Columbus is the capital of Ohio and the state’s largest individual city. It is the 14th-most popular city in the United States and making it one of the fastest growing large cities in the nation. Columbus lies on the Scioto River, where it is joined by the Olentangy.
Alongside side the river, the Scioto Mile holds a string of parks on both sides of the Scioto River. The park area has a huge interactive fountain and many walking trails giving you various views of the city skyline. On the west bank of the river, the COSI science center offers hands-on exhibits and a planetarium. Within the downtown area you can find the Columbus Museum of Art which contains American and European paintings and a sculpture garden (Free Admissions of Sunday). In addition, Columbus is home to one of the most historic neighborhood areas known as the German Village. Its originality lies in the brick homes, which were built by the 1800’s settlers that can be appreciated today due to restoration. Read more about things to do in Columbus below!
* Click on the name of the places/restaurants/hotels to be redirected to that website
Flights: The largest airport within Columbus is the John Glenn Columbus International Airport, it is an international airport located 6 miles east of downtown Columbus, Ohio. Formerly known as Port Columbus International Airport.
Local Transportation: Explore restaurants and shops in the hottest downtown neighborhoods on COTA’s free CBUS circulator running every 10-15 minutes from the Short North Arts District to the Brewery District and German Village. Free Wi-Fi is available on all buses 🙂
When to visit: Visit Columbus between April and May or September and October for warm weather and fewer crowds. Summer is the most popular time, but prices are better just before or after summer months.
What to do in Columbus:
1. Short North Arts District
N High St, Columbus, OH 43215
What is it? As the “art and soul” of Columbus, the Short North is a vibrant cultural and business community. The nationally acclaimed Gallery Hop is held on the first Saturday of the month.
Why go? It offers variety of amazing art, dining, nightlife, fashion, home décor, and unique gifts.
2. Columbus Museum of Art
480 East Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43215
What is it? This museum, designed by a local architect, features gallery space for the museum’s permanent collection, and a bright area for special exhibitions. The collection includes outstanding late nineteenth and early twentieth-century American and European modern works of art. It houses the world’s largest collections of works by beloved local artists Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, Elijah Pierce, and George Bellows; and acclaimed collections such as The Photo League and the Philip and Suzanne Schiller Collection of American Social Commentary Art. A commitment to contemporary art, folk art, glass, and photography continues the Museum’s dedication to showcasing art of our time.
Why go? Columbus Museum of Art’s mission is to create great experiences with great art for everyone. An outdoor sculpture garden and excellent new restaurant make it a great spot to enjoy any time of day. Admission is free Sunday!
3. German Village
588 S 3rd St, Columbus, OH 43215
What is it? Columbus’ premier downtown neighborhood and one of the largest preeminent historic districts in the United States. German Village looks exactly the same way it did 150 years ago, thanks to a meticulous historic preservation effort that began a half century ago.
Why go? Today, German Village is not only home to some of the most sought after historic residences, it also contains a mixture of boutique shops, destination restaurants, bars and wonderful public parks.
4. Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
1777 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43203
What is it? One of the top attractions in Columbus, the only botanical garden in the world with a permanent collection of glass artwork by Dale Chihuly. Seasonal exhibitions rotate year-round. The brand new Scott’s Miracle Gro Children’s Garden should not be missed if you have the kids with you!
Why go? There are many special events and activities throughout the year at the conservatory, and visitors can partake in one of the many classes or workshops on cooking, gardening, wellness, or the fine arts.
5. Scioto Mile
233 Civic Center Drive Columbus, OH 43215
What is it? 175 acres of parkland in the heart of downtown Columbus features miles of multi-use trails stretching from Bicentennial Plaza in the south to North Bank Park in the North.
Why go? This is a great spot to take a stroll and enjoy both the city and nature. The country’s largest free outdoor climbing wall is located here, as well a 15,000-foot interactive fountain, an amphitheater, and a 120-acre Scioto Audubon.
