"ColumbusGuy's new Columbus Page" Columbus by ColumbusGuy
Columbus Travel Guide: 498 reviews and 835 photos
With the exception of various extended trips abroad, I've lived in Columbus my entire life- 33 years- so, I'm somewhat of an expert on the town. I've watched it grow from a soul-sucking, dull, "wanna-be" town to a comfortable and interesting place to live- if you know which rocks to look under.
I live and work in an environment in which I encounter many, frequently bored, visitors to Columbus. Upon investigation, I find that this boredom stems from the fact that they've have been steered toward the vast "edge city" portion of Columbus that looks pretty much like every other strip-mall cursed asphalt hell blighting this nation of ours.
Unlike in other cities, where much of "good stuff" can be found in a few well trodden locales, in Columbus, most of the delights are spread across the city in otherwise average looking neigborhoods.
A vistor to Columbus typically needs a local guide to know where to stop the car.
Reading many of the reviews on this great website, I find that some visitors to Columbus have recommended the type of stuff that could be found in other places. Why would anyone get excited about another Starbucks, another cookie cutter shopping mall (we have a lot of them) or another national chain multiplex cinema? If it is shopping malls you are looking for, any of the dozen or so major ones that Columbus has to offer will appear to you pretty much like those in other major cities- and you will be happy. Our multi-plex cinemas (usually AMC) show the same Hollywood fare that other multi-plex cinemas across the country do. Our Cookers, Fudruckers, Macaroni Grills, PF Changs, Buca-Di-Beppos, Chipotles etc,. offer tastes that are pretty much the same as their counterparts in other towns.
So, unless there is something particularly noteworthy about a specific chain restaurant, store, or mall, I will not be mentioning it. Instead, I will focus on those things that have made Columbus a great place to live (and perhaps even visit) this past decade- a period in which this city has both grown up and out and in which it has both thrown away its past, through bland development, and rediscovered it, in the older parts of town.
Columbus: An average, affordable, city.
Perhaps the best thing about Columbus is the fact that it is both large enough to provide a constant source of diversion, amenities and culture, while at the same time being small and backwater enough to be affordable. A 2500 square foot house in a comfortable tree-lined street that would cost $350,000 in Huston, $400,000 in Seattle and $600,000 or more in San Fransisco runs around $200,000 in Columbus. Similarly, high caliber restaurants that would cost $50 per person in New York or D.C. run about $30 per person here. For those of more modest income, such as myself, getting by is not nearly as difficult as it would be in other major metropolises. Having spent a great deal of time in Chicago, I can say that I'd rather live in Columbus, a 15 minute drive from my workplace, on $30,000 per anum, than in a bedroom community of that city, a 50 minute drive from my workplace, on $50,000. Hate to commute? Despite all the grumblings about the omnipresent orange barrels (the unofficial bird of the city), getting around in Columbus is relatively easy compared to larger towns. From one side of town to the other, even in the worst of traffic, no place is more than 45 minutes from any other- and most worthwhile places, if you're centrally located, are less than 15.
Culturally, Columbus has much to offer anyone. From the profoundly low brow (tractor pulls, the Ohio State Fair) to the highbrow (the Wexner Center for the Arts, the King Arts Complex, Thurber House) the savvy Columbus Resident is never at a loss for things to do. I like to compare Columbus to New York. Certainly there's more to do in New York. Every week in NYC, there's a few dozen of gallery openings, a few dozen plays, a dozen major Broadway shows, a few hundred concerts, innumerable foreign films, lectures, sporting events etc,. However, how many of these things can one person reasonably expect to do in a week? A couple? In Columbus, there's a couple of interesting new gallery openings, two or three symphony concerts, one opera, a couple of new plays, a few dozen concerts, some lectures, a couple of foreign films, and a whole slew of sporting events. Columbus gets stuff like high caliber performing artists and art exhibitions, just as NYC does. It just doesn't get as many. However, in Columbus, access to such things is easier, and, frequently, more affordable. When Brazillian Diva Virgina Rodriguez showed up in town, not only was it fairly easy to get tickets, but we were able to meet, and have dinner with the artist. Such access would be unimaginiable to me in more crowded metropolises. When soon-to-be-famous musicians Beck, Nirvanna, PJ Harvey and others like them come through town, they usually play a small hole in the wall where you can practically touch the performers. Try getting in to CBGBs in New York to see an up-n-coming act without either knowing someone who knows someone… or waiting in line interminably.
Over the past 15 years, thanks to the efforts of local chefs like Cameron Mitchell, food in Columbus has become world class. I have eaten in dozens of cities across the country and I have yet to find a Thai restaurant that is as good as "Thai Orchid" a steak-house that is as good as "Mitchells", American Eclectic better than "Cameron's", Japanese better than "Restaurant Japan", Dim Sum better than that at "Asian Cuisine", cozy Indian home cooking better than "Taj Palace", pizza better than "Adriaticos" or "Pizza Plus"… and, believe me, I've looked.
Columbus is certainly not a beautiful city. So much of downtown and the massive outskirts is nothing more than a parking lot. It is flat and lacks a coast or well developed waterfront. Nonetheless, if you know where to look, there is nature to be had. Bicyclists will relish the flat roads to the north and west of town, while enjoying the option of fairly scenic hills to the south and east. While a city like Denver has mountains, Columbus has the occasional wildflower meadow. Where Miami has a beach, Columbus has a grassy hillside.
Several years ago the Columbus Chamber of Commerce maganaged to arrange a prize on "Wheel of Fortune"- a trip to our city, and a stay at one of our Luxury Hotels. The recipient of dubious package opted not to take advantage of it, probably with good reason. Columbus is not likely to inspire great travel memories. But, if you're stuck here, it's not the hell on Earth that some would have you believe.
10... Off The Beaten Path (1)
Perkins Observatory 10 miles north of I-270 on route 23 is the former home of the third largest telescope in the... more travel advice
The cheapest and most crowded of the Cameron Mitchell restaurants, Cap City diner brings Mitchell's modern eclectic... more travel advice
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