2024 Columbus Visitors Guide
Columbus is the 15th largest city in the United States. It is home to over 700,000 people. It is also the capital of Ohio. The city was founded in 1812 at the point where the Scioto River and the Olentangy River meet. The city was specifically planned and built by the state to be the capital. This occurred because of a disagreement within the legislature about what existing settlement should be the capital of Ohio. The solution was to choose a central location and construct a new city there.
Things to do in Columbus Ohio
Columbus has gone through many changes since 1812 including a long period of manufacturing success. The modern city is a diverse collection of different industries that are all thriving. The city is home to many technologies and research companies. It has been consistently rated as one of the top cities for families, businesses, and quality of life over the last 10 years. The city was named after Christopher Columbus and has a full-sized replica of the Santa Maria on the waterfront in the downtown area.
Ohio State University
Columbus is home to many different landmarks and notable institutions. Ohio State University is in the city. It is one of the largest college campuses in the United States. The 555-foot-tall LeVeque Tower in the downtown area was once the largest building in the city and is a prime example of classical Art Deco architecture. The 360-acre Green Lawn Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in the Midwest and contains over 150,000 plots and crypts. The Short North Arts District in the northern parts of Columbus offers artistic cafes and nightclubs. A more traditional area for nighttime entertainment is in the southern section of downtown Columbus known as the Brewery District.
There are many different places to visit in Columbus. The Columbus Zoo is one of the major attractions. It is managed by Jack Hanna and has one of the most extensive collections of animals from all around the world. It was also voted the best zoo in the country in 2009. The Park of Roses is a 13-acre public park that is essentially one large rose garden containing many different species of roses.
The Ohio Theater is a nationally recognized landmark that is the home to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. It is always hosting events or performances.
Ohio Expo Center Coliseum
The city also has an active professional and college sports community and contains sporting venues such as the Nationwide Arena and the Ohio Expo Center Coliseum.
Visitors to Columbus will be able to get around the city very easily. There is a good public transportation system available. The city is also accessible on foot or bicycle. The design of the city makes it very easy to walk around the downtown area without a vehicle. There are numerous hotels within downtown Columbus and the surrounding metropolitan area. The best time for visitors to come to the city is during the spring or the fall when the weather is moderate.
The city of Columbus is the largest city in the state of Ohio and it is also the state’s capital. Columbus is considered to be one of the most accessible cities in the country because it is within 550 miles of the majority of the population in the country. This city is easily accessible by car or plane. There are several airports in the area, that offer both domestic and international flight options. If you plan to travel on the road to get to Columbus, there are two major intersections that lead to the downtown area, which are I-70 and I-71. Once you arrive in Columbus, Ohio, you can stop by the downtown visitor center, located at 277 W. Nationwide Blvd. in the Arena District, to find a wealth of information about the area and what there is to do and see.
You may enjoy a visit to the Columbus Museum of Art or the German Village in the southern area of downtown Columbus. If you are looking for accommodations, you will have several excellent choices including the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton and The Red Roof Inn. Downtown Hotel Service offers Hotels near Downtown Columbus that are quality hotels at an affordable price. Use our Search box above or click here to see available hotels!
Columbus has weather that is a mix between what is expected in many other Midwestern states and the humid climate of a coastal area. The city is located in a relatively flat region but has enough water to become very humid during different times of the year. The most distinguishing feature of the weather is the unpredictability of conditions, especially during the spring and fall. Columbus is not located in the path of any of the major factors that affect the weather although winds and the jet stream do sometimes force air from Canada and the Great Lakes region into the area.
The average high temperatures in the summer are around 85 degrees Fahrenheit with nighttime lows around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This is frequently accompanied by high humidity and a week or more of rain each month. These conditions can make the city feel warmer than the actual air temperatures because of the heat index. Travelers who are visiting Columbus during the summer should pack clothes for warm weather, sunscreen, and an umbrella. A long-sleeved shirt and pants might also be useful if the season has been trending towards cooler temperatures.
