A Weekend in Columbus Ohio: the Best Things to Do and See

Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise
Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Let me introduce you to a destination that completely surprised me: Columbus, Ohio.

As an East Coast gal, born and raised, admittedly I haven’t spent much time in the Midwest. However, the more that I travel, the more I realize that this country is full of hidden gems that may never have been on your radar. 

Columbus is an absolute delight. For starters, it is very hip and cosmopolitan: it is a full blown metropolis with posh restaurants, incredible shopping, and great nightlife. However, even though this city is incredibly sophisticated, it’s still packed with that classic Midwest charm and hospitality.  

The kind folks over at Experience Columbus introduced me and a few other influencers to Ohio’s capital and hosted us on a press trip a couple of weeks ago, and we were all blown away. If you’re planning a road trip or a getaway in the near future, here’s why I think Columbus should be on your list!
 
Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Weekend in Columbus Ohio

Columbus Travel Guide: Getting There & Getting Around

I ended up flying from Charlottesville to Columbus, but I didn’t realize how easy of a drive it is from the Mid-Atlantic. It’s about a 6.5-hour drive from the D.C. area to Columbus and would be a great stop if you’re planning a road trip out west. If you prefer to fly, CMH has nonstop flights to over 40 destinations, including Washington D.C. (DCA), Raleigh, Charlotte, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and more. 

Columbus is very walkable: we stayed near the Convention Center, which was steps away from the trendy Short North neighborhood, and we ended up walking to almost everything. For anything that we couldn’t walk to, most other activities were around a 10-minute Uber/Lyft ride or less. 

Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise
Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

A Weekend in Columbus Ohio

Columbus Travel Guide: Where to Stay

While in Columbus, we stayed at the Hilton Columbus Downtown. The location of this hotel was ideal: it was only a 15-minute Uber ride from the airport, we were right across the street from the Convention Center, and we were steps away from the best dining and shopping in town in the Short North neighborhood. 

Another thing I loved about this hotel was the customer service. Admittedly, I had several packages delivered to this hotel since I was producing a travel piece, and their front desk team were absolute rockstars: they were on top of everything, and no request was ever too big (or small!)

The Hilton Columbus Downtown has three dining options: Provisions on High, which is a great place to get quick meals on the go, Gallerie Bistro, a modern yet laid back spot to enjoy classic Midwest cuisine, and the Gallerie Bar, which is the perfect place for a nightcap. The hotel also has an indoor pool, gym, business center, and bicycle rental. It’s the ideal place for either a business or leisure traveler!

Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise
Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Travel Guide: Things to Do in Columbus
  • View incredible works of art at the Columbus Museum of Art. The Columbus Museum of Art is a massive art museum located in Downtown Columbus which features American and European modern and contemporary art, folk art, glass, and photography. I could have spent hours here — between their permanent collection and their current exhibitions, and there’s something for every art enthusiast to enjoy here.
     
    The CMA also has the Pizzuti Collection that’s within walking distance of the Short North neighborhood, which has a diverse collection of paintings, sculpture, film, photography, drawings, and prints.
     
  • Shop in the Short North District. I was pleasantly surprised with all of the shopping that Short North had to offer (I think I even prefer boutique hopping in Columbus than in some of the other major U.S. cities I’ve visited!) For women’s boutiques, I’d highly recommend Rowe, Ladybird, Foundt and Artisan de Luxe. 
     
  • Go Ziplining with Zip Zone Tours. Have an itch for the great outdoors? Hop in an Uber and head over to Zip Zone Tours where you can experience a ziplining adventure that’s ideal for all ages and experience levels.  This ended up being one of the highlights of my trip: I never tried ziplining before this trip, but the staff was incredibly knowledgeable, made me feel comfortable, and I ended up having the time of my life!
     
  • Take a Stroll through Goodale Park. Goodale Park is the oldest park in Columbus and is one of the oldest parks in the U.S. It has a fantastic walking trail, tennis and basketball courts, gardens, floral displays, and a picturesque pond. 
     
