Columbus, Ohio, is a city with oodles of things to do, as well as home to the Ohio state capital. It has been one of my family’s favorite stomping grounds for over 30 years now.
On my recent visit to Columbus with my daughter, Taylor, we discovered ten things to do in Columbus, Ohio that we thought were worth sharing. Perhaps you have suggestions for our next visit as well.
1. Dine at The Guild House
The Guild House is a stellar artisan restaurant by famous Columbus restaurateur Cameron Mitchell. The menu offers regionally and globally inspired breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the Short North Arts District. Delicious starters include Stuffed Poblano, Tomato Salad (watermelon and feta), and a decadent Cheese Plate.
My dinner, the Chicken Roulade, was a well-thought out and orchestrated dish that would change anyone’s mind about ordering chicken in an upscale setting. Moist and tender, the chicken rolls were served over celery root purée, wild mushrooms, sliced truffles, and romanesco sauce. The Guild House also has gluten-free and cocktail menus that are worth checking out.
2. Explore COSI
On the west bank of Columbus is the COSI science center, offering hands-on exhibits and a savvy planetarium. COSI is where I took my daughters annually as well as my Girl Scout Troop for educational overnights and plenty of fun.
Exhibits range from Gadgets to Oceans in the 320,000 square feet museum. Not much has changed over the years at COSI, including the dedication to family-fun and learning, which made our recent visit a trip down memory lane.
“Progress” is my favorite part of the museum, showing retro displays dating back decades and how living was during that period.
Tip: COSI’s outdoor park affords a great skyline view of downtown Columbus.
3. Stay in the Luxurious Hotel LeVeque
The Hotel LeVeque is in the Autograph Collection for the Marriott chain of hotels. It overlooks the Scioto River in a historic downtown Columbus landmark high-rise building.
Rooms are unlike anywhere else I’ve ever stayed, with a celestial-inspired vibe and modern decor, making them feel and seem “out of this world”. A flat-screen TV (with premium movie channels), mini-fridge, and pillow-top mattress/featherbed adorn the room that is joined by an all-marble bathroom with rainfall shower and Cliff Original toiletries.
My favorite part of Hotel LeVeque was the foyer leading into the room. It added a bonus area to the spacious accommodations and housed an etagere with knick-knacks, making the room feel very homey. I also loved the elegant black and white decor with gold and metallic touches.
Besides having a gorgeous lobby and sitting area on the first floor, Hotel LeVeque offers a French-inspired restaurant/bar, lobby cafe, and savvy gym. The hotel is pet-friendly, as well.
4. Stroll Through German Village
German Village is one of the most desirable urban neighborhoods to live in and visit in the United States. It is a beautiful historic area with restored brick houses built by the 1800’s settlers.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, German Village houses shops, restaurants, and specialty boutiques, with my favorites being Kolache Republic, Katzinger’s Delicatessen, Max & Erma’s, Pistachia Vera, and Stauf’s Coffee Roasters.
Perhaps the most well-known business in German Village is The Book Loft, a 32-room emporium of discounted books, puzzles, calendars, and more for the literary fan. If you can’t find the book you are looking for here, chances are you can’t find it anywhere. The Book Loft also has a wide array of souvenirs, gifts, journals, cards, and accessories.
5. Make A Scented Candle
The Candle Lab is a fun place to create your signature scent for home candles and other items, in the Short North area of town. Customers have been coming here for more than ten years to design soy-based candles with the creations that are appealing to their olfactory glands.
With over 120 scents to choose from, smell your way, alphabetically, through the aromas of cedar, cake batter, sea kelp, grapefruit, Tupelo honey, Magnolia, and more. Unusual scents I spotted were Cannabis, Old Books, Wasabi, and Baked Bread.
Pour your own candle or have a Candle Lab employee do it for you, but enjoy an original quality product that you made yourself. Other items that you can make include room sprays, body products, fragrance oils, wax tarts, and soy diffusers.
6. Eat at Flowers & Bread
A new place that I quickly fell in love with was Flowers & Bread. This bakery/eatery is unique in that the owners also feature hands-on classes in the same building that houses the restaurant.
