Exeter is a lovely New England town, and is probably one of the cheapest and quickest rides you can take on the Amtrak Downeaster. Much of the activity happens where Main Street becomes Water Street, near the Exeter River Reservoir about a half mile from the Amtrak stop.
- Stillwells Riverwalk Ice Cream is one of the first businesses you will encounter on this stretch of Water Street, sitting in front of the river at 190 Water St. Though the ice cream is served in Styrofoam, the portions are huge. The prices are standard prices for an ice cream seller, and the many flavors – “over 60,” as the business claims – contain both standard and unique flavors.
- Squamscott River and Clemson Pond: After visiting Stillwells and passing the boathouse of private school Phillips Exeter Academy, you can meander along Swasey Parkway. This parkway provides benches, walking paths and grass to picnic on while watching the Squamscott River and the Exeter River Reservoir. Aquatic birds, including herons, like the river, both its shores and the water, and it is a good spot to sit and watch wildlife. Both sides of the river have walkways, and a walkway encircles Clemson Pond.
- American Independence Museum: On the other side of Main Street, technically at 1 Governors Lane, is the seasonally open American Independence Museum, which reopens in May. The museum consists of buildings hailing from the Revolutionary War era, and artifacts of the same time. Two buildings are on top of a hill, and those are old homes, while the one building at the bottom of a hill is an old tavern. The museum hosts many events throughout its season, including parades. A student ticket is only $4.
- Water Street Bookstore: Water Street Bookstore, located at 125 Water St., is open daily, and has books in a number of genres in a layout made for browsing and getting lost in all the interesting books. The books aren’t just the latest bestsellers either, as Water Street Books highlights indie books (books published by independent publishers instead of major publishing houses), though bestsellers can be found too. Local authors often come by, such as Dr. Kabria Baumgartner of the College of Liberal Arts, who will be visiting Water Street Books on Feb. 18 with her recently published book “In Pursuit of Knowledge.”
- Green Bean on Water: Some of the restaurants in Exeter are not terribly fitting for a student budget, but the Green Bean on Water, a counter-order, sit-down restaurant of sandwiches, soups and salads, is a student-friendly place. The restaurant is near Water Street Bookstore at 33 Water St., has a gravel patio in front and truly sits on the water, with windows overlooking the reservoir. The Green Bean is popular with locals, and is filling with both typical food and unique but not out-of-the-world twists on standard menu items.