The winters in Columbus can be cold and snowy. The city receives an average of two feet of snow each year mainly in December, January, and February. The average highs during the day in the winter hover just above freezing and drop to as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Conditions on sidewalks and roads can become icy during this period. Freezing rains and melting snow contribute to this problem. Visitors who come to Columbus in the winter should dress warmly and should bring along gloves and a hat. Dressing in layers will make it possible to move comfortably between indoor and outdoor spaces by just removing a coat and sweater.
Spring & Fall
The spring and fall in Columbus are the two best seasons to visit the city. The average temperatures are very comfortable during the day and a little chilly at night. One of the largest challenges in visiting Columbus during the spring or fall is the potential for unexpected rainfall or other severe weather. Very heavy downpours and thunderstorms have been known to cause flooding in the city that could make it hard to travel for a few hours or an entire day. Part of this unpredictability is because of the lake effect precipitation that comes from the Great Lakes region. Columbus is sometimes subject to high winds and tornadoes. A few tornadoes have actually hit the city and caused damage although the majority of the tornadoes that form dissipate before reaching the downtown area.
Being Ohio’s capital and largest city, Columbus is well connected to the rest of the state and the country through several modes of transportation. For local and regional travel, most people use the highway system to navigate Columbus and the surrounding suburbs. Interstate 70 passes directly through the central part of Columbus. This major highway runs for nearly 2,100 miles between the west coast and northeast. I-70 connects Columbus with other major Midwestern cities such as Indianapolis and St. Louis as well as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Interstate 71 is one of the most important highways in Ohio, as it links Columbus with some of the largest cities in the state. Running for about 350 miles in a north-south direction, I-71 is the preferred route into Columbus for drivers coming from Cleveland and Cincinnati. After arriving in the Columbus region, drivers can navigate the area using the Interstate 270 beltway that encircles Ohio’s capital city.
Ohio’s largest city is well connected to the rest of the United States and the world thanks to Port Columbus International Airport. One of the busiest airports in Ohio is home to some of the largest airline companies in the United States. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, US Airways, and United Airlines offer direct flights to major cities in all parts of the United States. There are even trips between Port Columbus International Airport and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The Port Columbus Airport is located only minutes away from Downtown Columbus and ground transportation options include rental cars, taxis, shuttles, and even public transportation. Additionally, there are thousands of parking spaces offered at the airport to accommodate the large traffic coming in right from the nearby exits of Interstate 270.
Public transportation in Columbus is provided by the Central Ohio Transit Authority. The entire system consists of a public bus service that includes more than 100 total routes throughout Columbus and the suburban region. The COTA service is divided into Local, Express, and Crosstown lines. For example, the 52 OSU/Airport is an express route that stops at Port Columbus International Airport. Additionally, the 92 James/Stelzer is a Crosstown bus service that also serves the city’s airport. Dozens of COTA buses circulate the Downtown Columbus area. The South Terminal and North Terminal are major bus stations that can be used to transfer within the Central Ohio Transit Authority bus system. The corner of High Street and Broad Street are also major bus interchange points in Downtown Columbus.
Unfortunately, Columbus is not accessible directly by any rail service. However, there is Amtrak service available in Cincinnati and Cleveland, which are both located over 100 miles away from Ohio’s capital.
Visitors will find a well-rounded variety of attractions when visiting Columbus. From the historical Ohio Theatre to exciting discoveries at the Center of Science and Industry, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Fashioned in exquisite Spanish-Baroque, the Ohio Theatre first opened in 1928. Extraordinary details are found throughout this opulent theatre including a 21-foot high chandelier. With more than 100 shows put on yearly, guests can experience the remarkable talents of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and Broadway Across America. Performances by artists such as the Boston Pops Orchestra, Julie Andrews and Yo-Yo Ma are also favorites among visitors.
Franklin Park Conservatory
Built in 1895, the conservatory is located two miles from downtown Columbus and features an extraordinary showcase of exotic plant collections and exhibitions. Situated on 88 acres, visitors will find over 400 plant species and 40 palm species. The conservatory is well-known for these annual exhibits: Blooms and Butterflies, Holidays at the Conservatory, and the Orchid Forest.
