Secret Off-Campus Getaways: Five Places to Go in Under an Hour

By: 
Annie Williams
Class of: 
2017

Senioritis: everyone knows the phrase. It tends to be something seniors cannot avoid, and even the best of us get hit with the bug. With the exit doors looming before me, but enough time left that I cannot quite walk through them yet, I was determined to find a way to reenergize myself at both St. Lawrence and in the community. I talked to my mother on the phone on a Tuesday, and while I was giving her a typical, anxious, senior update of my week she stopped me and said, “Why don’t you go find something new? There is always something new no matter where you are.”

There is always something new. This prompted a good deal of thought. What hadn’t I found yet?

It is important for me to mention here that I spent the previous summer on campus at SLU working on a University Fellowship. In my free time, my friends and I piled into my beat-up forest green truck and drove. We drove everywhere—into the Adirondacks, to the Canadian border, and ate at just about every diner in between. Remembering what depth this had given my image of St. Lawrence, I started doing the same thing in my final year. What I found was that my mother was (of course) correct; there are new things everywhere, all the time.

So now, walking deep into the time of senioritis, I have found some places that help keep my head above the water. So whether you are a senior screaming your way to the finish line, a prospective student getting a feel for the area, or somewhere in between, here are some secret places I have found that are sure to enrich your time here—or at least learn a little something about the vibrant North Country.

1. Birch Bark Book Shop

This is the most secret place. Huge converted barns are filled floor to ceiling (literally) with over 80,000 books. Beginning in 1987, it has been the owners’ dream to have a bookstore, and he has gone above and beyond. With shelves of birch wood, each barn is connected to another by a passage way, and lit up by woodstoves. Bright rugs underfoot give the place an eternal feel, and the place oozes secrecy. A Narnia-esque atmosphere makes the place somewhere you're going to want to get lost in for hours. Located in Parishville, NY, and it has become a frequent place I visit. Service, low prices, variety, and quiet are just some of the things that keep me coming back. Oh, and hey, if the SLU bookstore won’t buy your books back, Birch Bark Book Shop probably will.

2. Higley Flow State Park

Located in Colton just down Route 68, half an hour from campus, Higley Flow is the perfect getaway any time of the year. There are trails that surround an enormous lake and meander into the state park. Snowshoeing, groomed cross-country ski tracks, camping in the summer with car access - all of these are things that put Higley Flow on my list. The beautiful knolls above the lake are a great place to hang a hammock and read, or go exploring depending on just how adventurous you’re feeling.

3. The Yoga Loft

The Yoga Loft is perhaps self-explanatory, but certainly earns its place on the list. Right on Main Street in Canton, it is accessible on foot from campus. If you want to get out into the community and talk with locals while getting some great exercise, check out the Yoga Loft! It’s a great way to support a local business and get involved with the Canton Community at the same time.

4. Buck Pond Road

If you don’t have a lot of time and enjoy a nice drive listening to music, like me, Buck Pond Road is a must. In the winter, it helps to have four-wheel drive because it is seasonally maintained (i.e. not plowed). But the scenery is worth it. Just outside Canton, it is a peek into the Adirondacks. Weaving dirt roads take you up and down pine hills that envelop you in green. Twice it opens up to ponds that are home to deer, beavers, and a family of bald eagles that I have seen three times now. It is the perfect half-hour getaway, and a refreshing breath of fresh air just past the Pierrepont Fire Department sign.

5. Anastasia’s Bakery

Located in the center of Madrid (only 15 minutes from Canton!), Anastasia’s opened in 2014. Open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., it is the perfect spot for a getaway, romantic date, or just a quiet place to do some reading.  It is a great way to support a local business (the owner is a Paul Smith’s College graduate), and the homey feel and amazing pastries are additional perks. They brew Park Bro’s coffee, have vegan options, and are famous (or should be, in my opinion) for their chocolate creme puffs.

One of the biggest misconceptions about the North Country is that there is little to do. I am living proof that you can disprove this by simply getting in your car and driving. I can only imagine what I would find if I widened my search. What I want to leave you with is this: there is always wonder to be found if you are willing to look for it. That is true both on campus and off. I didn’t actively start looking around the North Country until the summer of 2016, and I can safely say I wish I had started sooner.

So if you aren’t sure where to go, use some of the places on this list! They are tried and tested, and have surpassed my expectation for reenergizing myself.  No matter your age, or what you are interested in on campus, there is always something new that can be found, and credit, as always, goes to my mother.