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Introduction

Columbus is the capital of the American state of Ohio and is located centrally within the state as the core of the Greater Columbus area. Sited in an area where the Rust Belt, Bible Belt, Appalachia, and the Farm Belt meet, Columbus is a fusion of many different parts of America. It is the home of the Ohio State University. The combination of Ohio Government and the Ohio State University has fueled amazing growth both financially and physically in Columbus. It has created a business and research environment that has provided substantial employment opportunities to the diverse ethnic and local graduates of the Ohio State University, and other academic institutions in Columbus. The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), is projected to be one of the top 50 supercomputers in the world and among the top 10 supercomputing academic centers. It also ranked number 1 on About.com's list of the United States' Most Underrated Gay Cities.

Named after the Italian explorer who sailed under the Spanish flag, this city is the largest in Ohio in terms of population with 787,033, and the 15th largest city in the United States - though with only 1.7 million people, the metropolitan statistical area is relatively small (the 31st largest in the nation and the 3rd of 4th largest in Ohio). Major area employers are state government (as the state capital), Ohio State University (the largest student population in the nation) and numerous Fortune 500 companies headquartered here (Cardinal Health, Nationwide Insurance, Limited Brands, etc.) It is a day's drive from one half of the U.S. population and is located at the intersection of I-70 and I-71.

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Neighbourhoods

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

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Sights and Activities

Most Columbus museums are located near Downtown, or near the Ohio State University. The Ohio Statehouse and other buildings in the downtown core serve as distinct architecural landmarks. The neighborhoods on the outskirts of Downtown are usually very distinctive. These include the German Village, The Short North, the Victorian Village, and others.

  • Ohio History Center - Address: 17th Ave

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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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.

  • Max & Erma's. The quintessential 'burgers and stuff' sort of place got its' start here, and you can find one almost anywhere in town, including the original restaurant in German Village. Adventurers are recommended to try their Garbage Burger, while those with a sweet tooth should get a pan of cookies made fresh for them, or try the sundae bar!
  • Schmidt's Sausage Haus, 240 E Kossuth St. This family run restaurant serves up some of the best German food in Columbus. It is famous for their Bahama Mamas and their large cream puffs. Schmidt's has been featured on the food network and on the Travel Channel's "Man V. Food". Try a little bit of everything to experience the authentic German cuisine.
  • Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream. This ice cream shops features exotic flavors that will you keep you coming back. Jeni's has won many awards and has been featured on numerous shows on the Food Network and the Travel Channel. All of the ingredients are organic and most of them come from local farms in Ohio.
  • My Momma's Sweet Potato Pies, 813 East Livingston Ave, ☎ +1 614 444-4282. Authentic sweet potato pie.
  • Columbus Brewing Company (just west of the Brewery District). Fine food at a good price.
  • Akai Hana. Columbus' most authentic source of excellent Japanese food and sushi. Located at Old Henderson & Kenny, in the Japanese part of town next to the Japanese gift shop, Japanese bakery, and Japanese market. It's a bit hard to find, tucked in a strip mall behind 'The Ski Shack'. Also provides carry-out. This restaurant used to be known as Restaurant Japan.
  • Skillet, Rustic. Urban. Food., 410 E Whittier, ☎ +1 614 443-2266. Seasonal menu from local farms. Small, walk-up to counter joint. Excellent brunch with a unique take on traditional comfort foods.
  • Eddie George's Grille 27, 1636 North High St, ☎ +1 614 421-2727. Great American food and atmosphere for watching sports. Located in the South Campus Gateway. This sports-themed restaurant is owned and named after the Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State.

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Drink

  • The Winking Lizard. In Worthington and on Bethel sport a good beer selection.
  • The Arena District. Home of the Columbus Nationwide Arena. Bars include Frog Bear Wild Boar, Brother's, Gaswerks, and the Lodge Bar, each containing a different personality and young 20-somethings atmosphere. Cabs are easy to flag down, parking is cheap, and each bar has incredible happy hour specials. Don't miss Brothers Thursday mug night, an Ohio State student favorite.
  • The Char Bar. Across the street from the Greater Columbus Convention Center is a nicely low-key place to get good drinks, many different types of beer, and relax.
  • Old Bag of Nails Pub, 18 North Nelson Rd (Between Bexley district and Franklin Park on the right off E. Broad Street going into Downtown), ☎ +1 614-252-4949. Perfect place for happy hour! Landmark in Bexley community of Columbus. Styled after an English Pub this is a great place to hang out and test many different beer selections. The beer-battered pickles and fish-n-chips are excellent. Great for Happy Hour (2/7PM) to sit on their back patio overlooking the bridge and water with a fun jazz band playing every Thursday 7-9PM.
  • The Short North. Area, on N High Street above Goodale street combines art galleries with bars. First weekend of the month is "Gallery Hop" and places are open later.
  • Barley's. A microbrewery in the Short North that is known for its high-quality beers.
  • Wyandotte Winery, 4640 Wyandotte Dr. A family run winery located in a cozy neighborhood setting in northeast Columbus. Wyandotte has produced fine grape and fruit wines on premises since the 1980s. Visit the wine shop and tasting room, enjoy a taste of the current wine offerings, and browse the wine related items in the gift shop.
  • Brothers Drake Meadery, 26 E 5th Ave (near corner of 5th & High St.), ☎ +1 614-388-8765. Wines made from honey and local ingredients to create a distinctly local Columbus mead. Stop by to sample signature recipes, enjoy local art and live music. $15 +.
  • SideBar 122, 122 E Main St (E Main between 3rd and 4th), ☎ +1 614-228-9041. 4PM-noon. Sidebar offers classic cocktails and a Mediterranean inspired small plates menu with the flavors of South America. Behind the bar you will find bartenders shaking drinks with house-made syrups and juices. There's a dining room with exposed brick and candlelit tables. Opens Monday through Saturday at 4PM and begins offering dinner service at 5PM. Check out the Piano Bar on the lower level Saturday nights for live Jazz performances.

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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.

  • The Wayfaring Buckeye Hostel, 2407 Indiana Ave. (One mile from OSU), ☎ +1 614-754-0945. Inexpensive lodging that doesn't skimp on the fun. Bar crawls, cookouts, movie nights, city tours, live music, etc. Dormitory beds starting at $30 per night.
  • Cambria Suites Columbus/Polaris, 9100 Lyra Dr., ☎ +1 614 841-9100, fax: +1 614 841-9107. NEQ of Lyra Dr. & Gemini Dr.
  • Best Western Columbus North, 888 E. Dublin Granville Rd., ☎ +1 614-888-8230. Great location off Interstate 71, near Ohio State University, Nationwide Arena, the Schottenstein Center, and Crew Stadium. Hotel features onsite health club with Jr. Olympic sized indoor pool, and complimentary breakfast.
  • Courtyard by Marriott, 35 West Spring St, ☎ +1 614-228-3200.
  • Days Inn Columbus North, 1212 E. Dublin Granville Rd., ☎ +1 614-885-9696.
  • Hampton Inn & Suites Columbus Downtown, 501 North High St, ☎ +1 614-559-2000.
  • Residence Inn Columbus Downtown, 36 E. Gay St, ☎ +1 614-222-2610. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: noon. In the heart of downtown, this all suite hotel is a converted historic bank. Hotel features a variety of amenities and services with the comforts of home.

View our map of accommodation in Columbus, OH

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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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Accommodation in Columbus (Ohio)

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Columbus (Ohio) searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

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This is version 17. Last edited at 10:00 on Jun 12, 19 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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