You already know – or you’ll quickly learn – about the beauty of the Western campus, with castle-like towers straight out of a movie set and ivy-covered buildings full of history and research. But what about the lesser-known Western locations that deserve your attention?
From quiet garden solitude to finding the best jolt of caffeine, here are five of the most underrated places to visit across campus:
From full operas to free lunchtime concerts to special holiday symphony performances, Western is home to an entire faculty of budding artists and musical geniuses – plus, we score some incredible guests to perform here on campus!
The best part? It’ll be music to your ears – and your wallet – since you can catch most of these shows for free.
A year-round stop for foliage, gorgeous blooms and quick dose of oxygen? The campus greenhouses and botanical gardens are a hidden gem, your refuge in the middle of a bustling campus, and they’re teeming with cool plants and geological research.
Gorgeous plants fill the greenhouses, which span a total of 650 square metres – more than an entire NBA basketball court. It’s the perfect place to explore, especially in the depth of winter when little else is growing on campus.
Tropical House boasts the largest plant display and it’s open Tuesday through Thursday for visits from 1 to 4 p.m. To get a broader look at all Western’s gardens and green spaces, request a green campus tour through the sustainability office, which can be tailored to a group’s interests.
BONUS: Jane’s Garden, in the courtyard behind the Biological and Geological Sciences Building, is a beautiful and cozy spot to study, read, journal or just take a few moments to yourself. Full of native plants (and some non-native species), this courtyard will make you feel like you’re anywhere but in the middle of the city.
This Western landmark will open you up to the wonders of the universe and the magic of space. Look straight up into the night sky when the dome opens at the Hume Cronyn Memorial Observatory and view stars or planets through the 10-inch telescope. It’s bigger than a full-grown adult and the history behind its home at Western is pretty cool, too.
Public nights have just wrapped up at Cronyn – they’re open every Saturday night through the summer months – but you can watch the calendar for other events, such as guest lectures, the chance to speak with Western’s top astronomers and interactive activities for all ages.
The observatory will transport you into space, but also back in time with its antique furnishings, original telescope dedicated in front of the observatory in 1940, plus all kinds of artifacts and mysteries nestled within its walls.
You don’t have to go downtown to find beautiful artwork – there are two incredible galleries right here at Western. See the exhibitions that light up the ArtLAB in the John Labbatt Visual Arts Centre or the McIntosh Gallery in the heart of campus.
You’ll see work from the campus community as up-and-coming student artists and award-winning faculty contribute and curate shows at both galleries, designed to push creative boundaries and open minds to new ways of thinking and seeing.
The Life Cycle of Celestial Objects Pts. 1 &2, a fascinating space-themed show, is on until Dec. 9 at the McIntosh Gallery. You may have seen one of its compelling pieces, a car struck by a satellite, right outside the public gallery. Head to the stone building with bright red doors between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to take it all in. Don’t forget to study up on the many incredible artists behind the stunning exhibition.
Snacks & lattes
Sure, you already know about Starbucks and Tim Hortons in the UCC, where you’ve likely already waited in line to grab your iced coffee or a quick bite to eat. But have you discovered Einstein’s Café in the Natural Science building or the Black Walnut Bakery Café at Western Research Parks?
Black Walnut is one of the best players on the London café scene, from its rotating list of seasonal beverages that would rival any pumpkin spice latte to homemade cruffins (that’s a muffin-croissant combo) to the hearty sandwiches on freshly made loaves of bakery bread.
Stop in for an iced latte at Einstein’s Cafe – the caramel brulee is particularly delicious – and if you need a tasty pastry of the sweet or savoury variety, Black Walnut delivers to fulfill any craving.
BONUS: A food truck branded with a nod to Western’s frequent campus visitors, Canada geese? It would be difficult to find a cooler snack shack than the Angry Goose. It’s billed as “gourmet street food,” and it’s easy to see why, with show-stopper dishes like gochujang fried chicken, smoked brisket poutine and a vegan crunch wrap supreme. Catch the truck every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Kent Drive – also known as Food Truck Alley – and whenever else the gourmet goose decides to pop up and open the window.
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