If you’re on a budget, traveling to Columbus by bus is one of the most affordable ways to get there. It’s also safe and convenient as long as you follow common safety precautions like locking your bag and watching out for pickpockets.
Columbus is famous for a lot of things, from its huge North Market to its nationally renowned breweries and its Buckeye football team. But there’s so much more to discover here.
Columbus is a vibrant city that celebrates diversity, culture, and innovation. Its youthful, progressive spirit is fueled by one of the nation’s largest college student populations and a dynamic arts scene. World-class museums, a renowned zoo, and other attractions are complemented by exciting sports and fine restaurants. In addition, the city boasts a variety of shopping and specialty stores.
The city’s three urban districts offer unique opportunities to shop, eat, and explore. Downtown Short North is the area’s spirited entertainment district, while the historic German Village and Brewery District showcase a diverse selection of antiques, shops, and restaurants. The northern suburbs of Worthington, Westerville, and Grove City also have their distinct charms.
The city is home to several universities and a nationally recognized public library system. The McKinley Monument and Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery are nearby historic sites, while the Ohio Historical Center and Ohio Village outdoor museum serve as a regional resource. COSI, a science and industry center, is among the top educational attractions in the country. The city also supports a performing arts center and art museum. A conservatory and botanical garden are located east of downtown, while area reservoirs (including Griggs, O’Shaughnessy, and Hoover) provide recreational opportunities. The Columbus Zoo is a world-renowned wildlife sanctuary. Columbus’ most famous native son, Christopher Columbus, was born in 1451. He died in 1506, still believing he had discovered a new route to the East Indies. His historic legacy, however, has fractured in the 21st century, as new attention is given to his depopulation of the indigenous Tainos of Hispaniola and the mistreatment and exploitation that followed.
How to Reach Columbus
Columbus’s thriving arts and culture scene, historical sites, state-of-the-art sports stadiums, and friendly residents make it a popular destination for travelers. It’s also home to numerous universities and college campuses, giving it a lively energy.
The city is served by John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH), which offers direct flights to destinations across the United States and Canada. Visitors can also get around Columbus by bus, rideshare, and electric scooters. If you don’t have a car, taxis are available throughout the city.
Flying to Columbus can be expensive, but there are ways to save money on airfare. Searching for deals, and choosing a flight with multiple stops can help you score a cheap ticket. Also, if you can be flexible with your travel dates, you’ll have more options when it comes to scoring affordable flights to Columbus.
The city has several bike lanes and trails, so getting around on foot is easy. COTA, the Central Ohio Transit Authority, operates an efficient bus system that connects different neighborhoods and attractions. Visitors can also use bike-share services like CoGo, which has 365 bikes at 30 stations in downtown Columbus for as little as $8 per day. You can also rent an electric scooter through companies like Bird, Lime, or Spin for as little as $0.15 a minute. Or, if you’d prefer to sit back and relax, you can hire a pedicab for as little as $1 per minute.
Top Places to Visit in Columbus
There are plenty of top places to visit in Columbus. Whether you love to explore new rooftop bars, take in a baseball or MLS game, hike the miles of trails, or catch some great street art, this city has something for everyone. Columbus is also home to world-renowned museums, child-friendly attractions, and fun family events. Kids will love the hands-on exhibits at COSI, the Center of Science and Industry. From the ocean and outer space to electronic gadgets and optical illusions, this expansive museum offers a fun way for kids (and adults) to learn about the world around them.
Other top family attractions include the huge Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. This horticultural hotspot boasts exotic plant collections and special exhibitions, including some Dale Chihuly artworks. This is a great place to escape the bustle of downtown Columbus and enjoy a bit of peace in this gorgeous setting.
For culture, a visit to Columbus isn’t complete without taking in one of the many performances at the historic Ohio Theatre. From a symphony orchestra to opera and ballet, this hub of arts and entertainment has it all.