Flowers & Bread has fantastic food. My Quiche (and side salad) was toothsome— very flavorful and with a buttery crust that was one of the best I’ve had. Don’t miss the Fire-Roasted Tomato Soup; it is rich and delicious. Decadent freshly-baked pastries and sandwiches, coffee, and espresso are also available.
Take part in seasonal workshops at Flowers & Bread. Learn to bake bread, create floral accessories, arrange flowers, and much more in these classes. Book your spot early as the workshops fill up quickly.
Flowers & Bread is also a great place to have private parties, luncheons, team building experiences, and dinners.
7. Take in the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens showcase natural experiences, sitting on the beautiful 88-acre Franklin Park property. Housed in a grand Victorian-style glass greenhouse (The Palm House), it opened to the public in 1895. It was my first time visiting the property since it hosted the marvelous Ameriflora international horticulture exposition in 1992.
Here, lush gardens, botanical biomes, and other dazzling specimens are accessible to those of all ages. Come and see flowers and plants throughout the Conservatory in exhibits halls including Amazon rainforest, bonsai, desert, and Zen Terrace (rooftop gardening).
An impressive collection of intricate glass works by artist Dale Chihuly is also on display. The property has a gift shop and Garden Café, too. Don’t miss the sculpture gardens and Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden, two unique offerings.
8. Experience a Food Tour
Being a travel writer/blogger, I have gone on my fair share of food tours; I love them. After my visit to Columbus, I am still in awe that Bethia and Andy, owners of Columbus Food Adventures, offer 12 unique tours or can put together a private tour for you. What an amazing feat!
Jump in their super comfy 14-passenger air-conditioned luxury van as you eat, drink, and explore Columbus’s radical food scene. A few of Columbus Food Adventures’ tours that struck my fancy were taco truck, meat lovers, coffee, and breakfast.
I was privy to have a private tour customized to show me a bit of all of the tours available, with an emphasis on the Alt Eats Tour. Our tour included delicious taco truck meal deals, eating Vietnamese Bahn-Mi sandwiches, properly sampling Nigerian food, and trying Somali cuisine (a first for me!). They also showed us great places to get affordable and delicious ethnic eats in Columbus.
Any food lover would have a blast on one of their tours! With advance notice, tours can be modified for vegetarians.
9. Have Breakfast at Katalina’s
Columbus added a future entry to my “Best Eats of 2018” list with my sampling from Katalina’s. Foodies will go mad for the deliciousness that is served in this funky and intimate 100-year old gas station turned restaurant.
Katalina’s has great soups; I sampled two and each was terrific! The Tomole Soup (roasted tomato with mole spice and holy mole salt) was topped with Queso Fresco and spiced pepitas while the rich and flavorful Shagbark Black Bean Soup had a touch of crema.
Katalina’s best selling item is the award-winning Famous! Mazatlan Slow-Roasted Pork and Egg: slow-roasted pork, cheese, avocado, roasted red peppers, and aioli on Old-World toasted bread. Original Pancake Balls are another house specialty. Order them filled with Nutella, pumpkin apple butter, or dulce de leche and dip the tasty balls in bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup.
The owner, Kathleen, was a delight to meet and hear from. She certainly has created a neighborhood culinary gem worth visiting.
10. Visit the Wexner Center for the Arts
Deemed as “The Ohio State University’s multidisciplinary, international laboratory for the exploration and advancement of contemporary art”, the Wexner Center for the Arts is a treasure. This modern venue hosts film screenings, performances, and contemporary art exhibits ranging in theme.
During my visit, I saw a Todd Oldham limited engagement fashion exhibit. The clothing and accessories were displayed in beautiful fashion and laid-out in a visually stunning arrangement.
Columbus, Learning More Things Do With Each Visit
Columbus keeps growing jobs, businesses, and population at a remarkable speed. With each visit, we learn more about this awesome city.
We hope you will enjoy the list of things that made our visit special. Will you be adding any of our ten things to your next visit to Columbus?
A special thanks to the Columbus CVB for hosting my visit. As with all of my articles, reviews and opinions are 100% mine and unbiased.
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