In the world of college football, certain cities are considered hallowed ground. Places like Ann Arbor, Michigan and Tuscaloosa, Alabama are synonymous with the sport, and places like Columbus, Ohio—home of the Ohio State Buckeyes—are in that conversation as well.
In spite of that reputation as a football hotbed, Columbus is far more than just a standard college town.
The city is loaded with areas to explore, from the quickly growing Arena District to the narrow streets and delicious eats of German Village. A trip to Ohio State is always a must to get a feel for the city, but venturing off campus is a surefire way to gain the full experience.
Just south of the campus is the Short North area. For a person looking to get their first taste of the culture of Columbus, this neighborhood is a must-visit.
If one happens to be in the area the first Saturday of the month, the Short North Arts District Gallery Hop is a must-attend event. With art galleries opening their doors and plenty of shops and restaurants to explore, this once-monthly excursion into the cultural will leave you marveling at the creativity of the artists that call the city home.
For those looking to add some music to their collection at home, look no further than Roots Records. Located at the corner of King Avenue and North High Street, this store sells plenty of vinyl records, CD’s, and even concert tickets to local shows.
If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of campus and downtown, head south to German Village. Located just south of Interstate 70 and extending southward, this enclave is absolutely loaded for bear with shops, restaurants, and bars that will please any palette or taste.
On Thurman Avenue alone, located on the south end of the neighborhood, there are plenty of places to choose from.
If you’re willing to wait, the German Village Coffee Shop serves up some of the most affordable and delicious food that you’ll find anywhere in the city. With pancakes the size of manhole covers and omelettes that can cure even the most wicked of hangovers, this restaurant is a throwback to a simpler time, and the service is always top-notch.
If for some reason your hunger isn’t satisfied with a trip to this restaurant, the famous Thurman Café is right next door. With delicious pizza and burgers on the menu, this restaurant also offers a special challenge to the adventurous eater: the Thurmanator. With two 12-ounce burgers and a cornucopia of toppings, including bacon, sautéed mushrooms, and banana peppers, this massive sandwich has vanquished more foes than the Buckeyes’ football team.
If you’re the type that likes to buy your pet toys and treats while you’re on vacation, then the Dog Works, located just two doors down from the Thurman Café, has you covered. With a wide variety of toys, dog treats ranging from the simple Milk Bone to the high-end Snickerdoodle cookies, and even a selection of soda and beer for the humans, this place is a one-stop shop for making life for your pet more enjoyable.
After a long day in German Village, you might find yourself ready to venture downtown, and the Arena District has plenty of places that will quench your thirst and whet your appetite. For those in the mood for pub grub, the Three Legged Mare offers a wide variety of menu options, and their wine and whiskey menu is expansive.
If you’re dining with a group, the Italian eatery Buca Di Beppo will hit the spot as well. Serving family-style fare in a traditional setting, this restaurant will satisfy your hunger and fortify you for a long night of exploring what downtown Columbus has to offer.
Whether you’re heading down to a Columbus Blue Jackets game or just exploring downtown, there are plenty of night spots to check out around the arena district. For hockey fans, the R-Bar, located just north of Nationwide Arena on Front Street, is a must-visit. With hockey memorabilia on the walls and the vibe of the winter sport prevalent throughout, relaxing and having a beer in good company is a good way to spend an evening.
If you’re willing to drive or take a cab, the Four String Brewery Tap Room is an excellent spot to visit for a good drink. Located just two and a half miles north of Nationwide Arena, this spot features some of the best locally brewed beer in Columbus, and if you’re lucky enough to visit during the winter, the Vanilla Porter is an absolutely delicious treat.
Even if you don’t like football, Columbus is a town with plenty to offer. With a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and bars, the city is a paradise for the adventurous traveler.