Another great cultural experience is touring the North Market, an old-style downtown shopping district. Here, you can sample dozens of local vendors with Italian, Indian, Vietnamese, Pizza, German, and Sushi options available on two floors. There are several top restaurants here, too, such as Fox in the Snow – a husband-and-wife restaurant known for its coffee program and inventive breakfast sandwiches.
Where to Stay in Columbus
Home to Ohio State University, this bustling capital city surprises visitors with a seriously impressive food and culture scene. It also has some pretty cool attractions and festivals, and it’s the place to go for college football games and other heart-pumping sporting events. It’s worth planning out your itinerary ahead of time to get the best deals on hotels and flights to Columbus.
For instance, if you want to stay in the Short North Arts District, book a room at Moxy Columbus Short North, which has rooms that are anything but average. Your stay here includes a drink token that you can use at the hotel bar, and your smart rooms feature fold-out desks and clever ways to hang your clothes. The neighborhood is filled with funky street art murals and vintage shops, and you can grab a New York-style pizza slice or a plant-based burger at eateries like Adriatico’s and Jack & Benny’s.
The University District is another great option for accommodation in Columbus, thanks to its lively student atmosphere. You can stay in one of the major universities’ hotels, which offer discounts to students and visiting families, or opt for a smaller boutique inn. If you stay in the area, it’s easy to walk or take the COTA bus around to see downtown Columbus’s top attractions. There are also plenty of parks and nature reserves in the area, including the Scioto Mile River Promenade, which is a massive urban park of nine connected areas.
Where to Eat in Columbus
Columbus has gained national acclaim for its culinary scene in recent years. The city is home to top-ranked chefs, a rich farm-to-table movement, and one-of-a-kind restaurants. From snazzy jazz bars and panoramic rooftop haunts to historic food halls and Euro-chic cafes, Columbus has something for every palate.
The city’s most acclaimed dining establishment is Lindey’s, a classy eatery that offers elegance on a plate. From the Georges Bank cod paired with sweet corn puree to the brined duroc pork topped with caramelized pear and apple chutney, the restaurant’s dishes are the kind of dish that you will tell your friends about in hushed tones.
Another must-visit is Amul India, which celebrates the rich tapestry of Indian cuisine. You can sample everything from traditional favorites to regional specialties such as the savory handmade Nepalese-style dumplings called momos. Amul also serves an array of traditional Indian beverages such as lassi and masala tea.
If you’re looking for a hearty meal, you can’t go wrong with a cheeseburger from Johnny’s Tavern. The simple menu is designed for maximum flavor, and the cheeseburger embodies the essence of a classic tavern burger. You can even try a signature burger seasoned with Nashville hot chicken and pickles.
Nightlife in Columbus
From divey holes in the wall to trendy bars and swanky rooftop hangouts, this friendly Midwestern metropolis invites everyone to stay up late and play. Take your pick of boozy beverages and nosh on local foods.
The city has a thriving beer scene, with 46 breweries on the Route 33 Brew Trail. Sample sour ales at Seventh Son in the Brewery District or sip on a cocktail at Denmark on High, which serves up one-of-a-kind drinks with downtown views.
For live music, head to the Short North Arts District for a night of bar-hopping and gig-going. You’ll hear a diverse mix of musicians here, from emerging local acts to major-name headliners like Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke. The city’s four large theaters and three smaller spaces put on a variety of performances year-round, including opera, ballet, and avant-garde plays.
Sports fans are spoiled for choice with the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team and the Columbus Crew SC professional soccer club, plus Ohio State University and other college sports teams. Afterward, grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants downtown.
Alternatively, hit Easton Town Center, the Midwest’s premier shopping and entertainment destination with over 30 million visitors annually. Shop at more than 200 best-in-class retailers, then check out the fun at Ohio’s largest movie theater or a world-class comedy club. If the shopping and culture have you worn out, head to Grange Insurance Audubon Center for a peaceful escape along scenic woodland trails and picturesque lakes.