Travel Guide - Columbus, Ohio


Columbus is the largest city in the world named after the great explorer. It is fitting, therefore, that one of the city’s most popular attractions is a full-size replica of Columbus’s three-masted flagship, The Santa Maria, which is permanently moored downtown on the Scioto River and open to visitors.

This Ohio State capital city continues to lead the way to the future. State of the art is synonymous with Columbus, which ranks with Washington, D.C., as a center for scientific and technological information. More than 150 high-tech companies have a presence in Columbus.

These businesses made Columbus one of the first areas offering citywide cable television and introduced such technology as the 24-hour banking machine, interactive cable television and the electronic newspaper. The city is also a center for retail banking, insurance and real estate, and has emerged as a leading convention city.

It all began with the opening in 1873 of Ohio Agriculture and Mechanical College, (later renamed Ohio State University), which established a new outlook for the city. Education moved to the forefront, and the intellectual atmosphere helped contribute to the invention of the forerunner of the computer, the development of the xerography process, and numerous advancements in the medical treatment of physical disabilities. Current enrollment at Ohio State University is 48,500.

Ohio State University's Wexner Center for the Visual Arts is housed in a castle like structure that is itself considered a work of art. Architect Peter Eisenman juxtaposed a red-brick armory with a modern glass-and-steel building, creating a stunning visual effect. The Center houses an extensive art collection, offering various collections and shows of interest to the serious art lover as well as the browser. There is also a film and video center and a performance theater. Tour guides acquaint visitors with the highlights of Ohio State, one of the largest and most significant university campuses in the country.

Columbus offers a perfect cross section of consumers for the testing of new products. Because so many fast-food chains develop their menus in Columbus, the city is often referred to as “Test Market, U.S.A”. However, the cuisine of Columbus is by no means limited to fast food. Dining choices include Asian, Irish, French, Italian, Cajun, German, Mediterranean, Mexican, Greek, Japanese, Indian, and vegetarian, to name a few! Many of the city’s restaurants have enjoyed success and have served fine food for decades.

A privately funded historic district, German Village, is made up of restaurants, shops and beer gardens that are housed in buildings from the 1800s. The nearby Brewery District has several old beer-making factories that have been converted into restaurants, microbreweries and specialty shops. German Village and the Brewery District are pleasant places to spend an afternoon or evening.

In nearby Westerville a replica of a German village from the 1800s can be seen. North of Columbus, in Marion, Ohio are the home and tomb of U.S. President Warren G. Harding. The Harding homestead is carefully appointed with its original furnishings. Southeast of Columbus, in Cumberland, visitors take a drive on the wild side at The Wilds, a conservation center that is home to roaming herds of rhinos, giraffes and zebras, among other species, all of whom can be observed from your automobile.

Greater Columbus is an arts and cultural mecca with a symphony orchestra, grand and light opera companies, one of the top 12 ballet companies in the U.S., and several noteworthy museums. A thriving theater scene is centered upon three historic theaters. Live music clubs offer everything from alternative rock and jazz to blues and country.

The Arena District surrounds Nationwide Arena, while the Short North Arts District houses what has been described as the best collection of art galleries between New York and Chicago.

The Short North, north of downtown Columbus, a strip of bars and restaurants, art galleries, clothing and antique stores is home to the funky, exotic and trendy. It offers up a once-a-month “Gallery Hop”, a combination sale and party that brings out artists, patrons, and revelers in force.

COSI, Ohio's Center of Science and Industry, is a favorite with children of all ages, with four floors of interactive exhibits. Over 2.5 million visitors visit the Columbus Zoo annually. The Zoo has received national recognition for its success in breeding cheetahs, polar bears and lowland gorillas. Adjacent to the zoo, a favorite spot to spend a warm, summer day is Wyandot Lake, a water amusement park with water slides, rapids, and canyons.

The renovated and expanded Franklin Park Conservatory is a beautiful and serene showcase. Inspired by London's Crystal Palace, the conservatory contains tropical gardens and exhibits of four of the Earth's ecosystems. Also, plan a visit to the Ohio Historical Center, with its Ohio Village, a small Ohio town replication from the 1800s, with costumed interpreters.

Well worth seeing is Discovery Reef, a 100,000-gallon tank containing artificial coral and more than 1,000 species. Other “must sees” are the gracefully proportioned Statehouse, the beauty of the changing leaves in the fall, and the famous Ohio State Fair.

Sporting events are another major draw. Columbus is home to three major-league sports teams. The National Hockey League's Blue Jackets and the Arena Football League's Columbus Destroyers play downtown in Nationwide Arena, while Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew plays in the first stadium in the U.S. designed specifically for soccer. The Columbus Clippers is a minor-league affiliate of the New York Yankees. Columbus also hosts the National Champion Ohio State University Buckeyes.

When is the best time to visit Columbus and Franklin County? Anytime! Every season offers a host of recreational and cultural opportunities for individuals and families in this friendly city at the center of Ohio.