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5 Things to See on your Campus Tour of Columbia

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It is a known fact that college tours on their own can be intimidating, and it is likely that touring schools in New York City might feel even more daunting. When it comes to touring schools in New York, you might find yourself confused as to what you should even be looking for. Luckily, CollegeVine is here to help!


Columbia University is an Ivy League school in New York City. It is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in Morningside Heights. This post will focus mostly on worthwhile spots to visit on Columbia’s campus, but if you are interested in learning more about this school, be sure to check out The Ultimate Guide to Applying to Columbia, A Day in the Life of a Columbia Student, and How to Write the Columbia University Essays 2016-17. For a guide to the top 5 spots to visit on your campus tour of Columbia, read on!


Want to learn what Columbia University will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Columbia University needs to know.


Butler Library

It is safe to say that Butler Library is one of the top study spots on Columbia’s campus. In fact, one could probably argue that “ugh, I have to go to Butler” is one of the most commonly spoken phrases on campus.


Butler offers tons of different environments in which to study: If you prefer to study around lots of other people, Butler 301 is probably the room for you, while if you want a more secluded space, you might consider getting a desk in one of the reading rooms. If you want to study together with a group of your friends, consider sitting in the Butler Café or securing a study alcove! Be sure to take a look at Butler Blue Java as well — this mini-café has coffee and snacks for students to purchase in the midst of their late-night study sessions.


Hungarian Pastry Shop

Located on 111th Street & Amsterdam Avenue, Hungarian Pastry Shop is another must-see on Columbia’s Campus. This café offers coffee, tea, pastries, cakes, and even savory snacks like spanikopita. It is a popular place for students to study, meet up with friends, or even go on dates! The shop gains some of its charm from the fact that it was the old haunt of the poets like Jack Kerouac and other members of the Beat Generation, a group of famous writers that attended Columbia in the 1940s.


The Hungarian Pastry Shop doesn’t have any WiFi, which can be helpful or frustrating depending on what type of work you’re trying to get done — the lack of Internet connection makes it a lot more difficult to procrastinate online, but it can also be irritating to try and do homework that requires internet access. In addition, given that this is such a well-beloved local spot, it is almost always crowded, so be prepared to struggle to find a seat! If you do find yourself visiting this historic Columbia eatery, you should also keep in mind that it is cash-only.


Riverside Park

If you’re someone from a more rural or suburban area and worried about missing out on nature by going to school in the city, then Riverside Park is definitely the place for you! It’s a beautiful spot that will help you feel like you’re away from the city, if only for a few minutes.


Located along Riverside Drive from West 125th Street to West 72nd Street, this park has a calm, quiet atmosphere that Columbia students love. The park is often filled with families and people walking their dogs; it can also be a great place to do exercise. Whether this means jogging or doing yoga, Riverside Park is a great place for Columbia students to unwind and relax. It’s also a great place to view sunsets!


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One of the Residence Halls

It is no secret that Columbia housing is well-beloved by its students — in fact, 94% of undergrads opt to remain in on-campus housing for all four years! On Columbia’s campus, there are 19 undergrad residence halls and 18 brownstones. For more information on the ins and outs of CU housing, take a look at their website.


As for which dorms, you should take a look during your campus tour and consider, first, what type of Residence Hall experience you might be looking for at college. Columbia freshmen are allowed to live in four different halls: Carman, John Jay, Hartley, and Furnald. Each building has its own idiosyncrasies, and one of the best ways to get to know each is to talk to actual Columbia students.


If you’re looking for a more quiet freshman-year experience, be sure to check out Hartley or Furnald — most of the rooms in these halls are singles, and you’ll also get the chance to live amongst upperclassmen. If you’d prefer a more social experience or only want to live with first-years while you transition into college life, then check out Carman Hall.


Some of the upperclassman dorms on Columbia’s campus also have some unique features! You can try out apartment-style living in Watt or Woodbridge, or, if you choose to live in Wien Hall, you could even enjoy your very own sink in your bedroom!


JJ’s Place

Columbia Dining is well known for being exemplary (it was even ranked 2nd for “Best Colleges for Food in America” by The Daily Meal). Columbia Dining is a Level 1 Certified Green Restaurant, and it is also well known for providing lots of vegetarian, vegan, halal, and kosher options for students. For more information about Dining at Columbia, be sure to check out their website.


Among Columbia’s 3 dining halls, JJ’s Place is the late-night hot spot for snacks, burgers, dessert, and more! Up until recently, JJ’s Place has stayed open until 1am, but starting in the 2017-2018 academic year, it will be open even later — all night, up until 10am!


As a result of their late-night hours, JJ’s is often home to students returning from a late night at the library or from hanging out with friends on the weekends. In addition to burgers of all kinds, JJs offers plenty of fried foods like mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, and chicken wings. You can also get custom-made omelets, scrambled eggs, quesadillas, and pancakes. There is even a soft serve machine! If you want to get an accurate view of life at Columbia and enjoy some delicious (if a bit unhealthy) food, be sure to stop by JJ’s Place.



While there is no perfect way to get an accurate view of a given school, checking out the places that students prefer to go is always a good place to start. Whether you are considering Columbia for its rigorous academics, its social scene, its numerous dining options, its top-notch residence halls or its prime location in New York City, hopefully this list will be a helpful starting point in your foray into Columbia’s campus culture.


For more information about Columbia and how to apply, take a look at these blog posts:



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Devin Barricklow
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Devin Barricklow is a Political Science and Creative Writing double major at Columbia University. She’s really excited to be able to share her expertise about the college process with students who need advice. When she isn’t writing for CollegeVine, she enjoys reading the poems of Mary Oliver, going to concerts in the city, or cooking (preferably something with lots of bok choy and ginger).