Columbus reminds me of Austin, having lived in the Texas capital city for six years. Both have a river slicing through (in Austin, it’s actually called Lady Bird Lake, a river-like reservoir) with scenic green areas and biking paths, and with capitol buildings and state offices and departments. And both have a youthful bohemian feel to them in some neighborhoods since each is home to a large university, the University of Texas and Ohio State University.
In Columbus, one of those neighborhoods is the Short North Arts District, just north of downtown along central High Street, where nightlife sparks to life with new chic restaurants, trendy cafes and pulsing clubs attracting swarms of revelers. During the day, the chugs of cranes and other construction gear echo through the streets with new hotels and other venues in the works. Galleries and boutiques line the streets, while colorful mural art and sculptures dominate some street corners, with others tucked away in narrow alleys.
South of Downtown, shaded and cobbled streets intertwine within the German Village neighborhood, with restored 1800s brick houses built by arriving settlers. Central to this leafy district is Schiller Park with its green spaces, duck and swan ponds and namesake statue of a German poet and philosopher.
What caught my eye in particular are the cottage-like headquarters of the city’s Actors’ Theatre, and the unique Umbrella Girl statue atop a small fountain. Mysteries abound with the statue, as it’s draped in a red cloak at Christmastime (apparently, no one has owned up to the holiday gesture), and this statue was a generous replacement from a local sculptor after the original disappeared in the 1950s. On the edge of the neighborhood, The Book Loft is packed with mostly new books within a maze of passageways and small rooms, some only as wide as a small closet.
New to the city is the rounded arena-like National Veterans Memorial and Museum along the Scioto River, where the plight of war, courage and patriotism are told through the individual stories of soldiers and volunteers – why they do it and the sacrifices they made. Exhibits include timelines of practically all the conflicts through the history of the United States, from the American Revolution through the current War in Afghanistan. Artifacts span the likes of colonial muskets and Civil War-era surgical kits to World War II radios and food rations. Soldiers’ letters from the battlefield help illuminate their desperation and sacrifices.
While in Columbus, my favorite lunch spot was the pedestrian-packed North Market. Walk by the vendor stalls teeming with Polish pirogues and dumplings, bratwurst, and vegetarian dishes including cauliflower and quinoa. Roasted chicken, hams, Yak and bison burgers, Vietnamese and Indian specialties and some sweet pastries and chocolate candies for desert add to the choices, among many more. Are you now hungry?
Other places to visit include the Columbus Museum of Art with its collection of nineteenth and early twentieth-century American and European modern art, as well as the works of outstanding local artists. The riverside Scioto Audubon Metro Park is a great place for hiking and bird watching, and the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens features exhibitions including colorful flora and butterflies, among others.
For More Information: https://www.experiencecolumbus.com/
GUIDE BOOKS FOR COLUMBUS
A shout-out to my Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) colleague Anietra Hamper for her recently released travel guides, Secret Columbus: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure, and 100 Things to do in Columbus Before you Die. They are certainly worth a look if you’re visiting!