May 2012 Issue
Columbus neighborhoods offer top-notch attractions in five unique neighborhoods
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
And no wonder: From art and architecture to shopping, dining and entertainment, the five districts that comprise Columbus are destinations unto themselves.
As Columbus celebrates its bicentennial, now’s the perfect time to see all that Ohio’s capital city has to offer.
The Short North district has a distinctive vibe: Art galleries, specialty shops, pubs and coffeehouses lend an eclectic Bohemian ambiance that’s made the neighborhood a mecca for locals and tourists alike.
Sample all the area has to offer by attending a Gallery Hop, held on the first Saturday of each month from 4 to 10 p.m. (Restaurants and bars stay open longer.) More than 40 of Short North’s galleries and nontraditional art venues are showcased in this popular event, which has been a tradition for 27 years. Find work by emerging talent at the Roy G Biv Gallery. The Sharon Weiss Gallery features American antiques and a magnificent assortment of Ohio fine art. Ceramics, glass and jewelry by regional artists are showcased in Sherrie Gallerie.
Savvy shoppers will want to stop at Substance for Fashion Conscious People, a boutique filled with classic and sustainable clothes for women. Check out Tigertree, where you’ll find clothing and accessories, as well as an assortment of soothing apothecary items, including balms and masks for men and women. Create your own taper at The Candle Lab, which stocks more than 120 enticing fragrances, including summer lawn, sea breeze and soap suds. Upscale kitchen gadgets, pots, pans and cutlery fill the shelves at Cookware Sorcerer. Whether you’re penning a memoir or a thank-you note, give your words the panache they deserve with stationery from On Paper, a shop that carries a unique assortment of leather journals, envelope embossers and specialty papers, including silk-screened, lace and vellum. (Sign your name with a flourish by purchasing a goose quill pen.)
When it’s time to eat, head to the Northstar Café, known for its made-from-scratch entrees prepared with local and organic ingredients. (Be sure to try Tim’s Meatloaf Sandwich, grass-fed beef and Niman Ranch pork topped with barbecue sauce and wild rice; or the tomato and cheese flatbread). Stop at Tasi’s to eat classic comfort foods like oven-roasted chicken with potatoes and mac and cheese. And for late risers, breakfast is served all day.
A Taste of Bavaria
German Village has clearly earned the right to be proud of its heritage: In 1974, this storied area — settled by immigrants in the mid-1800s — was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Homes and businesses have been restored to reflect the Old World architecture of the district’s founders.
The neighborhood is also filled with eclectic shops and restaurants that satisfy every taste. Bibliophiles from around the world make a pilgrimage to The Book Loft, a 32-room, city-block-long emporium housed in an assortment of pre-Civil-War-era buildings.
The shop, known as one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, is filled with bargains. (Patrons who print the coupon from the store’s website and wear the official Book Loft T-shirt when they visit receive extra discounts.) Caterina Ltd. features exquisite European housewares, Italian ceramics and French table linens. Helen Winnemore Craft sells American-made art, including jewelry, pewter baby spoons, clocks, mittens, boxes and bookends, all tucked into cabinets and drawers throughout the shop. Fine art is showcased at Keny Galleries, known for master watercolors by Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe and Andrew Wyeth, as well as outstanding works by Ohio-born artists George Bellows, William Sommer and Alice Schille.
It’s easy to see why 25,000 customers visit Schmidt’s Restaurant und Sausage Haus each month. For more than a century, the family has remained true to the recipes their ancestors brought from Frankfurt in 1886. Be sure to try the bologna sandwich, topped with aged Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing and Schmidt’s signature German sweet slaw. For dessert, visit Pistacia Vera for melt-in-your-mouth macarons, light nut meringue sandwich cookies with buttercream or ganache, or a slice of Chocolate Bombe, a chocolate buttermilk cake with semi-sweet chocolate mousse infused with tawny port and glazed with a chocolate ganache.
The Sporting Life
If you’re looking for action, the Arena District is the place to be this summer. The neighborhood is home to Huntington Park, where the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, play baseball. The intimate 10,000-seat stadium offers plenty of opportunities to see future Major League stars. Special promotions during the season include post-game fireworks shows on May 19, June 30 and July 7, and Sugardale Dime-A-Dog Nights May 21, June 25 and July 16.
With its glass-enclosed atrium, terrazzo floors and 135-foot-tall light tower, Nationwide Arena is one of the most opulent sports venues around. During cold-weather months, it’s the home of the National Hockey League’s Columbus Blue Jackets. But in summer, the arena sizzles with star-studded performances. This year’s line-up features New Edition (May 25), Miranda Lambert (June 14), Whoopi Goldberg (June 29) and Big Time Rush with Cody Simpson and Rachel Crow (July 5).
Before or after the concert or game, head for 343 Front Street Tavern & Sports Bar. Located outside the front door of Nationwide Arena and just steps away from Huntington Park, the establishment has earned its slogan, “Any closer, you’ll need a ticket.” Although the restaurant offers a mouthwatering array of sandwiches, wraps and melts, first-timers just have to try the signature meal: a foot-long Kosher hot dog made with certified black angus beef, known as the Original 343 Dogg.
