As University of Maryland students wrap up attending tedious classes and completing stressful workloads, odds are many of them are ready to let loose and enjoy themselves come the weekend. While the area surrounding UMD’s campus only has so many options for doing so, students certainly know how to make the most of it.
One popular spot is RJ Bentley’s, a restaurant and bar converted from an old gas station that offers various food items and weekly drink specials. The restaurant and bar, commonly referred to by students as “Bent’s,” is arguably the most popular bar in College Park among students. Six days of the week, Bent’s offers 20 percent off drinks during their happy hour, and they serve tasty food items such as fried pickles and crab dip. Bent’s seems to be the current bar of choice for most people who enjoy going out in College Park because of its indoor and outdoor areas; attendees “enjoy having the option,” said one anonymous sophomore. However, the line and cover fee can at times be hefty, which is then when students will typically flock to Cornerstone Grill and Loft.
Cornerstone is also known for providing bar-goers with options, offering both a downstairs sit-down environment and an upstairs loft. In both areas, one can order unique cocktails such as the Dirty Terp, a mix of mango, pineapple and cherry vodka, cranberry juice, and a tropical Red Bull, or the Maryland Mule, made with whisky, lime juice, and ginger beer. and downstairs many food items are available like the loaded “totchos,” tater tots loaded with classic nacho toppings like cheese and Pico de Gallo, or their signature Cstone mac and cheese. Typically, the downstairs region is where people sit and talk and enjoy a more relaxed environment, while the upstairs loft is a hub for dancing and guests who are “more visibly drunk,” said the same anonymous sophomore.
Terrapin’s Turf, a bar located right across the street from both Bent’s and Cornerstone, is another popular option. WhileTurf is generally known as the “freshmen bar,” but that same anonymous sophomore, who originally did not like attending Turf for this reason, commented that it has “gotten better,” meaning that it seems to now be attracting a broader crowd not limited to freshmen. The fourth and final bar which is prominent among College Park residents is Looney’s Pub. This bar serves food and drinks such as jerk chicken and the “Looney bin painkiller,” made with multiple types of rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and piña colada mix, and has special deals which run on its “Looney Tuesdays.” Looney’s is typically home to an older crowd, specifically graduate students and some professors. Marie Laverdiere, a Teaching Assistant for UMD’s School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures said that if she is going to participate in College Park’s night life, Looney’s would ideally be the spot to go. Laverdiere said that she is a fan of Looney’s, but typically avoids going out in College Park because of the discomfort in potentially running into her students. She said that she would prefer not to see her students intoxicated, noting, “it’s awkward enough when I run into them at the gym.”
While the bars are typically considered to be the most popular destination for those looking to take advantage of College Park’s nightlife, fraternity parties held in Old Town and organized Greek life events are also a solid option, especially when the “public places are overall crowded, noisy, and have really long wait times,” as noted by our anonymous source.
Tyler Braisted, 20, shared that his preferred form of “partying” in College Park is spending time with his fraternity brothers. He enjoys his fraternity’s planned events, such as its formal. During this event, the brothers invite dates, and all guests go together to some club-like location and enjoy music, dancing, and drinks. While it is no secret that fake IDs are not uncommon among students, Braisted shared that the under-21 crowd has a “lack of options” for places to go to participate in College Park’s night scene.
Both Braisted and his girlfriend, Tamara Heller, who is a member of one of the sororities here on campus, shared that they feel more comfortable hanging out at locations where there will be other members of Greek life present. “College Park itself is limited in what it can offer in a nightlife,” shared Heller, which is why being able to mingle with those also in a sorority or a fraternity can be so rewarding, providing individuals with a more direct path toward meeting new people with common interests. However, Heller gave College Park’s night life a C-grade overall.
While the nightlife scene in College Park can be questionable, it is far from absent. Students have the option to attend the local bars mentioned to rally or just have a bite to eat. Perhaps the night feels more like the time to hit a classic frat party or registered Greek life event. Those who prefer staying in can likely hang out with friends in or around their own homes. All in all, anyone can find a way to enjoy evenings in College Park.