Kennedy Museum of Art
Only a few students know about this gem tucked up on The Ridges, and most of them only have to go for class. The Kennedy Museum of Art has free admission and is a great way to spend a quiet afternoon. The exhibits change every few months, so you can make several trips a year without seeing the same things. You can walk from campus or take the CATS bus. Great for first dates!
Book-A-Bike at the Athens Public Library
If you are a student with an off-campus address, you can get a library card at the Athens Public Library. You can do the usual things with your library card (borrow books/DVDs/video games, rent a computer, take classes, join clubs, etc.) but here in Athens, you can also "check out" a bike! They have a variety of bicycle styles to choose from, including a hand trike! Rentals last 3 hours long and are completely free with your library card.
You don't have to drive all the way to the Hocking Hills to hike in Athens! The Hocking Hills is a great place to hike, but if you don't want to make the drive, you can hike up on The Ridges, off E. State Street, or stroll along the bike path.
Putt People First Mini-Golf
This outdoor putt-putt golf course is only open during the summer, but you can catch the end of their season before you get buried by midterms. Putt People First raises autism awareness and provides a way for everyone in Athens to have a good time on a tight budget. The course is located on The Ridges, near the Kennedy Museum of Art, and is within walking distance from campus. Students get a discount, so bring a picnic lunch and strap on your fanny pack!
Fun Barn/Movies 10
The Fun Barn/Movies 10 is one of the greatest treasures of Southeastern Ohio. They feature current, new-release $4 movies, a cheap but yummy snack bar, and an entire arcade to bring out the child inside you. You'll need to drive or catch a ride out to Movies 10 but it won't take much begging to catch a ride with your friends!
Nothing says throwback like a skating rink straight out of the 50's. Dow's Rollarena was established in 1952 and hasn't changed since! It is located out towards Nelsonville, a few miles past Movies 10. You can bring your own skates, food, drinks, and even host your birthday party here! Skates are also available to rent.
If you don't want to take the trek out towards Nelsonville, there is a slightly more local movie theater. Last January, they decided to lower their ticket prices to better compete with Movies 10, so you can see new-release films for $5. Their snack bar is more expensive but also has more choices, and they have special event showings throughout the year. You can catch the Athens Public Transit out to E. State Street for free with your student ID!
Rollerbowl Lanes is located on Palmer Street, so while you're waiting for Palmer Fest, hit up the bowling alley! The staff is great, and you can even BYOB (just remember, families also bowl here). They feature theme nights like cosmic bowling, and even have Quartermania on Mondays, where you pay $5 to get in and everything else is 25 cents! Come hungry, because they have a snack bar with pizza and hot dogs for every occasion.
ABC Players & Stuarts Opera House
Stuarts Opera House, located in Nelsonville, is a great place to catch live band performances and experience some Athens County culture. You can also catch community theater shows put on by ABC Players. Past performances have included: "The Little Mermaid," "Shrek the Musical," "Elf, Jr.," and "The Addams Family." Ticket prices vary by show, and can be purchased online or at the door. If you have a car, you can even audition for shows!
Hocking Valley Scenic Railway
Hocking Valley Scenic Railway is the most expensive item on this list but definitely worth mentioning! It is a great piece of history and one of the most unique ways to experience Athens outside of the college bubble. There are a variety of train rides to choose from, all varying in price, including a ride with Santa around Christmas, a New Year's Eve celebration with fireworks, and even a ride experience where you get "robbed" by Old West bandits!
Make sure to explore Athens beyond OU's campus! Make the most of your college experience by checking out the area around you. When you look back on your glory days, you'll remember the unique experiences you had more than how many times you hit up the J Bar!