In Central Ohio, you’ll find the City of Columbus, which is home to the revered Ohio State Buckeyes, a team that dominates on the football field year after year. They have won the Big 10 Conference a total of 38 times, and they have appeared in 50 bowl games. During one championship-winning season (2014), the Buckeyes went undefeated. But what is a Buckeye?
The term actually comes from the Buckeye nut, which is a round, dark brown nut not unlike the chestnut, except for the circular light brown patch that resembles the eye of a deer or buck, hence the name “Buck Eye.” While Ohioans have been referred to as Buckeyes as early as the 1800s, the school officially adopted the nickname in 1950. Their mascot, a jovial, costumed Buckeye nut with a striped red shirt, is named Brutus Buckeye.
On game days, the fans meet at Ohio Stadium, which has a seating capacity of 102,000, making it the third-largest stadium in the country and the largest in the state. Fans sometimes refer to the stadium as “The Horseshoe,” or, simply, “The Shoe.”
Tailgating is welcome at the stadium, but RV parking can be hard to come by because it requires a permit from the athletic department. No worries though, as there are other tailgating options to consider. Apart from football, the Buckeyes are competitive in several NCAA sports, which are worth watching as well.
Ohio State Buckeyes tickets start out in plenty and often sell fast, especially with rival teams. In recent years, the average ticket price has been between $150 and $200, but ticket prices drop between $60 and $90 when playing against lower-ranked opponents.
With so much success on the field, tickets to see the Buckeyes play football are highly coveted, but their other sports teams offer tickets that are often lower in price.
Since Columbus is the capital of Ohio, several major highways intersect with the city, including I-70 and I-71, which makes it easier to reach from almost any direction. The City of Cleveland is a little over two hours northeast, and Cincinnati is around two hours to the southwest. Pittsburgh lands slightly over three hours east of the heart of Columbus.
To park your RV at Ohio Stadium, you’ll need to purchase a parking permit in advance through Ohio State’s website. Parking permits sell out fast, and permits are not sold on game days. The Day of Game RV lot is across the street and near Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. It opens early in the morning on game day; all RVs must vacate the lot by a designated time on Sunday mornings. If you can’t find RV parking at Ohio Stadium, the Ohio State Fairgrounds may have parking spots available.
The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) provides fans with a cheap alternative to walking. Starting three hours before kickoff, the COTA Express Shuttle picks passengers up from the Ohio State Fairgrounds and Crosswoods Park & Ride. The fare for adult passengers is usually around $6, and a child's ticket is less. Cash and credit or debit cards are accepted.
If you find parking at one of the lots near the stadium, you can stay overnight, but you must leave the lot by midmorning the next day, which would typically be Sunday morning. Be prepared to dry camp if you are able to snag one of these spots. However, parking can be hard to come by, especially if you don’t purchase a parking permit in advance, so you might want to find a nearby campground instead and drive your tow vehicle to the game.
Some of the RV campgrounds in the area are located in scenic areas, which can provide a nice way to relax. Alton RV Park is less than 15 miles from Buckeye Stadium and near I-70 to the west in Galloway.
Buckeye Lake / Columbus East KOA is less than 45 minutes away by car, and it offers electricity hookups, Wi-Fi, a dog park, and a pool. If you prefer to camp closer to nature, consider staying overnight at Findley State Park, which is approximately an hour and a half north of the university and also boasts amenities for RVs and campervan style units.
Multiple elevators are placed throughout the stadium. The elevators that lead to the club area and disability seating area require a green sticker on your ticket. Other elevators are open to the public.
To get to the stadium from the parking lots, use the CATO Express Shuttle system, which is affordable, and picks up passengers three hours before the game starts.
If you’re in Columbus to watch the game during the fall or winter season, pack warm clothing. Below freezing temperatures occur frequently starting in November. Of course, you’ll also want to look the part of an Ohio State Buckeye, so don’t forget to wear your favorite team gear. In case you’re still not sure, pack gray and scarlet clothes, preferably with the Ohio State logo.
If you decide to tailgate, don’t forget to bring your grill, slow cooker, generator, and portable Bluetooth speaker. Cold weather may turn some people away, but dedicated Buckeye fans often will stick it out. If you want to stay as toasty as possible, consider bringing disposable hand warmers to keep your burger-flipping hand at 100%.
Protect your extremities with items such as mittens, ear muffs, beanies, thick socks, and anything else made from wool. Help young Buckeye fans watch for hot grills, tent guylines, and sharp items near your food display. At your campsite, help the little ones remember to watch for moving vehicles near the edges of your space.
If you’ve never tailgated before, you might want to go the extra mile and impress your fellow tailgaters. Keep things simple and cook tailgate favorites such as hot dogs, burgers, or anything on a stick. If you want to delight your guests without working too hard, prepare a pot of chili the night before and cook it the next day in your slow cooker. When it’s cold, a steaming bowl of chili is a welcome sight.
Columbus, believe it or not, is a big city, one that doubles as a college town and state capital. The food scene here is diverse, and you’ll find anything from Mexican restaurants to pizza to fancy Italian places with hard-to-pronounce dishes.
If you need to stock up on authentic Buckeyes gear, Ohio Stadium is the best place to shop. There are several team shops around the stadium, and one location, found near section 16A, can customize an Ohio State jersey for you. There are plenty of food options inside the stadium, and fans over 21 can purchase alcohol, as long as they have a valid form of identification.
Once you enter the stadium, you cannot leave and come back, so make sure you have all you need before entering. Smoking is not allowed inside the stadium, nor is it allowed anywhere on campus. Finally, bags, backpacks, or purses are not permitted, but wallets and small wristlets are allowed. Guests with medical and child care needs will want to consider the alternate entrance that allows special items.
By this point, you’re well aware of just how chilly it can get in Columbus. Luckily, winters are dry and snow is not all that common. The summers are warm, which is usually the time of the year when tourism is at its peak. Apart from the humidity, the summers in Columbus are relatively mild.
Throughout the stadium, there are several first-aid stations which open two hours before the game begins and stay open for a short while after the game. There are medical professionals at each first-aid station. Guests can purchase over-the-counter medications from vending machines that are located outside the first-aid stations.