Abigail Fredelake photographed in Columbus by Henry Photography.
From Columbus’s bustling downtown to its hip arts district, the vibrant Ohio city has plenty of exciting sights to explore for anyone in town for business, pleasure, or cheering on the Buckeyes. “There are some great little pockets that make Columbus feel like a small community in a big city,” The Scout Guide Columbus Editor Abigail Fredelake says of her town. Here, Fredelake provides a roundup of the best watering holes, eateries, shops, cultural spots, and autumn-inspired activities in Ohio’s capital city.
WHERE TO STAY
From dining and drinking at the hip lobby bar and restaurant to relaxing in one of the posh spa suites, Fredelake says you’ll feel right at home at Le Méridien Columbus, The Joseph (620 North High Street), an elegant boutique hotel in Columbus’ Short North neighborhood.
For a stylish downtown option, Fredelake recommends Hotel LeVeque (50 West Broad Street). Housed in a recently restored high-rise, the chic hotel offers luxurious accommodations, plus a brand-new French brasserie.
For an off-the-beaten-path option, Fredlake suggests Orchard House Bed and Breakfast (4058 Columbus Road), which is located a quick 30-minute drive outside of Columbus. Accommodations at the Granville bed and breakfast include traditional guest suites along with a cozy glamping tent.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
For breakfast and lunch, Fredelake recommends Tasi (680 North Pearl Street), a delightful French bakery and café tucked in an alleyway off the main drag in the bustling Short North neighborhood. “I have cravings for their salmon BLT,” Fredelake says about her order of choice.
Quintessential Columbus restaurant Lindey’s (169 East Beck Street), located in German Village, is known for their Sunday brunch on the patio. From the lemon ricotta pancakes to the salmon tartine, you can’t go wrong here, says Fredelake.
With locations in German Village and North Market, French bakery Pistacia Vera (541 South 3rd Street & 59 Spruce Street) is a charming place to grab breakfast or a sweet treat. “They do great macarons, quiche, and croissants — everything is amazing!” Fredelake says.
A local favorite for brunch, happy hour, or dinner, Rockmill Tavern (503 South Front Street), which is the sister restaurant to Columbus’s Rockmill Brewery, is a sure bet for salads, sandwiches, and tasty sides. For dinner, Fredelake recommends pairing your brew with the tasty Tavern Burger.
For traditional Italian dishes from pizza and pasta to meat and seafood entrees, Fredelake suggests paying a visit to family-owned eatery Giuseppe’s Ritrovo (2268 East Main Street). Located in the Bexley neighborhood, the restaurant serves up imported Italian delicacies alongside local seasonal fare.
First and foremost a craft brewery, Wolf’s Ridge Brewing (215 North 4th Street) also serves fabulous cocktails, as well as delicious seasonal fare in the form of elevated favorites like sweet corn gnocchi and pork tenderloin with pomegranate-ginger gastrique. “It is by far one of my favorite menus in town,” says Fredelake.
A hidden treasure located in an alleyway off Victorian Village, Basi Italia (811 Highland Street) is Fredelake’s go-to spot for celebrations or an intimate date night on the cozy-casual Italian restaurant’s romantic terrace.
For happy hour or after-dinner drinks, pop into the sleek wine bar/retailer Wine on High (789 North High Street) located in Short North. Order a glass or sample a flight along with a couple of small plates, or grab a bottle to go.
WHERE TO SHOP
As home to some top clothing retailers’ headquarters (Limited Brands, Abercrombie & Fitch, Express) and an impressive design school (Columbus College of Art and Design), it should come as no surprise that Columbus boasts an array of fashionable boutiques worth visiting. Among those are Leal (2128 Arlington Avenue) in Upper Arlington, a high-end women’s boutique that carries timeless and traditional wardrobe staples as well as a great selection of shoes, jewelry, and accessories.
Fredelake lists Relish House (1287 King Avenue) as another favorite shopping destination. “When you walk in, it’s a treasure trove filled with home decor and accessories,” she says of the Upper Arlington boutique.
With brands like Rag & Bone, Trina Turk, and Jerome Dreyfuss, THREAD (1285 Grandview Avenue) presents a cherry-picked selection of pieces ranging from casual to boho-chic to evening-ready for men and women. Before you go, be sure to check their calendar to see when their next trunk show or shopping party is scheduled.
Based out of Cleveland, luxury leather goods company Fount (668 North High Street) just opened a brick-and-mortar in Columbus’s Short North neighborhood. “I carry one of their bags as my everyday bag, and the store is just gorgeous,” says Fredelake.
Next door to Fount, be sure to pop into Rose Bredl (664 North High Street) for a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers. Along with blooms, you’ll find an array of garden products as well as candles, soaps, and vases.
Stock up on fashion-forward clothing by brands like Greylin and Smythe at Short North’s contemporary women’s boutique Rowe (718 North High Street). While you’re there, be sure to browse their selection of hip jewelry, hats, and bags, too.
For the man in your life, you’re going to want to stop into KILN (988 North High Street), a boutique that carries a curated collection of outdoorsy chic brands and a range of accessories including belts and sunglasses.
If you’re in the market for a great gift or new journal, pay a visit to On Paper (737 North High Street), which sells paper goods, stationery, and beautiful leather journals alongside jewelry, candles, and perfumes.
ARTS + CULTURE
From their permanent collection—which includes an impressive range of late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century American and European works, as well as pieces by local artists—to the traveling exhibitions they host, the Columbus Museum of Art (480 East Broad Street) is a feast for the eyes. If you’re in town for a long weekend, be sure to swing by Thursday evening when the museum stays open until 9.
In Short North near the Joseph Hotel, the Pizzuti Collection (632 North Park Street) showcases a range of contemporary artwork in their exhibits, which include an ongoing Sculpture Garden. Tours are free with admission and should be reserved 24 hours in advance.
Movie buffs will want to head to the Gateway Film Center (1550 North High Street) in the University District, which shows quirky indie movie screenings alongside more mainstream blockbusters.
Every second Friday of the month, 400 West Rich (400 West Rich Street), a warehouse that’s home to 101 local artists’ studios, opens to the public, letting the Columbus community peruse the latest works coming out of the hip artists’ haven.
Last but not least, on the first Saturday of every month, art galleries throughout the Short North Arts District are open late for Gallery Hop, allowing visitors to enjoy perusing the art after hours. Plenty of shops and restaurants are open throughout the evening as well, making it a perfect outing.
Obviously Ohio State football is a big deal in autumn. If you’re in need of game day gear, go to Homage (4032 Easton Station Road), a vintage-inspired clothing store with super-soft duds. Gateway (1566 North High Street) in the University District is an excellent pregame spot where you’ll find a variety of eateries and watering holes, including the health-conscious TRISM (1636 North High Street), which serves nutritious juices, smoothie bowls, and organic specialty cocktails.
Of course, there are plenty of autumn activities that don’t involve the gridiron. Twenty miles outside of Columbus in Pataskala is Lynd’s Fruit Farm (9393 Morse Road Southwest), the perfect place to celebrate fall with a cup of warm spiced cider and apple and pumpkin picking. And to see Ohio’s beautiful crimson foliage, Fredelake recommends heading an hour outside of town to Hocking Hills State Park (19852 Ohio 664) for a day of hiking or to rent a cabin for the weekend.