There was so much to do in the buckeye state that we couldn’t even fit everything in when my mom and I visited Columbus for three nights this spring. We started out our first afternoon by visiting the Scioto Mile which is a picturesque riverfront park that was a short walk from our hotel. If I lived in Columbus, I could definitely see myself visiting this area regularly.
It was amazing to see the water juxtaposed next to the backdrop of the skyline, especially at sunset. Don’t miss the life-sized elk statue overlooking the water on one of the bridges either. On the way, we also passed by the World’s Largest Gavel, but the area was under construction so we could only see it from a distance.
That evening we ate at my favorite restaurant of the trip: Milestone 229. The restaurant overlooked the Scioto Mile Fountain and Park and had both indoor and outdoor seating.
What I loved most about the city was all the artwork. It was inspiring to explore the Short North Arts District as this area had wonderful murals on almost every street corner. Short North is also where many of the restaurants are located. Pro tip: Make sure to make a dinner reservation as most of the restaurants had very long waits (we’re talking an hour and a half or more). We settled on Harvey and Ed’s. It was a casual spot with traditional Jewish comfort food. I frequently make matzoh ball soup at home, but theirs definitely beat mine. I wish I had their recipe!
Aside from the artwork which brightens the city streets, we also found Jeni’s Ice Cream in Short North, although they have several locations. We were impressed by their dairy-free selections and as a coffee ice cream lover, I was thrilled that they had non-dairy cold brew with coconut cream.
We were fortunate to stay right across from the State House where our tour guide told us fun facts about former US presidents from Ohio (such as Rutherford B. Hayes who admirably refused to leave his post and finished out his military duty before taking the seat he won in the House), as well as about the free circulator or “C Bus.” This bus runs continuously from German Village, to Downtown, to Short North and is very convenient to hop on or off as it arrives about every 15 minutes. The highlight of German Village for me was a 32-room bookstore called The Book Loft. German Village had a historical look with cobblestone streets and a quaint neighborhood feel, similar to some streets in Philadelphia.
That evening we headed back Downtown and saw Hello Dolly! at the Ohio Theatre. I’ve been to many Broadway shows and this theater was absolutely gorgeous. It is much larger than many of the theaters in New York as it had wonderful, historic architecture to set the mood for the play. It was very interesting to see this particular play while in Ohio as it takes places in Yonkers, New York which is only a few miles from where we flew in from…
The next day, we walked to the Kelton House Museum which was a hidden gem itself, and on the way stumbled upon a Topiary Garden. I did not see much about the topiary park on “Things to Do in Columbus” lists, but I will definitely include it on mine! It was so cool to see the manicured landscape mimicking a painting of a landscape.
The House Museum was built in the 1800s and the Kelton family were strong abolitionists who helped with the Underground Railroad. The basement of the home is open for tours to marvel at the space and imagine what it must have been like years ago. For just a few dollars, you can take the self-guided audio tour and move from room to room learning about the family who lived there and their daily life. Some tidbits that stuck out most were that women used to collect their hair in a glass jar on their nightstand and then make jewelry out of it for their family as a gift. The house did not have any running water and there was only one “bathtub.” All six children had to bathe in the same tub once a week without changing the water as it was costly to heat it and time consuming to carry it to the tub. Each family member also had a monogrammed napkin ring as they had to use the same napkin all week since laundry was not as simple as it is today. I have been to several Victorian era houses and this one takes the cake as it was not crowded, you could go at your own pace and take as much time as you like to check out all the artifacts in each room.
I couldn’t end this post without mentioning the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. I enjoy visiting zoos all over the country and this one is huge! You could easily spend half your day there. The zoo is curated by Jack Hanna and the highlight was definitely the safari section. You will see a sweeping savanna with all different animals on the plains, from lions to zebras to gazelles. Another favorite was the Australia section with Tasmanian devils and kangaroos. There were reindeer and other very unique species throughout the Asia and Americas areas as well.
Places we didn’t get to see due to lack of time, but were on the list, were the art museum, wineries and COSI. I would love to come back!