Drinking is a social event for college students. With nothing to do, nowhere to go and nothing to talk about, students are thirsty — thirsty for entertainment and adventure. More often than not, students quench their thirst with booze at the dozens of nightclubs and bars catered to the students 21 and over. But what about the students under the age of 21 who are just as parched without the same access to happy hour? Or those who simply want to break up the monotony of party-going and barhopping?
Regardless of the fact that I fall one month short of being legal myself, I truly believe Columbus is a city brimming with adventures for all young people. For the same price as a bar’s cover charge, you can catch an Uber, rent a Car2Go or simply use the COTA bus system to get to any of these adventurous locations:
1. Trapped in a Room with a Zombie (421 W. State Street)
Yes, this is a real thing. You can basically star in your own version of “The Walking Dead” for less than the price of a few stacks of red solo cups, a 12-pack of Bud Light, and damage control to your house party. Participants are put in the room with a hungry zombie and they must put their wits and strengths together to escape in under an hour. Tickets are $28 and reservations are made online.
2. Metro Parks
There are more than 16 metro parks in and around Columbus, including Blacklick Woods and Battelle Darby Creek. That’s more parks than bars you can feasibly hit during the famous senior bar crawl. Have a cookout or a picnic date. Take a new profile picture of you looking adventurous and standing on a tree trunk. Go sing “The hills are alive with the sound of music” on a random hill in a park. Just go.
3. Gallery Hop
Columbus is a diverse center for fashion, food, music, antiques and crazy sales — all of which can be found during the Short North’s gallery hop. Gallery Hop is full of new gallery openings and street performers. It happens the first Saturday of every month, so there’s plenty of time to plan ahead.
4. North Market
If you haven’t been to North Market since freshman-year orientation, it’s time to go again. Whether you live off campus or stay in a residence hall, you will inevitably get hungry for a taste of something other than ramen noodles. For reasonable prices, you can have Vietnamese, Italian and German delicacies all in one sitting and savory bakery items for dessert.
5. Book Loft of German Village (631 S. 3rd Street)
Not just for avid readers, the Book Loft is a maze of hidden treasures disguised as books. Get lost in hundreds of stacks of books, magazines, posters and literary-themed apparel, which all come together to fill the more than 30 rooms of the building.
6. Cake decorating, cooking and crafting
Have your cake and eat it too with cooking, baking and cake decorating classes offered at any of the Jo-Ann Fabrics stores in Columbus. Professionals also instruct classes for crocheting, sewing, paper crafts, photography and more. Class schedules can be found in-stores and online. Classes range in price from $10 to $55, depending on the subject.
7. Columbus Association for the Performing Arts
Theaters are not just for movies. The Lincoln and Ohio Theatres hold musicals, shows, performances and guest speakers, occasionally featuring Ohio State students and faculty of the performing arts. The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts also hosts exclusive events for $5 for students and young adults, making the arts in Columbus affordable especially for college students. A complete listing of shows and tickets running through June 3 are available on Gofor5.com.
8. The Columbus Symphony Orchestra
From lively, visual dynamics of composers to enchanting sounds from the players, the symphony is a great way to celebrate music, culture and history. My friend went with her boyfriend and they sat next to an old couple that hummed along to every piece. So clearly it’s a perfect date night for all couples, young and old.
9. Archery lessons
Columbus seems to be quite fond of Robin Hood with its archery options. Velocity Archery Range (2480 Creekway Drive) and Ace Archery (11785 Johnstown Utica Road) are just a few of the places to pick up your bow and arrow and try not to injure anyone.
10. Villages of Columbus
From German Village to Victorian Village to Italian District, there are plenty of gorgeous, historic areas in Columbus. There are green spaces, restaurants, boutiques and exposed-brick buildings — perfect for candid photo ops, dining ops, and date ops … all the ops you can imagine.
11. Columbus Zoo area
It’s a bit of a drive (or a carpool), but the zoo is always a fascinating time. Around the Columbus Zoo area are great dining options, an AMC movie theater, the Chief Leatherlips Monument — a limestone sculpture of the Wyandot Indian chief — and touring historic Dublin, Ohio.
12. Thurber House (77 Jefferson Ave.)
Thurber House is a living museum created from the preserved home of OSU alumnus, author and cartoonist James Thurber. Guests can take self-guided tours for free every day from 1-4 p.m. or guided tours on Sundays. Guided tours are $2 on Sundays for students and seniors and $4 for adults.
13. Schwartz Castle (492 S. Third St.)
This old home of German immigrant Frederick Schwartz is said to be haunted, based on the tale of Schwartz himself going mad from heartbreak. Find out for yourself if his ghost haunts its old passageways and secret rooms.
14. Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Although snow seems to still be threatening to fall outside our windows, the conservatory is in full swing of spring weather. Get a taste of sunny days and bright flowers weather by visiting the conservatory’s displays of “Orchids and Botanical Exploration” through April 5, and “Blooms and Butterflies” through Sept. 27.
15. COSI (333 W. Broad St.)
Relive your childhood field trip days by taking a bus to COSI. COSI brings sci-fi fantasies to life in interactive exhibits where you can be a spy, dash through outer space and visit the planetarium. Be a kid again. You know you want to.
Columbus natives are lucky to live in the capital of our state because it’s the one stop that is almost always a guaranteed venue for music tours and festivals. Local music venues like the LC Pavilion, Newport Music Hall and The Basement are set to host popular artists such as Walk the Moon, Matt and Kim and Metro Station in the upcoming weeks of spring, all the way into the summer.
Don’t settle for a basic dining experience with wings and beer at a pub. The Short North area and the Arena District have tons of creative dining options to try out on a spring night. Experience super elaborate breakfast at SuperChef’s (199 E. Broad St.), or try a crazy grilled cheese with meatballs or mac ‘n’ cheese (on the sandwich) at Melt.
18. Whetstone Park of Roses (Hollenback Road)
Roses are red, violets are blue, finish the rhyme with your own point of view after taking a stroll through the fields of luscious and beautiful roses. If you’re trying to recreate any Nicholas Sparks novel’s date night magic, this is the spot.
19. Sporting events
Sports fans don’t have to be limited to the Schott and the ‘Shoe to chill their sports fever. Catch the last two days of the U.S. Collegiate Synchronized Swimming Championships at the Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. Friday tickets are $10 and Saturday tickets are $15. Nationwide Area is also home to the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team that play games various weekdays and weekends. Papa John’s offers $15 and $25 tickets for students, available at the box office one hour before each game.
20. Thrifting (various locations on North High Street)
Stores like Out of the Closet, Rag-O-Rama and Goodwill Columbus make it possible to donate your unwanted clothing while updating your wardrobe at a low cost.
21. Museums and art galleries
Save the long walks on the beach for summer and instead, take a long walk down the streets of Columbus. Extend gallery hop by taking a tour of museums and galleries in downtown Columbus like the Fresh A.I.R. Gallery, a center that uses art to address the stigma surrounding mental illness. Other museums include the Central Ohio Fire Museum, the Riffe Gallery and OSU’s Urban Arts Space.
Columbus is a city full of adventures within walking, biking or busing distance from campus. With these suggestions being only a handful of highlights in the city, grab some friends, take a break from booze and see what the Columbus has to offer.