Weekend in Columbus, Ohio, one of three ways: on a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.
Trip tips: Artists are making a new name for Columbus as a cultural state hub, and revitalized historic neighborhoods are bringing about an innovative food scene. National distilleries are joining with local brewers and coffee roasters, and the night scene is on the map with hip dive bars to fancy cocktail lounges. Pedestrian paths, bikeways, a 15,000-square-foot fountain, the country’s largest free outdoor climbing wall and the 120-acre Scioto Audubon bird sanctuary make up the 175-acre Scioto Mile (www.sciotomile.com), a green space along the riverfront in downtown Columbus. Inside the “Mile” is the Columbus Museum of Art, which recently added a spectacular new wing. Annual festivities in Columbus include the Ohio State Fair, one of the largest state fairs in the country, July 26-Aug. 6, 2017. Trip planning at Experience Columbus, www.experiencecolumbus.com.
Getting there: Advance purchase round-trip rates from $158 during sale periods; nonstop on Delta and Southwest.
Stay: Drury Inn & Suites in downtown Columbus and adjacent to the convention center is close to downtown attractions, Ohio State University, the Short North Arts District and many bars and restaurants. This contemporary hotel features an outdoor hot tub, complimentary evening drinks and snacks. Rates from $129, including a hot breakfast. 88 E. Nationwide Blvd. 614-221-7008, www.druryhotels.com.
Eat: Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant was founded by a German immigrant in 1886, and today the eatery is run by his grandson. Expect traditional platters of sausage, schnitzel, sauerbraten, spaetzle, and strudel to finish. All menu items under $15.75. 240 E. Kossuth St. 614-444-6808, www.schmidthaus.com.
Experience: Explore the many unique neighborhoods of Columbus. Victorian Village is home to Goodale Park, Columbus’ most popular downtown park. Tiny German Village is one of the country’s finest historic districts. It’s also the spot for nightlife along with eclectic Short North and the Brewery District. Stop by the Meeting Haus and pick up a copy of the self-guided German Village Walking tour with three themes and suggested food and drink stops along the way, $10. The city offers many free self-guided walking routes. www.experiencecolumbus.com/blog/post/self-guided-walking-tours-around-columbus.
Stay: The Blackwell, located on the Ohio State University campus, is a 14-minute walk to the Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens. On site are a cozy bar with a fireplace, a gym and Bistro 2110, one of the city’s finest restaurants with an array of American, European and Asian cuisine with unique presentations. Rates from $169, including complimentary airport transportation. 2110 Tuttle Park Place. 614-247-4000, www.theblackwell.com.
Eat: Located in an alley in Victorian Village, Basi Italia is an intimate nook serving Northern Italian dishes. The Zucchini Pronto ($10) is a patron favorite. Starters and entrees, $9-$26. 811 Highland St. 614-294-7383, http://basi-italia.com.
Experience: The Wexner Center for the Arts, located on the OSU campus, is the go-to for contemporary art, film, concerts, dance and theater. The center also features the Franklin Conservatory, 88 acres of indoor-outdoor art and nature-based exhibits, greenhouses, and landscaped grounds. Through Nov. 13, catch the monumental sculptures that tell the story of origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. Adults, $13; $6 ages 3-17. 1777 E. Broad St. 614-715-8000, www.fpconservatory.org.
Stay: The Joseph, a Le Meridien brand, is surrounded by unique dining and shopping. The distinctive lobby is a gallery of unique art pieces. Guests are invited to take a short stroll from the hotel (to 632 N. Park St.) to view the private Pizzuti Collection, one of the top 200 art collections in the world. Arrive Thursday-Saturday and save 40 percent on a second consecutive night (rate plan ZB4). Average nightly rates are $215. 620 N. High St. 614-227-0100, www.lemeridiencolumbus.com.
Eat: Find a little taste of Spain at Barcelona, located in German Village. The charming Old World restaurant offers an assortment of tapas (small plates, $6-$14), paella (up to $110 for four), chorizos plates ($7 for one to $27 for five) and main entrees ($25-$36). Enjoy with a glass of sangria or sparkling cava. 263 E. Whittier St. 614-443-3699, www.barcelonacolumbus.com.
Experience: Visit the 580-acre world-famous Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, home to more than 11,000 animals representing nearly 600 species from around the globe. Adults, $19.99; $14.99 ages 3-9. Through a reciprocity program (www.aza.org/assets/2332/reciprocity_chart_2016.pdf), Zoo Atlanta members can save 50 percent on admission. 4850 W. Powell Road, Powell. 614-645-3400, www.columbuszoo.org.
Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.