Welcome to Buckeye Country, Part 2 (lodging, shopping and sightseeing)
In my last post, I talked about just a sliver of the great food options that Columbus, Ohio has to offer, but did you know that there are more things to do there than just eating and taking in a college football game?
My picks of 5 things to do in Columbus:
Watch a play: I used to be a theater nut, so I still enjoy seeing a good show and living vicariously through those who suffered through years of waitressing before “making it big.” Shadowbox Live is a cozy theatre downtown where you can munch on popcorn or dinner while watching a musical or play at a table with several other strangers. Caitlyn and I saw a great production of Chicago, although, the food was average at best, which is disheartening given the higher-than-average meal prices. Tips: Grab a drink before the show in the bar area, which sometimes has free pre-show entertainment (an opera was being performed when we arrived for our show). Also, eat dinner elsewhere and only get dessert or a snack during the show.
Take in a hockey or soccer game: Columbus is home to two professional sporting teams: The NHL’s Columbus Bluejackets and MLS’ Columbus Crew. The Bluejackets play at Nationwide Arena, a lovely, modern space with affordable tickets and the option to score a box of Timbits, Canadian doughnut chain Tim Hortons take on Dunkin’ Donuts’ “Munchkins.” Yum! (Bonus fact: Tim Hortons is named after former Toronto Maple Leafs great Tim Horton)
Browse The Book Loft and German Village: The Book Loft is truly a treasure in Columbus. It features dozens of rooms, with each room having a particular genre of books for sale. Word of warning from Caitlyn: If you see a book you like, buy it, because even Amazon might not have it (we’ll get you some day, knitting book). Another perk: It’s open 7 days a week, which means it’s a great place to swing by on your way out of town on a Sunday morning of an extended weekend trip. The Book Loft is located among the cobblestone streets of German Village, one of the oldest preserved downtown communities in the Midwest. Take a stroll and marvel at the 19th century architecture. Tip: Go to the Book Loft’s website in advance for money-saving coupons.
Explore the Wexner Center for the Arts: From pop art superstar Andy Warhol to the provocative photography of Annie Leibovitz, the Wexner Center routinely brings in big-name exhibits to this modern museum located on The Ohio State University campus. The walk can be a bit much from downtown, so consider hopping a bus or wearing comfortable shoes.
Shop in the Short North or at Easton Town Center: Dig boutiques, art and fancy chocolates or ice creams? Then hit up the Short North, the name for High Street between downtown and Ohio State. If you’re from Indy, think of it as an elongated version of Mass Ave. Prefer big-name retailers? Hop on 270 and visit Easton Town Center. Imagine what would happen if a lifestyle center had a baby with a traditional mall … and that baby was hepped up on steroids. That’s Easton Town Center. If the store isn’t there, then it doesn’t exist. Tips: Stop by Cheryl’s for a brownie and park in exterior lots, which are free. You’ll have to pay if you want to park right in front of your store in the lifestyle center part of the complex.
Of course, you’ll need lodging while you’re in town. I recommend the following two places:
The Lofts: Exposed brick walls and pipes, as well as high ceilings truly give you an “urban” taste of city life. Located in the arena district, it’s a short walk to the Short North. I was lucky enough to snag this hotel for cheap on Hotwire (see previous post).
Crowne Plaza: The Lofts’s sister hotel, the Crowne Plaza is especially worth it if you can stay in an executive club room, which gets you access to the “concierge lounge.” Each of the upper floors has access to this special room with free drinks, snacks and magazines, as well as a nice view of downtown. Rooms are definitely more designed for the business traveler, but the beds are extremely comfy and, during some promotions, you can get free breakfast at the Max & Erma’s downstairs.
Next post: 5 easy ways to save for your next vacation