Your Personal Guide to Exploring Columbus, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio was a city that my family used to frequent once a month or so for around 15 years. Not only did my husband and I start our adult life hanging in the popular OSU bars on High Street, but we made our children Columbus savvy at an early age. The family would go for a weekend or even a day visit to shop, dine, or visit friends. We honestly felt like we knew the city better than many of our friends who had lived there for years.
Here are the places we liked to visit and help with the economy in Columbus, Ohio.
Your guide to Columbus, Ohio, should start with German Village, a unique area near downtown. Exploring this 233-acre historic residential neighborhood will make your visit worthwhile. Obtain a walking map from the visitor’s center, or take an organized tour (such as walking, pub crawl, or food tour) as you explore this exciting and educational gem.
German Village is lined with cobblestone streets and features some of Columbus’s most exceptional restaurants. Two excellent choices are 1974 Brown Bag Deli and the famous Schmidt’s Sausage House. At Schmidt’s, try the Alpine Schnitzel on spaetzle noodles, Bavarian Cabbage Rolls, or their famous Autobahn Buffet.
My personal favorite is the Katzinger Delicatessen, open since 1984. They are unparalleled for their huge sandwich, side of noodle kugel, and rugelach to take home for a late night snack. The sandwich choice for me will always be #11; smoked turkey breast, Muenster cheese, Honeycup mustard, on challah bread. For your first visit, you may want to look at the menu online because the selection is daunting.
Next up, The Book Loft, located at 631 South Third Street, is one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores. It has a whopping 32 rooms of books. If you are a book lover, be prepared to spend hours browsing. The Book Loft also offers a frequent user rewards card. Afterward, pop in Mary B’, a fun store in German Village featuring unique wines and beers, plus nice gifts.
Worthington is home to a Columbus, Ohio, institution, Graeter’s Ice Cream, which was created in 1870. They use the French pot process to make their decadent ice cream. What that means, I have no idea, but their ice cream is no joke—sheer deliciousness. My favorite flavors are classic Butter Pecan and Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean, with Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip being my favorite specialty flavor. Graeter’s offers a factory tour at their Bethel Road location.
Easton Town Center
Not only a shoppers dream, but the entertainment options at the Easton Town Center will keep you coming back time after time. Options include the Funny Bone Comedy Club, a 30-screen movie dine-in AMC theatre, and fantastic unique beer choices at World of Beer.
Grab a margarita and watch games on the TV screen at Adobe Gila’s, or have a delicious dinner with live piano entertainment at Mitchell’s Ocean Club. Other noteworthy dining choices include Cheesecake Factory, McCormick & Schmick’s, or the classic steakhouse menu at Smith & Wollensky.
Concerts in Columbus, Ohio
Located in the arena district, the Nationwide Arena is the home for all the big draw concerts in Columbus, such as Katy Perry and Maroon Five. The Columbus Crew Stadium is the place for artists such as Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line. I love the Palace Theater for artists such as Nick Swardson and Manheim Steamroller.
The Ohio Theater offers the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and the Southern Theatre, for jazz and special events. Visit Newport Music Hall for the Gaelic Storm and Johnny Marr or the Mershon Auditorium for special concerts, such as John Mellencamp.
Columbus, Ohio Sports
Support the NHL Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena; games run September through April. Try canoeing and kayaking, available at multiple locations. The Columbus Crew, a professional Major League Soccer Club, play at the US first soccer-specific arena, the Columbus Crew Stadium.
For a different event, come to the Arnold Sports Festival, held annually in March, where nearly 20,000 athletes compete in about 50 sports and games, some even Olympic sporting events. The Arnold Fitness Expo is a three-day event with 700 exhibit booths featuring information on health and wellness, nutrition, training tools, and apparel.
Your guide to Columbus features an abundance of museums in this culturally diverse city. COSI, one of the nation’s greatest and highest ranked science centers, is perfect for a single day visit, yearly membership, birthday parties, and scouting events. COSI exhibits include: Space, Ocean, Gadgets, Life, Progress, and Innovation Showcase and have over 300 exhibits, a large science park, the Atomic Cafe, and the only high wire unicycle in the state of Ohio.
Some other museums are the Columbus Museum of Art, Wexner Center for the Arts, Thurber House, National Cartoon Museum, the Franklin Conservatory, and Kelton House Museum and Garden.
Shop-till-you-drop in the many Columbus boutiques and shops. The famous Easton Town Center, a shopping/restaurant/entertainment complex and my personal favorite on the entire East Coast, is where you can find everything you are looking for, and then some.
Offering 240 stores and great shopping choices, such as American Girl, west elm, Burberry, Lacoste, and Apple, there is always something new to see at Easton Town Center. Anchor stores are Macy’s and the most wonderful Nordstrom Department store.
Stock up your pantry at Trader Joe’s and buy all those storage solutions you want, but will not ever truly need, at The Container Store. Polaris Fashion Place is the premier indoor mall with stores such as J. Jill, a small Sak’s Fifth Avenue, and Barnes and Noble. This is a very average mall in my opinion, but it does have Molly Woo’s, a delicious Asian restaurant.
Columbus has moved into the casino and gambling business over the past couple of years with their addition of the Hollywood Casino near downtown. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, in Powell, Ohio, is the perfect choice for family fun and education. They feature over 9,000 animals including polar bears, elephants, gorillas, and koala bears.
Behind the scenes VIP tours are also available. Dozens of aspiring and note-worthy artists offer their galleries and paintings throughout the city of Columbus, but the most concentrated area for art is the Short North district.
Tips and FYI’s for Visiting Columbus, Ohio
Tip: Try a Cameron Mitchell restaurant. You will not be disappointed. A few of his best-known eateries are Molly Woo’s, Mitchell’s Ocean Club (my favorite!), and The Guild House. Mitchell is a native to Columbus and now owns over 20 restaurants in 9 states.
Tip: If you have children and/or scouts, contact COSI for their Camp-In Program information. I took my girl scouts there years ago and we loved it. After check-in, we were free to peruse the museum exhibits, and simulators, all the while completing badge requirements and earning special patches. We had a late night pizza and dance party, with a DJ and disco lights, then were given designated areas for sleeping. We also saw the 7-story extreme screen theater movie.
FYI: Being a native West Virginia girl, I am so proud that our own Pies & Pints Pizzeria has landed a place in cool & chic Worthington. Their pizzas are unique and you must try them. Order the Pork & Pepper Nachos (black beans, pulled pork, salsa, cheddar cheese, jalapeños, scallions, and chipotle crema) and the Steak & Mushroom Pizza Pie (grilled steak, caramelized onions, mushrooms, gorgonzola, scallions, and horseradish crema) NOM! Pies & Pints will even let you have half your pizza between two specialty choices.
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