LINK streetscapes: Back to college edition at Thomas More University

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Fall is always filled with new schedules, new faces and new experiences, as many return to school. This is especially true for college students, with the campus atmosphere both exhilarating and nerve-wracking.

As important as school is, many choose to live on campus not for the academics, but for the social element. For new faces on campus, this can be a difficult transition, so for the next few segments of Streetscapes, I’ll be highlighting local colleges and various places in and around campus one can find a much-needed break.

I’m starting with my alma mater, Thomas More University.  

When I graduated from Thomas More it was still a college, but this school has quickly grown in every aspect. From new buildings to new programs and now a new division in their athletics, there are plenty of reasons local high schoolers are choosing to stay close to home and attend TMU.  

Photo by Maria Hehman.

As a local who went to college locally, I know the challenge of trying to create a college experience.

It’s especially hard when the environment is familiar. Going to the same restaurants you went to with your parents every Friday night just isn’t as fun as trying something new.

So I wanted to highlight the places that — even as an NKY native — were new to me when I started at TMU. 

Reality Tuesday Cafe: 1518 Dixie Highway, Park Hills

Although I had been here long before I started college, I didn’t start frequenting Reality Tuesday until all of my nonlocal classmates were raving about this coffee shop. It’s a favorite on campus. In fact, one of my former professors made it a tradition to take students there on the last day of the semester.

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Reality Tuesday is an ideal spot for a break from the library but still need to focus. The café is cozy and has a variety of seating from large tables to gather with a group to secluded lounge chairs tucked in the corner.

Their coffee, pastries and food are worth the trip over any chain. Frequenters know they have the good ice — the pebble ice makes their cold drinks a must-have — and their pastries are delectable and always fresh.

The donuts are local celebrities, but I personally think their scones are underrated. They’re not quite as sweet as the donuts so they make for a perfect pair with coffee. If you ever see the cinnamon chip scones, order them because they are always among the first to sell out, because, yes, they are that good. 

My friends and I would go to Reality Tuesday in the afternoon for a couple hours, order a coffee and sandwich, and crank out some work before heading back to campus. It’s a nice change of scenery when you’re writing a final and just can’t stomach vending machine snacks.

If you’re looking for something heartier, try the homemade hummus or the veggie wrap. You truly can’t go wrong with any of their sandwiches and wraps, but if you want something with a bit more protein the chicken caesar wrap is top-tier.  

President’s Park: 283 Dudley Road, Edgewood

As a college student, sometimes you just want somewhere to hang out other than someone’s dorm room, and we all know there are very few places to hang out for free these days.

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While the weather’s still nice, this is a perfect place to go and hang out off campus without having to pay for anything. There are plenty of spaces to sit outside with friends, and many walking trails for those looking to stay active.

President’s Park offers public events like Shakespeare in the Park. Since I was a theater minor, my friends and I would often come to enjoy the free shows.

You can also play on the tennis courts, a basketball court and a sand volleyball court. This park is right around the corner from Thomas More, so it’s a perfect place to spend the day.  

Five Seasons: 345 Thomas More Parkway, Crestview Hills

If you’re looking for a place to be active and hang out with friends, Thomas More has a partnership with Five Seasons that allows students to use the gym.

What’s nice about Five Seasons’ gym are the amenities. They offer multiple lap pools, pickleball courts, and tennis courts.

Five Seasons essentially shares space within the TMU campus. As a commuter, I would often have long breaks between classes and would pass the time by reading. Had I known this was an option I would have made the most of my free time and I ditched the $30 monthly gym membership I never used.

China Star: 154 Barnwood Drive, Edgewood

China Star in Edgewood. Photo by Maria Hehman.

I was told within my first week at Thomas More that China Star was a rite of passage. Once I finally tried it, one of my classmates and I went every Thursday before a night class.

Good food in small towns can come from unexpected places, and China Star does not disappoint.

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It’s budget-friendly, even for college students. My classmate and I liked to split an order of crab rangoon to share. With an individual meal and shared appetizer, we never paid more than $20.

Don’t be like me and wait until your senior year to discover this place: Learn from my mistake and round up your classmates before that three-hour night class to keep your stomach full and your mind focused.  

Edgewood Tavern: 112 Barnwood Drive, Edgewood

Photo by Maria Hehman

Down the street from China Star is an old favorite from graduates of years past. A friend of mine who was very involved in Thomas More’s extracurriculars and campus life was astonished that I never once made it to Edgewood Tavern in my time at Thomas More.

As he described it to me, I was disappointed that I didn’t get to experience it as a young student. Cheap beer, pool tables and typical bar games — this place has all of the ingredients of a hometown bar.

It’s also the bar that holds memories and stories for generations of Thomas More alum, making it the final stop of the quintessential college experience, even for an NKY native.

The next edition will feature NKU, so any alum or current students who have favorite places near campus that you want featured, email me at [email protected]

Link NKY Streetscapes series is powered by Duke Energy, proud employer of 2,300 people in southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky who live, work, and play in the vibrant communities and neighborhoods highlighted through these stories.

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