So you’re starting your freshman year at Albion College. You might be overwhelmed by the Briton pride, the packed halls of Wesley and the plethora of activities your FYE mentors had on your welcome weekend agenda. Let’s get this straight: your first year experience at Albion College will not be anything like your high school friends will have at state schools. You will have to get used to finding your own fun, seeking out Target-equivalents for your everyday needs and grabbing food that isn’t on campus to get out on the town. Here’s a guide that cover all your bases this year:
The Short Stoppe
116 S. Clark St.
This will be your go-to liquor, beer and wine store. The employees are friendly and the prices are some of the cheapest in town. You will find a lot of Michigan brewed beer, especially from local favorite, Dark Horse Brewery in Marshall. The store is located near the Burns Street apartments and it is a short walk from most campus buildings. Although you have to be 21 to buy most of the stuff they sell, you can also pick up snacks and soft drinks.
201 Perry St.
You will find some amazing chicken and fries here. They cook it on a rotisserie in the front of the store. Locals love it, upperclassmen have grown to love it, and you will love it too (if you aren’t vegetarian.) The Snack Shop sells liquor, beer, and wine. They have low prices and a no-fee ATM. Dean Hall, The Goodrich Club, and Wesley are the nearest buildings on campus.
Shell Food Mart
100 E. Michigan Ave.
This gas station is short walk from Wesley, and the best part is that it is open 24-hours. They have a great selection of frozen food, chips and candy and even cleaning products if you are in need. The drink selection is extensive and there is also a slurpee machine. This place is a must for a late night walk during the nice summer months of the semester.
The P.S. Food Mart
101 E. Michigan Ave.
The P.S. is a quintessential part of the Albion convenience store circle. They have a drive-thru, which is quite possibly the most convenient thing ever. The drive-thru is open 24-hours and they will serve you soft drinks, cigarettes and food. They have the only car wash in town, but it does a good job for around $5-10. It is easy to stop for gas here when you are heading onto the expressway from campus. Occasionally, they have bargain bin cigarettes for those who are truly in need of a cheap nicotine fix.
Extra Note: There are several dollar stores in town. As millennials, some of us may have never set foot in such a store. Yes, not everything is a dollar, but it might as well be. You can get pretty much anything you might need here. They sell everything from strange room decor and hoola hoops to stuffed animals and food. If you join greek life second semester, you may find that you need arts and crafts materials for mixer costumes or big/little gifts. These stores will be your savior.
116 S. Superior Street
This is the go-to bar for upperclassmen. If you are lucky enough to be 21 as a freshman or sophomore, then you may find yourself looking for a cheap bar with good food. This place is known for its pizza, fried dough breadsticks, and karaoke night. It is right on main street, across from the Bohm. It is an easy walk from campus, so if you do plan on drinking, you will never need to drive back and forth.
Lopez Taco House
205 N Superior S
A low-key establishment that has very good fried ice cream. They were voted the best place to get tacos in the Jackson area in an MLive reader’s poll in 2014. Their food tastes fresh and they have a very friendly staff. It is a great spot to grab a quick lunch with friends or have a meeting with your academic groups. They aren’t open on Sundays, but stay open until 8:30 p.m. on Monday and until 11 p.m. on Tuesday-Saturday.
Gina’s Pizza and Deli
1313 E Michigan Avenue
Gina’s is a local pizzeria and sandwich shop that has an extensive menu. From “The Best” pizza with broccoli, chicken and olive oil crust to hickory smoked wings, it all tastes great and you can get it delivered to your dorm. Support Albion small businesses and buy your pizza locally.
La Casa Mexicana
1510 North Eaton Street
This place has a fun environment, great deals on liquor, and a satisfactory selection of reasonably priced Mexican-inspired food. A favorite amongst Albion students, La Casa is a go-to food destination for those looking to drink giant margaritas with their meals.
111 W Cass St.
There is a Hungry Howies phone app that makes ordering here a breeze. The app has an extensive list of sub, pizza and breadstick options that are all customizable. You can connect it with a debit/credit card and submit your order for delivery or pick-up. A no-fuss, fast and easy food choice for those looking to share food with friends. They are open until midnight on weekends.
