Off-Grounds study spaces in and around Hooville

Some favorite coffee spots

We just finished our first full week of classes, and here I am on my Saturday afternoon at Milli Coffee Roasters, slaving away. “Syllabus Week” has never existed at our elite institution, and the first week of classes always serves as a reminder that we go to one of the most academically intense schools in the country.

Another reminder of this fact was the sheer volume of people I encountered in Alderman this first week, likely due to lack of library space elsewhere — RIP Clem 2, you’re forever in our hearts. I managed to snag a chair in Alderman Café, only to get pushed out by a group project desperate for space. I went back to my room, pulled out my laptop to keep working and immediately fell asleep in my bed.

I think a lot of us can identify with this problem — we can’t be productive in our rooms that are full of cozy and enticing surfaces, like beds. And finding quiet and comfortable spaces on Grounds is a regular and sometimes insurmountable challenge.

But, luckily for all of us, Charlottesville is the coffee shop capital of north-central Virginia! (I made that up, but you could believe it, right?) Our little college town is stuffed with cafés that offer delicious treats and drinks, free wi-fi and a brief escape from overcrowded library study rooms. So many are less than 10 minutes away from Grounds, accessible by the trolley and some are even right on the Corner. It does help if you have access to a car, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t utilize Uber to get me to a productive workspace during some high-stress points during my first year.

So for those of you that are new to Grounds or loyal to libraries, I encourage you to scope out some of my favorite spots on a free Saturday:

1. Milli Coffee Roasters: Right before the Downtown Mall, there’s a coffee shop with lots of space, snacks and zero fluorescent lighting. Milli Joe’s is the perfect college coffee bar because — get this — they serve gourmet waffles for less than five dollars. I also opt for their amazing selection of natural teas and will sing praises to their tomato basil soup, especially on a cold January day. It’s only a little less than a mile from the corner of Grady and 14th Street , which I know we’ve all walked to at some point when we’re out on the town. Also, I’m sitting here now listening to a playlist shuffling Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles and Van Morrison, so they have that going for them.

2. Hot Cakes: Near the Kroger in Barracks Road Shopping Center, this is a great spot for snacking and escaping. I assumed that this would be the place to go for pancakes, but they actually have a huge menu of locally farmed sandwiches and salads. I owe the completion of my 20-page research paper during finals to the casual vibe of this café, so on behalf of 2016 Anna, I encourage you all to go check it out.

3. Mudhouse: Mudhouse would fit right into neighborhoods like Greenwich Village in New York City or Adams Morgan in Washington, D.C. It’s the kind of place that sells boxed water and keeps the lights dim no matter the time of day. But, it also makes me feel like the hipster college student that I’ll never actually become with its music and clientele. It also has two coffeehouse locations — one on the Downtown Mall (accessible by Free Trolley) and a much roomier one in Crozet.

4. Grit Coffee: A fan-favorite, Grit is right in our own backyard on Elliewood Avenue. They also serve Brazos Tacos. And they opened up a new location in the Stonefield shopping center. Great coffee, good playlist and tacos. What else do we need?

I only mentioned four but there are countless others. I’m still excited to explore the public library in Crozet or do some work at the Law Library on North Grounds. Moral of the story? Don’t confine yourself to the hyper-stressful University library system when our little city has so much usable space.

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