When I committed to Northwestern my senior year of high school, I had visited Orange City enough to know that moving there from Sioux Falls would be a small culture shock. I was slightly weary at first–I had to drive to a different town just to go to Walmart?! But after a few years in the OC, I’ve come to realize that the community at Northwestern extends into Orange City, and the small town life has its perks.
I remember one of the first activities I was introduced to during orientation weekend freshman year was midnight donut runs. A bakery in downtown Orange City literally opens up at midnight on Friday nights for Northwestern students. The best part? You pick your donut up from the back and just drop a dollar on the counter.
Downtown Orange City has such a fun atmosphere; the Dutch architecture creates the most unique place to window shop. The community in Orange City welcomes Northwestern students with open arms–and with lots of coupons. Town Square Coffee House + Kitchen is a student favorite for studying, socializing and caffeinating. You can even borrow a tandem bike from the campus library and bike there with a friend!
Speaking of downtown, there is the most beautiful, hand-painted mural that is a perfect backdrop for your Instagram pictures. Another place for your pictures? The ever-delicious Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor in Le Mars. Can you believe that Blue Bunny ice cream is made just 20 minutes from campus?! The ice cream parlor has delicious scoops for you to enjoy, and is an experience just in and of itself.
There are some fun seasonal activities that Northwestern students participate in, too. During the fall, you can visit the Pumpkinland corn maze or pick a pumpkin to carve. In the winter, there is ice skating in Sioux Center. During the end of the school year, Orange City is preparing for the iconic Tulip Festival–and Windmill Park is overflowing with blooming tulips while the shops are getting ready for tourists to fill the streets.
But really, much of what to do in Orange City is happening right on Northwestern’s campus. Join an intramural team, attend one of the many sporting events, grab a friend and try a yoga or cardio class, play pingpong in the RSC, or participate in one of the many events Campus Ministry and Student Activities puts on. In one week, there can be documentaries to watch, SkyZone trips to attend, and wing events that your RA is putting together.
I hope reading this makes you excited about the possibility about spending a few years in Orange City. It really is an amazing community that rallies around Northwestern students. Churches do a great job of pouring into students as well, offering free breakfast and lunch, as well as hosting retreats and small groups. Orange City may be a small town, but it has such a big heart!