Architecture buffs have been flocking to Columbus, 45 miles south of Indianapolis, since the 1940s when Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen designed the new First Christian Church. Now the city shows off more than 70 buildings by famed architects and is all the more welcoming for its grand lodgings, shops and restaurants.
At only 45,000 people, the metro is ranked sixth in the country for its architecture. Pick up a map at the Columbus Area Visitors Center to guide you to the city's standout structures, like Henry Moore's 20-foot Large Arch sculpture. Or let someone else do the work; the visitors center offers air-conditioned bus tours with volunteer guides.
The Large Arch sculpture frames the First Christian Church
Seafood flown in twice a week and steaks headline the eclectic menu at Smith’s Row.
See the shiny side of town on the Indiana Glass Trail, where examples of Dale Chihuly designs stand out from hundreds of hand-blown spirals.
You’ll also see stained-glass windows at Zaharakos, but the biggest draw at the 100-year-old restored ice cream parlor is the sweet treats.
Still need dinner? Relish Italian dishes and fresh bread at Tre Bicchieri.
Beer-lovers must hit Power House Brewing Company, which pours specialty brews behind a horseshoe-shape bar.
Midcentury modern touches show in the furniture, artwork and color palette at the upscale yet affordable Hotel Indigo.
Hands-on mini exhibits give kids a chance to play with design concepts at Kids’ Commons children's museum.
Nearly a dozen homemade soups cost little but fill you up at Soups by Design.
Considered a leading example of modernist architecture, the 1950s Miller House and Garden feels like it could be a set for Mad Men; visitors gush over the groundbreaking conversation pit and the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the beautifully manicured grounds.
Beer brewed on-site pairs with brick-oven pizzas at 450 North Brewing Company, a restaurant at Simmons Winery on the outskirts of Columbus.
More information: Columbus Area Visitors Center (800) 468-6564; columbus.in.us
Stay to remember
Built in 1910, The Inn at Irwin Gardens in Columbus features original Edwardian furnishings and sunken gardens designed to resemble the ruins of Pompeii. English oak woodwork, brick pergolas wrapped with wisteria vines and a tiered fountain are just some of the impressive architectural details. A hot breakfast is served in the formal dining room. irwingardens.com
Inn at Irwin Gardens
Bring the Kids
The Commons This glass-enclosed community space includes a 5,000-square-foot playground with a huge children’s climbing structure designed by artist Thomas Luckey. The moving sculpture Chaos I is worth a look. On-site restaurants offer quick bites. thecommonscolumbus.com