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Introduction

Columbus is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Ohio. It is the 15th largest city in the United States, with a population of 850,106 (2015 estimate). It is the core city of the Columbus, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which encompasses a ten county area. It is Ohio's third largest metropolitan area, behind Cleveland and Cincinnati.

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Neighbourhoods

  • Downtown
  • University Area
  • Northwest Columbus
  • Northeast Columbus
  • South Columbus

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Weather

The city's climate is humid continental transitional with the humid subtropical climate to the south characterized by hot, muggy summers and cold, dry winters. Winter snowfall is relatively light, since the city is not in the typical path of strong winter lows, such as the Nor'easters that strike cities farther east. It is also too far south and west for lake-effect snow from Lake Erie to have much effect, although the lakes to the North do contribute to long stretches of cloudy spells in winter.

The highest temperature ever recorded in Columbus was 41 °C, which occurred twice during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s - once on July 21, 1934, and again on July 14, 1936. The lowest temperature ever recorded was -30 °C, occurring on January 19, 1994 (wind chill was -53 °C.!)

Columbus is subject to severe weather typical to the Midwestern United States. Severe thunderstorms can bring lightning, large hail and on rare occasion tornadoes, especially during the spring and sometimes through fall. A tornado which occurred on October 11, 2006 caused F2 damage. Floods, blizzards, and ice storms can also occur from time to time.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max1.2 °C3.3 °C10.3 °C16.7 °C22.4 °C26.9 °C28.7 °C27.8 °C24.6 °C18.1 °C10.8 °C4 °C
Avg Min-7.5 °C-6 °C-0.4 °C4.4 °C10.1 °C14.4 °C17.1 °C16 °C12.7 °C6.1 °C1.3 °C-4.1 °C
Rainfall55.4 mm56.9 mm83.1 mm81.5 mm99.8 mm102.6 mm109.5 mm94.5 mm75.2 mm54.6 mm81.8 mm72.6 mm
Rain Days8.57.79.89.810.18.29.18.36.87.49.49.7

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Getting There

By Plane

Port Columbus International Airport, (CMH) is served by all the major airlines, with direct flights to most major American cities and a few international cities. Aside from rental cars, the airport can also be reached by the #92 bus, or by taxi. A taxi ride to downtown is about 20 minutes, depending on traffic, and will cost approximately $20-50. Depending on your schedule and where you are connecting to, it may be worthwhile to check flights to Dayton as well (estimate one-hour drive to Columbus), as they are often cheaper.

By Car

Major highways include I-71 & Rte. 315 (north and south), I-70 & I-670 (east and west), and the outer-belt, I-270. US Routes 33, 23, and 40 also converge downtown.

By Bus

  • Greyhound, 111 East Town St, ☎ +1 614 228-2266. 24 hours a day.
  • Megabus, ☎ +1-877-462-6342. Service to Columbus from Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Lexington, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta. Fares start at . Buses arrive and depart downtown Columbus at the northeast corner of East Rich Street and South 3th Street. Some buses (those coming from Chicago, Indianapolis, and sometimes Cincinnati) also serve Ohio State University from a stop at the Ohio Union building on the west side of the intersection of High Street and 12th Avenue.

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Getting Around

By Car

Columbus is a car-centric city, with usage of a car required outside of the areas directly surrounding downtown. Parking is extensive (and reasonably priced) at almost all major destinations. There are many surface lots and garages around the city. There are only a few areas of the city, like the Short North, where parking can be hard to come by; those locations all feature abundant valet parking at an affordable $5 per vehicle. Keep in mind that U-turns are illegal citywide in Columbus.

Downtown is a short drive ($20-50 taxi fare) from Port Columbus (the airport) via I-670W.

Columbus is notorious for aggressive towing companies, especially downtown, on campus, and in the Short North. Before you park somewhere, make sure that it does not have a "Private Parking" or "Tow Away Zone" sign nearby.

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

The COTA bus service can take you to most important places in the city, which should be about 5 blocks away from any conceivable location you need to go to. This service costs $2.75 for an Express bus and $2.00 for a Local/Crosstown bus. Transfers for a Local/Crosstown bus are free, but transfers between bus types, such as from a Local to an Express route, are subject to an upcharge. Inform the bus driver that you need a transfer ("may I have a transfer, please?") when you pay your fare, and you'll be given a transfer pass that you use when boarding the next bus. Please note that you cannot use a transfer pass to board a bus on the same line that travels in the opposite direction (i.e. you cannot get off a bus line and use the transfer pass to board a bus going the other way). This prevents riders from using the pass to return to their destination without paying a second fare, and is a common mistake made by many new riders.

By Foot

Most of High St (US Route 23) from Clintonville in the North to Merion Village in the South is pedestrian-friendly, though it does pass through some less-than-scenic areas, particularly the few blocks between campus and the short north. Downtown Columbus is a walkable city with most attractions located within a 20-minute walk of each other.

By Bike

CoGo Bike Share is a bike sharing program with stations in downtown; pick up a bike at any station and return it to any station. A pass enables unlimited 30 minute trips. $6/24 hour pass.

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Eat

The City of Columbus issues approximately 6,000 licenses for a variety of types of food vendors, Franklin County issues about 3,000 for the remainder of the County and the suburban area.

Food Safety – In Columbus, starting late May of 2007, all 6,000 local restaurants must post color coded signs that reflect the results of the most previous inspection by the Columbus Public Health Dept. Green = passing most recent inspection. Red, yellow or white suggests you probably may want to reconsider your options. The law applies to public pools, tattoo parlors, spas, campgrounds as well as food markets. The sign must be obvious, within five foot of an entrance.

A major test market for most major chain restaurants (though this is not as true as it once was), Columbus has a large density of national chain restaurants, some even having multiple venues in a single neighborhood. That being said, Columbus has a growing ethnic and upper class dining scene thanks in part to continued immigration (from Africa {especially Somalia and Ghana}, Southeast Asia, & more recently Latin America) and the continued gentrification of the downtown area.

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Sleep

Columbus is a convention city, with a large well established business and manufacturing base, as well as an education foundation that attracts many visitors. Downtown accommodations tend to be a little more expensive than those scattered near the interstate exits. But, there usually is lodging available in most price ranges.

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
The Wayfaring Buckeye Hostel2407 Indiana AvenueHostel94

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Work

Columbus serves as the capital city of Ohio, and government is one of the city's largest employers.

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Learn

The Ohio State University is a large college, bordered on the south by West 9th Avenue, on the north by Lane Avenue, and on the east by North High Street. The university owns most of the property within these bounds, up to Olentangy River Road on the west, and some properties west of Olentangy River Road.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Columbus (Ohio) Travel Helpers

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This is version 5. Last edited at 13:18 on Sep 14, 16 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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