6. Center of Science and Industry (COSI)
333 W Broad St, Columbus, OH 43215
What is it? Since 1964 COSI, has been inspiring people through science and innovation, is the top-rated science center with more than 300 interactive exhibits.
Why go? There is always something new to do and explore there for all ages. I also suggest that you plan on spending most of the day there. You will run out of time before you run out of fun.
7. North Market
59 Spruce St, Columbus, OH 43215
What is it? Since 1876, Ohio merchants and farmers have served the community and the visitors who come to the market from all over. North Market provides an authentic Columbus Ohio experience which highlights the diversity and vibrancy of the community, both economically and culturally by promoting “best in class” local independent businesses.
Why go? North Market is Columbus’ only public market, it is A MUST if you’re visiting Columbus. It’s a giant indoor food hall in the heart of downtown and it’s full of food stalls of shops, donuts, crepes, waffles, Indian food, cheese, flowers, produce, artisan beauty products, bread, etc.!
8. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
4850 W Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065
What is it? Opened in 1927, is a non-profit zoo located north of Columbus, Ohio. In 2009 it was named by the USA Travel Guide as the number one zoo in the United States, it was name ranked number one zoo in 2012 by Besties Readers’ Choice
Why go? The Columbus Zoo is home to more than 10,000 animals! Like any adventure, a-little planning can mean a lifetime of good memories. So make sure to plan your visit!
These are some facts about Columbus that will give you greater insight into what molds and shapes the identity of Ohio’s capital:
- Did you know that the very first air cargo flight landed in Columbus? Pilot Phillip Parmalee flew 2 packages of silk from Dayton to Columbus in a Wright Model B airplane.
- Columbus holds division title as Ohio’s largest city ahead of Cleveland and Cincinnati.
- Columbus earned the nickname “Arch City” from dozens of wooden and metal arches that spanned multiple streets at the turn of the 20th century, according to This Week Community News. The arches were used to power streetcars and provide electricity for streetlights until they were torn down in 1914. Columbus restored metal facsimiles of the historical arches in the city’s Short North district in 2002.
- Columbus ranks in the top five U.S. cities for craft beer production. Columbus loves sports, and what goes better with sports than a craft brewed beer?
- Columbus was named the most intelligent city in the United States in a 2013 list released by the Intelligent Community Forum, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Ranks the 15th most literate city and the 19th most educated city in a 2008 study by Central Connecticut State University.
- If every single college and professional sports venue in Columbus was filled to capacity at once, we would have over 172,000 seats filled. Columbus loves sports.
- Columbus hosts the largest single breed horse show in the world every October. The All American Quarter Horse Congress attracts a half million visitors to each show!
- The Ohio slogan says our state is the heart of it all, but Columbus is just about the heart of the country, at least population-wise. 50% of the U.S. population lives within a 500 mile radius of Columbus.
- The average age of Columbus, Ohio residents has hovered between 30-33 years old for nearly 10 years, making the city one of the top ten youngest cities in the U.S.!
Best Graffiti and Murals in Columbus: If Instagrammable walls are your thing, here are a few of my favorite must-see murals and their locations:
1. Buttles Ave & Bollinger Pl 2. N High St & E Lincoln St
3. 700 N. High St 4. N High St & Brickel St
5. E Russell St & W Russell St 6. N Pearl St & Warren St
What to Eat/Drink:
- Forno’s Kitchen + Bar: This upscale modern restaurant has some of the best quality food in Columbus—-Forno’s is your perfect spot for either a dinner for two or a night out with a group of friends. Be sure to order the bruschetta appetizer—it’s a diehard must!
- Condados: Looking for a refreshing lunch break from all the exploration with tasty food and drinks? Condados is your location— this retro restaurant incorporates a Mexican theme for their variety of tacos. Whether you build your own or order a specialty taco, be sure you order their margaritas to cool off the kick after biting into your tacos.
