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Recreation and Physical Activities Center

The RPAC has pretty much everything: 27,500 square feet of fitnessfour gyms with 12 multipurpose courts, 12 squash and racquetball courts, a track, five multipurpose rooms and an aquatic center complete with pools, saunas and a spa.  

Seriously, whatever you need, it’s at RPAC. Do yourself a favor and check it out.


North Recreation Center

Located conveniently for students, the North Recreation Center’s ground-to-roof window design offers natural light and views beyond wall TVs. You can also find inspiration in the former Ohio State standout athlete quotes adorning the walls.

The North Rec Center offers more than cool visuals, though: we’re talking three floors of fitness equipment, four multi-purpose rooms, outdoor basketball and sand volleyball courts.

Jesse Owens North

The Jesse Owens North facility has an old-school weight-room feel for powerlifters and cross-trainers to get those heavy gains with free weights, strength training and cardio machines. It also sports a basketball court, a matted court, a turf area to train on and dryland training equipment for dive and cheerleading clubs to hone their skills.

Adventure Recreation Center

The Adventure Recreation Center, which houses the Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC), is a bit off the beaten path in more ways than one.  

Because of its West Campus location and parking lot, it’s a hot spot for faculty, staff and grad students, meaning it’s a bit quieter and a little less crowdedAnd while it has the typical array of strength training and cardio equipment, the ARC also has four basketball/volleyball courts, batting cages and two indoor turf fields for football, soccer and Frisbee clubs. 

Meanwhile, the OAC offers a ton of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors through equipment rental, trips and educational clinics. It also houses the Tom W. Davis Climbing Center, complete with its 4,000-square foot, 35-foot-tall climbing and bouldering walls. 

Celebration drum circle

Wanna bang on a drum all day? Head to RPAC (Recreation and Physical Activity Center) for the Celebration Drum Circle.

An interactive art piece by Bill and Mary Muchen located on the northwest side of RPAC, adjacent to Ohio Stadium, the circle features a variety of drums — from congas to djembes to tumbas.

Also located around RPAC are eight cast concrete benches that make up the (M) Body exhibit. Ohio State students were the models for the impressions.    

While you’re there: Stop by RPAC for a tour. No lie, it’s one of the best fitness centers you’ll see on any campus anywhere.

Garden of constants

… and all of a sudden you’re surrounded by numbers and you look down to see equations and the mind swirls into madness and … no, no, pause.

You’re fine.

You’ve just stumbled into the Garden of Constants, or the Numbers Garden, located on the west lawn of Dreese Laboratories.

Of 130 artist ideas, Barbara Grygutis’ numbers piece was installed in 2004 because it perfectly symbolized Dreese Lab’s academic disciplines: computer and information science and electrical engineering.

While you’re there: Walk a bit north for the Steel Connection Teaching Sculpture at Hitchcock Hall.

Ohio Union limestone reliefs

The eight limestone reliefs along the south side of the Union are literally and figuratively a trip into the past.

Taken from the first Ohio Union — well, six reliefs were taken, two were added — these reliefs by Marshall Frederick represent different aspects of Ohio’s past, such as its Native American history and famous Ohioans such as James Thurber.

While you’re there: Go inside and walk up to the third floor for the Ohio Union Art Collection. You’ll probably also get a better view of the Circus Acrobats.


If there’s any “must see” art piece on campus, it is for sure Maya Lin’s Groundswell at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

The only permanent exhibit at the center, this landscape of glass fuses Lin’s Eastern and Western heritage, representing the southeastern Ohio terrain — she was born in Athens, Ohio — along with the “rake-sand gardens of Japan.”

While you’re there: You should probably (we’re joking, you should definitely) stop inside the Wex and get a tour of this amazing facility.

Annabelle the praying mantis

Have a burning desire to snap a selfie with a 15-foot tall praying mantis?

If not, let’s be honest — you should.

And when that urge strikes, Annabelle will be waiting.

Poorly camouflaged (albeit intentionally) among the wildflowers and trees of Chadwick Arboretum’s Phenology Garden, Annabelle was designed by two nearby artists — Pat Belisle of Plain City and Chris Saylor of Marysville.

