Ohio State Campus

Columbus, Ohio

What better way to rediscover the college experience without the crippling debt that comes with it than a good old-fashioned campus bar crawl?
Beck Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Interior
Milling around a college campus doesn’t have to involve crippling debt and awkward, formative social situations. THE Ohio State University sits just north of downtown Columbus, an urban campus with the rare mix of a high traffic location in a major city and the physical space typically afforded more rural university settings.

And because of that space, an attempt to canvas the entire footprint is daunting and likely not possible if any level of alcohol is involved. The itinerary suggested here maximizes immersion in Ohio State’s culture while tailoring recommended stops to visitors (meaning, anyone over the age of 22).

One element to keep in mind is the sweeping change the area has seen over the past three decades, a slow and sometimes painful transition from gritty, low-cost retail and bars into chain after chain after chain. Time may yet claim some of the gems on this list, just as it did Mean Mr. Mustard’s and other amazingly-named haunts of Buckeye classes past, but for now, resist the urge to grab a panini at Panera and appreciate what grit the area has left.

The Stops

1. Bier Stube

1479 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
Google Map
(614) 299-5467

You’ll get your steps in starting this far south, but the Bier Stube is worth it, a tiny, ancient bar nestled behind a beautifully scenic liquor store parking lot perfect to pre-game your stroll up High Street to take in OSU’s main campus.

2. Buckeye Donuts

1998 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
Google Map
(614) 291-3923
Web Site Link

You experienced a lot walking north up High Street. You saw a weirdly urban Waffle House and a handful of college freshman having emotional breakdowns in public. It’s only natural to cap off the trip with a donut in what I can safely say is Columbus’ oldest operating donut shop / Greek diner.

3. The Library Bar

2169 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
Google Map
(614) 745-1639
Web Site Link

Layered in wood, dim lighting and procrastination, this pun of a bar responsible for countless jokes made at a parent’s expense is a perfect entrée to the real north campus drinking spree you’re about to embark upon.

4. Out-R-Inn

20 Frambes Ave, Columbus, Ohio 43201
Google Map

Find yourself at Out-R-Inn on mug night and you’re in luck. Even if you never plan to return to the beer-stained series of patios and indoor spaces that is Out-R-Inn, grab a plastic mug, some cheap beer and feel your investment head straight to your liver.

5. Tommy's Pizza

1350 W Lane Ave, Columbus, OH 43221
Google Map
(614) 294-4669
Web Site Link

Ohio State’s second major thoroughfare is east-west Lane Avenue, a dogleg west off of High Street and Tommy’s is an unmistakable beacon on its horizon. This unassuming pizza shop serves fantastic thin-crust pizza among a series of cramped gray booths that somehow accentuate the experience.

6. Thirsty Scholar

2201 Neil Ave, Columbus, OH 43201
Google Map
(614) 298-9805

Across the street from Tommy’s lies Thirsty Scholar, a central hub for off campus students that, once upon a time, featured an all-you-can-drink special for $9. Those days have past, but grab a quick one, head to the bathroom and experience the low cinder block partition perfect for awkward dive bar eye contact.

7. Varsity Club

278 W Lane Ave, Columbus, OH 43201
Google Map
(614) 299-6269
Web Site Link

Though it appears in every guide to drinking, experiencing or otherwise driving through Ohio State’s main campus, Varsity Club appears here too for the classic college experience, a tradition-laden bar with faded team photographs on the walls, food served on Styrofoam plates and an impressive patio perfect for fire code violations on game day.

8. Dick's Den

2417 N High St, Columbus, OH 43202
Google Map
(614) 268-9573
Web Site Link

The yin to Bier Stube’s yang, Dick’s Den caps the north end of campus, cited by many as the go-to dive bar in Columbus. Two rooms and a tiny stage round out the interior while a clearly perceptive neon sign out front reads “WHYNOT?”

Related Bar Crawls To Explore

Short North

Cut the pretentious with a dive bar.

Grandview Heights

Home to the city's best dive bar.

German Village

Beer among the brick-laid streets.