CITY GUIDE: Columbus
One of my favorite Columbus residents and fellow designer, Lisa Ragland, is taking us on a tour of our lovely city today. I hope if any of you readers pass through – you’d look me up! Columbus is a wonderful place.
Greetings from Columbus, Ohio, capital city, what I like to refer to as the “sleeper hottie of the midwest.” The first thing you may notice about the skyline here is that it’s plain, beige and average in height…but spend some time roaming the side streets and you may just develop a strange little crush. I had a VERY hard time narrowing down a list of must-do’s for this spot in the middle of Ohio and while I like to include urban exploration and the quirky side of Columbus on my own blog, I’m going to point you in three fool-proof directions when it comes to food and shopping. We LOVE to indulge here and if you find yourself in town with family or on business, these are great places to start!
Let’s start Downtown at the El Camino Inn. The simple menu is reasonably priced and the fresh Margaritas are amazing. Everything in the tiny space feels recycled but in the best way possible. It’s as if the cushy bar chairs and the old club sign on the wall were meant to find each other one day. Bonus points for an all-vinyl soundtrack. Now, since it is a small space, you may run into trouble finding a seat, but not to worry; there are two equally atmospheric restaurants next door. Little Palace has a great vegetarian quinoa gyro and Dirty Frank’s does some incredible things with my beloved Vienna Beef hot dogs (vegetarian and vegan options are available too). Before or after getting full and tipsy, make sure to walk along the newly renovated riverfront, also known as the Scioto Mile. If you’re into sports-related activities, Huntington Park–which inches up into the Arena District–is an adorable little place to catch a game. I like to joke that everything in this town was endearingly built at 5/8 scale and this new home to the Columbus Clippers is no exception.
Just south of downtown Columbus is historic German Village. Get lost at The Book Loft! 32 rooms are filled with books, posters, knick knacks, cukoo clocks once also housed a nickelodeon, a saloon and a general store. As businesses moved out over the years, the current owner knocked down walls and occupied each twist and turn with more goodies. The Wagner-Hagans Auto Museum is a place I happened upon accidentally while taking a picture of the owner’s classic whip just outside the unassuming and windowless Kossuth Street garage. Call for a private appointment, car and nostalgia geeks alike will LOVE it. Stop at the Hausfrau Haven to browse the fine wine selection and grab a macaron just up the street at Pistacia Vera.* Last but not least is my new fave, Curio at Harvest Pizzeria.* In short, I WANT TO LIVE THERE. The speakeasy-style cocktails are fantastic; the drink of choice above is The Art of Smoke and ohmuhgawd, is it good.
*gluten free eats are on the menu (it’s relatively easy to find vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options in Columbus)
Moving up north from the Downtown area is The Short North, a stretch of restaurants, bars, coffee houses, art galleries and clothing boutiques. I’ll keep this section brief, because there’s just so much to look at. Start at The Cap and work your way all the way up to Jeni’s Ice Cream, Homage and Rivet Gallery. DETOUR! Finally, you must veer a bit west on 3rd into Harrison West and try Katalina’s Café. Their Nutella-filled pancake balls are crave-inducing and I don’t even like pancakes. Breakfast is served all day in addition to every other wonderful sandwich on the menu. Fun fact: while in town for a gig a few weeks ago, Jack White ordered in here at the suggestion of a cab driver (and picked the green eggs and ham). Also pictured: The North Market and Goodale Park. Cheers!
Also of note:
- A List of local brewers and distilleries for the very thirsty
- Columbus Food Adventures tours
- Columbus Landmarks Foundation historic tours
- Columbus Zoo
- Studio 35 Cinema & Drafthouse
- Wexner Center for the Arts
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Allie, I’m so flattered that you asked me to do this since I’m a big fan of everything you do, thanks for the opportunity to share!
Ah, I wish I had this list a month ago when I went to Columbus! We did pretty good, though :) Pistacia Vera is freakin’ amazing. The bitter almond cookies and macarons! I would be in serious trouble if I lived anywhere near the place. The pizza at Harvest Pizzeria was excellent, but I didn’t know about the speakeasy side. Can’t wait to go back and try out some of the other spots listed here. Yay!
I just discovered your blog and, as a fellow Columbus resident, love this city guide!
Really love these little guides !! I am visting a few of the places you have featured in the next few months so it is so nice to have an idea and suggestions of places to go see and eat and visit !
Love this city guide! I live in Cleveland, and I took a little day trip a few months ago to explore Short North with a friend. We had such an inspired afternoon. We’re planning another adventure in December, and I’ll definitely use this guide to check out some new local gems. Thanks for sharing! :)