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10 things to enjoy before the students return

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Before you know it, school time will be here and the college students will return. Lynchburg residents sometimes get annoyed with the traffic caused by the students. Liberty University is like a small town during the school year and adds a lot of extra cars on the road.

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Lynchburg College, Randolph College, and Sweet Briar College combined don't have nearly the population of Liberty. That may be one reason that the Liberty students seem to annoy locals more than students from the other three colleges.

Lynchburg's local colleges help our economy; however, the students also make it more difficult to get around town. Some places become not worth the wait during the school year.

Here's a list of the top 10 places to go and things to enjoy before the students return in August. Enjoy this list and the spirit in which it's intended: a humorous look at life in a college town.

These are all places that become innundated with students during the school year. This list may help you discover somewhere new or rediscover somewhere you haven't visited recently.

Cook-Out Restaurant on Wards Road is a great place for families. Cook-Out takes Liberty Flames Cash, meal cards that can be used like cash off-campus. Liberty's students discovered Cook-Out quickly and the lines stretched out to Wards Road almost from the first day. Lines of cars that were double wrapped around the building are thinned out during summer. Enjoy a reasonably price meal and a huge variety of milk shakes.

Panera Bread, with locations on Wards Road and Lakeside Drive, is a busy place during the school year. A favorite of Liberty and Lynchburg College students, the tables are full day or night once the students return. Panera sells a wide variety of sandwiches, multiple soups and salads, and great pastries and desserts.

Sweet Frog has several locations in the Lynchburg area but the most popular during the school year is the one on Wards Road. Located beside the Target shopping center, this Sweet Frog is the original Lynchburg location. It's also a favorite hangout of Liberty students. You can also enjoy Sweet Frog on Old Forest Road and on Route 221 in Forest. You'll also enjoy sweet treats at Mister Goodies on Timberlake Road, Monkey Joe's on Route 221 in Forest and Rita's Ice in the Graves Mill Center.

Cinemark Movies 10 is located in the Candlers Station Shopping Center. Offering the cheapest prices for movies, it's easy to see why this theater is a favorite of college kids. During the summer, enjoy family-friendly movies for a dollar every Tuesday and Wednesday. Movies begin at 10 a.m.

Speaking of summer movies, the Regal River Ridge Stadium 14 theater also offers family-friendly dollar movies at 10 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday during the summer. So pick your favorite theater and take in a movie this week.

Summertime is for outdoors. Enjoy the great outdoors at Lynchburg's parks and trails. Take a picnic lunch to Ivy Creek Park and enjoy the sounds of nature. Enjoy a day at the Sprayground at Riverside Park. Head to Peaks View Park and enjoy a round of disc golf. Spend a day swimming at Miller Park pool. Bring the bikes to Percival's Island or the Blackwater Creek Bikeway and hit the trails. Take a day trip to the Peaks of Otter in Bedford and hike Sharp Top Mountain. Enjoy the sunny days while they last.

Walmart is a favorite of nearly all college students everywhere. The Wards Road location makes Walmart especially attractive to Liberty students, many of whom walk or run across Wards Road to get there. The second Walmart store, located on Old Forest Road, is popular with the Lynchburg College students. School supply displays are out at Walmart so hit your favorite store and stock up before the students return.

Target is another favorite store for college students. There's only one Target in Lynchburg and it's located on Wards Road just a short distance up the road from Wal-Mart. Target sells more trendy items than Wal-Mart and appeals to a different crowd. Before the students return, do your back-to-school shopping at Target.

Barnes & Noble was the first local business to offer an internet connection to customers. When high speed wasn't the norm in many homes, many high school and college students would go to Barnes & Noble just for the internet. Located in the other end of the Target shopping center, Barnes & Noble remains popular with college kids in Lynchburg, but the foot traffic is lighter in the summer.

Wards Road is one of the busiest roads in the Lynchburg area. The combination of the Walmart and Target shopping centers, popular restaurants, and college traffic makes this road even busier during the school year. The new tunnel from Liberty University dumps traffic out just up the road from Walmart. Enjoy your favorite Wards Road restaurants now, before the students return.

Don't get too accustomed to the quiet though. Students will return to all of our local colleges in August. Now's the time to enjoy the Lynchburg only locals know: a quiet town that's just perfect for families.

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