The Drake Performance and Event Center is a perfect place for a picnic over the Olentangy River. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Assistant Photo Editor

This semester will be marked by all the things students won’t be able to do because of COVID-19, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here’s a list of things to try and places to check out around Columbus this semester — for however long we’re all still here.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

An Ohio State undergraduate degree would be incomplete without a visit to the Franklin Park Conservatory.

Located east of downtown on Alum Creek, the park conservatory currently features four exhibitions, including a collection of bonsai trees and the largest private collection of Chihuly glasswork at a botanical garden, according to the park’s website.

The Franklin Park Conservatory is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily but visitors must reserve tickets ahead of time for a booked time slot. The park is about a 40 minute ride away on a COTA bus, but don’t let the time deter you; it’s a perfect opportunity to see downtown and get familiar with the city.

The park conservatory is located at 1777 E. Broad St. Virtual tours are also available on the park’s website.

Picnic out at the Drake Performance and Event Center

West Campus doesn’t have much going for it — two unappealing towers and construction. But the Drake Performance and Event Center, which houses the theatre department, is a great place to have a socially-distanced picnic with friends or a significant other. 

The union backs up against the Olentangy River, and despite its sometimes true nickname — “The Old and Grungy” — the river comes to glow during sunset with pink and orange hues. And if you’re a birder, you can find waterfowl wading in the shallows, egrets and herons sweeping low over the stream and songbirds in the saplings that line the riverbank. 

The Drake Performance and Event Center is located at 1849 Cannon Drive.

Lunch at the North Market

The facade of the North Market smashes vibrant reds with mustard yellows and tree greens. The inside of the market is just as colorful, combining cuisine influences of Eastern Europe to Latin America. It’s a destination for connoisseurs, perfect for sharing intimate lunches with close friends. Just walking around, a three-course meal can be had by booth-hopping. 

The North Market is located at 59 Spruce St. Before heading out, check the market’s website for the latest hours.

Dig up some bookworms in the German Village

What more can be said about The Book Loft; it would be insufficient to describe the snaking aisleways of the 32 rooms of books as a labyrinth. Located in German Village at 631 S. Third St., The Book Loft is a mainstay of Columbusites and visitors. 

Locally owned, the independent bookstore has a book on just about every topic, from bestselling authors to local writers.

While you’re down perusing, take a walk around the historic German Village with its cobblestone streets and 19th century architecture.

Ditch the Netflix and chill at Gateway Film Center

An easy walk from just about anywhere in the University District, the Gateway Film Center would make an excellent date night or a night out with friends. The center screens blockbuster films, world cinema and independent shorts, making it stand out against any other theater.

The Gateway Film Center is located at 1550 N. High St. Check its website for the latest showtimes and ticket prices.