Outstanding eateries and engaging neighborhoods infuse Ohio's capital with vivacious spirit.

Day 1

More than 600 species-including polar bears-reside at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Downtown in The Topiary Park, sculpted evergreens re-create the scene from George Seurat's painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte.

Topiary Garden. Columbus, Ohio.
Topiary Garden.

Columbus Food Adventures leads gastronomical tours of the city. Experience funky fun in the bohemian studios, galleries and high-end boutiques of the Short North Arts District.

Short North neighborhood. Columbus, Ohio.
Short North neighborhood.

Schmidt's Restaurant and Sausage Haus creates tasty Americanized German foods; try a little bit of everything on the Autobahn buffet.

Le Meridien Columbus, The Joseph, in the heart of Short North, features 135 rooms and suites with sleek wooden accents crafted in Ohio.

Downtown's Scioto Mile skyline. Photo courtesy of Ohio Tourism
Downtown's Scioto Mile skyline. Photo courtesy of Ohio Tourism.

Day 2

Bakeries, bookshops and delis line the narrow brick streets of the European-style, 19th-century German Village. There, The Book Loft's discounted books fill a 32-room maze that takes up an entire city block.

Comfort food gets a sophisticated makeover at Skillet; we loved our béchamel and cheddar mac and cheese topped with smoked Ohio-raised pork.

Scale one of the nation's largest outdoor climbing walls at Scioto Audubon Metro Park, and let the kids explore the Center of Science and Industry's playground and 300 hands-on exhibits.

More information: (866) 397-2657; experiencecolumbus.com