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The Top 10 Things to do in Columbus Ohio

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman The Top 10 Things to do in Columbus Ohio
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Whether you’re new to town, a long-time resident, or just looking for a new way to entertain visitors, this list was designed to help you find something fun to do! During our 2013 Readers Survey, we asked for top picks for tourist destinations which we presented as a Top 10 list during the unveiling of those results in December.

But there were so many great responses from over 2000 survey-takers, that we decided to revisit the answers, consolidate groupings, and expand the results to provide a Top 20 list that will give you even more things to discover and explore throughout the city.

CLICK HERE to see #20 through #11 on our list. The Top 10 is below:

10. Spend Some Time in Columbus Parks


Topiary Park — Photo by Walker Evans.

The Topiary Park is located behind the Downtown Columbus Library — Photo by Walker Evans.

Central Ohio is home to a robust greenway system that includes 16 regional metro parks and over 200 city parks in Columbus and its suburbs. Those parks are also home to numerous recreation centers, sports facilities, interconnected bike trails, indoor and outdoor pools and wildlife preserves. Our survey-takers specifically mentioned the Downtown Topiary Park, Clintonville’s Park of Roses and Westerville’s Inniswoods Metro Gardens as local favorites. For more information, visit columbus.gov/RecreationandParks/ and www.metroparks.net.

9. Visit the Franklin Park Conservatory


The Franklin Park Conservatory — Photo by Walker Evans.

The Franklin Park Conservatory — Photo by Walker Evans.

The Conservatory is an indoor botanical garden that houses over 400 plant species inside 83,000 square feet of greenhouse spaces. Sections are divided by climate and landscape: tropical rainforest, arid desert, Himalayan mountains and a bonsai courtyard with centuries-old trees. The Conservatory sits in the middle of Franklin Park, so a summer visit yields access to the 100 acres of greenspace as well. For more information, visit www.fpconservatory.org.

8. Dine at a Columbus Food League Restaurant


Betty's — Photo by Mollie Lyman.

Betty’s Fine Food & Spirit — Photo by Mollie Lyman.

Local restaurant owner Elizabeth Lessner opened her first restaurant Betty’s Fine Food & Spirits in The Short North in 2001. Since then, her Columbus Food League business has launched and partnered on many other concepts including the Surly Girl Saloon, Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails, Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace, the Jury Room, the Grass Skirt Tiki Room, the Torpedo Room and several others currently in development. Everyone’s got a favorite spot, so check them all out to find out which you like most. For more information, visit www.columbusfoodleague.com.

7. Taste Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams


North Market Jeni's — Photo by Walker Evans.

The recently upgraded North Market Jeni’s — Photo by Walker Evans.

The original Jeni’s can be found inside the North Market (which is located further up on this list itself) but additional scoop shops can be found just about everywhere you look: The Short North, Grandview Heights, Bexley, Dublin, Clintonville, Powell, Easton, and seasonal shops at German Village and Columbus Commons too. Take your time and taste test multiple flavors before picking a trio or buying a pint to go. For more information, visit www.jenis.com.

6. Shop at Easton Town Center


Easton Town Center — Photo by Walker Evans.

Easton Town Center — Photo by Walker Evans.

Easton opened in 1999 as one of the first “lifestyle center” style shopping developments in the US. Developed by L Brands founder Les Wexner, Easton is home to 1.6 million square feet of retail space that includes some the region’s premiere national shopping chains including Burberry, Tiffany & Co, Nordstrom, Henri Bendel, Michael Kors, Crate & Barrel, H&M, American Girl, C. Wonder, Sur La Table and more. For more information, visit www.eastontowncenter.com.

5. Visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium


The Columbus Zoo — Photo by Wenxin Sally Xia.

The Columbus Zoo — Photo by Sally Wenxin Xia.

The Columbus Zoo is not only one of the largest zoos in the world, but has also been named by multiple organizations as one of the best in the US, making it a no-brainer visit for families in Columbus. Over 6000 animals can be found here across a dozen sections and buildings, including the newer Polar Bear addition, the newly opened Heart of Africa, and Colo, the first Gorilla ever born in captivity, and oldest living Gorilla in captivity world-wide. For more information, visit www.colszoo.org.

4. Stroll the Scioto Mile


The Scioto Mile — Photo by Walker Evans.

The Scioto Mile — Photo by Walker Evans.

The Scioto Mile opened in 2011, bringing new greenspace and recreational pathways to the Downtown riverfront. Since then, countless joggers, bikers, stroller-pushers and dog walkers have taken to The Mile to enjoy the view. Destinations along the Mile include North Bank Park, the Santa Maria, COSI, and Bicentennial Park, which includes jumping fountains and a great patio dining experience at Milestone 229. For more information, visit www.sciotomile.com.

3. Dine your way through German Village


Amazing paella awaits you at Barcelona in German Village — Photo by Mollie Lyman.

Amazing paella awaits you at Barcelona in German Village — Photo by Mollie Lyman.

German Village is largely a residential neighborhood located just south of Downtown Columbus, but is home to many great restaurant destinations that were highlighted by our readers as some of the best in the entire city. Old standbys include Schmidt’s, Lindey’s, Katzinger’s, Thurman’s and Barcelona, while newer locations like Harvest, The Sycamore and Kitchen 231 have added some fresh offerings. And don’t forget to grab dessert at Pistacia Vera, Kittie’s Cakes or Jeni’s after dinner. For more information, visit www.germanvillage.com.

2. Shop at The North Market


The North Market — Photo by Walker Evans.

The North Market — Photo by Walker Evans.

The North Market has been a Downtown Columbus destination for over 135 years, but the constant rotation and special events give residents and visitors new reasons to revisit on a regular basis. The Market underwent many new changes in 2013 and 2014, bringing in new merchants and upgrading many existing merchants. Stop by for lunch, shop speciality groceries for a great dinner party, or visit during the Wine Festival, Beer Festival, Coffee Festival or countless other events. For more information, visit www.northmarket.com.

1. Visit the Short North

The Short North — Photo by Walker Evans.

The Short North — Photo by Walker Evans.

It should come as no surprise that The Short North still ranks at the top of the “to do” list for Columbus visitors. It’s a great destination for anyone looking for unique restaurants, boutique shopping, art gallery exhibits, and plenty of people watching. If you can time your visit accordingly, it’s best to visit on the first Saturday of the month during Gallery Hop if you want to take in the neighborhood at its most busy and most vibrant. For more information, visit www.shortnorth.org.

There you have it! The best of the best when it comes to seeing the sights of Columbus, Ohio. Leave us a comment below and let us know what your favorite thing to do in Columbus is, or let us know if we’ve overlooked something important.

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