Destination Discovery: Columbus, Ohio
Full disclosure here: I currently live in Columbus, Ohio, which means I’m a bit biased when it comes to, what I believe, is a pretty fantastic destination. And while many may only know Columbus for its national championship college football team, this capital city sports Midwest charm and impresses with surprisingly winning sophistication, gastronomy, and wellness. (Some might also be surprised that it’s the 15th largest city in the U.S., as estimated by the United States Census Bureau.) Here are some hotspots to hit up if you’re here.
Where to Stay
Situated on High Street amidst the city’s Short North Arts District, Le Méridien Columbus, The Joseph, added a chic touch to the area’s hospitality offerings when it made its January 2015 debut. The locally sourced, Midwest-inspired artisan fare at The Guild House restaurant is excellent (the establishment is one of the latest additions to restaurateur Cameron Mitchell’s collection), and the 135-room hotel’s “Spa Suites,” outfitted with custom stone and marble design elements, rain showers, steam rooms, and adjacent relaxation lounges, will roll out this summer. The consistent art theme, centered around the property’s partnership with the Pizzuti Collection, pays tribute to the hotel’s artsy locale.
Where to Snack
Epicureans will be easily satisfied at downtown’s North Market. On the lower level, browse rows of 30-some food stations, stopping to speak with the independent local merchants and farmers selling their product—fresh breads, organic produce, sustainably raised seafood, and prepared cuisines of every kind (Italian, Vietnamese, Polish, Indian, etc.)—then grab a bite and head to the oversized dining area occupying the second floor. Open daily, the market attracts one million visitors annually.
As well, the Ohio-born-and-bred Michael Symon (better known from Iron Chef fame and as The Chew co-host) has a restaurant in Gahanna (another Columbus suburb) named B Spot Burgers. Industrial-style casualness is the ambience (beer cans decorate one wall) and burgers like the Thin Lizzy, adorned with griddled onion, mayonnaise, dill pickle, and cheddar cheese, are signature staples.
Where to Spa
The Woodhouse Day Spa brand has found an address in Dublin’s historic district (the suburb of Columbus known for, among other attractions, events such as the annual Jack Nicklaus Memorial Golf Tournament). Classic elegance dominates this two-story, 22-room spa by way of stately mahogany doors, dark wood tones, and warm, neutral hues—and a robust menu of services comprises skin-care treatments, sleep rituals, nailcare, and the signature four-handed massage (the Thai Table Massage and the Woodhouse Customized Massage will launch soon).
Where to Sweat
Branded gyms like LA Fitness can be found in this Midwestern capital city, but if exercising in nature is more your thing, embrace the beauty of the Scioto Mile: Made up of over 145 acres of parkland, it provides an integrated system of pathways, boulevards, and parks for runners/walkers/cyclists—and you’ll see some amazing views, from the riverfront to an Audubon.
What to See
German Village neighborhood, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a popular city attraction for its picturesque cobblestone streets and brick residences. It’s also home to Schiller Park, where free, live Shakespearean plays are acted out each summer, and a 32-room, old-fashioned bookstore titled The Book Loft. Family friendly venues include COSI Columbus science center and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, which boasts 9,000-plus animals and the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water park.