  • Create a Signature Candle at The Candle Lab. Ever wanted to create a custom scent for your home? At The Candle Lab, you can pour your own soy candles and develop a signature scent. The process? We went around the store and smelled the 100+ scents that they offered, picked out our favorite scents, and mixed 2-3 fragrances to create our own custom candle. After an hour and a half, we were able to come back to the store and pick up the finished product!

Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise
Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise
Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise
Columbus Travel Guide: Where to Eat
  • Breakfast:
    • Fox in the Snow: Hands down, my favorite coffee spot in town. Loved both the food and the ambiance here. Get the egg sandwich; you won’t regret it!
       
    • Katalina’s Cafe: A quick, casual breakfast spot with ample outdoor seating. Some highlights for me included their pancake balls, sweet and spicy bacon, and their fresh blood orange juice.
       
    • Northstar Cafe: Northstar Cafe is a local favorite, and was recommended to me by several readers! I stopped here for a quick breakfast before heading to the airport and was not disappointed. They offer fantastic classic brunch dishes and a great bakery selection. 
       
  • Lunch/Dinner:
     

    • The Pearl: The Pearl has a fantastic seafood selection, their food is made from scratch, and they have a robust selection of cocktails and beers. Some menu highlights include their spoon cornbread and hanger steak (which was featured on Food Network!)
       
    • Service Bar: This restaurant would be ideal for date night: it was sophisticated yet laid back. Service Bar crafts Middle West Spirits and has an incredible cocktail menu featuring the whiskeys and vodkas they produce. Make sure to check out their secret menu for special treats.
       
    • Ambrose & Eve: Ambrose & Eve has a fantastic selection of cocktails and classic dinner party fare with updated ingredients and techniques. Their Mushroom BLT is vegan and proved to be a fan favorite, and “The Eve” cocktail was one of the best drinks I had on the trip. 
       
    • Wolf’s Ridge Brewing: Wolf’s Ridge was one of my favorite stops along the Columbus Ale Trail. It has a laid back ambiance and is great for groups. Dinner here was absolutely fantastic; I’d highly recommend the burrata, beets and fried Brussel Sprouts. 
       
    • Comune: Comune is a perfectly Instagrammable, tapas-style restaurant that offers plant-forward cuisine. Some menu highlights include their selection of spritzes (the Aster Fizz was a favorite), the tempura cauliflower and the crispy rice.
       
    • The Kitchen: This was one of the most unique dining experiences I’ve ever had: The Kitchen offers “participatory dining,” and it’s a cooking class/dinner hybrid. You’ll get hands-on experience and learn how to prepare the evening’s dishes alongside their staff. We enjoyed a 5-course meal with a wine pairing for each course, and I’m going to try to prepare some of the recipes we learned at home!
       
  • Snacks:
      • Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream: Did you know that Jeni’s Ice Creams was founded in Columbus? There are multiple locations in town, and come out with delicious new flavors seasonally. We loved Jeni’s so much that we visited multiple times!
         
      • North Market: North Market is home to dozens of restaurants, eateries, and shops. You can sample cuisines from all over the world here, and they also host farmers markets and events on the weekends as well. I ended up at North Market three times during my trip — they have so much to offer!
         
      • Native Cold Pressed: If you’re looking for a quick, healthy dining option, Native Cold Pressed is right up your alley. They have multiple locations in town and offer fresh pressed juice, smoothies, açaí bowls, lattes, and more.

Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Weekend in Columbus Ohio featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Columbus Travel Guide: Drinks and Nightlife

Columbus has an incredible nightlife scene. For starters, the city is home to 46 breweries (and counting!), and there are plenty of places to visit along the Columbus Ale Trail. Some of my favorite breweries included Antiques on High, which has a rooftop and a great selection of sour beer, and Wolf Ridge Brewing. We also visited the newly opened Lincoln Social Rooftop, which was an incredibly chic cocktail lounge that offered great views of the Columbus skyline. 

Have you ever spent a weekend in Columbus, Ohio? Let me know what you like to do in town!
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Thank you to Experience Columbus for partnering with me on today’s post! All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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