Westerville & Columbus
Where big city excitement meets small town community, whatever you’re looking for, you’ll feel right at home in Westerville and Columbus.
On this page:
Westerville Parks and Rec
Rent an Otter-bike for free from the Courtright Memorial Library and explore more than 600 acres of parks, thanks to the 30 miles of bike paths. Alum Park goes right past The Point, providing the ideal start and finish place for you and your friends, while Hanby Park is just a block away from campus, so re-live your youth on the swings, or get competitive on the sand volleyball court! Westerville is often described as ‘A City in a Park,’ and with a Parks and Rec setup like this, it is no surprise.
Oh Deer! Go for a walk, jog or bike ride through Sharon Woods, and experience nature up-close, with a nature preserve, natural play grounds, and fishing, all just five minutes from campus. The deer who call Sharon Woods home are rumored to be Cardy’s best friends (after Otterbein students of course)!
The Scioto Mile
Described as an urban oasis, the mile is ACTUALLY 175 acres running from the Arena District all the way to the Whittier Peninsula. Connected by eight parks, several bike and pedestrian paths running along the waterfront, this is the perfect place to go for a first date or walk your dog.
You can take in concerts in front of the 15,000-square-foot fountain, catch an outdoor movie in the summer, or take a guided kayak, canoe or paddleboard tour down the river.
You’ve heard of the Hoover Dam? Well this is not the reservoir formed by that famous dam… but it’s still worth visiting. Whether you want to go sailing on the 3 miles of water, play disc golf, or bird spot, this 4,700-acre park is the perfect spot.
Columbus Parks and Rec
We might not have Leslie Knope, but the Columbus Parks & Rec team offer a hike, bike and park system throughout central Ohio which provides a variety of views and activities.
With over 350 parks, 12,000+ acres, six golf courses, 120 miles of trails, five dog parks, a skate park and 14 nature reserves, there will always be somewhere new for you to explore during your four years here. Our Parks and Rec team would make Leslie proud!
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Go for a walkabout in Australia, venture to the heart of Africa, or slip, slide and scream your way through Zoombezi Bay. It’s all available at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium- one of the nation’s top zoos!
Arts & Culture
With the seventh best Acting program in the US in 2018, and the 20th best Theatre Design and Tech Program in 2019, our school plays and musicals are like no other! Take in some of the best plays in the country (for free with your student ID). And with Otterbein alumni now performing everywhere from Broadway to Netflix, you never know which future household name you could be watching.
Our music department also has weekly performances, ranging from symphony to choral concerts, and wind to jazz ensembles. We even have our own Opera Theatre – there really is a choice for everyone!
There is plenty of opportunity to enjoy local talent in Westerville, which is a good thing, because we have lots of talent! Enjoy the Westerville Jazz Series at the open air amphitheater on the corner of campus, or walk Uptown and take in the weekly lunchtime concerts in front of the City Hall.
Get a taste of history right here on Otterbein’s campus! The Hanby family had a long history at Otterbein, starting when Bishop Hanby co-founded Otterbein College. More importantly they were one of the leaders in The Underground Railroad.
Their house is right on campus, and is still stocked with original furniture and personal items from the family. The Hanby legacy lives on through this on-campus house turned museum.
With free admissions on Sunday, you can visit the oldest museum in Ohio without breaking your student budget. The Institute of Library and Museum Service awarded The Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) a National Medal in 2013, the highest honor a museum can receive.
If you’re not already sold yet, (I know you are, but I want to brag about it some more), the CMA is dedicated to collecting modern and contemporary art, folk art, glass art, and photography from both America and Europe. If you are more of a hands-on person, The Center for Creativity is the place for you. This 18,000-sq. ft. workshop on the museum’s lower level encourages visitors to engage in hands-on activities.
Columbus Association for the Performing Arts have been living and breathing art for 50 years, while running five theatres and two Centers of Art in the city, including the Ohio Theatre, a work of art itself.
With seven venues to choose from, you’re sure to find something you love. Last season saw performances from The Dancing Wheels Company, a comedy titled Menopause The Musical, National Geographic Live: Capturing The Impossible, Lewis Black’s The Jokes On Us Tour, Columbus Blues Alliance Hall of Fame, The Greatest Jazz Concert In The World, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony and even a performance of Mean Girls!
Columbus Makes Art
From local artists to national concert tours, this site offers an extensive list of all the art inspired events happening throughout the city to help inspire your creative side.
Sports & Events
Fairs & Festivals
From the Short North’s Holiday Hop, to the Ohio State Fair, Blooms & Butterflies to the COSI Science Festival and Red White & Boom to the Jazz & Rib Fest, there is a festival of every kind, in every season, in Columbus
Columbus is also home of one of the Midwest’s largest PRIDE events, with over 500,000 people visiting every year.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Who doesn’t love supporting an underdog? They may be the only team in the league yet to appear in a conference final (sorry for bringing that up Columbus Blue Jackets fans), but just imagine what it would be like being in Columbus when they break that record.
Penguins fans are allowed on campus too… but be warned, you will be outnumbered!
With a new stadium, this is a good time to be a Crew fan. And with more and more global superstars joining the league, superstars like Zlatan and Rooney will be playing just minutes away from campus every year!
The Crew’s Academy also practice at Memorial Stadium, so you may be seeing the next Cristiano Ronaldo practicing during your time here.
Prefer watching minor league sports? Take in a Triple A baseball game at Huntington Park—a great place to watch America’s pastime. The Clippers won their division title in 2019.
They also do “Dime-a-Dog” nights, where you can enjoy a hotdog for just 10 cents!
It doesn’t matter if you’re into country, opera, rock or rap, Columbus has it all… This year will see everyone from Dan and Shay to Elton John. WCOL will host a birthday bash with Jon Pardi, Jordan Davis and Noah Schnacky while the annual Buckey Country Superfest will return with Kenny Chesney, Florida Georgia Line and Kane Brown!
If you’re looking for something more personal, and low-key, than Columbus has what you need. The Big Bang Dueling Pianos in the Arena District, will provide a night like you’ve never experienced before. 2 performers, 2 pianos, and music based entirely on audience requests, just be ready to leave your inhibitions at the door, and bring your best ‘dad dance moves’ with you.
If you’re looking for something a bit quieter, then the Rumba Café has concerts from just $5 a head, while Natalie’s Coal-Fired Pizza and Live music allows you to enjoy fresh food, and live music in an intimate and dynamic setting.
Forget bar hopping, in Columbus you can spend the first Saturday of every month on a guided tour of the dynamic Short North’s galleries, restaurants and more.
If you can’t wait that long, then download the map and take yourself on the tour.
Races & Rides
Prefer to play more than watch? Then get involved in Columbus races and rides! From a 5K color run, to the Cap City Half Marathon and the Pelotonia Bike Ride, Columbus has options for everyone from Cardy to our All-American distance runner Claire Lamb.
From standby national favorites such as Dairy Queen and Walmart, to locally owed stores like Northstar Cafe and Graeter’s Ice Creams, Westerville has everything you may need, and uptown runs into campus, making it just a short walk, wherever you are living!
Check out The Barrel & Boar, an old cinema which has been converted into a modern BBQ restaurant, before heading across the street for a famous Graeter’s Ice cream (pro tip, their Banana Splits are amazing)! Follow in the footsteps of generations of Otterbein alum by visiting Old Bag of Nails, while every Otterbein student has experienced grabbing a donut from Schneider’s Bakery at 1 a.m.
Westerville Farmer’s Market
If you want fresh, local food close to hand, then Otterbein is the place. Every Saturday the Westerville Farmer’s Market is here, right on campus! With dozens of vendors and live music, you will get a choice of everything from Craft Beer Biscuits to Ohio City Pasta and Dairy Products from the Sensible Goat Farm.
If a week is too long to wait for your next farmer’s market fix, then Westerville also has a Wednesday Farmer’s Market. The only issue is it is an extra three minute walk away on North State Street.
Save money, and help Otterbein students! Not only does the Thrift Store provide Otterbein students with great deals, but all the proceeds go toward scholarships for students. With over a million dollars raised, you can feel good while getting that one thing you forgot at home.
