St Ithaca, NY 14850

Tue-Thu: 11:30AM-9:30PM, Fri+Sat: 11:30AM-10PM, Sun: 11:30AM-9:30PM

Only in Ithaca:

Cascadilla Gorge Trail: Ithaca is a great place to visit if you love nature! Check out the Cascadilla Gorge Trail to get beautiful views of upstate New York + the gorgeous waterfalls in Ithaca!

Linn St Ithaca, NY 14850

Gourdlandia: If like shopping + unique experiences head over to Gourdlandia to check out some handcrafted gourd-art. More than just a pumpkin, you won’t even recognize these beautifully crafted gourds. Go check it out for yourself!

77 Rachel Carson Way Ithaca, NY 14850

Mon-Fri: 11AM-5PM, Closed Sat + Sun

Image Courtesy of    Southern Living

Image Courtesy of Southern Living

Colleges + Universities:

Grab a Bite:

Dame’s Chicken and Waffles: While you are in the South you are going to want to get some chicken and waffles! At Dame’s they have a bunch of different chicken and waffles options to choose from! Don’t worry if chicken and waffles aren’t your thing, they have plenty of other options for you to choose from!

($$) 530 Foster St Durham, NC 27701

Mon: 10AM-4PM, Tue-Thu: 10AM-9PM, Fri: 10AM-10PM, Sat: 9AM-10PM, Sun: 9AM-4PM

Toast: If you are looking for a light + unique lunch while in Durham, check out Toast! Toast is an authentic paninoteca (an authentic Italian sandwich shop) that serves all of your favorite sandwiches + some you never would have thought to try before.

($$) 345 W main St Durham, NC 27701

Mon: 11AM-3PM, Tue-Fri: 11AM-8PM, Sat: 11AM-3PM, Closed Sun

Jack Tar and the Colonel’s Daughter: Although they are open all day, Jack Tar and the Colonel’s Daughter is definitely a great place to stop in for dinner! Whether you choose the squash dumplings, fried chicken, or breakfast for dinner, you won’t leave hungry! Be sure to take a look at their drink menu + try one of their house cocktails!

($$) 202 Corcoran St Durham, NC 27701

Sun-Thu: 8AM-10PM, Fri+Sat: 8AM-12AM

Only in Durham:

Duke University Lemur Center: You aren’t going to want to miss the Lemur Center at Duke University while you are visiting Durham! At the Duke Lemur Center, they have 230 Lemurs across 16 difference species making it the world’s largest and most diverse population of lemurs outside of their native Madagascar! Go + explore the center and learn about lemurs, their natural habitat, and endangered species!

3705 Erwin Rd Durham, NC 27705

Mon-Fri: 9AM-4PM, Sat+Sun: 10AM-4PM

The Bennett Place State Historic Site: Bennett Place was the location of the largest surrender of the Civil War (almost 90,000 confederate troops surrendered on this site). Stop by for a visit + a tour and learn more about the civil war. This small museum is a great spot for history lovers to check out! 

4409 Bennett Memorial Rd Durham, NC 27705

Tue-Sat: 9AM-5PM; Closed: Sun+Mon

Image Courtesy of    Travel and Leisure

Image Courtesy of Travel and Leisure

Colleges + Universities:

Grab a Bite:

Bon Temps Creole Cafe: If you are looking for a comfort breakfast in San Luis Obispo you are going to find that at Bon Temps! Try an omelette, one of the Old New Orleans breakfast specialties or their absolutely enormous pancakes.

($$) 1819 Osos St San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Open Daily: 7AM-2PM

Big Sky Cafe: Big Sky Cafe is a mediterranean cafe that serves fresh meals including salads + sandwiches that make it a great place to stop in for lunch. They also have a large selection of local wines that you can try out!

($$) 1121 Broad St San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Mon-Thu: 7AM-9PM, Fri: 7AM-10PM, Sat: 8AM-10PM, Sun: 8AM-9PM

1865 Craft House and Kitchen: At 1865 you are going to find a family-friendly atmosphere, a modern venue, and a craft-inspired menu. Head in during Happy Hour (Mon-Fri: 3PM-6PM) For a deal on the 1865 Classic Burger and Beer Combo or half off all flatbreads + a bottle of wine! Even if you don’t make it in time for happy hour, 1865 is still a great place to stop in for dinner + a drink.

