Starting the school year can be a scary but exciting time! All work and no play is not the way to approach college life, so if you’re new to campus, definitely explore the endless weekend hangout spots like event spaces and concert venues. Introduce yourself to some of the major streets and areas around campus. Personally, I’m a concert fanatic so I stay up to date with big names touring in Columbus, but there’s always affordable shows to see, too. (And when I say there’s always somewhere to listen to local music, I mean there’s always somewhere to listen to local music.) Understanding the COTA bus routes will save you, and travelling with a buddy is a must.
You don’t need to look too far, because right ON CAMPUS there are a few spots you can hit up, even on a school night. Every other Thursday night, you can head to Woody’s Tavern in the Union for karaoke night! They even host themed nights, like their “Love & Anti-Love Songs” on Valentine’s Day. If you’ll be living on North Campus, check out the Donato’s (2084 High St.) across the street from Busch House and Bowen House. Local bands and comedians perform in the basement from time to time, so grab a slice and catch a performance. On the other end of campus, Trism (1636 High St.) reigns supreme. This South Campus venue hosts many parties and events with performances from underground musicians sprinkled throughout the year. Lastly, we can’t forget Newport Music Hall (1722 High St.). It’s right across the street from the Union, and it’s impossible to miss the endless lines forming out front on any given evening. It’s the perfect close by concert spot for students on a budget.
Going a bit farther, JUST OFF CAMPUS holds a few locations to catch local musicians. Kafe Kerouac (2250 High St.) is up north, only two blocks past the campus Buffalo Wild Wings. Aside from the live music, open mic nights, and drunk powerpoint events, the café also offers a great atmosphere for reading or hanging out with friends. Further up High Street, you’ll find Ace of Cups (2619 High St.), a hotspot for karaoke and local band sets. If you’re familiar with Summit Street, Ruby Tuesday (1978 Summit St.) is closer to campus on the east side, while Wild Goose Creative (2491 Summit St.) is further north on the same street. For South Campus and West Campus students, The Shrunken Head (251 W 5th Ave.) alternates its entertainment between comedy, trivia, and music every evening. Keep an eye out for their acoustic open mic nights on Wednesdays!
Columbus natives already know that the SHORT NORTH is a hot spot for all things fun and culture-related in central Ohio. Exploring the different shops and restaurants will lead you to Skully’s Music-Diner (1151 High St.) The venue regularly books rising artists as well as DJs for sets and dance parties. Other parts of Columbus lend unique experiences, like adventuring DOWNTOWN with a group of friends. Hop on COTA bus line 5 and head to Victory’s Live (543 S High St.) for smaller bands and dive vibes, open Friday through Sunday. Back out on 5th Avenue, the record store Craft & Vinyl (1806 W 5th Ave.) has live music every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, with comedians performing the first Thursday of each month. Columbus is truly buzzing with nightlife and it’s great to have so much to see near OSU. The city never sleeps, but neither does this campus!
Header photo by Colin Laatsch.