Welcome to the Buckeye State: Experience Columbus on a Student Budget

By Paula Felps

Ohio’s largest city deserves recognition for many different things, including its world-famous zoo and its status as one of the world’s most intelligent communities (Intelligent Community of the Year 2015 per Intelligent Community Forum). The capital city is also home to Ohio State University and a diverse student population.

As a student in Columbus, you have access to a wide range of points of interest in this booming city. There’s no shortage of fun things to see and do, but doing it all on a student budget can be a bit challenging. It never hurts to have a few insider tips on ways to get the most bang for your buck. Consider these budget-friendly possibilities:

The Arts

You can enjoy parts of the city’s vibrant arts scene without ever leaving the OSU campus. The renowned Wexner Center for the Arts focuses on contemporary art and attracts visitors from all over the city. Take in films, concerts, dance productions, theater productions, and various types of exhibits. It’s easy to understand why it’s considered a cultural hub in Columbus.


There’s no shortage of restaurants in Columbus, but it’s important to know which ones you can’t miss and which ones you can afford. Beth Ervin, director of communications for Experience Columbus, says Katalina’s is a great place to start. The laid-back cafe is famous for its pancake balls stuffed with Nutella, dulce de leche, or pumpkin-apple butter. Topping off this scrumptious concoction is the ultimate indigenous treat: real Ohio maple syrup.

Shopping and More

Shopping will never quite be the same once you’ve visited North Market. Part shopping mall, part supermarket, it’s on every city tour offered — and for good reason. In addition to being a foodie’s paradise, it’s also home to live music and entertainment, festivals, and events like cooking demonstrations and classes. Whether you’re looking for great food or you just want to hang out with friends, North Market is a hot spot for all types of entertainment.

Game Time

During football season, every weekend centers around football in Columbus, and nothing compares to the rivalry between the University of Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State University Buckeyes. “It’s so big that it’s known by many simply as ‘The Game’,” Ervin says. Even when you can’t get tickets, there are many ways to enjoy this annual event. Free watch parties and festivities take place all around the OSU campus and throughout the city. (Just make sure you’re sporting your scarlet and gray!)


Many festivals and events take place in Columbus throughout the year, but they’re all just a warm-up for the big one: the Columbus Arts Festival. Attracting more than 450,000 attendees, this free annual event has it all: a juried art show that includes local, national, and internationally known artists; several stages of entertainment that range from slam poetry and modern dance to jazz and classical music, and great food and beverages.


“When you venture off campus, your next adventure begins,” Ervin says. “You’ll find urban cool next to historic neighborhoods, groundbreaking artists, technology entrepreneurs, and vibrant fashion, music, and entertainment scenes. It’s a city of textures, open to diverse people,” she adds. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in Columbus.”

With so much to see and do in a new city, you need to plan ahead and pace yourself. Plenty of options exist for finding opportunities and adventures, even on a shoestring. As you organize your life and apartment in Columbus, CORT Furniture Rental is always available to help.