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The Dartmouth
April 16, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

My Sophomore Summer Bucket List

From attending local concerts to stargazing to feasting at Polly’s Pancake Parlor, sophomore summer offers an ideal opportunity to craft the perfect bucket list.

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On top of creating a themed playlist and color-coding my Google Calendar, I religiously start every term with a bucket list. If not for the nudge of my termly bucket lists, I likely would not have capitalized on running a 10K, hiking Cardigan and Gile and touring the Shattuck Observatory in past terms.

Sophomore summer — famous for its plentiful free time, sunshine and spontaneity — is the perfect time to craft a bucket list of your own. As a veteran bucket lister myself, I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone while simultaneously not pressuring yourself to do too much. If you don’t know where to begin in writing your summer bucket list, I have compiled a few of my top activities and places from the “23X Bucket List” hung on my wall.

  1. Stargaze on the golf course 

Stargazing is one of my favorite activities year round, and the warm summer air allows for additional hours of comfortable viewing at nighttime. Whether you choose to contemplate the universe, learn the constellations or spend time with friends, stargazing is not just reserved for students enrolled in astronomy. Dartmouth’s location in rural New Hampshire also means that there is less light pollution and subsequently many visible stars in the night sky to observe.

Although I have stargazed on the Green, frat row and near the observatory, I have not yet made the trek to the golf course. With barely any surrounding light or buildings, this expansive piece of land would be a perfect place to stargaze when the skies are clear this summer. If you are unsure when to stargaze, mark your calendar for the Perseids meteor shower that peaks on August 13th.

2. Go to a concert

There is a reason why so many songs reference the summertime: something about good music and the summer air makes for the perfect day. This summer, I scored two inexpensive concert tickets to my favorite artists — Noah Kahan and The Backseat Lovers — at the same outdoor venue, Waterfront Park Burlington. There are also quite a few opportunities for great concerts this summer that require no travel or payment. Between summer a cappella groups and student bands on campus, Greek spaces are a great opportunity to attend a performance by one of the many campus groups. The Hop is also hosting multiple concerts on the Green this summer, including groups that perform ancient Japanese drumming and Ukrainian folk songs.

3. Fairlee Drive-in Theater 

Fairlee, Vermont is the epitome of a quaint New England town. I had the pleasure of visiting Fairlee last fall for Public Policy 45: “Introduction to Public Policy Research,” and I was enamored by the town’s focal points, which include an old-time diner and general store. If there was going to be a drive-in movie theater anywhere nearby, it was going to  be in Fairlee. Despite not having been to this venue yet, I have full confidence that the drive-in will teleport you back to the ’50s, as Fairlee tends to have that effect on its visitors.

With showings most Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, the Fairlee Drive-in Theater offers recent movies, sells concessions and also acts as a motel. With the warmer weather and extra time to attend movie showings, sophomore summer is the perfect time to go to a drive-in movie, especially with “Barbie” coming out in just two weeks.

4. Swimming holes

In the fall and spring terms, there is a small window of time when the weather is warm enough to swim in natural water sources — and an even smaller window of time when you have enough hours in the day to get to them. Thus, sophomore summer is the ideal time to explore these refreshing and picturesque swimming spots. 

Although I have loved spending time at the river this term, I am yearning to explore the other scenic swimming holes of the Upper Valley. From Queechee Gorge to Warren Falls to the swimming holes along Route 14, I want to swim in new places and also hope to jump off of the rope swing this summer, if I can find where it is! 

5. Strawberry picking

During my childhood, I grew up near a berry bush. Yet, I never ate the strawberries because of my fear of poison. Nonetheless, I always proclaimed that my favorite food was strawberry shortcake, and I still associate strawberries with afternoon snacks, hot days and nostalgia. My younger self is still yearning to strawberry-pick.

In New Hampshire, right now is the perfect time to pick strawberries, since strawberry season peaks from mid-June to mid-July. There are plenty of farms in the area that have strawberry picking, including Edgewater Farm and Clay Hill Corners. I will personally be using my freshly picked strawberries to top off smoothies and yogurt bowls, and maybe even make a strawberry shortcake.

6. Polly’s Pancake Parlor

After a spontaneous trip to the Second College Grant in the fall, I passed Polly’s Pancake Parlor and immediately knew by the long line that it would be magical. With every imaginable batter and topping for a pancake, the restaurant’s name leaves little up to the imagination. The establishment also scores extra points from me, since they have gluten free batter I can eat!

Located about an hour from campus in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire, Polly’s is the perfect early-morning breakfast spot, if you are not in a rush, or you’re looking for a view or a hike in the area. The restaurant is near the Franconia Notch State Park, so you can certainly make a day out of the hour-long trip. With Polly’s Pancake Parlor’s wide popularity across New England, be prepared for a wait… and a heaping stack of pancakes.

7. Jewelry studio 

The summertime reminds me of my days at sleep away camp, where I would make enough friendship bracelets to fill both of my wrists, referred to as a “camper’s wrist.” Although I brought along my friendship bracelet string this summer, I am ready to level up my jewelry-making skills by going to the Donald Claflin Jewelry Studio, located on the third floor of the Black Family Visual Arts Center and open on weekdays. 

At the studio, you can make whatever jewelry you want, and you only pay for the materials that you use. I have been wanting to explore this studio for several terms, and I finally cannot use a lack of time as an excuse. Whether I make a choker, earrings or a bracelet at the studio this summer, my goal is to be able to nonchalantly mention to people: “Oh, this piece of jewelry? Yeah, I made this.”