72 Hours in Columbus, OH – ACPA Edition

Columbus skyline from the North Bank Park Pavilion. Photo: Bowen Marshall
Columbus skyline from the North Bank Park Pavilion. Photo: Bowen Marshall

Once thought of as a sleepy midwestern town, Columbus is an up and coming city with a thriving day and nightlife, booming foodie scene, and a top city for young professionals.

Home to the largest colleges in Ohio, The Ohio State University and Columbus State Community College as well numerous institutions of higher education within an hour’s drive from Columbus, I have found the city is an exceptional place to be a higher education professional and a great place to live.

If you are experiencing Columbus for the first time, or returning to visit a place you once called home, this is my special ACPA edition to pack in the my favorite locations, tastes and culture of Columbus in 72 hours whirlwind hours.

Two caveats to this itinerary:

  1. This is a suggested list from the perspective of one person who happens to live in and love Columbus and focuses mainly on areas close to the convention center. Columbus has so much more to offer and we hope to share more in future blogs.
  2. I suggest treating this list as a pop-in, pop-out guide. If you tried to do everything, you might very well miss the conference; and remember, the most important site in Columbus during your time here is the ACPA17 Annual Convention!


10:30am – Brunch
If not attending an ACPA Pre-Convention Workshop, consider picking-up a blueberry donut with lemon Chantilly at Wolf’s Ridge Brewery (215 N 4th Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215), a southern fried chicken butter milk sandwich or pancake balls from Katalinas (1105 Pennsylvania Ave. Columbus, OH 43201) – finding a scrumptious bite over scintillating conversation with colleagues new and old is a Sunday must for those visiting Columbus. (Insider tip: These breakfast spots fill up quickly so get there early or make reservations the day before.)

Noon – Time for an early afternoon stroll
If you’ve been in meetings all morning, consider leaving the Convention

Short North Arches, Photo Mike Beaumont
Short North Arches, Photo Mike Beaumont

Center, just north on High Street, the nexus of life in Columbus. Along the way, there is lots of window shopping from Homage (783 N. High Street, Columbus, OH 43215 ) to the Candle Lab (751 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215) Browsing one of the countless art galleries up and down the street is a good time!

If you’re feeling in need of an extra pick me up, stop by the world famous Jeni’s Ice Cream (714 N. High Street, Columbus, OH 43215) for a sumptuous scoop of ice cream, frozen yogurt, or sorbet so good you’ll be back again and again for more (Insider tip: sample as much as you like for free until you find your perfect flavor, it’s just what you do!).
Need a mid-afternoon recharge or sweet treat before you head back to the convention center for CelebrACPA and the Opening Session? Pick up a hot, ethically sourced, Ethiopian, pour over from One Line Coffee (745 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215), a freshly pressed organic juice from Native Cold Pressed (771 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215), or a refreshing mango boba tea from Zen Cha Tea & Salon (982 N High St, Columbus, OH 43211).

Getting Around Columbus
Find yourself a little further from your hotel than you intended?

Columbus has several options for getting from point A to point B. If you’re in downtown or the adjacent neighborhoods, the CBUS circulator (route link here) is free, and the COTA bus is available for a nominal fee. You can download the Transit App for the most up to date information on where your ride is.  Those interested in getting active can check out a COGO bike (stations here) with 24 and 72 hour passes available from the city’s bike share network and pedal off to your next destination.

3:00pm – A trip to the park
Columbus, Ohio has great outdoor spaces – check out the the elephants of Goodale Park (120 W Goodale St, Columbus, OH 43215) or the newly reconstructed Scioto Mile (233 S Civic Center Dr, Columbus, OH 43215) that traces along the Scioto River through the heart of Columbus.

If it’s cold outside, head over to the Franklin Park Conservatory (1777 E Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43203) just east of downtown and step into a tropical rain forest, the Himalayas, or hang out with the rare butterflies emerging from their crystallizes just in time for convention.

Alternatively, check out the newly renovated Colummuseumbus Museum of Art (480 East Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43215) where they’re featuring the exhibit Bodies @ Work: The Art of Ruben and Isabel Toledo.  (Insider tip: It’s free admission on Sundays.).

Dinner Hot Spots from Around the World
Spend any time in Columbus and you’ll hear the locals talk about it being a foodie city. Part of that reputation comes from Columbus being a meeting place of the World Cuisines.  One great suggestion is Lemongrass (641 N. High St., Columbus, OH) an Asian-Fusion restaurant.

Show Tunes
Ever want to star in your very own reprisal of Cabaret or take center stage as Elphaba and defy gravity in front of a cheering crowd? Go to show tunes at Union Café (782 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215). This LGBTQ video bar features ShowTunes Sundays where revelers take the stage amongst some of the strongest libations in town and belt out their favorite musical numbers to their adoring fans.

Out Late(r)
Need a late night? Stop by Mikey’s Late Night Slice (1030 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201), and be prepared to be filled to your fullest. With slices of pizza as big as your face, gluten free and vegan options, fast and friendly service, and their signature sauces, you can’t go wrong…except maybe if you get a slice of the fiery death, it’s as hot as it sounds.  (Insider tip: Get extra sauce, it’s totally worth it.)


7 am – Breakfast
Before you start your day, venture off the beaten path antasid stop at Tasi Café (680 N Pearl Street, Columbus, OH, 43215 ) for some cinnamon-challah french toast with bananas and pure Ohio maple syrup. A bit further down the road, the Fox in the Snow Café (1031 N. Fourth Street, Columbus, OH 43201) is a great place to get to read a book, catch up on email, and devour a pecan sticky bun or a soufflé egg sandwich.