We also have a great bookstore located in the Campus Center. Do your Christmas shopping or rent textbooks. While you’re there, pick up some Otterbein merch to show off back home!
Polaris Fashion Place
Just 10 minutes from campus, this shopping mecca combines an indoor and an outdoor mall with restaurants, bars, concerts and games.
Come for the selection of retailers (there are more than 200 stores there!), and stay for a quick game of giant chess or soccer snooker, before grabbing a bite to eat and heading back to campus.
Easton Town Center
With Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of its founders, one trip here will have you saying, ‘We’ll be back!’
The giant mall was designed to look and feel like a self-contained city, and is the home of the first ever Hollister & Co. Shop, a cinema complex, multi floor department stores, privately owned kiosks and everything in between. It’s no surprise that 25 million people visit every year!
Who doesn’t love a good deal. Get up to 80% (plus a student discount!) off from Nike, Under Armor, Calvin Klein, Converse, Express, GNC, J.Crew and many more. (We have a word limit on this page, which covers roughly 1% of all the shops Tanger has. So you’ll just have to visit it to see the rest!)
If fresh food is your thing, then you’ll love the North Market. If fresh food isn’t your thing, it will be after one trip here! With dozens of stalls, including fishmongers, candy makers, butchers, bakers and everything in between, it is no surprise this Columbus mainstay gets millions of visitors a year.
One of the best things about Otterbein is the diversity of our students, allowing you to get a broader view of the world, and learn about new cultures. But by living in Columbus, you can do more than just talk about different cultures, with our variety of authentic cultural markets, you can taste them too.
Head to the Cam International Market to get some authentic Pan-Asian food. Want a more specific taste of Asia, then head to the Patel Brother’s Indian grocery store, or the Tensuke Market, a family owned Japanese store which sells sake, spices and Japanese snacks. They also have a butcher and offer the latest in Japanese cookery.
If you want to go to the Middle East, then head to the Mediterranean Food Imports, Jaffa Supermarket or Salam Market and Bakery.
If you are missing European food after your study abroad trip there, then you have plenty of options! From the Russia Club, to the Istanbul Supermarket, you can find any type of food you want. And of course, the Italian and German villages are full of delicacies.
Want something a little closer to home? Then head to the Michoacana Mexican Market, and try some of the city’s best chilaqulles.
If you want to try a bit of everything then head to the Saraga International Grocery store, which sells everything from Middle Eastern to Mexican food.
Health & Safety
Otterbein Police Department
Open 24/7, the OPD operates on a ‘Community Approach to Safety.’ This means they take a proactive approach to public safety, offering educational programs, emergency management, and law enforcement. OPD will be helping you during your whole time at Otterbein, starting on move-in day! They even jump batteries change tires, so you don’t have to call home and admit you don’t know how to!
Ohio Health Westerville Medical Campus
Ohio Health have an excellent setup in Westerville. With the best technology and staff, they operate a 24/7 emergency care, physical therapy and outpatient surgery care.
Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital
Located just 4 minutes from campus, this state of the art hospital received a ‘High Performing’ rating from U.S News & World Report, something less than 20% of hospitals receive! From its dedicated Womens Health Center, to its state of the art Cyberknife robotic radiosurgery (the first in Central Ohio) Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital has everything you could want in a neighbor.
Westerville Police Division (WPD)
Located in uptown Westerville, just two minutes from campus, our local Westerville Police have a constant presence around town and a special relationship with Otterbein. We value how they help to keep Westerville as one of the safest places in America.
Westerville Fire Department
Getting used to a new place to live can be hard. But don’t worry, when you (or someone on your floor) accidentally sets off the fire alarm (toast can be really tricky to get right!) the Westerville fire department, located on Main Street, is just one minute away from campus. That means that if the unthinkable happens, help is only moments away.
Columbus Health & Safety
We hope you don’t need it, but Columbus is famous for its healthcare system. With four world-renowned, award winning health care systems, Columbus is consistently rated as one of the best Healthcare systems in the country by U.S. News & World Reports. If you’re going to get sick anywhere, you should make it Columbus!