Located on West Campus, the lush, green Phenology Garden is a study of “recurring biological phenomena and their relationship to the weather.”

While you’re there: The Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens are 60 acres of diverse plant collections and art pieces. They’re breathtaking … and free. Check out the whole place.

Jesse Owens Plaza

Jesse Owens winning four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics, right up in Adolf Hitler’s face, is one of the most epic stories in all of sports — and maybe American  history. 

Those medals are symbolized in Curtis Patterson’s bronze sculpture Celebration for a Champion in the plaza in front of Ohio Stadium. The four vertical triangular planes, one for each medal, stretch up into a pyramid. As you walk through each section, you’ll see quotes, milestones, statistics and facts about the track and field star etched into walls.  

While you're there: The Ohio Stadium rotunda is also pretty cool.  

Scenic running, walking paths

If you want to stay on the beaten path, try the 1.1-mile walking and jogging path circling the multi-sport complex at Fred Beekman Park on west campus.

Or take the scenic running trail and bike path along the Olentangy River. The trail stretches over 13 miles — from Worthington to downtown Columbus — cutting through Ohio State’s campus, weaving past Ohio Stadium, the Lane Avenue bridge and the Morrill and Lincoln towers. If you want to head a bit more north, you can visit Tuttle Park and Ohio State’s Wetland Research Park.

Want more jogging options? Take a look at these recommendations.

Team sports

If competition is what gets your blood flowing, or you just enjoy team camaraderie, you’ve got options.

The Lincoln Tower Park/Women’s Field House features turf and grass fields for everything from flag football and soccer to lacrosse and rugby, along with basketball and sand volleyball courts. Another popular basketball and volleyball location is outside North Recreation Center, which has four basketball courts and two sand volleyball courts.

On west campus, Fred Beekman Park offers baseball and softball diamonds, a rugby, soccer and football field, basketball courts and sand volleyball. Near Beekman Park, Jesse Owens Park also has a grass field for soccer, cricket and other activities.

For any of these spots, you can either get your own group together or join an intramural squad.

Recreation sports

When you find yourself itching to polish up your tennis or golf skills — yes, that includes disc golf — you’ll find yourself in ideal surroundings.

The Ohio State University Golf Club is one of the top-rated collegiate courses in the nation and features two 18-hole courses: the Scarlet Course and the Gray Course, which welcome current, full-time students.  

If throwing discs is your brand of golf, the 1,518-yard, 18-hole course at Jesse Owens Park is free with discs available for checkout at Fred Beekman Park, the Jesse Owens West Tennis Center and the Adventure Recreation Center.

Tennis players can stay closer to the heart of campus with 15 outdoor courts located at the Lincoln Tower Park/Women’s Field House

Restorative activities

Want some suggestions for your cooldown? Or simply need to reflect and get centered?

The Oval is an obvious, and popular, spot to find everything from yoga to hammocking to slacklining. But you can also achieve tranquility at the Spirit of Women Park or the Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens. The Learning Gardens also features a catch-and-release fishing pond.

If a pond isn’t enough, the Olentangy River offers a variety of fish to reel in. But if you’d rather be on the water, say in a canoe or kayak, rent what you need at the Outdoor Adventure Center and cruise down the river.

Ohio Union fireplace lounges

If you appreciate a social study setting, the Ohio Union fireplace lounges on the first and second floors are so you. The living room settings are bathed in natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a picturesque south Oval landscape.


Orton Library

The grotesques on the bell tower façade and the ginormous dinosaur skeleton in the Orton Hall entrance belie the quiet, quaint atmosphere of the Orton Memorial Library of Geology. Occupying the oldest library location on campus in one of our coolest and most historic buildings, the library is a traditional study spot that allows students to lock in and focus.

Grand Reading Room

Not one for heights? Want something more traditional? Head to the east end of Thompson’s second floor for the Grand Reading Room. This quiet study area overlooks the Oval and offers oodles of table space to spread out under the winged splendor of the Nike of Samothrace sculpture.

