Ever get the feeling there’s nothing new to do on campus during the weekends? Are you sick of the usual beer pong at the frat quad, or the lame attempts to get action at the latest party, or feeling as though there’s no option but chatting on America Online Instant Messenger all night?

Well, you’re right. There is no other option. You should’ve seen it coming when you chose to go to school in Rochester, N.Y. The campus isn’t exciting, and neither is the city. So, since the obvious answers don’t supply any amount of entertainment whatsoever, try the next best thing ? a weekend travel getaway with you and your buddies. If you think you’ve reached the boredom breaking point, I’m here with some nearby travel destinations to salvage your weekend and sanity.

Any upperclassmen that has not yet visited the magnificent Niagara Falls should do some serious self-evaluation. Granted, majestic natural beauty isn’t of the greatest importance to the average college student. But, if you’re under 21 and can’t find anyone to buy you alcohol, Niagara Falls is the perfect excuse for the parents as to why you spent the weekend in Canada. Niagara Falls, Canada has everything a college student is looking for ? alcohol and gambling ? not to mention what many consider one of the greatest natural wonders of the world.

There is a plethora of restaurants, bars, gift shops, the Casino Niagara and other attractions on Clifton Hills, the main strip on the Canadian side ? ruefully coined “the street of fun at the falls.” For those of you interested in the Falls itself, you won’t be disappointed. The possibilities for viewing settings are endless ? day, night, rain, sun, snow, laser light shows, fireworks, etc.

Whether you’re at the Falls-river meeting point or looking down from the tourist balconies, the sight is beautiful. Other options include the popular Maid of the Mist boat ride, taking you straight into the heart of the falls, and the popular helicopter tours, giving the passengers an aerial view they won’t soon forget.

Overnight accommodations are easy to plan as well. There is an abundance of hotels in the area, most of which have a shuttle bus or public transportation taking you straight to the tourist points.

Directions are also easy, with the American side located just 20 minutes from the nearby thruway exit, making the trip only 60 to 90 minutes from campus.

Maybe the whole tourist attraction thing isn’t your scene, but nature is. Well luckily for you, Letchworth State Park is half the distance and half the crowd. According to the Wyoming County Travel Guide, the park is open year round, and has special allure for each season.

Activites include hot air ballooning, white water rafting, camping, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, two swimming pools, nature programs, cabin rentals and Mt. Morris Dam guided tours. Winter adds snowmobiling, cross country skiing, sleigh rides and snow tubing to the list of outdoor activities. Ice crystals and snowy ledges bring brilliance to the 600-foot deep gorge and waterfalls.

Visitors can dine or stay at the Glen Iris Inn overlooking the Upper Falls, or explore Native American history at the Letchworth Museum or the Seneca Indian Council House.

For the outdoor lovers on this campus, Letchworth State Park is a nearby haven with the number of varying activities it contains. Located only 35 miles south of Rochester, it’s easily accessible from I-390.

Perhaps outdoor activities aren’t your thing and you’re aching to experience the city life again. Well, if that’s the case, Cleveland, Ohio is just a short three and a half hour drive away.

Despite being the closest major U.S. city to campus, it tends to escape students minds in way of New York City, Boston, and other more popular destinations. But for those of you who find the energy to make the trek, won’t be disappointed.

There have been quite a few major changes to the city of Cleveland within the last 10 years. The Lake Erie waterfront area has been completely renovated for the convenience of visitors and tourists. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is still in its first decade of existence, as is Jacobs Field, home of the Cleveland Indians. If you haven’t visited Cleveland in the last seven or eight years, you’ll be quite pleasantly surprised by the renovations that have taken place throughout the city.

If rock ‘n roll and baseball don’t do it for you, perhaps nightclubs and amusement parks do. Cleveland, like many other of its assets, is not known by the popular crowd for its nightclubs, but is voted by reviewers every year as one of the top American destinations for dancing.

Cedar Point, located in Sandusky, Ohio, a short 45-minute drive from Cleveland, is year in and year out voted one of the top amusement parks in the country. It is well known for variety with its 14 different roller coasters, the most of any park in the world. The most famous of these roller coasters is Millennium Force, the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world.

Finding a hotel in downtown Cleveland is about as easy as it comes, with accommodations that compete with those of New York City or Washington, D.C. without the same crowd. Obviously planning ahead is advisable, but if spontaneity is your thing, finding a room on the spot shouldn’t be much of a hassle.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas on how to rid yourself of the boredom one must reside with in beautiful Rochester. Whether it be sightseeing in Niagara Falls, outdoor activities in Letchworth State Park or the city life of Cleveland, there’s something nearby for all tastes and pleasures. So the next time you’re invited to a Towers party or have no upcoming plans at all, bribe the person with the car who nobody actually likes, but gets you places to bring you and a few of your friends to one of the exciting locations described above. And maybe for just a few days we can see that smile you once had that Rochester has shamefully taken away from you.

Pal can be reached at spal@campustimes.org.



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