Combining Midwest hospitality and urban sophistication, Columbus is much more than Ohio’s state capital. Historic neighborhoods, nationally acclaimed attractions and a booming culinary culture makes this thriving city ideal for your next reunion.
In addition to its central location, Columbus combines gorgeous urban architecture in its downtown districts filled with family-oriented activities. Group members seeking time in the great outdoors can explore the parks and green spaces throughout the city, and urban explorers can easily navigate the city’s historic neighborhoods for shopping, dining and more.
Traveling to Columbus?
Located 15 minutes away from downtown, Port Columbus International Airport is just inside the Interstate 270 beltway, which surrounds the metropolitan area. Those arriving by car can travel on Interstate 70 from the east and west and Interstate 71 from the north and south. Columbus is 1½ hours from Cincinnati, 2½ hours from Cleveland, and three hours from Indianapolis and Pittsburgh.
What should I include in my itinerary?
Columbus has so much to offer to groups that it can be overwhelming when planning your trip. Experience Columbus can determine what your group will enjoy most.
The Metro Parks system is one of Columbus’ proudest achievements. A collection of 16 natural parks distributed throughout the area, these are not the typical square lots with baseball diamonds and soccer fields. Here you’ll find rivers, prairies and untrammeled forests for your group to explore in any season and activities to occupy all ages. Horse-lovers can go on a five-mile ride through the scenic Prairie Oaks, and in colder months there’s ice skating on the frozen Battelle Darby Creek.
Voted the No.1 science museum in the country by Parents magazine, COSI (Center of Science and Industry) makes technology and learning fun with over 300 interactive exhibits for all ages. Children can learn about the world around them through exploration and play, and adults can admire pieces of history like a recreation of John Glenn’s Friendship 7 spacecraft, who hails from Ohio. COSI’s newest addition is the 220-seat Planetarium (the largest in Ohio), which screens star shows and widescreen films. Kids will be thrilled by the Electrostatic Generator Show and can ride the only High-Wire Unicycle in the country. On nice days, you can explore the Big Science Park, where one person can lift a car through physics and explore the green technology home of tomorrow.
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Experience the 1950s with the walk-through Lustron home and an exhibit featuring Superman’s suit at the Ohio History Center. The exhibit features artifacts on loan from the Smithsonian profiling American life in the postwar boom. German Village is Columbus’ most popular downtown neighborhood and one of the preeminent historic districts in the nation. Standing for more than 150 years, Kelton House is a major historical staple of downtown in Discovery District. The Keltons were active supporters of the abolitionist movement and did all they could to assist fugitive slaves. On your tour, you’ll hear about life in early Columbus through the eyes of the Kelton family. In Arena District, the premier entertainment hub of downtown Columbus, your group can catch a minor league baseball game at Huntington Park or a NHL Bluejackets game or show at Nationwide Arena.
For museum-lovers in your group, consider the newly-renovated Columbus Museum of Art. Housed in a gorgeous 1930s building, the museum features works by Pablo Picasso and John Singer Sargent, and the Wonder Room with its hands-on mobile sculptures is perfect for budding artists. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium features the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water/amusement park and 18-hole Safari Golf Club, and that’s not even considering the animals. Exhibits are divided by regions of the world, so your group can “aww” over adorable red pandas in Asia Quest before spotting kangaroos in Australia. Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, located just two miles from downtown, is one of Columbus’ crowning architectural achievements and home to hundreds of plant species, events and family-friendly activities. Built in 1895 in the classic “crystal palace” style, the conservatory and adjoining gardens house over 400 plant species, with a butterfly garden and sculpture exhibits dotting the landscape. Specialized areas like the daylily garden and conifer collection will appeal to the green thumbs in your group, and in warm months your younger members can explore the expansive outdoor mall.
For a one-stop shopping and dining destination, your group will be hard pressed to find a better location for all tastes and interests than Easton Town Center. Boasting over 240 shops and restaurants in a tasteful outdoors promenade, the center is home to Macy’s and Nordstrom as well as upscale stores like Burberry and Louis Vuitton.
Where can we all eat, drink and be merry?
With all that exploring, experimenting and equestrian fun, your group is sure to work up an appetite. Luckily, Columbus has restaurants for every budget and group size to make terrific cappers to your day enjoying the city. Here are a few options:
North Market has been central Ohio’s historic public market since 1876, featuring fresh and prepared foods, authentic ethnic cuisine, flowers, wine and beer, unique gifts and cookware. The market features more than 20 farmers each Saturday during the growing season along with other festivals and events.
Jazz and Rib Fest, held annually in July, features the finest local, regional and international jazz artists while barbecue pit masters serve sizzling ribs, chicken and other summer favorites. Savor the best ribs from around the country as 23 award-winning barbecue teams compete for “Best Ribs” bragging rights. Admission is free. Dine at Schmidt’s to enjoy authentic German food, culture and history (est. 1886). At The Boat House at Confluence Park, you can experience upscale seafood and landlubber entrees while overlooking the point where the Scioto and Olentangy rivers merge by the Columbus skyline. With a hand-crafted cocktail and impeccably prepared meal, you’ll feel like a member of the club, and you don’t even have to apply to join.
Regardless of the size of your group, Experience Columbus is here to help make your reunion in Columbus unforgettable. They are happy to provide referrals for local service providers, itinerary planning assistance, photos and videos, parking instructions and much more.