Finals season is here again. The late-night study sessions and hours spent behind books can become taxing, both mentally and physically, in the confining walls of Fondren (especially with all that construction noise). Sometimes, the best study solution is to get off campus.
The Daily Campus understands the needs of frazzled Mustangs during finals week, and we’re here to help. We teamed up with students from SMU Journalism’s Technology Reporting course to create an interactive map plotting out 46 nearby spots where you can get your coffee fix during this finals season. The map includes our own suggestions, as well as tips from readers who responded to our online poll. It also designates each shop by price ($, $$ and $$$) and whether the atmosphere is geared toward a fast coffee pickup or a longer study session.
Below the map, we describe eight hidden gems you might want to consider for a different study environment away from The Hilltop. Good luck during finals, Mustangs. You got this.
The best, hidden gems to study at this finals season
(*= recommended by Daily Campus readers)
Mudsmith* (2114 Greenville Ave.)
Mudsmith boasts a wide selection of breakfast items and coffee choices, as well as a plethora of outlets for studying and working. The free Wi-Fi and late hours (open 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Friday) makes the coffee shop fill up fast on weekdays and weekends. Mudsmith offers specialty coffees like the Van Gogh Spritzer, an iced coffee consisting of four shots of espresso mixed with sparking water and syrup, but the reader favorite is the classic macchiato.
Wild Detectives (314 W. Eighth St.)
The house turned bookstore in the Bishop Arts District offers a quiet place to study, read and work until midnight almost every day of the week. The Wild Detectives offers everything from original coffee drinks to snacks and craft beers. The atmosphere breeds the desire to study as books surround the walls of the store. The only downfall to the space is that the establishment recently decided to shut down its free Wi-Fi from 5 p.m. Friday to Sunday night; however, if you need a location to study with no distractions, this is the place to go.
Serj Books (400 N. St. Paul)
Owners Anne Holcomb and John Walsh are notorious for remembering Serj customers’ names and telling them cheesy jokes when they order. Holcomb and Walsh created a shop that offers simple food and drinks at a low price. Serj is the perfect place to study with its long wooden tables covered with paper and cups of crayons for brainstorming. At Serj, you can doodle while you work.
White Rock Coffee* (10105 E. Northwest Hwy.)
To get away from the SMU crowd, visit White Rock Coffee, a favorite amongst locals. The coffee shop has a welcoming atmosphere and is a place to escape the hustle and bustle of other, similar coffee shops. The quaint-looking shop contains two floors with generous options for seating on both counters and tables. The location is open until midnight Friday and Saturday and 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday. Bonus? There are free refills on coffee (try the Lady of the Lake Blend).
Taschen Library at the Joule Hotel (1530 Main St.)
Need a comfortable spot to read that 300-page book you’ve been avoiding all semester? Head on over to the Taschen Library at the Joule Hotel. The luxurious library shop located within the hotel’s lobby houses a long table and comfortable couches for serious reading. The library is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., which is plenty of time to make a dent in that book of yours.
Sip Stir (3800 McKinney Ave., Ste. 180)
When you don’t want to feel trapped inside four walls, visit Sip Stir. The coffee shop has large glass windows across the front of the shop that illuminates the room and lets patrons view the outdoors. The relaxed coffee bar offers authentic coffee and snacks, as well as free, reliable Wi-Fi. A big plus is the friendly staff and calming music played over the loudspeakers.
Watermark Coffee* (7540 Lyndon B. Johnson Fwy.)
This is the perfect place to study with large groups due to the open space and overabundance of seating options. The coffee shop located within Watermark Community Church offers beverages and comfortable couches to anyone who stops by. The view from the building is serene as it overlooks an outdoor patio space, and the inside is warm due to the large fireplace. The shop is only open on weekdays and stays open later Tuesday nights.
Reader’s Choice: Union* (5622 Dyer St.)
In our informal survey of students and crowdsourcing, Union was the clear favorite. The shop is located close to campus and is open until 11 p.m. every day of the week. If you need to study with a larger group, you can rent a conference room for $15/hour that has a large table and white boards for collaboration. There are lots of seating options, too, from cubicle-like tables and lounge tables to couches and comfy chairs. The fair-trade coffee spot also donates 10 percent of its proceeds to charity.
Other reader suggestions included Cafe 100 on campus, Cafe Express at Mockingbird Station, Oak Lawn Coffee, and the Starbucks locations on Hillcrest Avenue and at Preston Center. Thanks to all who offered suggestions!