Exploring Bowling Green

Small town offers students many things to do

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Carly Ranks, a senior majoring in telecommunications, remembers her first couple of weeks as a new student. Besides getting to know her roommate and people in her residence hall, she also spent a lot of time becoming familiar with the city of Bowling Green, which would become her home away from home.

“I’m from Cincinnati, and being so far away I immediately felt welcomed here, safe and comfortable,” she said.

Every August, Bowling Green businesses anticipate the students’ return. The Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau, Downtown BG and Chamber of Commerce are dedicated to promoting the city to students and their families, especially when they’re in town for big events like Homecoming or Falcon Family Weekend.

“It’s our town-gown relationship. It’s very important that we coordinate anything the University is doing that extends into the city,” said Wendy Chambers, executive director of the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The bureau set up an information table at Student Orientation and Registration (SOAR) over the summer to introduce the city to new students and families.

Besides its downtown office at 119 E. Court St., the bureau also operates the BGSU Visitor Center, located on Alumni Drive just off East Wooster Street near I-75. The center offers useful information including a visitor’s guide that features a map, information on local tourist attractions and the Passport to BG, which has coupons for various businesses highlighting fun things to do within the city. For each coupon redeemed, users receive a stamp on their passport and a chance to win a prize.

“All you have to do is get one stamp and you can enter to win a free overnight,” Chambers said.

Something new the Convention and Visitors Bureau is offering this year are self-guided or guided themed tours of Bowling Green. The tour themes include Green and Garden, Brew, Indulge, Art, Dark, Healthy Lifestyles, Family Tree, Wedding Guide, Treat Yourself, History and Architecture and Treasures of BG.

“There are a lot of opportunities to do a lot of fun stuff, Chambers said. “We’re trying to create a destination and make people want to come here.”

Brochures for the self-guided tours can be picked up at either of the Convention and Visitors Bureau locations.

While there are many places all over the city to visit, the downtown business district attracts those looking to shop or dine.

“Downtown is really the historic heart of the community and the boomtown area,” said Barbara Ruland, executive director of Downtown Bowling Green and the Downtown Foundation.

“You don’t often see historic areas like this that are functional and that well preserved.”

The vibrant downtown gives students that hometown feel. The quaint shops and charming restaurants have owners who embrace the community, offering something for everyone.

“There aren’t too many chain stores downtown. They are greatly outnumbered by the independent ones; these are real local folks stores,” Ruland said.

Some businesses new to downtown include Valencia Shoes and Timeless Boutique by Christine. Two restaurants, Beckett’s Burger Bar and The Melt Shoppe, are now open for lunch on weekdays.

Students might see some new businesses while walking to the downtown area. Jimmy John’s moved from its location at 1616 E. Wooster St. to the Market Square development on Wooster and North Prospect. The plaza also features Biggby Coffee, and more businesses are coming.

Downtown Bowling Green has several events planned throughout the next few months. The farmers market at 201 S. Main St. is running every Wednesday from 4-7 p.m. through Oct. 15.

One of the biggest events is the annual Black Swamp Arts Festival. This year the festival will feature a craft beer tent, and organizers are working on getting more of the festival bands to hold late-night performances in the local establishments.

“They’re taking it out of the streets and into the downtown businesses in conjunction with the regular festival,” said Ruland.

During move-in weekend on Aug. 22-24, Downtown BG collaborated with the Bowling Green Arts Council to host the Sandwich Stroll for graduate students.

“Unlike the undergrad students, the grad students have free time on move-in weekend and they want to go out and explore, so we’re offering them the Sandwich Stroll,” said Ruland.

The organization also sells Downtown Dollars, $5 gift certificates that are accepted by 98 percent of local businesses as well as vendors at the farmers market.

Other area places of interest include the Wood County Historical Center, National Construction Equipment Museum and Snook’s Dream Cars Automobile Museum. There’s a wind farm that features a visitor’s kiosk and other places like the Slippery Elm Trail and Portage Quarry that are popular with those who enjoy the outdoors.

The city has several parks that offer different activities. Carter Park, located at 401 Campbell Hill Road, features an 18-hole disc golf course, sand volleyball courts, softball complex and playground.

Wintergarden/St. Johns Nature Preserve, at 615 S. Wintergarden Road, provides miles of hiking trails through forests and prairie meadows. Simpson Garden Park, located at 1291 Conneaut Ave., is a community garden featuring a walking path, beds of flowers, peace garden and sensory garden. Down the street is Bowling Green City Park, which has basketball courts, horseshoe pits, an inline skating rink, skate park and the recently renovated city pool.

Here is a list of some of the upcoming events in Bowling Green:

  • Mondays 5-8 p.m. through October 13 – Cruise Night
  • Wednesdays 4-7 p.m. through October 15 – Farmers Market
  • September 5-7 - Black Swamp Arts Festival
  • September 14 – Bridal Extravaganza
  • September 20 –Fall Harvest Festival
  • October 18 – Halloween Folk Fest
  • October 30 – Downtown Trick or Treat
  • November 21 – Tree lighting ceremony
  • November 22 – Holiday Parade
  • February 20-22 – Winterfest

Weekdays from 6-9 a.m., WBGU 88.1 FM broadcasts “The Morning Show.” The show is a partnership with the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce and serves as a community resource, detailing weekly events in Bowling Green and interviews with community officials. The show is also streamed online.

Find more favorite places to visit in Bowling Green.