Movie lovers will enjoy the Arena Grand Theatre. The state-of-the-art, 11-screen complex features leather seats in the balcony, THX sound and a bistro menu of gourmet pizzas, sandwiches, wraps and desserts.
Visitors wishing to make a night of it should check into The Lofts, a luxury boutique hotel housed in an 1890s warehouse that’s been stylishly renovated. Amenities include garden tubs in select rooms, Aveda personal-care products and Frette Italian linens and robes.
Before heading home, stop at North Market to pick up farm-fresh produce, seafood, poultry and flowers. Launched in 1876, the establishment is heralded as one of the finest public markets in the country.
The echoes of the past resound throughout the city’s downtown district, courtesy of the Ohio Statehouse. Pivotal points of history await around every corner of the 151-year-old Capitol — from the spot where Lincoln delivered a fiery oratory about slavery in 1859 to the bronze statue of William McKinley, commemorating the four years the future president spent as Ohio’s 39th governor. Free guided tours of the Greek Revival structure are given seven days a week, and a host of special events take place throughout the year.
Head down to the Statehouse on June 18, the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the War of 1812, for an educational program about the conflict and Ohio’s contributions to the cause.
It’s no secret why Parents magazine rated COSI the No. 1 science center in the country: It’s made the subject fun for everyone. Through September 3, “Water” explores the importance of this liquid in our lives and how we can become better caretakers of it. While you’re there, explore such ongoing exhibits as “Space,” where you can test your skills as an armchair astronaut, and “Progress,” which shows innovations that make our lives so much easier that those of our ancestors.
Summer is a great time to head outdoors, and Columbus offers myriad ways to enjoy the warm weather. The 145-acre Scioto Mile riverfront park serves as a rejuvenating getaway in the heart of the city. The lush corridor features a 15,000-square-foot fountain, which is transformed into a cascading rainbow of colors in the evening, and plenty of picture-perfect spots to admire the view of the Scioto River, as well as paths for strolling and biking along the scenic waterway. Milestone 229, a casual waterfront restaurant, features salads, soups, sandwiches and scrumptious desserts. (Try the 229 Float: Nehi orange soda paired with Johnson’s triple bean vanilla ice cream.)
The downtown landscape is also enhanced by Columbus Commons, nine acres of green space that showcase a dozen gardens filled with perennials, shrubs, ornamental grasses, evergreens and annuals. When you visit, be sure to take a twirl on the carousel, which was hand-carved in Mansfield’s Carousel Works. Unwind at de Novo Bistro and Bar across the street, which offers a menu of artisan crepes, crème brulee French toast, sea scallops, duck breast and North Market linguine.
It’s a fact that Ohioans love their Ohio State Buckeye football. But the Big Ten college is known for so much more than sports.
Located on The Ohio State University campus, the Wexner Center for the Arts provides a captivating assortment of visual exhibits, as well as a variety of musical performances, film screenings and lectures by famous authors. Upcoming exhibitions include a display of geometric watercolors created by Austrian artist Ernst Caramelle, through July 1, and surrealist art by the late Polish sculptor Alina Szapocznikow, May 19–Aug. 5. “Karrabing! Low Tide Turning,” a gripping film about racism and poverty in the Northern Territory of Australia, will be shown May 1–31. Celebrated novelist Stewart O’Nan will discuss his works on May 8, and on May 23 actress Carrie Fisher reminisces about her life and career. Renowned artist Maya Lin, famous for designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., is spotlighted with “Groundswell,” her permanent installation that has been incorporated into the Wexner Center landscape.
While on campus, be sure to visit the Cartoon Research Library, which features the work of OSU grad Milton Caniff, creator of the Steve Canyon and Terry and the Pirates comic strips.
Toast your favorite team at the Varsity Club restaurant and bar, which serves up burgers, pizzas, deli sandwiches and subs.
A favorite gourmet destination, Alana’s Food & Wine — located three blocks north of The Ohio State University campus — focuses on local ingredients and seasonal cuisine that includes hot and sour lobster and California white bass served with lemon basmati and grilled shiitake satays. Many of the entrees can be made vegetarian or vegan.
There’s something for everyone this summer in Columbus. Don’t miss:
The Columbus Arts Festival returns to the downtown riverfront with more than 200 artists from around the country showcasing a stunning outdoor gallery that includes paintings, jewelry, ceramics, pottery and textiles. The city’s finest restaurants will be on hand to serve gourmet fare.
The 53rd annual German Village Haus und Garten Tour is a magnificent showcase of homes and landscapes guaranteed to offer inspiration and decorating ideas.
June 28–July 29
Actors’ Theatre of Columbus presents Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” at Schiller Park in German Village.
The Jazz & Rib Fest mixes cool jazz with hot food.
Festival Latino in downtown Columbus is filled with music, food and children’s activities.
A cross between Carnivale and Mardi Gras, with plenty of Halloween fun thrown in, Highball Masquerade on High in the Short North features couture costume contests and live music.
For more information about these events and others celebrating Columbus’ bicentennial, visit 200columbus.com