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.


Capitol tours
Capitol tours
| Credit: Randall Lee Schieber

Capitol tours

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

Center of Science and Industry 

This acclaimed science museum features interactive exhibits on topics like dinosaurs, space and energy, plus a big-screen theater and planetarium.

Columbus Ohio Food
Credit: Courtesy of Columbus Food Adventures

Columbus Food Adventures 

Themed walking (and eating!) tours including German Village, Grandview Avenue, All Dessert Tour, Brewery District and Short North Tour.

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.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
| Credit: Ryan Donnell

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 2-acre Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children's Garden. Seasonal events enliven the gardens' appeal year-round.

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.

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.

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. 

North Market 

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

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. 

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.

Short North Arts District Columbus Ohio
Short North Arts District
| Credit: Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux

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.

Topiary Park Columbus Ohio
Topiary Park
| Credit: Randall Lee Schieber

Topiary Garden Park 

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

Eat and Drink

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.


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.

Chapman's Eat Market

Chef-owner BJ Lieberman left a Michelin-starred restaurant in Washington, D.C., to open this 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.

Fox in the Snow Columbus Ohio
Fox in the Snow
| Credit: Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux

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.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
| Credit: Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux

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 (multiple locations).


Guests rave about the lobster bisque, Alaskan halibut dinner, risotto and New York strip steaks at this longtime local favorite

Middle West Spirits Service Bar

Chef Avishar Barua inspires flavor-packed meals, such as Cheesy Brisket Crunch or Lamb Dumplings, at the Service Bar. Enjoy with a cocktail like a Barrel-Aged Old-Fashioned. 

Northstar Cafe

Staff serve items containing sustainably sourced ingredients, such as the beets and squash in the roasted root salad (multiple locations).

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.

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.

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.


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

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.


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.

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. 

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.

Hotel LeVeque Columbus Ohio
Credit: Courtesy of Hotel LeVeque

Hotel LeVeque

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 $27 million renovation also created a restaurant and bar, The Keep, which serves French brasserie fare.

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.

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