The new school year is upon us, and if you’re a student you’re probably exhausted from running around with paperwork, moving into a dorm or working an unpaid internship over the summer (thanks CityBeat!), and your wallet is probably feeling it, too.
Not to worry, though, because college students are entitled to some of the best deals and discounts on things you’d be spending your money on anyway. To save you the hassle, here’s a mash-up of some of the best entertainment, arts and dining options available for students.
First off, don’t underestimate your student ID card or “All Card.” The All Card acts as your student ID and debit card in one and is used on campus for things like vending, dining, parking and printing. But off-campus it’s your key to student discounts.
Xavier has an excellent All Card program that offers discounts on everything from movies and arts to yoga classes and carpet installation. (Hopefully you won’t need to use that last one.) University of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky University students can use their student IDs to ride Metro and TANK buses for free. Check your school’s Web site for a list of uses and businesses that offer discounts.
For arts and entertainment options, try a yearly membership from Enjoy the Arts for $25 ($20 with Xavier’s All Card). The membership organization offers two free tickets to each of 20 local arts organizations, including Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and the Contemporary Arts Center
In lieu of a membership, many theaters offer Student Rush tickets available about 20 minutes before curtain. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company ($12), Playhouse in the Park ($18), Ensemble Theatre ($15) and some of the smaller companies all offer last-minute deals. And don’t forget the entertainment options located on campus. Schools offer music, theater performances and athletic events, many of which are free for students.
If you’re more interested in seeing live music, your school probably books local bands for some of their free events or for lunchtime jam sessions for no other reason than to distract you from reading. For bands you actually want to see, try one of many local bars and clubs that offer shows for little or no cover. Among the best are Northside Tavern and The Comet, which consistently book quality local and national acts and are totally free (for those older than 21). The Mad Hatter in Covington is also a good choice with low covers and a cheap food menu (and it’s often welcoming of the 18-and-up crowd).
Speaking of cheap food, there are tons of options out there for the financially challenged. For UC students, various international eateries around campus offer some of the best deals and meals (Thai Express, Cilantro, Floyd’s). Other cheap options are Adriatico’s Pizza and Myra’s Dionysus, where you can take a date and drink wine and spend $13. A little off the beaten path are Proud Rooster on Ludlow Avenue, First Watch (locations Downtown and Hyde Park) and Blue Jay in Northside for affordable breakfast or lunch.
For Xavier students, your options are a little more spread out, and since we can’t think of a handy way to group them here’s an alphabetical list: Betta’s Italian Oven on Montgomery Road, The Echo in Hyde Park, First Wok in Oakley and Indigo in Hyde Park (and Fort Mitchell). Indigo has something for every budget and features halfprice wine on Mondays and Wednesdays. Lucy Blue’s pizza in Mount Lookout, Sugar N Spice in Bond Hill and Speckled Bird Café in Norwood are also good picks.
Affordable restaurants abound in Northern Kentucky, including the unbeatable breakfast spot Mokka in Newport. The Pepper Pod remains an indispensable fixture for students, mostly for their fried pickles and the fact that they’re open all night. There’s no shortage of local diners, national franchises and corner pizza joints in NKY for you to sink your teeth into.
That should get your school year off to a fun, affordable, rockingly delicious start, though this guide is in no way complete. Schools and student governments are constantly expanding discount programs for students.
There are plenty more arts and entertainment options, restaurants and bars out there that cater to our kind. It’s just a matter of seeking them out.
BRIAN CROSS is a senior at the University of Cincinnati.