(Re)discover College Park Through Microadventure

Winter Break. J-term. That time of year that falls between the fall and spring semesters in College Park. It can be challenging to describe this paradoxical season that starts with a sense of relief as the University wraps up exams, ramps up with anticipation for the holidays, and then falls into a cold and dark January lull. In the midst of seasonal ups and downs it’s easy to feel cooped up, impatient for the excitement to begin again. It’s easy tune out, to overlook College Park’s unique character, to let it fade into our psychological background, to find reasons to curl up and wait for spring. 

But what if there’s an alternative perspective? I argue that winter is actually the best time to jump into adventure. Winter promises innumerable opportunities to rediscover the allure of College Park. All it takes a shift in mindset and an intention to explore. If you feel locked into the doldrums of your 9 to 5 this winter, what would happen if you flipped the clock and focused on bringing adventure to your 5 to 9? The possibilities are endless.  

Winter Challenge: Adopt a microadventure mindset and an intention to see College Park with new eyes. What is a microadventure you ask? It’s a concept popularized by modern-day adventurer Alistair Humphreys. He defines a microadventure as “an adventure that is short, simple, local, cheap – yet still fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding.” Microadventures offer us an opportunity to take a break from the mundane and encourage us to reimagine our daily environment.  

The possibilities are truly endless – but here are a few ideas to get your creative energies flowing: 

Set out on an Urban Hike: Did you know that College Park has 17 distinct neighborhoods? Each holds its own unique character and charm, easily overlooked as you whiz by on Baltimore Avenue. Grab a map and chart a course for a hike to visit all 17 neighborhoods by foot in a single day or over a few weekends. No need to drive out to the mountains! You can get your miles in right here. Pick a destination in each neighborhood and set it as a goal – a park, a historic home, a great garden (anything goes). Grab your pedometer, connect the dots, and head out to explore.   

Switch into adventure mode: Break up your routine. If you usually walk around town, try riding a bike or renting a scooter or borrowing the next door kid’s skateboard. It’s amazing how changing our travel mode can breathe new life into familiar landscapes. Pick a destination, plot a new route and take off! 

Explore local neighborhoods: Microadventures can scale up or down as you’d like and reflect the changes in season. If you would rather skip the DIY adventure, we have you covered. These short field guides are designed to an afternoon.

Seek out daily delights: For those of you seeking a less physically demanding, but equally engaging adventure, try taking a page out of poet Ross Gay’s bestseller Book of Delights: Essays. Set an intention to document a single College Park delight per day – a beautiful flower, a great sunset, a hilarious conversation with a neighbor, birdsong, art, fruit at the farmers’ market… Grab your phone and document it with a photo or do as Gay did and write a quick blurb in your Notes App. Share your delights with your friends and neighbors. Delight cultivates more delight; there are no limits. 

This month, the Partnership will unveil a new tool on our website called About College Park. This platform will provide a place to tell College Park neighborhood stories and explore the quirks and cultural richness of the city. Our goal is to help College Park residents delve deeper into the fabric of this place.  

As you’re out and about this winter, let us know about your microadventures! Snap a photo, tag us on your socials, or drop us an email to share your explorations and findings. We are excited to learn more about how you experience College Park. We want to hear your stories and find opportunities to share with others who enjoy living, working and studying here – in winter and throughout the year.


We wish you a fabulous end to 2023 and a 2024 full of adventures! 

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