When I came to university, I was still 17 and wouldn’t be 18 for another couple months. I knew the drinking/party scene would not be my thing until second year, and in my opinion, that sucked. What else is a university student supposed to do? Study 24/7? However, Waterloo has a lot of stuff to do even when you’re under 19. This was a big change from where I came from — the only notable fixture in my hometown was McDonald’s. That being said, here are seven places and things to entertain you if you can’t go out drinking (or if you’re too hungover to want to drink).
Sweet Dreams Tea Shop: Not only do they have really good bubble tea, they also have a cute atmosphere and board games! During orientation last year I went there and played Jenga and since then I’ve gone back a lot. I even went there over my summer break! It can get busy, but even then it is a great place to hang out, and it’s a two-minute walk from the Davis Centre.
Conestoga Mall: If you like shopping, this is a great place to go. In my hometown, the mall had maybe three good stores and the cinema. Conestoga, however, has many more stores to go in — I can’t even list them all! The mall also has a cinema, and the theatres are very nice and big. I went to a showing and they even brought a stand of popcorn into the theatre. Small-town me was impressed. It’s all a 10-minute bus ride from campus via the 200 iXpress.
Uptown Waterloo (again!): There are a lot of bars in uptown (I’ve heard), but there are also other things that us non-drinkers can do. There are a lot of restaurants, chain and otherwise, and some nice stores as well. In the winter, they set up an outdoor skating rink right in front of Beertown (which is right by the uptown bus stop).
KW Poetry Slam: I know, it sounds lame.I’m not even going to defend myself. However, I had a great time at a poetry slam I went to at Café Pyrus in Kitchener, right by Charles Street Terminal. The café itself was really nice to be in, and the poetry slam made it even better. You paid $5 for the slam; there was an open mic (where my friend read a poem) and then the contest. My friend and I were volun-told to be judges and all of the poems were so good and funny it was hard to do our job! If poetry is your thing, I would check it out. Even if it isn’t your thing, it’s still pretty cool.
Clubs and Bars: I can’t say too much about this since I am a loser, but I will say what I think I know. I went to the Bombshelter Pub for a Battle of the Bands thing, but I had to have big black X’s on my hands so no one would serve me alcohol since it was a 19+ event. If you don’t want that eternal shame (actually it washed off quickly, but I like to exaggerate) you could go to a Bombshelter all-ages event, another bar (at certain hours), or an all-ages club. Elements in Kitchener also has sections for people who can’t drink. Yay clubbing! Bars I have entered include Molly Blooms and Barley Works at the Huether Hotel (they have good nachos).
St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market: I have never been there, but from what I have heard I will definitely be going this year. The food is all organic and straight from the farmers, and it’s very affordable to buy. Also, there are hundreds of booths with different food, crafts, and other goods. Lots to explore!
Plazas: The main plaza for us would be University Plaza, which is about a five-minute walk from the SLC. That’s where many restaurants are, including Molly Blooms, Mongolian Grill, Sweet Dreams (you already know about this one), Chen’s, and many other popular places. Also, there is a plaza at King & University with Menchie’s, Pizza Pizza, 7/11, and Frat Burger!
There is a lot more to discover in Waterloo that I can’t write about, but that’s part of the fun. It’s also good to just stay in with your friends and have a movie night, or play a board game, or whatever you like to do. I’ve had plenty of memorable evenings without going out drinking and I’m sure that you all will too. Enjoy!