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Purdue Perks - A Student’s Guide to Hidden Gems and Favorite Spots

Miranda Dunco


You could say I know my way around Purdue. Not only have I attended school here for the last three years, but I’ve lived in the area my entire life. Whether going to a Purdue basketball game or grabbing a sweet at my favorite ice cream shop, I’ve had time to figure out the best spots around Purdue’s campus – so check out my vlog or read more below to discover some of my favorite places!



My go-to study spots

While Purdue has a lot of fun things to do outside of schoolwork, one of the most important things to find as a college student is a quality study space. After spending time in many places across campus, I can safely say my go-to spot is the second floor of Rawls Hall, home to the Daniels School of Business. As a marketing major at Daniels, Rawls is a super convenient place to hunker down and work on homework, study, or hang out with friends! I also love the natural sunlight that pours through the huge glass windows overlooking the Memorial Union and Mitch Daniels Boulevard. Even when classes are stressful, Rawls provides a cozy and bright atmosphere. If Rawls is busy, it’s convenient to walk through the sky bridge that connects Rawls to Krannert – another Daniels School building with plenty of comfortable study spaces.

The most underrated on-campus café

When I’m not in class or studying on campus, I love retreating to one of Purdue’s best-kept secrets, Vienna Coffee. Nestled in the heart of campus, Vienna is my favorite place to grab a delicious cup of hot coffee and enjoy the shop’s laid-back, homey vibe. While on the smaller side, Vienna has a wide range of food and drink to enjoy, and the entire menu is handwritten on stylish chalkboards above the registers. What’s more, Vienna has a punch card reward system for customers to use toward free drinks. Even with other popular coffee spots on campus like Greyhouse and Indie Coffee Roasters, this underrated small business is definitely worth checking out.

The best place for a sweet treat

West Lafayette’s very best ice cream parlor will always hold a soft spot in my heart (no pun intended). Located just down the road from the heart of campus on Chauncy Avenue, Silver Dipper is a go-to spot for many Purdue students, local families, and guests. I have so many fond childhood memories of hanging out with family and friends while grabbing a scoop or two from Silver Dipper’s 50+ ice cream flavors (not to mention their Sundaes)! Once I came to Purdue and went to Silver Dipper with my new college friends, I felt a strong sense of nostalgia and pride – my love for Purdue and ice cream had now come full circle as I returned to the shop as a student!

The premier dorm experience

One of the most stressful parts of beginning college is figuring out residence life. As freshmen, everyone wonders how they will make friends, where they will live, and whether the building is updated to the 21st century or frozen in the mid-1960s. Fortunately, Purdue offers its students many quality living spaces, including my dorm freshman year, Meredith South Residence Hall. Providing housing to women in various STEM-based learning communities, I applied to live in Meredith South through the Women in Business learning community. In short, learning communities provide students with a group of like-minded, passionate students who share similar academic interests. In this cohort, I was able to live near other women interested in business in one of the newest and most comfortable residence halls on campus. One of the best parts about Meredith South is its location, where most classes are within ten minutes of the residence hall.

Additionally, I loved the group study spaces built on each floor, equipped with wall-mounted whiteboards and collaborative workstations, along with private study rooms that overlook the hustle and bustle of campus. However, the best part of Meredith South is on the ground floor, where both Panera and Qdoba have locations. It’s so convenient to return after classes, grab Panera mac-n-cheese with a quick meal swipe, and retreat to a quiet study room to do homework and unwind. While housing can often be a stressful experience, Purdue offers helpful resources like learning communities to make campus feel more like home.

Lafayette’s best-kept surprise!

Venturing off campus can be as fun as exploring Purdue! A bridge over the Wabash River connects Purdue to charming downtown Lafayette, which offers its own adventures and hidden gems. One of my personal favorites sits cozily in the center of downtown Lafayette and is one of the most underrated places to visit around town – Lazy Cat Lounge! This lounge allows guests to hang out with adorable cats for a small entrance fee while offering light refreshments like Keurig coffee and other small snacks. The environment is cozy and inviting, and I love being able to unwind, listen to relaxing music, and hang out with adorable and cuddly cats.

What’s more, the Lazy Cat Lounge serves as a socializing center for cats, allowing them a safe and comfortable environment until community members adopt them. Every cat is vaccinated and cared for by professionals – but the best part is how sweet they are! The lounge does a fantastic job training the cats and ensuring they are prepared to interact with guests. I love visiting with my friends and playing with these furry friends. Especially during stressful college moments, taking a trip across my bridge to boost my serotonin levels is always a good idea.

The best sports atmosphere in the country

The best advice is to save the best for last –precisely what I’m doing with my final spot around campus. While Purdue is known for its prestigious academics, accomplished alumni, and rigorous curricula, a certain buzz fills the air during the winter and spring in the state of Indiana – and especially in West Lafayette. That’s right -- I present to you, basketball games at Mackey Arena.

As I grew up, I fell in love with Purdue basketball. I remember sitting in my living room, refusing to sit on the couch because I wanted to be as close to the TV as possible. I remember hearing the Purdue student section passionately chant during games, and I thought, “One day, that’s gonna be me!”

Now, I’m living out my dream of devotedly cheering on my Boilermakers as a student. I’m a part of Paint Crew, Purdue’s official student section. Throughout the year, Purdue athletics creates opportunities for students to attend other sporting events for chances to win Paint Crew status, and I’ve been lucky enough to be a Paint Crew Member throughout my time as a student.

I’ve had many unforgettable memories watching Boilermaker basketball, but my favorite aspect of Mackey Arena is the atmosphere. There’s nothing like waiting anxiously for tip-off with thousands of other students and fans and then exploding with excitement when the team takes the floor. It’s so special to connect with so many other students through athletics, and the deal is even sweeter when our team is consistently ranked in the top 10!

While I tried to highlight my favorite places around Purdue, my picks can’t do this community justice. If there’s one piece of advice I have for you, I invite you to come to Purdue and experience this place for yourself. If you’re anything like me, you’ll fall in love pretty quickly.

Headshot of Miranda Dunco

Miranda Dunco is a junior at Purdue studying general management and marketing. A lifelong West Lafayette native, Miranda has connected with Purdue since she was young, whether through sports or youth camps. As a student, Miranda served for three semesters as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Chair and Teaching Assistant for the Brock-Wilson Center for Women in Business. Additionally, Miranda is an active member of the Larsen Leaders Academy and Paint Crew, Purdue’s official student section for basketball. Miranda most recently interned with Aurora Parts as a Human Resources Intern in Lebanon, Indiana. She will further her professional experience as a Summer 2024 Store Executive Team Lead intern for Target.

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