As the summer months approach, many parents are making plans to visit their children at university. Whether this is for a weekend or a just a flying visit, Lexus has put together some tips about what to do and what to avoid when visiting, including some first-hand advice from students from several universities around the country. There’s also a list of some of the top things to do and see in some of the most popular student towns and cities.
What the students say
- Meet the housemates – Joshua, from Durham University, points out that students love meeting their friends’ parents, adding: “What better way to introduce yourself than bringing treats for your child’s flatmates too.” But it’s important to not outstay your welcome and settle in for an evening of drinking, and definitely don’t bring up any embarrassing childhood stories.
- Food, food and food! – Parents will be especially welcome if they have thought to do a big food shop and bring extra supplies that a student budget won’t always cover. As well as the basics, think about adding some extras, such as favourite treats, toiletries, and cleaning supplies. Libby, from Leeds Beckett, says: “Cutlery is always going missing from university kitchens, so new cookware and crockery is always appreciated.”
- Reminders of home – Claire from Loughborough University, adds: “It’s always comforting when parents bring something that reminds you of home”. Even something as a simple as a familiar cushion or picture can make a difference if your son or daughter is missing their home comforts.
A car with lots of boot space, like the Lexus NX 450h+ plug in hybrid SUV with its roomy boot, will be really useful for this.
- Take the siblings and the dog – Harriet, from Durham University, points out that visits from her parents are always more exciting when brothers, sisters and pets come too. If there’s space, why not fill all the seats in the car and make it a real family event.
- No surprise visits, please – Plan your visit ahead, making sure that your son or daughter isn’t going to be tied up with work or social activities when you’re in town. They will also appreciate time to make sure their accommodation is clean and tidy before you knock on the door. The students we spoke to recommend visiting for one or two days at a weekend, mid-term, when they have settled in but aren’t under pressure for project deadlines and exams.
- Check your vehicle follows the area’s environmental rules – More and more urban centres have become clean air zones, including leading university locations such as Bath, Bristol and Manchester. Make sure your vehicle’s emissions meet the regulations so you don’t have to pay extra charges: Lexus’s line-up of electrified SUVs, including the new NX 450h+, should keep you on the right side of the rules, being able to run on all-electric power in city traffic.
Where to go, what to see
University of Bath
- Spend a sunny morning at Good Day Café, known for its delicious brunch, brownies and coffee, or eat all things chocolate at Mrs Potts Chocolate House
- Tour the picturesque Bath Abbey and historic Roman Baths
- If your child has completed a stressful exam, a relaxing visit to the Thermae Bath Spa could be the perfect treat
- Admire the Georgian architecture and the views at the famous Royal Crescent, built in 1774
- See the city from above, at the Alexandra Park viewpoint
- Take a tour of the Wills Memorial Tower, which houses the university’s School of Law and Earth Sciences and is the venue for graduation ceremonies
- Explore Bristol’s historic harbourside with its host of restaurants, bars, and water sports activities.
- Walk across the Clifton Suspension Bridge, one of Bristol’s most famous landmarks.
- Visit Ashton Court Estate, not far from the bridge, and its network of bike trials and walking routes
- Browse the maze of stalls at St Nicks Market in the historic city centre
- Walk along the Royal Albert Dock and enjoy the restaurants, shops, and museums, including the Tate art gallery
- Take a trip to Bold Street where you can enjoy cuisines from all around the world
- Pick up an electric scooter for your own city tour, taking in landmarks such as the Liver Building and the cathedrals
- Soak up the city’s history with visits to Durham’s cathedral and castle
- Just half an hour by car from Durham, Newcastle’s Eldon Square is a great place for shopping
- Enjoy the food and the wonderful view at the Riverview Kitchen
- Although Coventry is a long way from any seaside, its Wave waterpark offers plenty of aquatic family fun
- The city’s Memorial Park is a great place to stroll, with more than 100 acres of trees and green spaces
- There are plenty of places to enjoy international food, including the Jinseon Korean barbecue restaurant
- No visit to Coventry is complete without a visit to the cathedral – the ruins of the building destroyed in wartime bombing and its modern replacement
University of Sussex
- Take a trip to Brighton Pier and enjoy the amusements and rides, as well as the view
- Wander around the quirky Brighton Lanes, with plenty of small independent shops and specialist jewellers
- Take a short ride out to Brighton Marina and enjoy a drink or a meal with a great view over the Channel
University of Kent
- Like many university towns, Canterbury has a great array of cafes, bars and restaurants with an international flavour
- The hillside campus above the city is itself a great place to wander around, and the city centre – much of it pedestrianised – is rich in historic buildings, not least the towering cathedral
- Hire a punt on the River Stour that flows through the city centre, so you can admire the historic buildings from the water
- Take the short trip to Whitstable for the day and enjoy local seafood – oysters in particular – on the seafront
University of Swansea
- With so many beautiful places to visit around Swansea, and given it is a long way from most places, an overnight stay is recommended
- If the weather is good, visit Mumbles beach, which is just a few minutes’ drive from Swansea. It’s won awards for being ‘Britain’s Best Beach’ and also ‘Best Picnic Spot’. You can also visit Oystermouth Castle on a hill overlooking Mumbles, with amazing views of the sea
- Slightly further afield, the Gower Peninsula is around 30 minutes’ drive from Swansea. It was the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has glorious beaches
- If mountains are more your thing, then visit the Brecon Beacons for glorious views, stunning waterfalls and some of Britain’s most famous caves
Leeds Beckett University
- There’s plenty of top-class sporting action to enjoy, so plan to see a match at Leeds United Football Club or Leeds Rhinos Rugby Club
- Greek Street is a great place to wander with its vibrant bars and restaurants
- The spectacular rooftop gardens are the crowning glory of the Belgrave Music Hall, a thriving centre of music, art, comedy and more
- Take a walk in Roundhay Park which has 700 acres of parkland and lakes and a tropical butterfly house