Eoin, one of our summer interns, grew up in Oberlin, so he's our expert in everything about this hamlet: the town, the festivals, the people, the best smoothies, the best brunch, etc. Here he gives you a tour of his favorite places to hang out in town and on campus!
As anyone in Oberlin will tell you, Oberlin has a number of wonderful features, both on the campus as well as in the downtown area. Many of these features are well known, including DeCafe smoothies, Feve Brunch and the Reservoir. However, as someone who has lived in the town of Oberlin for 17 years now, I'd like to think I have the inside scoop of the hidden gems of Oberlin. That's why I have compiled a list of my favorite destinations/activities on campus and in the town that tend to be not-so-well known. Without further ado:
The 7 Wonders of Oberlin: Oberlin's Hidden Gems
1. Look into the heavens on the Peters Observatory Deck
Ever notice that big green hub cap on the top of Peters? Did you know that it was a giant telescope or did you think Hogwarts had a big ol' green wizard hat? Even if you knew correctly, did you know that the astronomy staff holds public viewing sessions that are free to anyone? This might have been one of my favorite activities to do on a clear summer night growing up in Oberlin, and I highly encourage it to anyone who is just a little curious about peering into the night sky to see the wonders of the universe. Occasionally, a member of the astronomy faculty may either stumble upon a unique cluster of stars, a nebula or even a distant galaxy. Other times they may have found that Neptune will be in its clearest view in 40 years. Whatever the reason may be, the astronomy staff are awesome for allowing others the ability to look into the depths of space.
2. Get your organic fix at the Oberlin Market
Oberlin is all about being organic and fresh when it comes to food and everyone knows that Oberlin's restaurants do a fairly good job of serving fresh, local and organic food. Among these establishments, one tends to go quietly unnoticed. Behind The Feve in the salmon-colored house lives the Oberlin Market, Oberlin's only organic food market. The Oberlin Market is great if you're looking to buy groceries, get some snacks, or even dine in at the bakery and cafe. Oberlin Market is stocked with all organic, local, and fair trade foods. To find out more information about the market, check out their website.
3. Speaking of eating, head to the Rathskeller
The Rathskeller, located just next to DeCafe, is one of those places that everyone knows exists, but very few have taken it up on all it has to offer. In addition to the amount of food you can get for the price of a sandwich at Decafe, the Rathskeller is one of the best places on campus to go meet up with friends, study groups, or even professors. Many students take the time to take their professors out for lunch either to talk about assignments or just talk about life. And in my opinion, the food is better compared to most other places on campus. Open from 11am to 2pm on weekdays.
I've been working with CDS for the last 2 years now, and just recently, the CDS management promoted me to go work up at the SkyBar. The SkyBar is located in the joint section between the Conservatory and Kohl, the jazz building. While working my first two shifts, a thought dawned on me: How come no one studies up here? It seemed like only Conservatory students came through to get a cup of coffee and sit down for a few minutes, transcribing music or listening to audio recordings. The windows make for great views and the natural sunlight entering the building makes for a great aesthetic, and although it is a bit far from the rest of the college campus, it is well worth the extra 3-5 minute walk from Mudd. Come get coffee and a bagel, put your headphones in, and study efficiently in a beautiful space.
5. In regards to studying, have you been inside of the Environmental Studies Building?
I'd like to think everyone loves the great outdoors. Unfortunately in the winter months in Ohio, it's harder to experience them as much. That's why, when the cold does strike Oberlin, the Environmental Studies Building becomes my study spot of choice. The clean air, the natural sunlight and the waterfall all provide the sensory experience of being outside in the summertime (if you try hard enough to imagine it...). While the building is small and does not hold many people, few people tend to use it for studying purposes, so you can bank on it being fairly quiet. If the noise does become a bit overwhelming, head inside one of the classroom or seminar rooms and enjoy the aesthetic of the building in tranquil silence.
6. Miss your dog/cat? Town shops have you covered!
If you're like me and have a dog/cat at home, it usually doesn't take long for the homesickness to set in once we're off at college. Soon enough you're telling your friends how much you miss your loving companion back home. If only there were some way to get your fix... Luckily, the town provides a few ways for you to spend time with a friendly face that'll help you cope with that separation anxiety.
First, the Ginko Gallery on Main Street, in addition to an art supplies shop, also doubles as a kitten rescue shelter and nursery in the back room. Students and community members alike frequent the nursery to play with the kittens and even feed them at the appropriate times. Although this isn't as much of a "hidden gem" necessarily, as a pet owner myself, I highly encourage anyone who does want to spend a little time with a furry friend to go check it out.
If you're more of a dog person, no need to worry. Every year in Tappan Square, the Doggy Doo parade and festival attracts everyone missing their dog to gather in the square to play, walk and snuggle with several different types of dogs/puppies. The event is sponsored by a number of rescue organizations around northeast Ohio that bring their rescue dogs that are put up for adoption. Members of the town are also encouraged to bring their own dogs to the square for a variety of events including dog shows and parades.
Photo from the Chronicle Telegram, Elyria
In addition, the Carlyle Shop downtown has not one, but TWO Border Collies inside the shop who are eager to play with college students missing their own dogs. The owners of the shop are incredibly kind people who enjoy the company of anyone who comes into their shop. Great shop, great people, great dogs.
7. Kim's Diner: quick and delicious meals to go
The last of the 7 wonders on this list is literally a "hidden" gem in Oberlin. Located behind Slow Train and Cowhaus is Kim's Grocery and Restaurant, a small shop which at first seems like it would blend in with everything else. However, Kim's has become my favorite place in town to get a quick meal at a decent price. It took me until May to even step foot into the restaurant, to give you an idea of how hidden from plain sight it really is! While it has become a more popular choice among college students, it still does not get enough credit or attention. My personal recommendation: The Bulgogi and Kimchi Fried Rice.