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A Visitor’s Guide to Columbus

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Planning a trip to the beautiful city of Columbus, Ohio? We couldn’t be more excited to have you. If you’ve been to the city before, you know that there is a whole host of exciting things to see and do here. And if you’ve never visited before, then you’re about to find out.

Visiting any city for the first time can be a little intimidating and scary. Where will you eat? Where will you stay? Which landmarks and attractions are not to be missed, and which ones aren’t actually worth the time and effort to visit? These are all important questions, and it can be hard to know how to answer them.

We want your visit to Columbus to be the very best and most exciting trip it can be. That’s why we’ve pulled together this guide to the city of Columbus, so that you can make the most out of your trip. We’ll talk about travel plans, lodgings, must-see attractions and so much more. Follow this guide, and we think you’ll have so much fun on your Columbus trip that you’ll be dying to come back and visit us again.

Columbus City Guide

For your convenience and ease of browsing, we’ve broken this guide up into distinct sections on all the different topics you might be interested in as you plan your Columbus visit. Feel free to browse through each section, or skip to the topics that are relevant and interesting to you.

Best Ways to Travel Into Columbus

As you plan your trip to Columbus, consider all the different ways to get into the city, and which one is most convenient and cost-effective for you.

  • Flying: If you’re traveling from far away, flying might be the easiest way to reach Columbus. Book your flight into the John Glenn Columbus International Airport, located just six miles east of the downtown area for your convenience and ease of access. Book your plane tickets to Columbus here.
  • Bus: If you prefer to keep your wheels on the ground as you travel, or perhaps if you’re coming from a shorter distance, Columbus has a large and convenient Greyhound Bus station, located not far from the heart of downtown. While traveling by bus will usually take longer than traveling by plane, it is also usually less expensive. Plan your bus trip today.
  • Car: You should never count out the option of a good old American road trip. Whether you’re traveling from across the county, or just across the state, you can always reach Columbus in the safety and comfort of your own vehicle. This option also lets you travel without the expense of buying a ticket, although you will still have to pay for gas.

Best Places to Stay in Columbus

Now that you’ve decided how you’re going to reach the city, your next task is to figure out where you’re going to stay during your time here. Columbus is home to many beautiful and convenient hotels and other forms of lodging so that no matter what your trip looks like, you’ll be able to find a place to stay that’s right for you.

As you look into booking your lodgings during your stay in Columbus, pay special attention to where in the city you’re booking them. If you’re traveling into the city via the airport, you may want to hunt down lodgings nearby. If you’re coming in by bus, look for hotels close to the bus station.

  1. 1. Hotels

Just a few of the quality hotels you can expect to find conveniently located near the airport in Columbus are:

  • Days Inn: Guests at Days Inn get so much more than just a room to stay in. They can also take advantage of complimentary shuttle rides to and from the airport as well as a continental breakfast, fitness center, indoor pool and business center.
  • Staybridge Suites:Staybridge Suites features all recently-renovated suites that offer comforts like in-room kitchens and living room spaces. Other amenities include a breakfast buffet, an indoor pool and fire pit, evening socials Monday through Wednesday, internet access and shuttle service.
  • Fairfield Inn and Suites: If you’re looking for the newest hotel near the Columbus airport, look no further than Fairfield Inn and Suites. Here, you can enjoy a complimentary breakfast, Wi-Fi, patio seating and more.
  • Homewood Suites: At Homewood Suites, you can choose between one- and two-room suites, which both include a kitchen and Wi-Fi access. Mornings include a hot breakfast and evenings are concluded with an evening social.

There are other hotels scattered across the city as well, but these four will likely be the most convenient if you happen to be traveling into the city by plane.

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  1. 2. Home Renting

If hotels aren’t your style, or if you’re looking for something a little homier, another option for finding lodgings is to look into renting an apartment or home for the duration of your stay. Organizations like Airbnb make this easy, and Columbus has no shortage of locations that you can rent during your stay.

Some Noteworthy Facts About Columbus

Of course, traveling to a city requires more than just hopping on a place, booking a hotel and showing up. To truly get the most out of your Columbus visit, you’ll want to know a little bit about the city, its history and the forces that have shaped it into the city it is today.

Here are some of our top interesting facts about Columbus you may be interested to know.

  1. 1. It’s the 15th Largest City in the Country

Columbus might often get buried in lists that include more famous cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, but you may be surprised to know that Columbus is an impressive city in its own right. It’s the 15th largest city in the country, based on a population of 880,182 in 2018. This ranks it above other more talked-about cities like Seattle, Denver, Boston and Detroit.

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  1. 2. It’s Younger Than the State of Ohio

Ohio was granted statehood in the year 1803, before Columbus had even been built. Columbus wasn’t founded until 1812, at which time it was named the state capital, replacing the city of Chillicothe that had previously held the title. This means that Ohio is a full nine years older than its own capital. Unlike many other state capitals, which were chosen as the capital based on their population or importance, Columbus was founded for the express purpose of becoming the new capital.

  1. 3. It Almost Had a Different Name

When the city of Columbus was being founded, different alternatives were discussed as to what its name should be. Although Columbus eventually won out, the possibility of Ohio City was also strongly considered.

