Columbus is a city of neighborhoods and “districts” that offer great variation and character. They were unique in their original purpose and now offer an eccentricity and charm as they have matured through the years. One of the best things about visiting Columbus is the chance to learn more about the neighborhoods. Few cities around have such a mix of diverse neighborhoods, all within a short distance of downtown. Head south to check out the historic charm and hot dining scene of German Village. To the west, you’ll find the emerging arts epicenter of Franklinton with its industrial vibe. To the north, the Short North Arts District delights with boutique shopping, outstanding nightlife and distinctive dining
Whether you’re a fan or not, you’ll want to make a quick stop at Ohio Stadium, known as “The Shoe,” home to the famed Ohio State Buckeyes football team. Golf fans will find a lot to love at the Jack Nicklaus Museum, dedicated to the hometown hero. Not far away, near the Ohio Expo Center is MAPFRE Stadium, home of Columbus Crew SC.
The University District is home to our professional colleagues ACUHO-I. Dining options range from student-centric to upscale; find a variety of options around High Street and 11th Avenue. The Wexner Center for the Arts showcases rotating modern art exhibitions, and also hosts a huge variety of events, ranging from music, theater and dance performances to film screenings and artist talks. Across the plaza, the free Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum has the largest collection of cartoons and comics in the world, and features rotating exhibitions of historic, classic and modern comics. Ohio State also houses the National Summit on Collegiate Wellness.
Stretching north from Ohio State to Worthington, Clintonville is a large neighborhood with many attractions, from the Park of Roses to the independently owned retail shops and restaurants that line High Street. Start your day with a cup of coffee at Cup O’ Joe or Crimson Cup, both on the Columbus Coffee Trail. Dining choices veer toward farm-to-table, with Acre, Harvest Pizzeria, The Crest Gastropub and Angry Bear Kitchen as standouts. Get in line for world-class barbecue at the Ray Ray’s Hog Pit truck, at live music hotspot Ace of Cups. Grab a delicious Viennese pastry from Mozart’s or a hand-pie or two at Lineage Brewing.
Be sure to visit a Columbus institution, The North Market. Or, indulge at locations near the Arena like the hockey-centric R Bar or Three Legged Mare, and end your night along Park Street. The Arena District is home to the Columbus Blue Jackets our NHL Hockey team and The Columbus Clippers our AAA baseball team.
SHORT NORTH ARTS DISTRICT
Take in one of the nation’s most envied arts districts with an afternoon of unique local shopping at Tigertree, Milk Bar and Rowe, complete with quick bites from standout restaurants like Gallerie Bistro, The Pearl and The Guild House. The Short North features a plethora of LGBTQ+ community business and resources, such as Axis and Stonewall Columbus, as well as the historically African American Near East side, where the Lincoln Theater and Columbus Urban League can be found. Check out a late performance at the newly restored Short North Stage, formerly a vaudeville house.
Just a few blocks south of Nationwide Boulevard, downtown Columbus’ Gay Street is buzzing with activity. Grab a coffee (Café Brioso) or tea (Zen Cha Tea Salon) and browse local shops, like Zeroz.
The free CBUS downtown circulator will take you ½ mile south to German Village, where you will find a few remnants of German culture, like the popular Schmidt’s Sausage Haus, but the dining scene ranges from delicate French patisserie at Pistacia Vera, to Spanish paella and tapas at Barcelona, to low-country pork and seafood at G. Michaels, to laid back and delicious pizza and craft cocktails at Harvest and Curio. A little further afield, The Crest Gastropub on Parsons offers outstanding food and drinks, while Skillet is the hotspot for hyper-local, hyper-delicious and hyper-filling breakfasts and brunches. The Kitchen helps you cook your own dinner in a fun, participatory and stylish environment. The 32-room Book Loft has been a favorite location to wander for generations.
Immediately west of German Village, along the free Cbus route (primarily oriented along Front Street), is the Brewery District. Originally built by the same German settlers, this was an industrial hub of the city’s historic beer scene, and is now full of lively entertainment and dining options like the perennially popular, South American-inspired Arepazo Tapas and Wine, Czech filled pastries at Kolache Republic and local beers and pub fare at the Columbus Brewing Company Restaurant. Rockmill Tavern recently opened in the Brewery District and can I say, it doesn’t get any better. Shadowbox Live!, the country’s largest resident theater company, presents original productions complete with live music nearly every day of the week.
EASTON TOWN CENTER
Need some retail therapy? A 15-minute drive east from downtown will bring you to Ohio’s largest shopping center, Easton. More a neighborhood than a mall, you’ll find national retailers from Nordstrom and Macy’s to Coach, Apple, Victoria’s Secret, Crate and Barrel, Field and Stream, L.L. Bean, Tiffany’s (yes, that Tiffany’s) and more. Easton offers a diverse retail mix in an open-air pedestrian friendly setting and unique dining experiences like Mitchell’s Ocean Club, Brio, as well as your old favorites P.F. Chang’s and the Cheesecake Factory.
*all photos courtesy of Experience Columbus