Columbus, Ohio, Trip Guide | Midwest Living

Columbus, Ohio, Trip Guide

As Ohio’s capital city, Columbus has the expected lineup of great museums, a zoo and botanical gardens. But its downtown neighbors—the eclectic Short North Arts District and the 19th-century German Village—take it out of the realm of typical. Check out our trip guide for what to do, where to eat and where to stay.


Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum The impressive collection of Ohio State-owned materials includes rare and historical comic strips, graphic novels and editorial cartoons.

Capitol tours The flat rotunda roof of the 1860 Ohio Statehouse distinguishes this building from other capitols. Take free hour-long tours.

Capitol tours

State Capitol

Center of Science and Industry Interactive exhibits cover themes such as space, energy and the oceans. Kids especially love the high-wire unicycle that lets them pedal across an 84-foot-long cable.

Columbus Food Adventures Themed tours introduce foodies to a variety of local cuisines. Sample authentic Mexican dishes on the popular taco truck tour.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium More than 600 species reside at this top-ranked zoo. At Polar Frontier, a clear underwater area lets visitors see polar bears playing in a pool. Pirate Island teaches conservation.

German Village A few blocks south of downtown, bakeries, bookshops, delis and gift stores line the narrow brick streets of this enclave of 19th-century European-style brick buildings.

Huntington Park Home of the Triple-A team the Clippers, this minor-league baseball park sells hot dogs for 10 cents during select Monday games. Enjoy drinks and skyline views from the Hall of Fame Bar.

North Bank Park Kids splash in an interactive fountain along the Scioto River. Signs share the city’s history.

North Bank Park

North Bank Park

North Market Visitors shop among 35 merchants selling fresh produce and prepared foods at this indoor market.

Pizzuti Collection Contemporary art collectors Ron and Ann Pizzuti showcase 40 years worth of acquisitions in a refurbished office building.

Scioto Audubon Metro Park Scale one of the nation’s largest free outdoor climbing walls at this 120-acre adventure park that also contains an obstacle course and a water tower with observation platforms.

Short North Arts District In the 1980s, artists began to convert dilapidated buildings north of downtown into shops and galleries. Today, the High Street district thrives with chic shops and restaurants.

Short North Arts District

Short North Arts District

The Topiary Park Sculpted evergreens re-create the scene from George Seurat’s painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte. Standing by the bronze easel gives viewers the same perspective as in the painting.

The Topiary Park

The Topiary Park

The Wilds Spend the night in a yurt within sight of zebras, antelope and threatened species at this conservation center in Cumberland, 75 miles east of Columbus. An open-air safari bus tours the gently rolling property to get passengers close to rhinos and Bactrian camels.


Barcelona Snag a patio table at this tapas spot in German Village. The $60 tasting menu includes six dishes, each created by a different chef.

Brassica Hop in the cafeteria-style line at this popular spot in Short North to assemble a bowl or pita wrap with your choice of rice, lentils, creamy hummus, zingy roasted or pickled vegetables and unexpected proteins such as lamb bacon.

CBC Restaurant Columbus Brewing Company’s restaurant takes its food as seriously as its beer. We love the pulled-pork sandwiches smothered with pale ale Key lime barbecue sauce.

Fox in the Snow Cafe Savor artfully crafted coffee and delectable bakery fare—such as buttermilk biscuits served with honey and house-made jam—in a sunny space that was once garage.

Fox in the Snow Cafe

Fox in the Snow Cafe

G. Michael’s Bistro and Bar White tablecloths add a formal touch to this historical stable. Low Country dishes (shrimp and grits) impress guests.

The Happy Greek Guests eat Greek favorites (tzatziki, gyros, kabobs, desserts and, yes, flaming cheese) in Short North.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams Creative flavors like Wildberry-Lavender and Brambleberry Crisp join more typical (but equally tasty) choices like The Milkiest Chocolate.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Katalina’s The former gas station pumps out baskets of golden pancake balls filled with berry preserves, Nutella, dulce de leche or pumpkin-apple butter.

Kihachi Japanese Restaurant So authentic that it’s chopsticks only, this strip-mall joint inspires guests to expand their culinary comfort zone (think baby octopus and seaweed in vinegar, for starters). Kihachi's Facebook page

Northstar Cafe Staff in organic-fiber uniforms serve items containing sustainably sourced ingredients, like the beets and squash in the roasted root salad.

Schmidt’s Restaurant und Sausage Haus Although touristy, the Americanized German foods satisfy diners  in the German Village spot. The Autobahn buffet lets you try a wide variety of the hearty menu items.

Skillet More than 30 regional farms, gardens and dairies supply ingredients. A simple dish of pork mac and cheese reaches new heights with cheddar from local Laurel Valley Creamery and apple cider-infused pork shoulder.

The Thurman Cafe The ¾-pound Thurman Burger—with ham, cheese, sauteed onions and ‘shrooms, lettuce, tomatoes, banana peppers, pickles and mayo—warrants the sometimes two-hour wait.


Cherry Valley Lodge An arboretum, botanical garden and spa add adult appeal to a family-friendly resort with a huge indoor water park (35 miles east of Columbus in Newark).

German Village Guest House This 1800s guesthouse was turned into a chic five-room hotel in 2005. The hands-off owner sets out a light breakfast. Guests cozy up by an outdoor fireplace in the evenings.

German Village Guest House

German Village Guest House

Hilton Columbus Downtown Showcasing more than 200 works from central Ohio artists, including prints on guest room ceilings, this hotel has the cachet of an art gallery.

Le Meridien Columbus, The Joseph In the heart of Short North Arts District, 135 rooms and suites contain sleek wooden accents crafted in Ohio. The hotel's special-occasion Guild House restaurant plates entrees such as ribeye with turnip puree and wild mushrooms.

The Lofts Hotel Brick walls and floor-to-ceiling windows—not to mention a convenient location near Short North Arts District—make this boutique hotel stand out.

For information: Experience Columbus


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