Situated south of downtown Columbus, this charming neighborhood features old-world ambiance and charming architecture. Visitors will enjoy strolling along brick-lined sidewalks while perusing a variety of specialty shops and galleries. Stop in one of the many restaurants, coffee shops, or bakeries for a taste of traditional German cuisine or other tasty delicacies. Visitors will enjoy the sights of Frank Fetch Park, the Grace Highfield Memorial Garden, and Huntington Gardens. Self-guided walking tours are available.
Whetstone Park and Park of Roses
Situated on 136 acres, Whetstone Park is a sports enthusiast’s paradise with ample space for soccer, cricket, rugby, and football as well as baseball diamonds, a basketball court, a tennis court, and a playground. Visitors will enjoy exploring the walking trails, discovering small wildlife in the park’s wooded area, and stopping for a leisurely picnic. An indoor recreation center includes amenities such as an art room, music room, and dance classrooms. Situated on 13 acres within Whetstone Park, the Park of Roses is noted for its three exceptional rose gardens in addition to a fragrant variety of floral blooms. Meandering pathways allow visitors to peruse 11,500 roses from over 400 varieties.
Center of Science and Industry
With a fascinating variety of exhibits, live shows, hands-on workshops, and overnight camps, visitors of all ages will enjoy discovering the wonders of space, oceans, energy, and the human body. The Big Science Park takes a closer look at a native prairie and the innovations of a green home. Little Kidspace allows younger children the opportunity to explore by climbing, pretending, sliding, and splashing their way through this interactive exhibit.
Columbus, Ohio, is known for its historic German population, and this influence is evident in the number of pubs and breweries found in the area, though a variety of dining choices are waiting for tourists in this unassuming Midwestern city.
The Elevator Brewery provides its patrons a casual atmosphere and classic fare that they may find in an everyday pub, but with an upscale twist to make the experience unique. Some of the items customers can choose from include club sandwiches featuring ham and turkey or blackened beef, vegetable strudel, burgers, fish and chips, crab cakes, and pot roast. There are also plenty of unique beers on tap.
Wurst und Bier
Wurst und Bier is a unique restaurant offering what few tourists can get outside of Germany or the Midwest; namely, authentic German cuisine. On the menu are appetizers made with Bavarian cheese, sauerkraut and ham, soft pretzels with German mustard, potato salad, meatloaf sandwiches, breaded chicken and pork cutlets, and bratwurst sausages that can be ordered flavored with jalapenos, cheese, or Cajun seasoning. Children are welcome at this establishment, which has the atmosphere of a traditional German beer hall and features live German entertainment.
Mitchell’s Ocean Club
Tourists who are in for a taste of fine dining in Columbus might want to step into Mitchell’s Ocean Club at Easton Town Center on Easton Station. A high-end appetizer bar awaits patrons, offering dishes like lobster fritters, short rib sliders, and raw tuna tacos. Appetizers offered with dinner include goat cheese ravioli and Wisconsin cheese fondue. Customers can choose from steak cuts such as New York strip and ribeye and can also order their choice of toppings and accompaniments, which include green peppercorn sauce or a bleu cheese crust. Vegetables and potatoes are prepared in unique ways as well and add to the creative, modern dining experience. A gluten-free menu is also offered.
Jack & Benny’s
Jack & Benny’s on High Street in the University District near the Ohio State University Campus is known for their breakfast and brunch selections, served all day. These selections include classics like pancakes, French toast, and hash browns. They also offer a sausage and cheese dish with sausage gravy and omelets with unusual fillings like apple and Swiss cheese.
In the city of Columbus in Ohio, numerous cultural events take place. Residents are proud of their university sports teams like the Buckeye football team, and they attend games faithfully. Then, visitors and locals take part in festivals and other events like the following:
Every year in May, this free event at Franklin Park includes food booths and live performances and music. Games and health screenings are also a part of the occasion. Franklin Park is spacious, an excellent location for the Asian Festival.
Columbus Arts Festival
Near the first of June, the Columbus Arts Festival takes place in the downtown riverfront area. Located near the theatre district, the festival is close to performances especially scheduled during this event. In the area are also cafes, restaurants, specialty shops and galleries. At the festival, patrons enjoy great food, entertainment and all forms of art displays.
