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Get to Know Orono- A guide for out of state students to eating, shopping, and more!

As an out-of-stater myself, I was lost when I first moved up to Orono. I had only been here once before for a campus tour, which did not turn out to be helpful for navigating campus. Coming from a busy, bustling part of Massachusetts, to a Maine university came with a few culture shocks.

 Despite not being far from one another, I discovered shortly after my arrival to Orono that Maine and Massachusetts are vastly different in many ways. Back home, the shopping malls are gargantuan buildings that have stores like Lush, Victoria’s Secret, Hollister, Macy’s, and JCPenney. My first trip to the Bangor Mall was the first time I had ever seen a Dick’s Sporting Goods at the mall, which didn’t have many levels and looked more like a series of plazas. As for the more popular places to get coffee, I had no idea what an “Aroma Joe’s” was until my friends and I randomly decided to try it one day. 

After a couple months of trial and error, I finally feel like I have gotten to know my surroundings a bit more. I have my regular coffee places, where I like to study and shop, and fun places to hang out with friends. These places range in price and style, and for some things it might be better to just shop online. Without further adieu, let’s get to know Orono!

Food/Drink:

Woodman’s Bar and Grill

By far, one of my favorite places to eat is Woodman’s. Located at 31 Main St. in Orono, it serves classic American food with some unique takes. They have a bar that serves locally-sourced craft beer, and a cute outdoor patio area that they light up each night. The inside has a very warm ambiance and is tastefully decorated in classic pub style. My favorite meal to order is the Chicken Florentine Alfredo, which has diced tomatoes, spinach, spicy chicken, and is served with garlic bread. My family and I also ordered the Spinach and Artichoke Dip as an appetizer, and it was extremely well made and tasted amazing.

Aroma Joe’s

    As previously mentioned, I had never had any previous experience with Aroma Joe’s before my first week at school. Although my Mainer friends raved about it, I was still a little skeptical. My first time trying it, I ordered a frozen lemonade, which was boring and I should’ve been more adventurous. Regardless, I thought it was good and elected to try more items on the menu. After quite a few trips, my regular order is a Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie and a Sausage, Cheddar, Buttermilk Biscuit made with Cage Free Egg. Besides this, they have an astronomical amount of different coffees, drinks, and breakfast sandwiches. They also serve many different types of bagels, hash browns, and cute little oat cups. Aromas is a go-to for almost everyone on campus, so I would recommend going inside to check it out because the drive through tends to wrap around the building and into the roundabout. The wait can be a little long, but it is definitely worth it. It’s fairly cheap too!

Orono House of Pizza

I’ve come to discover that Orono has more pizza places than anything else. There is Riverside, Pat’s, and of course Dominos. But despite these wonderful options, my favorite has to be Orono House of Pizza, also known as OHOP. It has become my preferred take-out for nights when I don’t feel like spending too much money and I don’t want to leave the dorms. Other than their pizza, they make delicious dinners and appetizers. If I’m in the mood for a slice, my favorite is the Barbeque Chicken Pizza, but if I’m not, I’ll get their chicken wings or a Chicken Caesar Wrap. 

Kobe Ninja House Japanese Grill

This is one of the best restaurants I’ve been to during my time at UMaine. The crab rangoon is some of the best I’ve had, and I loved their fried rice and California sushi rolls. They are great for take-out, but dining in is the best experience. The restaurant has a cool ambiance and it is a fun experience that is not too bad on the wallet! This particular place is located in Bangor, not Orono, however it is still a short distance from campus making it perfect for nights out, birthdays, or anytime you want a little Japanese food.

The Family Dog

This is another favorite for a lot of students at UMaine. The Fam Dog is a casual hot dog/burger grill that’s perfect for lunches. They have vegetarian options as well! They also have a plethora of different sides including mac & cheese, and you can even build your own burger. The chicken tenders with some honey mustard, along with their house-made lemonade is my go-to order whenever I’m there. They also have an ice cream window/bar where they serve cool flavors from Giffords that change depending on the day. Their backyard is the best place to take your food and hang out with friends! 

Honorable Mentions & Notes:

Governor’s, Margarita’s, Pat’s Pizza, and Harvest Moon Deli are a few honorable mentions. I have not personally been to all of them, but they are close to campus and I have heard good things about each of them. Margarita’s even does Trivia Tuesdays! Bangor also has a cute little frozen yogurt shop called Sweet Frog. Additionally, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area like Starbucks, Dunkin’, Subway, Dairy Queen, McDonalds, and Burger King.

On-Campus Dining Tips:

As I explored the dining options on campus, I quickly realized that some on-campus dining is better than others. After trying them all multiple times, the best places to eat on campus are the Bear’s Den Cafe in the Union and Wells Central just off the Mall. At Bear’s Den, they have the most food options, and in my opinion, it has the best quality on campus. Here you can use debit cards, credit cards, Bear Bucks, and your dining funds to pay for the food. During the afternoons, they also do a “meal exchange,” so if you do not have access to any of these things, it swaps your dining hall meal with one from the Den. However, this is limited to a certain number of exchanges per week. Wells Dining is also better than the other dining halls in terms of quality. At Wells, it is just like any other dining hall when it comes to swiping your MaineCard to get in. The only catch is they only serve breakfast and lunch.

Shopping:

Bangor

Bangor, in my opinion, is the best place to go shopping near campus. It is where you can get all of your necessities, clothes, dorm groceries, and anything else you need. Bangor has stores like Target and Walmart, which are great options for  snacks and random things to keep you entertained like Cards Against Humanity, cheap art supplies, or movies. Bangor Mall also has the best places to shop for clothes such as American Eagle, Aeropostale, and JCPenney.

University Bookstore

The bookstore is one of the first places everyone goes on campus, and it is not hard to see why. Students and their families not only purchase textbooks, but also all of their UMaine gear. The bookstore has almost everything students could need. They even have a tech center to purchase laptops, chargers, clickers, etc. They also have phone wallets, Tylenol, souvenirs, postcards, laundry supplies, bottled water, anything you need for a quick solution. The bookstore is the best place to go in a pinch!

Hello! My name is Sarah, and I am a first year International Affairs major at the University of Maine. I am a huge reader, I am a fan of anything outdoors, and I obviously love to write! :)
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