  1. 4. It Witnessed the World’s First Cargo Flight

We’ve all heard about the Wright Brothers and their famous first flight, but did you know that the first cargo flight in the entire world landed in Columbus? The plane was a Wright Model B airplane, and it was flown by pilot Phillip Parmalee, who brought two packages of silk across the state from Dayton to Columbus.

  1. 5. It’s Home to the Country’s First Junior High School

The very first junior high school in the country opened in Columbus back in 1909. This school was Indianola Junior High, and it is still in operation today, although it’s now a charter school called Graham Expeditionary School.

  1. 6. It’s Produced Its Fair Share of Famous People

Did you know that the celebrity chef Guy Fieri originally hails from Columbus? So did R.L. Stine, author of the bestselling children’s book series, Goosebumps. Have you ever watched How I Met Your Mother? We bet you didn’t know that one of the stars, Josh Radnor, was born and raised in Columbus. Simone Biles, a four-time gold medal-winning Olympic gymnast, was also born in Columbus. Country band Rascal Flatts and alternative music duo Twenty One Pilots both formed in Columbus as well.

Popular Attractions You Won’t Want to Miss in Columbus

Excited to visit Columbus yet? Here are some of the landmarks and attractions you won’t want to miss during your visit to our city.

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  1. 1. Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

This attraction is of particular interest to gardeners and plant-lovers of all types, but everyone will be astonished by the sheer amount of natural beauty found in this 88-acre landmark that is one of Columbus’s greatest treasures. The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens feature indoor gardens that are filled not only with exotic and beautiful plant life but also stunning artwork. The outside gardens sprawl across the surrounding area and include multiple trails that you can walk along as you take in all the fascinating plants and gorgeous art sculptures around you.

Browse the Conservatory at your own pace, or participate in one of the regular educational or social events hosted in the gardens.

  1. 2. Downtown Columbus

Technically, this is many attractions wrapped into one, but there are so many things to mention that we’re lumping them all together. Wherever else you’re interested in visiting during your tour of the city, the downtown area is not to be missed. Here you’ll find markets, the Columbus Commons, live concerts, theatre, sand volleyball and so much more.

  1. 3. The Scioto Mile

Few out-of-town visitors realize it, but Columbus is built along the banks of the beautiful Scioto River. And New York City might have Central Park, but Columbus is home to the beautiful Scioto Mile. This stretch of beautiful greenery along the river forms a gorgeous place to relax in nature even while still in the heart of the bustling city.

Here you’ll find parks filled with lush grass and trees, bike paths, pedestrian walking trails, a 15,000 square foot fountain, the largest free outdoor climbing wall in the country and so much more. Even if your trip to Columbus is short, this is one destination you won’t want to skip.

  1. 4. Center of Science and Industry

The Center of Science and Industry is a great place to visit especially if you have kids, but it’s also fun even if you’re just a party of adults. No matter how old or young you are, everyone will have a blast here.

This museum celebrates everything related to science, technology and industry. Enjoy exhibits on dinosaurs, the ocean depths, gadgets, outer space and more. Don’t forget to visit the stunning planetarium and consider coordinating your visit with one of the many special events here, such as breakfast with superheroes or access to the Nerf Blaster Battle Arena.

  1. 5. Short North Arts District

If you’re a fan of vibrant city life with a heavy emphasis on arts, culture and experience, you’ll want to be sure to visit Columbus’s Short North Arts District. Until 1984, this district was mostly home to empty buildings and boarded-up windows. Thanks to revitalization efforts, however, this is now a booming neighborhood focused on cultivating arts and creativity.

When you visit this neighborhood, you can enjoy great dining, nightlife, artwork, fashion, gifts and home décor unlike anything else you’ll come across. If you plan your visit for the evening, you’ll also get a stunning view of the district’s 17 lighted steel arches that extend across the streets overhead.

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  1. 6. Ohio Theater

For those who are interested in live performances of every type, a visit to the Ohio Theater is certainly in order. This historic space was built in 1928 and was originally a movie house. Since then, it’s transformed into Columbus’s premiere space for live performances and entertainment arts. Here, you can see plays, ballets, live musical performances and more, including the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

Best of all, you can appreciate the unique and beautiful Spanish-Baroque architecture of the theater while also enjoying the performance onstage. The theater features phenomenal acoustics, top-of-the-line stage facilities and a breath-taking 21-foot high chandelier.

  1. 7. Ohio Stadium

For the sports fans out there, a trip to Columbus wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Ohio Stadium, one of the most recognizable landmarks in the entire sports world since its creation in 1922. This enormous horseshoe-shaped stadium can accommodate 104,944 screaming fans and leads to an exciting atmosphere of spectacle and ceremony. Catch an Ohio State football game here, and you’ll find that it’s an event you keep talking about for years to come.

  1. 8. Giordano’s Pizza

After a long day of sightseeing and tourism, you’ll be hungry for some delicious Columbus cuisine. We’d like to invite you to stop in for a taste of our famous stuffed deep-dish pizza here at Giordano’s. While we’re most well-known for our unbeatable pizza, our menu also includes a wide variety of other treats such as salads, sandwiches and more, as well as a full kids menu if you’ve brought the whole family.

Check out our full menu today, and be sure to pencil a visit to Giordano’s into your upcoming trip to Columbus.