Red, White & Boom!
The Independence Day celebrations during the first week of July, this occasion lasts for a day with big-name entertainment and music. Many family-oriented activities also take place. The entire city can come out and have fun sharing patriotism together.
Jazz & Rib Fest
Held in the Arena District of downtown in July, this popular feast of ribs and music sees nearly 700,000 visitors. People stroll around sampling lip-smacking finger food and hearing the sounds of jazz artists. Activities and competitions are fun, and some people come out in their watercraft to experience the festival music from the river.
Good Guys Columbus
In July, this car show celebrates the classics from rare old models to those from the 1970s. Usually, over 6,000 cars are shown. A wonderful show for young and old, the cars are fabulous to see, hot cars and hot weather!
Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
For community and city-wide events and activities that happen all the time, Columbus has a very active Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. On their Experience Columbus website, lists of events take place every month of the year. Some of the types of special occasions offered are as follows:
With reservations, guests can take guided tours exploring the capital building and other nearby sites emphasizing the history of the city and its role in the Civil War. Segway tours are also offered in the historic and riverfront area of Columbus.
Museums, the zoo, and other venues hold special programs and activities throughout the year. These public events are of interest to visitors and residents of the city.
Shopping near Downtown Columbus
Travelers to Columbus, Ohio, who get the need to shop will easily be able to indulge themselves in the capital of this Midwestern state. Whether they’re in the market for something new for themselves or looking to buy souvenirs from their trip, tourists will be able to find the right items in Columbus.
Easton Town Center
The Easton Town Center is one of the major shopping centers in the Columbus area. The shopping center is an open-air mall that offers many different upscale national stores, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Forever 21, and American Eagle Outfitters. Coach, Victoria’s Secret, Nordstrom’s, Crate & Barrel, and the Apple Store are also found here.
Mall at Tuttle Crossing
The Mall at Tuttle Crossing is found at the edge of Columbus proper near the suburb of Dublin. JCPenney, Sears, and Macy’s are the mall’s anchor stores, and the shopping center also features several specialty shops. FS Ohio Blue Line, selling sporting gear and all things related to Columbus’s local sports teams, and Scarves of Elegance, specializing in stoles, shawls, and other sophisticated wrap wear, are two of these stores.
Polaris Fashion Place
Polaris Fashion Place is found on Polaris Parkway and offers many different retail options. These include well-known stores such as The Limited, Kay Jewelers, and Coldwater Creek. There is also L’Occitane for perfume fans, an AT&T store, and specialty stores, such as The Art of Shaving, which functions as an upscale barbershop for men, and Punch Me Now Embroidery, which offers customized design and embroidery on T-shirts and other garments.
Aside from shopping malls, other goods can be purchased from stores in the city neighborhoods. The historic neighborhood of German Village has several retail outlets on Third Street, including Caterina Limited, featuring housewares crafted in the European style, The Book Loft, which has more than thirty rooms full of not only books but posters, greeting cards, and DVDs. Visitors can buy homemade crafts and other novelty items and gifts at The Golden Hobby Shop. On High Street, visitors can stop by the Greater Columbus Antique Mall, which is open from noon until 6 pm on a daily basis. There are also several art galleries in the village from which patrons can purchase paintings, stained glass, and other items.
Map of Hotels in Columbus
- Port Columbus Int Airport – Find hotels near Whitehall & Gahanna.
- Columbus Downtown – Find hotels in Baxley & Grandview Heights.
- Ohio State University – Find hotels near Upper Arlington & Clinton Township.
- Franklin Park Conservatory – Find hotels near Wolfe Park & Jeffery Park.
- Anheuser-Busch Co – Find hotels near Worthington & Sharon Woods Metropolitan Park.
- Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum – Find hotels near Turnberry Golf Course & Walter A. Tucker.
- Kelton House Museum & Garden – Find hotels Deaf School & Topiary Park & Franklin Ave.
- Columbus Zoo – Find hotels near Safari Golf Club & Shawnee Hills.
- Center of Science and Industry – Find hotels near Genoa Park & Sunshine Park.
- Nationwide Arena – Find hotels near Arch Park & Good ale Park.