Outstanding eateries and engaging neighborhoods infuse Ohio's capital with vivacious spirit.
Columbus, Ohio, Scioto Mile skyline
Credit: Courtesy of Ohio Tourism

Ohio's biggest city boasts plenty of top-tier attractions, but lesser-known neighborhoods truly reveal the town's charm.

Day 1

Start your Columbus exploration either at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, one of the nation's top-ranked zoos, or at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, with both indoor and outdoor gardens as well as special exhibits and events.

Topiary Garden, Columbus, Ohio
Credit: Randall L. Schieber

Then venture downtown to The Topiary Park, where sculpted evergreens re-create the scene from George Seurat's painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte.

Get both lunch and a walking tour with Columbus Food Adventures. Or if you're eating on your own, the chef-driven Budd Dairy Food Hall in the Italian Village neighborhood offers eight unique kitchens plus a revolving popup.

For the rest of the afternoon, experience funky fun in the bohemian studios, galleries and high-end boutiques of the Short North Arts District.

Take a break with some rooftop hopping at spots like the new Mandrake atop the Moxy Hotel or nearby Lincoln Social or Lumin Sky Bar and Kitchen.

Le Meridien Columbus Ohio
Le Meridien
| Credit: Courtesy of Le Meridien

Your hotel for the night? Le Meridien Columbus, The Joseph, in the heart of Short North, featuring 135 rooms and suites with sleek wooden accents crafted in Ohio.

Del Mar SoCal Kitchen Columbus Ohio
Del Mar SoCal Kitchen
| Credit: Courtesy of Experience Columbus

For dinner, take your pick from dozens of independent restaurants dotting High Street, including Del Mar SoCal Kitchen, Forno Kitchen & Bar, The Pearl and Rooh.

After, head to Ginger Rabbit Lounge for nightly live music and craft cocktails from the team behind Chapman's Eat Market.

Columbus Ohio German Village
German Village
| Credit: Randall L. Schieber

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.

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

Scioto Mile, Columbus Ohio
Scioto Mile
| Credit: Courtesy of Randall L. Schieber/Experience Columbus

In the afternoon, scale one of the nation's largest outdoor climbing walls at Scioto Audubon Metro Park, or take in views of the city skyline as you stroll the Scioto Mile. Across the river, let the kids explore the Center of Science and Industry's playground and 300 hands-on exhibits.

Relax in nearby Franklinton Arts District, home to emerging artists, breweries and galleries. Land-Grant Brewing Co. is both family-friendly and pet-friendly; it has one of the city's most popular beer gardens with lawn games and regular live music.

More information: experiencecolumbus.com