College life can get boring sometimes, especially when you’re broke. So, here is a list of free things to do around University of Western Ontario.
Grab Friends and Hit Victoria Park
Since being established in 1874, Victoria Park has become a significant piece of London’s downtown. The 15-acre park hosts festivals and events throughout the year, especially in the warm summer months (for those sticking around for intersession make sure to hit up Sunfest and Ribfest). Besides being a lovely atmosphere for walking your dog, sitting around chatting with friends or sunbathing on the grass, the park also features a war memorial, shelled bandstand, a cenotaph and an outdoor ice skating rink in the winter. The park is open to the public from 6 a.m. until sunset with no admission fee. (However, if you are planning on attending any of the festivals be sure to bring some cash – the food and boutique shops are always amazing!)
Visit a Dog Park (No Dog Required)
London is home to a handful of these magical spaces created to give dogs and their owners a safe, open area to exercise and socialize in. Stoney Creek Off-Leash Dog Park is a short 5 minute drive from Western’s campus and it is London’s second largest off-leash area. This park is surrounded by the trees and meadows of the Stoney Creek area and offers dog owners an open space as well as trails for exercising and playing in a natural space. If you don’t have a dog, take a friend’s off their hands for a playdate or just go on a weekend (when the parks are generally busiest) and ask some owners if you can play with their pups! The parks are open to the public year-round from 6 am – 10 pm (dusk).
Do Some Good
Volunteering is an activity that can benefit your community and make you feel good at the same time, so why not? London has a variety of different volunteer opportunities available for those who are looking to clock some hours. From the Food Bank to the Humane Society to the Ronald McDonald House, there is surely something available for everyone. Make sure to call ahead and ask them when they are looking for volunteers before heading out to give back!
Read a Book at the Public Library
Residents of London as well as Western and Fanshawe students are eligible for a free London Public Library Card. The card enables holders to visit any public library in London (one that is close to campus is the Central library downtown in Citi Plaza) where you may borrow books, DVDs, CDs, videos, magazines and more! You can use the materials and services at the library without the card, or sign-up and take borrowed items back to the comfort of your own home. In addition to these activities, the libraries across London are constantly hosting art exhibits, learning workshops and other cool events that are usually free or donation-based. Click here for a full list of events and dates.
Put Some KM’s on Your Bike Wheels
London has an extensive network of trails throughout the city. Choose to either bike, walk, run or rollerblade wherever your heart desires (within city limits)! Routes within the city are both on and off-road and you can choose to use them for exercise, fun or simply as a means of transportation. If you’re looking for a good place to start, try out your wheels at Springbank Park and cycle along the Thames River! You can find a full map of London’s available routes as well as trail rules here.
Take a Dip at the Rec Center
Western’s Campus Recreation Center features a 50-meter swimming pool that is open to membership holder’s nearly every single day (make sure to check the schedule before you go in, the odd day will have a special event or class). Take advantage of what you paid for with your tuition and swim some laps, take part in an aerobics class or simply float around and cool off!
Take an Aesthetic Instagram Photo in one of Western’s Greenhouses
In addition to the variety of trees, bushes, plants and flowers that can be found on Western’s campus, the university is also home to almost 700 square meters of adjoining greenhouses connected to the Biological & Geological Sciences Building. The greenhouses are divided into teach and research complexes and while the research complex is used for both undergraduate and graduate experiments, the teaching complex contains permanent plants and is open to visitors during regular business hours (call 519-850-2542 to confirm if you aren’t sure). Make sure to bring a plus-one with you to snap you from your good side!
Have a Picnic in Gibbons Park
Clear out your fridge instead of hitting up Richmond Row for once and make some sandwiches and snacks for a cute picnic with friends! Gibbons Park offers a beautiful backdrop to lay out a blanket and dig in to some yummy home-made eats! If you have younger siblings, kids or are just a child-at-heart, Gibbons also has a playground and wading pool to entertain visitors!
Window Shop Richmond Row
Though it will be very tempting, choose a sunny day to window shop the Row… and create a wish list for an upcoming birthday, perhaps! Warm London days beg you to stay outside, so soak up some sun and check out some styles while you are at it! Richmond Row has lots of unique shops to offer, including speciality shops for a range of hobbies and enthusiasts. See beautiful dresses at Elizabeth Noel or look for vintage finds in NU 4 U.
Try a Yoga Class at the Yoga Shack
Whether you are a yogi or a beginner, anyone is eligible for the Yoga Shack’s free classes. They offer two free classes every Friday at 7 pm and 8:30 pm at their Ann Street location. Classes fill up so make sure to be there early to reserve a spot!