Two words: North Market (59 Spruce Street, Columbnorth marketus, OH 43215). Located just across High Street from the Convention Center, the North Market is a great place to network, chat, and celebrate food. With its eclectic collection of 30 merchants committed sourcing tasty and delicious ingredients from around Ohio and around the world, this is the one-stop gourmand shop for you. In the mood for the crunch of delicious fried chicken, check out Hot Chicken Takeover. Want something sweeter? Make your destination, Destination Donuts or hop across the Atlantic to the Taste of Belgium market place for a hot and fresh Belgian Waffle. (Insider tip: Don’t be fooled by chocolate drizzle, the plain waffle is the best.) No matter where you stop, you can’t go wrong.

Afternoon Respite
If your brain is full and you are in need of a break, head state housedown to the State House of Ohio for a tour. It’s free and open to the public. The German Village (588 S 3rd St, Columbus, OH 43215) located just south of downtown is a great way to take in some culture and take a turn about history. Take a tour with the German Village Society and learn about one of America’s great Historic Places.

While you’re in the neighborhood stop into the 32 room book store the Book Loft (631 S 3rd St, Columbus, OH 43206) and pick up your next great read. Head down to Thurman’s Café (183 Thurman Ave, Columbus, Ohio, 43206) for their famous monster burger. (Insider tip: No reservations are accepted, so if you don’t want to wait, call in advance and order take out.) Spend some time wandering down the quaint brick streets admiring a neighborhood preserved in time. Before heading back to the convention, pick up some French macarons from Pistacia Vera (541 S 3rd St, Columbus, OH 43215) and remember, you don’t have to share them!

7-PM: Downtown Dinner
Before you head back to convention for evening socislappy pappyals or to prep for the next day’s presentations, consider these tasty places for a bite to eat. Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace (2836 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH) is a must stop for one of the best hot dogs in town. Whether they are ripped, grilled, beef, or vegan, get your dog topped any way you like and don’t forget a side of fries or some mac and cheese.  If hot dogs aren’t your thing, try Columbus’ best tacos at Condado’s Tacos (132 South High Street, Columbus, OH 43215), with outstanding guacamole and fillers like braised beef brisket, grilled portabellas, and smoked cheddar, this is the place to gather for good food at great prices.


In the mood for something more eclectic or worldly, take the “path less eaten” and check out the alt.eats.columbus blog for even more varieties of deliciousness.

Noon: Lunch
I’ve never gone wrong with El Arepazo Latin Grill (47 N. Pearl St. Columbus, OH) which has some of the best South American cuisine Columbus has to offer. Try a Colombian sweet corn cake or one of their delicious empanadas dipped in their house cilantro sauce. In the mood for dishes centered on the principle that high quality, simple ingredients make wholesome and delicious meals, head north to to Northstar Café (951 N. High St., Columbus, OH) with great vegan and vegetarian options, there is something for everyone. Try their signature Northstar Burger with an in-house patty made of black beans, brown rice and beets, and topped with white cheddar, kale, tomato, pickle and onion. It’s so good, you may never go back to beef. (Insider tip: Call ahead to either of these places if you don’t want to wait in line.)

As you come towards the end of your ACPA17 conference experience, go out with a gastronomic bang and head to Sidebar 122 (122 E Main St, Columbus, OH 43215) for their endless Tapas Night. For a more intimate dining experience, head to Basi Italia (811 Highland St, Columbus, OH 43215) for their seasonally updated menu that’s so fresh, the next time you’re in town you might miss the crispy oysters, resting amongst roasted fingerling potatoes and a saffron-horseradish aioli sauce.

Have a larger group? Try the crowd pleasing Marcella’s (615 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215) with excellent cheese boards, flat breads, and gigantic, gourmet meat balls. It’s Italian done right for everyone.

Get Your Gam(er)(ing) on
Up for a little competition between friends and colleagues? Head to Kingmakers (17 Buttles Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43215) for board games and conversation. You can also head down to the 16-Bit Bar+Arcade (254 S 4th St, Columbus, OH 43215) and leave your mark on Columbus by breaking the high score on your favorite classic arcade game.


Before you leave if you have time between catcheaston town centering your plane and the closing speaker, head out to Easton Town Center (160 Easton Town Center, Columbus, Ohio 43219) located near the Port Columbus International Airport for excellent shopping, entertainment, and an encore of great food. Check out the latest model Tesla at the Easton Show Room. Grab a box of Cheryl’s buttercream frosted cookies—a Columbus original—for friends and family back home. With clothing, furniture, an Apple store and much more, you’ll get your shopping fix for the next month!

If you are planning on extending your stay, or excited about experiencing more of what Columbus has to offer, you can learn more about the different areas of town, or opportunities for families, such as the nationally renowned Center of Science and Industry (COSI) (333 West Broad St., Columbus OH, 43215) that you can travel to on the Cbus Circulator. From the birth of the universe to grappling with the laws of physics in action, this is a great stop for attendees wanting to engage some science!

Giraffes at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Photo: Graham S. Jones

Afternoon Adventures a Little Further Away
Thank you for for letting me share just a few of my favorite things about the city I call home!  I hope this at least begins to give you an idea of all the opportunities you have to experience our community at ACPA17! For more information on Columbus, check out the Experience Columbus website.
If you have the means and weather permits, check out the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (4850 W Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065), consistently ranked the Number 1 Zoo in the United States, you’ll come face to face with polar bears, lions, manatees and so much more.You could always visit my home, heading two miles north to The Ohio State University, (1739 N. High St., Columbus, OH, 43210), you can catch by catching the number 2 bus. Check out the Ohio Union’s great hall, the glass enclosed stacks of the 13 story Thompson Library, the Oval, or the Shoe, home of Buckeye football. With over 58,000 students on the Columbus campus, this city within a city has a lot to offer.

Author: Bowen Marshall, ACPA17, Excursions Coordinator

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *