Caught up in choosing which library to study at for the night or which restaurant to eat at down on the Corner, students may find themslves trapped in the bubble of Univeristy life.
But with just a quick hop on the Hoo Bus or a five-minute drive, a whole different world is waiting at Charlottesville's Downtown Mall.
The Downtown Mall, located in the historic downtown area on Main Street, offers the Charlottesville area a unique and old-fashioned open-air marketplace. The pedestrian-only throughway between parallel rows of storefronts on the Downtown Mall unites the colorful mix of people that makes up the city community.
"Basically all walks of life are out on the Downtown Mall, from business people to blue-mohawked individuals," Charlottesville Police Officer Paul Crawford said.
Sales associates on the mall also have noticed the wide array of people who peruse their goods.
Angie Hogan, a sales associate at Quilts Unlimited, said, "Grad students, high-schoolers and lots of local people come down here," as well as coffee house regulars and tourists.
But undergraduate students are few and far between. Some do not know the Downtown Mall exists, let alone how to get there.
While upperclassmen have the option of driving to the Downtown Mall, underclassmen may catch a ride with the Hoo Bus, a trolley that transports students free of charge from Grounds to the mall.
The Hoo Bus begins its trips Thursday evenings and runs through the weekend. It stops throughout Grounds and travels to and from the Downtown Mall.
First-year Architecture students Erica Gosik and Becky Browne took the Hoo Bus to the Downtown Mall this past weekend for a change of scene.
"The Hoo Bus was really convenient. It was a cute little old-fashioned Rice-A-Roni bus - a nice ride," Gosik said.
"I hadn't been on a trolley since I was a little kid," Browne said. "It's free, which is the best part."
Once they arrived at the Downtown Mall, the women liked what they saw.
"There weren't too many students, but there were lots of people from the town, which made it nice," Browne said. "There were lots of kids enjoying everything, and there was a nice variety of eclectic stores."
Gosik was looking to get away from the University bubble.
"I was bored and needed to get off-campus. It was a laid-back setting out of the University," she said.
Those in search of a new environment, a tasty bite to eat, a unique shopping experience or a two-dollar movie often find that an afternoon jaunt to the Downtown Mall does the trick.
"I like the fact that there aren't any 'chain' anything. This area is very diverse and attracts a diverse group of people," Quilts Unlimited's Hogan said.
The Downtown Mall's one-of-a-kind restaurants include student favorite The Hardware Store and the upscale Downtown Inn. The mall also provides a beautiful backdrop for the trendy Escaf