Visiting Columbus - What to See and Do
(Port Columbus International Airport (CMH) Columbus, Ohio, USA)
Though often overlooked by travel planners, Columbus is one of America's most interesting second-tier cities. It was born on the back of canal trade in the 1800s, eventually sprouting its own thriving factory and brewing sector by the end of that century. The old warehouses and industrial complexes from that era have been renovated in modern times to give Columbus a new look and fresh start.
Its historic preservation and revitalization of its downtown neighborhoods has won it numerous awards. New development such as the impressive Arena District is maintaining this forward-thinking outlook with fun and safe mixed-used planned areas. The old is almost always incorporated into the new, helping the city to preserve its important brick industrial atmosphere.
There are only a few big attractions in Columbus, mainly focused on historic periods. However, the real highlight here is simply enjoying the wonderful urban environment by eating out, catching some performing art in the evenings and strolling along the river or in the many city parks by day. Most visitors are pleasantly surprised by what they find in this low-key Ohio city.
Ten things you must do in Columbus
- Since Columbus relies so much on its heritage to attract new visitors, it is useful to spend an afternoon in the Ohio Historical Center. Among the one million or so artifacts in its collection are relics from the Ice Age right through to the modern industrial era. From the beautiful Native American craftsmanship to the sturdy practicality of everyday household items used by Ohioans in the early days, this museum really covers the spectrum of Ohio heritage.
- Just next-door to the Ohio Historical Center is Ohio Village, a recreated working village typical of early 19th-century settlements. It is mainly used for special events throughout the year, but check in to see what is currently happening here, because the exhibits and events are always quite interesting.
- The Franklin Park Conservatory is one of the finest spots in the city to take a walk. Set among 4 hectares / 10 acres on the top of Red Mountain, visitors can enjoy the best views in the area, as well as plenty of walking paths around the 400+ species of plants in the gardens. Another unique attraction here is the world's largest cast iron sculpture, made for the 1904 World's Fair that was held in St. Louis.
- The best repository of artwork in the city is found at the Columbus Museum of Art, in the downtown area. Its permanent collection features a good number of masterpieces by impressionists, modernists and cubists from America, as well as Europe. Highlights include the Ross Photography Center and the Russell Page Sculpture Garden.
- If you are a fan of golf, then the Jack Nickolas Museum will definitely impress. It contains one of the country's top three collections of professional golf memorabilia, mainly from the legend himself who won some 20 major titles in his career. There are interactive exhibits and lots of interesting items to check out related to professional golf.
- You can find a good selection of performing arts throughout the year in this city. The Columbus Symphony Orchestra plays a series of shows each spring and autumn, while the Contemporary American Theater Company is one of the best troupes in the region. A full range of entertainment is scheduled at the multi-purpose Wexner Center for the Arts.
- Shoppers have several scenes to work with in Columbus. The Easton Town Center is a massive modern indoor-outdoor retail center with entertainment and dining to back up the dozens of stores and designer shops. The Short North Arts District represents the bohemian side of the city in its quirky boutiques and charming streets. There are also bargains to be found at the Prime Outlets of Jeffersonville, a popular outlet shopping mall.
- Bikers will want to make the short drive out to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in the suburb of Pickerington. This truly unique attraction has inducted more than 200 members who have greatly impacted the motorcycling world. In addition to profiles and memorabilia about these people, the Hall of Fame has a collection of 150 incredibly rare and impressive vintage motorcycles, gathered from around the world.
- Just to the south of downtown Columbus is the fascinating German Village Society. Some of the city's finest 19th-century homes, bars and restaurants have been wonderfully restored and many are open for public touring. The visitor center can get you pointed in the right direction for a self-guided walking tour through this German-flavored part of town.
- Historic North Market dates back to 1876 and is still operating daily right on Spruce Street, in the downtown district. The open-air market contains around 30 unique vendors selling everything from fresh produce to prepared goods that you can eat onsite or take home.