As Ohio’s capital city, Columbus has the expected lineup of great museums, a zoo and botanical gardens. But its downtown neighborhoods—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.

By The editors of MidwestLiving.com
Updated March 25, 2021
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Pandemic-related closures and restrictions may be in place. Please check destinations' websites before making travel plans.

Do

Center of Science and Industry Watch for the reopening of this acclaimed science museum, with interactive exhibits on topics like dinosaurs, space and energy, plus a big-screen theater and planetarium. cosi.org

Columbus Food Adventures Hungry explorers go on a progressive meal at taco trucks. Other themed tours are expected to to resume in 2021, including an all-dessert tour and an Alt Eats tour of global cuisines. columbusfoodadventures.com

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium See more than 600 species at this top-ranked zoo, or journey 95 miles east to Cumberland to explore The Wilds, the zoo’s conservation center and safari park. columbuszoo.org

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens Herb gardens, a canopy walk, play structures and a Hocking Hills-inspired splash area—waterfall and all—cover the recently added new 2-acre Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children's Garden. Seasonal events enliven the gardens' appeal year-round. fpconservatory.org

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

Inniswood Metro Gardens Six trails in the 123-acre park lead to 10 themed gardens, woodlands and streams. More than 2,000 species of plants thrive in the preserve. inniswood.org

National Veterans Memorial and Museum Late astronaut and Ohio senator John Glenn helped spearhead the $82 million museum. Exhibits include video interviews and letters from soldiers. nationalvmm.org

North Market Visitors shop among 35 merchants selling fresh produce, flowers and prepared food at this year-round indoor market. Monthly Night Markets bring special outdoor activities. northmarket.com

Pizzuti Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art Highlights from the contemporary art collection of Ron and Ann Pizzuti are showcased in a refurbished office building. pizzuticollection.org

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, sand volleyball courts and recreation fields. metroparks.net

Short North Arts District The district has morphed into a 20-block mosaic of fashion boutiques, restaurants, bars, murals and new faces. In 2019, $500 million of investment added more storefronts and lofts. shortnorth.org

Short North Arts District
Short North Arts District

Topiary Garden Park Sculpted evergreens re-create the scene from Georges Seurat's pointillist painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte. columbus.gov

Topiary Park
The Topiary Park

Eat

Basi Italia A New York-trained chef brings his skills to a house in the heart of Victorian Village, serving creations such as creamy sweet crab and corn risotto. basi-italia.com

Brassica Hop in the cafeteria-style line at this popular Mediterranean spot in Short North lets you customize a bowl or pita wrap with your choice of rice, lentils, creamy hummus, vegetables and proteins. brassicashortnorth.com

Chapman's Eat Market Chef-owner BJ Lieberman left a Michelin-starred restaurant in Washington,D.C., to open this new German Village spot. Try globally inspired entrees like Chicken and Shrimp Khao Soi, with house-made ice cream (in flavors like Chocolate Chile) for dessert. eatchapmans.com

Columbus Coffee Trail This string of coffee destinations will lead you to some of the city's best brews at locations like One Line, Fox in the Snow and Stauf's Coffee. cbuscoffee.com

Fox in the Snow
Fox in the Snow Cafe, a coffee shop on the Columbus Coffee Trail

G. Michael's Bistro and Bar White tablecloths add a formal touch to this historical stable. Low-country dishes (shrimp and grits with ham) impress guests. gmichaelsbistroandbar.com

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams Creative flavors like Boston Cream, Gooey Butter Cake and Brambleberry Crisp join more typical (but equally tasty) choices like The Milkiest Chocolate. jenis.com

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Lindey's Guests rave about the lobster bisque, Alaskan halibut dinner, risotto and New York strip steaks at this longtime local favorite. lindeys.com

Middle West Spirits Service Bar Chef Avishar Barua creates flavor-packed meals, such as Cheesy Brisket Crunch or Lamb Dumplings. Enjoy it with a cocktail like a Barrel-Aged Old-Fashioned. servicebarcolumbus.com

Northstar Cafe Staff serve items containing sustainably sourced ingredients, such as the beets and squash in the roasted root salad. thenorthstarcafe.com

The Pearl The brick-walled gastropub features house-made seasonal punches plus made-from-scratch comfort foods like fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and clam chowder. thepearlcolumbus.com

The Refectory Restaurant and Bistro Small-plate upscale American and French cuisine shines in a 19th-century building that used to serve as a church. The seasonal menu offers specialties such as squab terrine with foie gras or spiced duck breast with candied fruit Bordelaise. refectory.com

Schmidt's Restaurant und Sausage Haus Americanized German foods star at the German Village spot. Try the signature sausage platters with German potato salad, chunky applesauce and split-top buns. schmidthaus.com

Skillet More than 40 regional farms, gardens and dairies supply ingredients for dishes such as Cheese Blintzes or smoked sausage. skilletruf.com

The Thurman Cafe Go all in with the ¾-pound Thurman Burger—with ham, cheese, sauteed onions and 'shrooms, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, pickles, and mayo. thethurmancafe.com

Stay

DogHouse Columbus Scotland-based BrewDog opened what is billed as the world’s first beer hotel, with 32 guest rooms (each equipped with a BrewDog tap) next to a state-of-the-art sour brewery and taproom. brewdog.com

Graduate Columbus Decor in this new-in-2019 hotel reflects the scarlet and gray of Ohio State University as well as influences from state luminaries like John Glenn and Ohio’s eight presidents. graduatehotels.com

Hilton Columbus Downtown Showcasing more than 225 works by 100 area artists, including prints on guest-room ceilings, this hotel has the cachet of an art gallery. A 12-story-high atrium lights public spaces. hilton.com

Hotel LeVeque, Autograph Collection A star machine and telescope in every room reflect the celestial-theme decorating in the hotel, on the lower floors of a 1927 Art Deco tower. A recent $27 million renovation also created a restaurant and bar, The Keep, which serves French brasserie fare. hotellevequecolumbus.com

Hotel LeVeque
Hotel LeVeque. Photo courtesy of hotel.

Le Méridien 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 modern American entrees such as chicken roulade with sweet corn puree. lemeridiencolumbus.com

For more information experiencecolumbus.com