- Bakersfield: Tacos and Tequila—you can never go wrong! Bringing a Mexican street affair to you, Bakersfield offers simple taco entrees filled with flavors that will have your tastebuds raving for more. Do not leave without trying the queso fondue dip with a pitcher of your favorite margarita.
- Harvest Pizzeria: Tucked away within the outskirts of downtown, this homely restaurant in German village beholds some of the best pizzas you’ve ever eaten. Nominated as one of the top 10 restaurants of Columbus, go and experience over twenty different specialty pizzas!
- Barcelona: Located in German Village, an authentic global dining experience awaits. Inspired by seaside sangria and a walk on the Ramblas, Barcelona is a culinary fusion of metropolitan chic & Old World European charm. For what to order and more gorgeous photos of the space, check out their photo review.
- Pies n Pints: Go here when you’re looking for delicious hand stretched pies that are baked directly from stone hearth pizza ovens with some great craft beers!
- Brassica: This place is committed to smart ingredient sourcing! With plenty of nutritious ingredient combinations for salads, bowls, wraps, and pita sandwiches, building a healthy meal at Brassica is easy. (I can’t stop thinking about when I can go back!)
- Wolf Bridge Brewing: Grab your family and friends and join this brewing company for a guided tasting and tour in the Hickory Room at Wolf’s Ridge! Highlights of the tour include an in depth look at the process and ingredients of brewing and a walk through of the production area.
- The Pearl: Stylish gastropub known for their fresh food and classic cocktails.
- Palle by Moretti: This exciting new meatball-centric restaurant in Columbus has recipes that have been handed down over generations from Italy.
- Giordano’s: A-little taste of Chicago in Columbus! Giordano’s double-crusted cheese stuffed pie is one of the best stuffed pizza options—it’s a must.
- Juniper: Gather here for dinner or drinks with the best view over Columbus. Order the prettiest and yummiest cocktails between the Park of Roses or Elvis or Aviation or Negrorni or South-side or my personal favorite the Strawberry Mule which includes watershed vodka, lime juice, strawberry syrup, ginger beer
- Destination Donuts: located in North Market downtown! Swing on by and get your donut fix – you’ll be glad you did!
- Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream: Founded in 2002 in Columbus, Ohio! Jeni’s now operates 33 scoop shops in 10 cities, distributes prepacked pints to over 3,000 stores across the country, Their ice creams have a uniquely smooth texture and buttercream body, with bright flavor and clean finish!
- Dirty Mikes Hotdog’s: The variety of Vienna beef, vegan and vegetarian hot dogs, cold beer, and dazzling drinks is impressive here!
- Katalina’s Café: Katalina’s is home of The Original Pancake Balls and so much more!
- The Walrus: Make sure you grab food or drinks here with your friends, family and colleagues! This places offers a full menu of comfort food, 30 beers on draft, a full bar & wine list, and lively atmosphere!
- Momo Ghar: Momo Ghar is a little hole in the wall restaurant that rose quickly to being the #1 rated restaurant in Columbus!
- Lincoln Social: Columbus Newest urban rooftop lounge located atop the Lincoln building and is the perfect place to enjoy the Columbus skyline!
- Pin Mechanical Co: Craft cocktails served in an industrial space with duckpin bowling, pinball & other classic games
Where to Stay:
- The Blackwell: This 4-star is the only hotel located in Ohio State University Campus which allows easy access to sporting venues, recreational facilities, and other campus highlights.
- Le Méridien Columbus, The Joseph: The Joseph is an art-focused luxury hotel in the Short North Arts District which offers top-notch service making guests feel like visitors at a palace. The Joseph is steps away from unique shopping, endless dining options, and the contagious energy of High Street.
- Hotel Levque, Autograph Collection: This hotel adds a shimmer of light to the city of Columbus. Effortlessly blending its historic and elegant design, its boutique hotel boasts unique rooms complemented with sophisticated décor and thoughtful technology.
Have you ever been to Columbus? What are some of your favorite things about Columbus? Please leave comments below!