217 E. Michigan Ave
A recent addition to town, Biggby is a great place to get coffee, bagels, muffins, and even greeting cards. The staff is very helpful and are okay with complicated drink orders. You can get a rewards card and every tenth coffee is free. On the main drag so to speak, it is an easy walk from Wesley. It opens early enough for those unlucky few with 8 a.m. classes. Their coffee is on the sweeter side, so keep that in mind when ordering those 500-plus calorie drinks.
Full Moon Restaurant
200 B Dr N
Located on the outskirts of town, near the expressway entrance and exits, this is the perfect low-key breakfast stop. Their menu has all the classic breakfast choices and feels like a local treasure. They open at 6 a.m: a great thing for students squinty-eyed from a hangover or sleep deprived from a late night studying.
1455 N Eaton St
Everyone loves ice cream and those who don’t should consider if they are a real human. Frosty Dan’s ice cream can go toe to toe with even your favorite chain ice cream shop. They are very busy in the summer months and have outdoor seating to eat with friends.
Extra Note: Albion has a few fast food restaurants if you are starving and need food quickly. McDonalds, Arby’s, Subway and Kentucky Fried Chicken all have Albion locations. McDonald’s is open 24-hours and has Powerade on tap. This has proven to be a great boon. Their “dollar” drinks are no longer a dollar anymore, so there is also that to consider.
112 W Cass
Featured in the top 40 disc golf courses in Michigan, the Victory Park course has an A- rating on DiscGolfScene.com with just under 80 reviews. According to PureMichigan, it has an 18-hole course featuring a combination of hilly and wooded holes and challenging water obstacles along the Kalamazoo River. The Park is very expansive, with lots of nooks and crannies to explore along the river. The campus entrance is just beyond the football field and the trails extend to the bridge downtown.
The Whitehouse Nature Center
Considering the land has been put to many uses from 1840 to the present, the diverse 140 acres in the Whitehouse Nature Center will give you lots of opportunities to explore. You can take hikes, photos, canoe or kayak down the river, and even do yoga or paint in the forest. There are a lot of benches throughout to sit on and observe around 170 species of birds. The Albion Foundation has a very insightful guide about the history of the center if you’d like to learn more—or you could ask English Professor Nels Christensen for a guided tour, but don’t tell him you heard it from me.
Rent a Bike
611 E Porter St.
You can rent a bike with your student ID at the front desk in the Kellogg Center. This is a great way to explore the town without the hassle of bringing your bike from home. It is a free service, and you can check the bike out until nightfall. This is a fun activity to do alone or with friends during the warmer months of the school year. There is an extensive collection of dirt roads around campus, and they offer great scenery once the leaves change colors in the fall.
16653 E Michigan Ave
This local bowling alley recently re-opened and is a great spot to grab some beers and go bowling with friends. On greek night, the alley will stay open until midnight or 1 a.m. and have beer and drink specials for students. It also has glow bowling, which features black lights and music. On Saturdays it stays open until midnight and on weeknights it is open until 10 p.m. A great addition to the Albion entertainment scene.
The Bohm Theater
201 S Superior St
The Bohm is an Albion feature that has recently been brought back to life. Originally built in 1929, the theater closed its doors in 2008 and became vacant for several years. Through a huge community effort in 2011, the theater reopened in December 2014 and has maintained a lot of its historic aspects while adding some great modern amenities. Students can go here for free as long as they have a student ID. They switch movies every couple weeks and even have concerts and events on the main stage. Classic and independent films are often shown here as well.
One of the perks of living in a small community is the lack of nighttime light-pollution that many metropolitan areas have. There are a couple great spots on campus and in the community to lay out a blanket with friends and stargaze. The quad, Victory Park, and the back of Wesley are a couple nearby spots to chill out on a clear night. While going to a small school have its downsides, it is times like these that you will appreciate the joy of your tranquil campus.
A lot of your nighttime and daytime activities in Albion will be campus centered. Hanging out with friends is one of the greatest parts of being in college, and you often don’t need to leave campus to find stuff to do. Albion is a small-town but holds within its confines an infinite possibility for fun and adventure.
All photos by Jennifer McDonell