Thinking big in the Buckeye State
Whatever you imagine Ohio to be, the state will almost certainly surprise you. Ohio’s capital, Columbus, is a city with a small-town feel that’s exceptionally diverse. It’s so diverse – and so closely resembling the larger U.S. population – that companies and researchers use it as a test market to help gauge national tastes and opinion. It has everything from historic neighborhoods and forward-looking businesses to an exciting, family-friendly cultural scene.
Something for Everyone
Columbus’s dynamic food scene shows how this city embraces innovation, with new and trendy spots sprinkled in with Ohio’s traditional, family-friendly, midwestern staples. For a taste of the broad swatch of the city’s eclectic culinary offerings, North Market has 30-plus food stalls, including Jeni’s – a nationally famous ice cream shop and source of local pride. For a glimpse of the quirkier side of Columbus, head to Katalina's, a Latin-inspired breakfast spot housed in a 1930s-era gas station. Locals recommend the signature stuffed pancake balls. And don’t hesitate to let loose your inner child by drawing on the walls, tables and chairs right alongside the restaurant’s regulars. If you’re craving some haute cuisine, Ohio style, make a reservation at Veritas, a former bank turned molecular gastronomy restaurant with a chef’s tasting menu that’s as playful as it is thoughtful. Local pro tip: The restaurant’s cocktail bar – called The Citizens Trust in honor of its former life as a Citizens Bank – is a swanky spot with some of the best cocktails in the city. If you’re in the mood for something familiar yet decidedly elevated, do not leave Columbus without a visit to Service Bar, Middle West Spirits’ restaurant found in their distillery, where chef Avishar Barua (who trained at New York City’s hot spot restaurant WD-50) will leave you stunned with acts of pure culinary genius like the fast food-inspired Cheesy Cruches reimagined as pure cuisine.
Outdoor dining at the colorful Katalina’s cafe
Artsy Fun for the Whole Family
The Columbus Museum of Art is the city’s premier arts institution, and its interactive children’s room is popular with families on Sundays, when the museum is free. But if you ask locals where to find the city’s most happening arts scene, they’ll send you a couple neighborhoods north, to the Short North Arts District. The area is home to dozens of galleries (be sure to look into the First Saturday Gallery Hop). Some of Columbus’ most rocking nightlife (ladies ’80s night at Skully’s Music Diner, anyone?) and trendy boutiques selling Ohio-made fashion can be found here as well. The Short North also has the CMA’s Pizzuti Collection, a historic former insurance building that now exhibits modern art from around the world with the valiant mission of cultural understanding in this diverse city. Another landmark, The Columbus Symphony Orchestra goes out of its way to hook its youngest attendees early with unexpected offerings like a Harry Potter-themed performance or “Dress Up and Dance,” an all-ages dress-up dance party in which the symphony performs songs from kid-friendly pop culture. Over at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, art meets nature in the children’s garden, which has a play area and fantastical glass sculptures. For summertime water romps, Bicentennial Park’s 1,393-square-meter Scioto Mile Fountain is part civic monument, part water park. Imagine a 23-meter tower of jet-propelled water and 1,000 jets creating aquatic shapes – made even better at night with stadium-worthy fog and light effects.
Kids playing at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens Children’s Garden
With more than 50 breweries, Columbus has a craft beer bar for every taste. For thirsty parents, Seventh Son Brewing Co. has a family day with face painters and coloring pages to keep the kids entertained. For a beer-centric date night, Wolf’s Ridge Brewing offers a sophisticated take on traditional pub foods such as fish and chips alongside a splurge-worthy Sakura wagyu strip steak, or more experimental offerings like duck breast seasoned with Chinese Five Spice and served with Tokyo turnip, miso carrot puree, demi-glace, mandarin gel and orange oil. In the up-and-coming Franklinton neighborhood, Land Grant Brewing Company is a local favorite for its sprawling beer garden that hosts events and festivals.