Swarthmore College is located next to the “The Ville,” a place students interact with in many ways, from going out for meals, to running errands, to finding off-campus housing. In this guide, I hope to describe the many unique and important places that so many Swatties walk to and from every day.
Section 1: Cafes & Restaurants
There are many cafes and restaurants to choose from in the Ville! Some of the more popular cafes include Hobbs and Dunkin’. While Dunkin’ is a chain store and your go-to donut and ice cream stop (they even have cakes on display that students like to deliver to friends on birthdays), Hobbs is Swarthmore’s very own coffee and bagel establishment. Its cozy hardwood interior with relaxing window-booth seats and an overall quiet morning vibe make it a popular hang-out spot for Swarthmore students and residents alike. Its upper floors even serve as apartments often rented by students who wish to live off-campus, where you can easily get a great breakfast right outside your door and even have easy access to the train station down the road!
Another great stop for breakfast is Vicky’s Place, where you can get yourself pancakes, waffles, Reubens, and anything else you can imagine that makes up your dream breakfast feast. The people there are always open to talk about sports, as they are always watching the latest games on their TV!
My personal favorite spots in the Ville are Occasionally Yours and Renato’s Pizza. Occasionally Yours has all sorts of great brunch and lunch food, as well as outdoor seating right by the roadside under umbrellas. Renato’s makes the pizza that is most popular among Swarthmore students and has amazing milkshakes as well. Both of these restaurants are especially great stops during hot summer days!
The last restaurant on the list is Bamboo Bistro, a Japanese restaurant with a wide variety of tasty sushi and sashimi for special celebration nights at Swarthmore. They even do takeout!
All of these restaurants I’ve mentioned are partners with Swarthmore’s meal plans! This means you can use your Swat Points (your Ville Meal Plan currency, included in all on-campus meal plans) to dine there with your friends. The same goes for the grocery store that is mentioned just below!
Section 2: Stores & Shops
Our local grocery store is the Swarthmore CO-OP, a place where you can get anything from different kinds of cold drinks and snacks, to vegetables, to fish from their large seafood selection. As a member of the Herbivores cooking club here at Swarthmore, the CO-OP is an invaluable source of food for our endeavors.
If you’re looking for awesome room decorations, both the Gallery on Park and Swarthmore’s Flower and Gift Shop can help out in that regard. The Gallery on Park has all sorts of decorative items and jewelry, and most of its offerings are sourced from Swarthmore artisans and artists! Flowers from the shop are great for a friendly gesture to a fellow Swattie, or as a Valentine’s Day gift to a significant other.
For events in the Ville, the R3 House (WaR3House 3, officially) is a popular location of choice. Concerts are held there all the time, and they always post about it on their Facebook page.
Section 3: Errand Spots & Unique Locations
In terms of convenient offices, the Swarthmore Post Office is right across from the roundabout that connects the Ville to our athletic centers. Swarthmore College also has an on-campus post office inside Parrish Hall, although some might choose the in-town office to send their own packages. The Swarthmore Inn is a great place for special dinner with friends and shares a building with our Campus and Community Store (where you can pick up your very own Swattie merch!). For students, it hosts our textbook store, which supplies textbooks and class materials at the start of each semester. Thanks to the Textbook Affordability Initiative, which allots $790 from your tuition for textbooks and course supplies each year, no student has to pay extra for that expensive linear algebra or psychology book! Speaking of books, the Ville also houses the Swarthmore Public Library, where students can sign up for a free library card and can get even more things to read than what is housed in one of the libraries on campus (such as Cornell, McCabe, or Underhill)!
Finally, one of the most important things about the Ville for students here is our train station. The Media/Wawa regional rail line connects Swatties not only to Philadelphia (which is only a short 25 minute train ride away), but also to Media, which is another town nearby that hosts incredible restaurants and grocery stores! Starting as a pilot this Fall 2023, Swarthmore students are receiving free area transit passes for the academic year to make taking advantage of these intercity/inter-town resources even easier.
Overall, Swarthmore’s Ville has many places, activities, and events to offer and it is a great scene for food. We even have a Farmer’s Market that takes place over the summer, which is an amazing opportunity to get to know local food providers, as well as the Amish, who take up residence west of Swarthmore in Lancaster County. I hope this guide helps you if you decide to visit (or maybe even attend…?) Swarthmore!