6 Things Parents Need to Know About Ohio University Parents Weekend

Family weekends at Ohio University in Athens are lively – the town and campus are bustling with parents excited to see just what their kids have been up to since flying the coop to go to college. From daytime university events to nighttime bar life, there are myriad ways for parents to experience the Athens area with their university students. 

However, the other side of Ohio University Parents Weekend is that the town is flooded with people who are unfamiliar with it. This can lead to anything from missing out on fun opportunities to straight up embarrassing your kid by being publicly heckled. More on that in a minute.

With the right tips, you can make sure you arrive at OU Parents Weekend looking like you’ve been here a hundred times before. Here are 6 need-to-knows to set your family weekend in Athens up for success:

1. It’s literally never too early to lock down lodging.

Hotels in Athens are at a premium, and big events on the academic calendar are always booked way ahead of time. As in several months ahead of time. Unless you’re planning on crashing with your kid(s) at their off-campus apartment, it’s a good idea to plan your hotel stay 4-6 months ahead of time.

2. Plan your parking ahead of time.

Parking is also at a serious premium. Athens is over 200 years old – it wasn’t built for tens of thousands of cars coming in and out all the time. Check out KPR’s handy guide on getting around the parking shortage by arriving in town already savvy about the best parking spots.

3. Court Street is a one-way street. And so is Union’s uptown block.

By far, everyone who works uptown’s favorite thing to do on shift during Ohio University Parents Weekend is keep wrong-way tallies. Some even post them publicly! Visit Whit’s Custard if you don’t believe us. This is a decades’ old custom – without fail, there will be parents who panic and drive the wrong way uptown. Don’t be one of them. The entirety of Court Street is one-way, full stop. As well, the block of Union Street that spans Court to Richland is also one-way.

4. A family hike is just a short drive to any side of town.

Looking for some hiking trails without making a whole day out of a Hocking Hills tour? Sells Park is just off the residential area behind E State Street. Even though you’re literally in town, it still seems like you’re in the middle of nowhere for most of the trails. And on the other side, Stroud’s Run State Park is just outside town. There’s hiking there, too, as well as boat rentals, swimming, and more.

5. Bagel Street Deli is an absolute must.

Athens has way too many sandwich and pizza chains, but there’s some really good local food to be had. And since you’re here to visit your OU student, you should check out the ones that college kids rely on to get them through finals weeks and hungover Sunday mornings. 

  • Bagel Street Deli is at the top of the list – topping-packed, unique bagel sandwiches, soup and chips, and the brick walls inside are filled with decades of student graffiti. 
  • O-Betty’s makes artisan hotdogs in-house, including vegetarian options, and really good French fries that are a key feature of bar life at 2am.
  • Souvlaki’s is a Middle Eastern spot run by a local family. They’ve got great late-night gyros and the best spicy fries in town.
  • Avalanche Pizza has the absolute weirdest, fanciest and most delicious pizza you’ve never had.

The cool thing about local Athens food is that pretty much all of them are focused on sustainable ingredient sourcing and making clean food that tastes awesome.

6. Hocking Hills has special family weekend outdoor events.

If you don’t want to miss out on Hocking Hills while you’re in town, there are even more reasons to visit than just the sites, scenery and hiking. There are events in Hocking Hills hosted for every family weekend at OU, including Parents Weekend. In the past, these have included day hikes, group campfires, zip lining, canoeing trips, and more.Arrive to Athens prepped and ready to go and you’ll impress your OU student and their friends! Which, as any parent of a young adult knows, is a huge win. Good luck and have fun!