Campus Life

10 Free Things To Do Around Ohio State

Who said you can’t have fun for free? With a campus as large as Ohio State‘s there’s always something to do, even when you’re on a tight budget. Here’s a list of things to do around Ohio State, on campus or off campus (because the COTA is free too), to do when you’re feeling extra bored and extra broke.

1. OUAB Events

The Ohio Union Activities Board is notoriously known for hosting plethora of free events on campus all the time. I recommend staying up to date on the OUAB event schedule for the opportunity to see some of you favorite speakers, performers, comedians, plays, musicians, public figures, movies and much more more for free!

2. Athletics

Ohio State is known nationally for competing in the NCAA Division 1 for all sports, and for competing within the big ten in most sports. The best part is, students can enter (nearly) every sport’s home games with just a valid Buckid. This free offer excludes only men’s basketball games and football games. Besides those two exceptions, students are welcome to crash any sports event ranging from baseball games to fencing matches to women’s ice hockey games. Spend your free time supporting our Buckeye athletes.


3. Museums

Explore anything from geology to comics art in the Columbus area. There are multiple museums on and off campus that offer free entry. On campus students can enter the Wexner Art Center, Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum, and Orton Hall Geological Museum with a valid Buckid. Additionally the Museum of Biological Diversity is free on their annual open house. Don’t forget off campus attractions, like the Columbus Museum of Art which offers free admission every Sunday!

4. Fitness & Fun

If you are a student taking 4+ credit hours at Ohio State’s main campus then you’re blessed with what we call a “rec sports membership.” Many of you probably knew this and find it pretty irrelevant because who has time for the gym anyway? The perks to this pass, however, are worth making a visit to one of the many rec facilities. This pass earns you free group fitness classes (including yoga, hip-hop, etc), access to the aquatic center, indoor basketball courts, volleyball courts, racquet ball area, ping pong table, wallyball courts, and an indoor rock wall! If you do not have a “rec sports membership” or if you just prefer to be outdoors, you’re also in luck. Our massive campus has multiple outdoor basketball, sand volleyball, and tennis courts as well as soccer fields. There’s basically no excuse to be out of shape around here!

5. Join the “Club” Community

During freshman orientation, probably one the biggest things advertised about this campus is the amount of clubs, the fact there’s a club for “everything”, and the idea that anyone can form their own club. With so many clubs on campus, there’s always a meeting to crash, even if you’re just going for the free food (never too late to get involved right!?). If you aren’t one to join a club/ attend a meeting, additionally many clubs host events, performances, or seminars. Often times these events are free to attend and pose more opportunities for free food. 

6. The Good Old Olentangy

The brown contaminated river we know as the Olentangy may not be your ideal definition of fun… but the Olentangy trail bordering the river is a whole other story. Swimming is not encouraged, but hiking and biking along this beautiful path sure is! The trail is 13 miles long stretching all the way from Worthington to Downtown Columbus. The best part is it is accessible from campus, so if you’re looking to get to know Columbus while exploring the great outdoors- this is the place for you. 

7. Explore Short North

If you haven’t yet I recommend exploring Short North’s hidden treasures from the intriguing street art to the exciting urban culture. A perfect excuse to venture down to the Short North on the COTA is for the monthly gallery hop. It is the first Saturday of every month from 4pm until 10pm. What better way to get to know the area than through various art exhibitions and activities?

P.S. I recommend going a little early to check out Goodale Park and do some window shopping.

See Also

8. Volunteer

On the surface volunteering may not sound too fun, but think of it as a way to help people, help a good cause, and meet people all at once! Volunteering can be especially fun when it overlaps your personal interests. If you’re a dog person look into helping out at a pet shelter so you can play with puppies for hours! If you’re a runner, or an aspiring runner, volunteer to cheer on the Columbus marathon runners. You may even get a few freebies or see some people you know!

9. The Scioto Mile

The Scioto Mile is a vast area along the Scioto River with that includes everything from trails to stellar views of Downtown Columbus. Some highlights of the Scioto Mile are a grand fountain, swings, an amphitheater, recreational trails, the Cultural Arts Center, Bicentennial Park, Genoa Park, Batelle Riverfront Park, NorthBank Park, McFerson Commons, and the Scioto Audubon. There is far too much to see and do in one day between the many parks, paths, and attractions but it is worth at least one visit if not multiple.


10. Bucket List Of Other Things To Do/Sights To See

If this list wasn’t enough, here are a few other ideas of things to do, see, and explore in the Columbus area: Ohio State’s Labyrinth Garden, the Chadwick Arboretum, the Ohio State Planetarium, Knowlton Hall’s rooftop garden, the Topiary park, the German village area (especially the Book Loft and Schiller Park), and last but of course not least, Petland.

What are your favorite things to do around Ohio State? Share in the comments below!
Featured image source:
Abbey Carey

Junior at tOSU

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