Looking ahead on your calendar to this weekend might’ve sparked in you a sense of dread. Don’t worry, that’s common for Buckeyes on bye weekends.
With no game and no reason to don your most spirited Scarlet and Gray, perhaps you feel a hole in your heart or a pit in your stomach. You might wonder, “What is there to do without Buckeye football?”
Or maybe you don’t care about football. At all.
Either way, there are plenty of fun ways to beat the boredom during a free weekend in Columbus, and I’ve compiled a few of them for you.
1. Take a day trip to Polaris or Easton
Retail therapy is not only a good way to forget about the lack of Ohio State football in your weekend, but also a way to break up the monotony of your daily on-campus routines. Both Polaris and Easton are not far, and if you have a friend with a car, they’re easy day trips.
Don’t have access to wheels? You can also get to both by bus. It takes a little longer, but as someone who used her BuckID for COTA rides all over Columbus during her freshman year, I can say it’s definitely doable.
2. See a show
Columbus has a great scene for music and other performance arts. It’s obviously a hot spot for big-name tours that roll through the state, but beyond the box-office breakers, there are plenty of shows you can see on a college student’s budget—or even for free.
Right downtown, accessible by the No. 2 COTA bus route, is Columbus Commons, which hosts plenty of free events throughout the year, including concerts and plays. This Saturday, check out a high-energy performance by Columbus Dance Theatre. If music is more your scene, go see a smaller-venue show at The Basement, Kobo, or Kafe Kerouac, just to name a few. Tickets to these shows are often pretty cheap, and even if you don’t know a ton—or any—of the artist’s music, that’s half the fun. You might even discover your new favorite band.
3. Spend an afternoon in the park
While Ohio is in this limbo between summer and fall, the weather is about as perfect as it gets to enjoy one of Columbus’ many parks. Whether you pack a picnic (grab sandwiches and chips from Subway), get chai lattes for you and a friend, or just bring some music and headphones, a day in the park is something most college students forget to enjoy.
Some of my favorite places to spend the afternoon are Goodale Park in Victorian Village and Glen Echo Park on the border of Clintonville and the University District. Both are within walking or jogging distance of campus, adding to the time you can spend enjoying the great outdoors.
4. Walk through the Short North
That’s it. You don’t have to enter with a plan. Just walk through it.
The Short North Arts District is filled with endlessly fascinating shops, restaurants, and galleries. There’s vintage shop A Gal Named Cinda Lou, T-shirt trove Homage, stationery shop On Paper and indescribable Big Fun Columbus — named one of the 20 Coolest Stores in America. Whether you crave the dynamic ice cream flavors of Jeni’s or the simplicity of Whit’s Frozen Custard, the Short North can satisfy your sweet tooth.
One of my fondest memories from my first year at Ohio State is a night my roommates and I dressed up and went to dinner at Hubbard Grille in the Short North. It was simple, but nontraditional, and we had a great time. The Short North does not disappoint.
5. Get lost in The Book Loft
The Book Loft in German Village will forever be my pick for a “must-see” place in Columbus. It’s located in the heart of German Village—which is also worth exploring—and is accessible from campus with the No. 8 COTA bus. With 32 seemingly endless rooms of books, The Book Loft is one of the nation’s few remaining independent book stores, and it is absolutely wonderful.
I’ve spent so many days getting lost in the maze of this place, and learning its twists and turns has been both fun and relaxing. The Book Loft is just one of those places you have to see to completely understand its glory, and it is without a doubt one of the coolest places in Columbus. Plus, books tend to be a little cheaper there, so shop away.
However you decide to spend your days of freedom from class, don’t be afraid to branch out beyond playing video games in your dorm room with your roommates and ordering PAD. While it’s easy to fall into that routine, Columbus has so much more to offer, and this is the best time to take advantage of it.