Thompson Library's top floor

Go for the views, stay for the meditative bliss. The natural light and variety of seating — from lounge chairs to rocking chairs — creates a laid-back, happy place.

The Stadium Rotunda

Before you step foot inside the 'Shoe to cheer the Buckeyes on to (yet another) glorious victory, stop to notice the beautiful architecture of the rotunda. Then when you’re done admiring, get a selfie or two and watch the “likes” roll in.

The University Seal

The GOAT of Ohio State selfies? Probably. This seal resonates with Buckeyes across the world, across graduation years, and across social media accounts. It’s iconic. It’s timeless. All of the feels, one simple selfie spot. A can’t-miss, really.

The tippy-top of Thompson Library

Not for those who don’t dig heights, but the windows at the very top of the library offer some incredible views. The rooms up there are also very peaceful for studying, so when you need a break from the books, reach for the phone and snap a selfie.

The Brutus statue in the Union

Brutus is an icon, and a very busy mascot at that. So if you’re hanging out at the Ohio Union, sidle up next to his statue on the bench and snap a pic. We’re sure he won’t mind. Plus, you can tag him if you want! He loves the shout-outs.

The Wexner Center for the Arts scaffolding

No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. The scaffolding around the Wex really is that cool. The building, designed by Peter Eisenman, is full of architectural quirks, theories and accomplishments. The “scaffolding,” though, is one of the most striking.

The Lane Ave. bridge (at night!)

An after-hours selfie spot if there ever was one, the Lane Ave. bridge is beautiful all lit up. So whether you’re returning from some late-night studying, a basketball game or another sort of festivity, stop a moment to admire.

The Woody Hayes statue on Lane Ave.

While the man, the myth, the legend is no longer among us, his statue stands Buckeye-proud outside of The Varsity Club on Lane Ave. near High St. So if you’re strolling by, take a second and snap a pic of you with this university celebrity.

The Planetarium

Time to space out. And what better place to do so than at the Ohio State Planetarium? It’s been around since 1967 and recently went through some tremendous transformations. Now, you can zip around the galaxy and beyond without leaving one of the comfy seats.

It’s on the fifth floor of Smith Laboratory and offers programs that are guided by graduate students. Depending on the weather, the events even extend to the rooftop some nights, with the use of a high-tech telescope.

The Parker Dairy Store

Not sure if you know, but Ohio State had a hand in inventing the Drumstick frozen ice cream treat. It’s true. Two of our professors came up with the idea of coating the inside of the cone with chocolate so it wouldn’t get soggy. #brilliant!

So why not enjoy one at the Parker Dairy Store? Located in the Parker Food Science and Technology Building, you can grab a Drumstick, a sandwich, some chili and other offerings daily.

University Hall

Built in 1873, University Hall used to be every Buckeye’s one-stop shop. It was a library, classrooms, chapel and dorm.

The original building had to be demolished because it was deemed unsafe, but it does retain a lot of its originality: the clock tower, the entrance and pillars.

These days, this is the place to go if you’re looking to delve into the lives of Buckeyes of a previous era. Inside is the University Museum, and it’s home to some pretty breathtaking stuff. Tons of photos, memorabilia, even bricks and blackboards from the original building. Definitely worth checking out.

Orton Hall

Orton Hall is one of the oldest buildings on the campus, and with that comes some intriguing history.

This building is home to some really neat stuff. Around the belltower sit 24 gargoyles and grotesques. The building is made of 40 different kinds of Ohio stone —arranged as they occur in nature, oldest on bottom, newest on top.

Plus, it’s home to the Orton Geological Museum. Once inside, you can find over 30,000 specimens, including a 7-foot giant ground sloth and the skull of a Jurassic dinosaur.

The Ohio State Archives

If you’re a history buff (of just a fan of looking at some seriously cool stuff), the archives is the place for you.

The Ohio State University Archives preserves Buckeye history at its headquarters on Kenny Road. In addition to more than 2 million photographic images of university life from 1870 to now, the archives contains documents, records and mementos that are part of the Ohio State story.

Archivists also publish From Woody’s Couch, a must-read blog for those who love to soak up Ohio State history.