By Jeremy Cornelius
Managing to locate all the dazzling, impressive sights in Beloit, WI, pre-Spring Break is a challenging task, especially with loads of homework to finish by all of the deadlines, but rest assured that with one dose of inspiration and a focused magnifying glass, one can snoop around and discover the gems of Beloit. After spending approximately seven weeks passing Middle College before reaching the World Affairs Center (WAC) or taking Church Street, instead of College Street, to get to Commons in order to spice up life, makes one feel like they’re eternally stuck in Wisconsin, tundra damnation, so imagine staying in Beloit for all of spring break!
Over spring break, most students took to the road, making their way home, or Madison to take part in protesting. Some managed to journey down south to Georgia for the High Tide Ultimate Frisbee Tournament. While some packed their bags, loaded their Ipods, and printed out the NPR directions to follow the stations the whole way to their destination, a small group of students remained in Beloit, trying to make the best of the week.
There are unexplored locales around Beloit, and if one has access by way of vehicle, then they are easily reachable. If a car is not an option, then the Beloit Transit System helps out with any gloomy, boring days of remaining cooped up in your dorm or house. The bus stop is downtown on St. Paul Avenue right after State Street and can take you to most places around with all of their different lines. One bus also goes to Janesville, so anyone can go thrift-store prowling at the sensational Salvation Army at 1819 Center Avenue and Carousel Consignment Shop downtown at 31 South Main Street, or at least stop by one of the many Dunkin Donuts for a coffee and French cruller or one of their “munchkins.”
After a trip to Janesville, popping over to the movie theatre in the industrial strip of Beloit before reaching route 90 resolves a droll afternoon, even if it’s to see Red Riding Hood or Drive Angry. At least it’s an option –better than lounging on the couch with the Underworld trilogy playing on the “Sci-fi” channel, but beware of the fried-food smell emanating from the nearby Frito Lay factory. To boost the commercial excitement of the trip, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Culver’s, and Wal-Mart are all on the other side of the street, only a few minutes’ walk away.
If watching Amanda Seyfried in a red hood while Fever Ray bellows it out in the soundtrack or seeing Nicholas Cage waste his life doesn’t make Beloit tantalizing enough, then there are options only a few blocks from the Beloit College campus. If you’re looking for a romantic night out or willing to spend a little extra on dinner and wine, the 615 Club is the somewhat drab, blue building on East Grand Avenue. Despite the exterior, the restaurant will please the finest of sensibilities and reminds one of the burned, sadly missed Gun Club. Now, if frugality takes precedence over pleasure, then Bushel and Peck’s on Broad Street and Cafe Belwah on Pleasant Street, attached to the Beloit Inn, provide excellent dinners and quaint, relaxed atmospheres.
Once food is down the hatch, and since it’s the primary ritual of Spring Break to hang out, drink and relax — usually on a beach, but there’s no shame in settling for Turtle Creek — strolling around town is an option, even with the mostly empty campus. Now with the downtown construction getting beyond the river might require an alternate route, but rest assured, there are plenty of entertaining places to make an appearance. Providing that you’re 21, the B.O.P. (Bert’s Only Place) makes for an excellent spot, now even complete with its own beer pong table. Bert Ciulla, owner of the B.O.P., will chat the night away while you settle down on a stool and have your drink of choice. A few weeks ago, she even graciously opened her doors for customers to watch the Academy Awards Ceremony this year per the request of Amelia Buzzell ’10 and Kelsey Dodson ’10.
Happy hour at Cafe Belwah is between 4:00 and 6:00 every afternoon, so making an appearance over break while enjoying any of their many cocktails and appetizers for half the price made what might have been a sluggish afternoon an entertaining time on the town. If bar-hopping was in the works, then the Carom Room and Suds on East Grand Avenue sufficed. Also, Suds holds a second happy hour at 9:30, which means participants got a Spring Break bash for hours after the afternoon happy hour.
Once the hangover starts the next morning and sluggishness begins to take over, the biggest motivation to move from the couch is consumer therapy. If not making the big bucks inhibits too much spending, like (being able to afford?) affording a trip to Madison and enjoying the great food at restaurants like Kabul’s Afghan feast or partaking in the protests against the budget repair bill, then taking a long walk down Park Street will run right into Bent and Dent for an enjoyable afternoon. Bent and Dent sells products that have, as the title implies, been damaged. Sometimes the products are completely unscathed, but are being sold because the box they were shipped in was bent, which means the business isn’t allowed to sell, but Bent and Dent can do it! Their products include everything from inexpensive food to swanky nail polish. If the ten-block walk seems too daunting, then a stroll to Helpful Hannah’s or Little Green Dress, both located on East Grand Avenue, will solve your clothes and knick-knack needs.
Maybe a spring break spent in Beloit can’t compare to lounging on the beach in Florida or Georgia, but it certainly gave incentive to explore the surrounding area a little more, while still managing to attend happy hours or ten and at least make believe that Beloit had a warm climate by watching The Jungle Book.