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Cheapies opposite Gore Park is your one stop shop for music trades and purchases. (Alyssa Lai/CBC)

You are new to Hamilton and you want to get beyond the ivory tower to experience what the city has to offer.

So we scoured the student-run forum Macinsiders.com to come up with a list of community hotspots for Mac students starting new. Here are 10 ways you can experience Hamilton. They are just as good for the wallflowers as social butterflies.

Books for leisure and for collecting

The written word is not just for bookworms. And these bookstores have more than just textbooks.

Bookworm at 852 King St. West gives you books that are hard to find. The shop has two floors and its inventory changes daily, stocks books on spirituality, classics, children's literature and more.

Marvel comic lovers rejoice. You can visit Conspiracy Comics Fames and Anime for new and old editions of your favourite comic superheros to add to your collection.   

Nature spots for a break and a jog

Take a break from class and hike along Cootes Paradise.

McMaster students do not need to go far to experience nature's beauty. Cootes is accessible from Brandon Hall at McMaster. While you explore the forest behind the campus, keep an eye out for deer.

Avid joggers could head to Princess Point, located at the bottom of Longwood Road, for a run along the Hamilton Waterfront Trail.

If you keep running along 7.5km trail, you will end up at Bayfront Park and can watch the sun set.

Sweet treats, hot and cold

Dessert lovers can get their sweet fix at Hamilton Waterfront Scoops Ice-cream Parlour. With 15 flavours to choose from you have lots of choice.

But if it is too cold to venture outside for a chocolate peanut butter ice-cream, you can always settle for something similar and slightly warmer closer to campus.

Westdale Village's Cupcakes will satisfy your chocolate cravings with its chocolate vanilla cupcake. Or choose something more decadent like red velvet. 

Lunch can be quick or spicy

Dessert alone won't cut it and you may need something more substantial for lunch. Go to Locke Street South and pop into one of the local eateries for sandwiches, soups or salads.

For those who like it spicy, you won't be disappointed with Indian Garden Restaurant's tandoori dishes and curries. They pack a punch.

Karaoke and movie nights

Sing along to jingles or go solo with Duran Duran on Fridays at Staircase Theatre. Their improv workshops and shows will tickle your belly.

Movie-goers looking for non-mainstream films could go to Westdale Theatre for a different movie night experience.

Friday night pubs and clubs

You don't have to go far for that extra pint and chicken wings. The Snooty Fox in Westdale and Westend Pub along Emerson both have a good selection of draught and appetizers.

Alternatively, head down to Hess Village at the end of the week for a more lively night scene. Visit one of the bars, dance the night away, and paint the town red.

Indoor and laid-back activities

Kill some time and try out glow-in-the-dark bowling at University Lanes in Dundas You are sure to be impressed with the fluorescent light show.

Alternatively, walk across to 1635 Main Street West from campus to Skyline Bar and Billiards, for a night of pool.

Vinyl and rock records for music enthusiasts

Hamilton's music scene is second to none and there is a fair selection of new, used, and rare CDs and DVDs at Cheapies, located opposite Gore Park.

From Gore Park, head farther north to Wilson Street and Dr. Disc Hamilton for more albums. You may want to check out the store's DJ equipment if you like mixing music.

Eat and buy local at the markets

It is a 15-minute bus ride from McMaster and it is open all year round. The Hamilton Farmers' Market has been serving the community for 175 years and is eager to serve more.

Shop for produce, hunt for your favourite blue cheese and speak to the vendors. You will get ideas (and ingredients) for your meals.

If you have more time to spare, head farther down to the Ottawa St. Farmers' Market on Fridays and Saturdays for more market delights.

Experience culture for cheap or free

Mac students are lucky; they don't need to burn a hole in their wallet for a taste of fine music, thanks to the Get Cultured program.

You could listen to masterpieces like Mozart and Beethoven for $10 at the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra.

Or even better: Explore other cultural and historic hotspots like Dundurn National Historic Site and Hamilton Military Museum for free.