($$) 1865 Monterey St San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Mon-Thu: 11AM-10PM, Fri: 11AM-12AM, Sat: 10AM-12AM, Sun: 10AM-10PM

Firestone Grill: Meat-eaters rejoice! Head to the heart of downtown where you can find top-notch BBQ in Central Cali. The portions are large and the menu is plentiful, making sure that everyone can get the grilled delicacy of their choice. Some fan favorites include the seasoned fries, tri-tip sandwich, and the steak Cobb salad. The lunch + dinner rushes can get busy, so if you’re in a hurry, insiders say to order ahead and have it to-go!

($$) 1001 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Sun-Wed: 11AM-10PM, Thurs-Sat: 11AM-11PM

Only in SLO:

Cal Poly Architectural Graveyard: It takes a bit of a hike to get to the “architecture graveyard” but once you get up there you will be glad that you did. This site is filled with old architectural projects created by the students at California Polytechnic State University and looks like an abandoned village out of a Dr. Seuss book. You are going to want to fit in some time to explore this unique site.

Poly Canyon Rd San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

The Dorn Pyramid: You don’t expect to see pyramids outside of Egypt but there is one located right in San Luis Obispo! This unique burial site was constructed by a wealthy lawyer who lost his wife + child during childbirth. If you are looking for something unique to do + like creepy history, check out the Dorn Pyramid!

Oddfellows Cemetery: Higuera St and Elks Lane, San Luis Obispo, California 93401

The Madonna Inn: This motel opened for business in 1958, and it quickly became a landmark on the Central Coast of California. It is known for the striking bright pink interior and delicious baked goods they serve! Why pink? It is said that the original owners thought it was a happy color and wanted to create a space where all visitors could have their moods boosted as soon as they entered. If you stay here, you can choose from a wide variety of colorfully decorated rooms!

100 Madonna Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

Image Courtesy of    The Edgewater

Image Courtesy of The Edgewater

Colleges + Universities:

Grab a Bite:

Ogden’s North Street Diner: Ogden’s is one of the most popular breakfast spots in Madison + for good reason! They have a variety of breakfast options that will satisfy any of your cravings! Try to arrive early because they do get crowded.

($$) 560 North St Madison, WI 53704

Mon+Wed-Fri: 7AM-2:30PM, Sat+Sun: 8AM-2PM, Closed Tue

Casetta Kitchen and Counter: Casetta Kitchen is conveniently located just a few blocks from the Wisconsin State Capitol, museums, parks, and shopping making it an easy place to stop in for lunch in the middle of a day of adventures. This Italian American Deli has sliced-to-order deli meats, homemade toppings, and fresh baked breads to create a sandwich that will leave you wanting more!

($$) 22 W Washington Ave Ste 30 Madison, WI 53703

Mon-Fri: 7:30AM-4PM, Sat: 9AM-2:30PM

A Pig in a Fur Coat: If you are looking for a nice dinner spot in Madison, look no further than A Pig in a Fur Coat. With a menu packed with delicious comfort foods like duck fat fries, poutine, ravioli, and cheesecake you are sure to have a great meal! They also have a large beer + wine menu including a selection of house cocktails if you feel like getting a drink!

($$$) 940 Williamson St Madison, WI 53703

Mon-Wed: 4PM-10PM, Thu: 4PM-10:30PM, Fri+Sat: 4PM-11PM

Only in Madison:

Geology Museum: If you love Dinosaurs or are just interested in checking out a cool museum, head over to the Geology Museum at the University of Wisconsin. Look through their large collection (120,000 specimens) of fossils, gems, and rocks + learn about the different species that inhabited the area millions of years ago.

1215 W Dayton St Madison, WI 53706

Mon-Fri: 8:30AM-4:30PM, Sat: 9AM-1PM, Sun: Closed

Henry Vilas Park Zoo: The Henry Vilas Zoo is located in the heart of the city + has free admission so you have no reason not to stop in for a visit! Even though the zoo is in the city, it is home to more than 650 animals from across the globe. Never seen an Aardvark, red panda, or a poison dart frog? At the Henry Vilas Zoo you will get your chance!

702 S Randall Ave Madison, WI 53715

Open Daily: 9:30AM-5PM