1. The Wexner Will Blow Your Mind
On the campus of The Ohio State University, the Wexner Center for the Arts is the city’s go-to location for contemporary art. Film, concerts, dance, theater, and exhibitions—this place has it all. It’s one of the cultural hubs of the Central Ohio region, and for good reason.
2. Columbus Is Smarter Than You
Earlier this year, The Intelligent Communities Forum named C-bus as one of the seven most intelligent cities in the world. Let me repeat this: in the world.
3. Columbus Is a Major City
I’ve been all over the country and everyone always forgets that Columbus is a big city. Don’t believe me? It’s the fifteenth largest city in the country, right behind San Francisco. According to the Census, Columbus has 809,798 people living within its borders. The City by the Bay has 825,863 people. Think about that for a second.
4. North Market Has All the Food You Want
Have you ever been to a shopping mall mixed with a supermarket? If you’re from Columbus you have. The North Market is on every city tour guide because it’s awesome. Walking in you’ll be bombarded with the smells that will melt your brain. The downside is that parking can be troublesome.
5. Do Not Drive Anywhere Before a Home Football Game
More than 90 percent of the people in Columbus are football fans. Think of it this way: They will cut you for talking trashing about the Buckeyes. If you happen to go out immediately before or after a home football game, good luck getting back. The roads simply shut down.
6. The Highway Is a Ghost Town During a Home Football Game
If you happen to be one the dozen people in the city who don’t like football, wait until a home game starts and take a tour of the city. It will be completely empty and devoid of any human life. It’s an eerie feeling.
7. If Elizabeth Lessner Opens a Restaurant, You Better Eat There
Columbusite Elizabeth Lessner is the brain behind Surly Girl Saloon, a cowgirl-themed bar in Columbus’ Short North district. You read that correctly: A bar with a cowgirl theme. If that’s too much for you—and I guarantee it’s not—try Betty’s Fine Food & Spirits or Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails.
8. Columbus Is a Test Market for Everything
Columbus is like a fast food test market Mecca. Companies test all their crazy ideas on Columbus to see how the rest of the country might like it. Sometimes it’s rad; sometimes it’s disgusting.
9. Columbus Has Two Pro Sports Teams
Columbus is a football town, there’s no denying it. But that doesn’t mean the city doesn’t like other sports. Columbus has two professional sports teams: the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Crew. Of course, most folks in the city count OSU’s football team as professional, too.
10. The Annual Doo Dah Parade
If you like nonsensical fun and a gaggle of marching Fidel Castros, this is your type of parade. Sure, it might not be as famous as Pasadena’s Do Dah Parade, but it’s still amazing. Remember, participants can bribe the judges.
11. Oh, You Like Movies?
A Clintonville landmark, Studio 35 is a boozy little movie theater that is proud not to host an AMC experience. It also doesn’t hurt that this joint has beer brought in by Barley’s Brewing Company.
12. German Village
This tiny neighborhood is one of the premier historic districts in the country. It’s a gorgeous area with a lot of friendly folks. I used to think it was expensive, but then I moved to San Francisco. Now I think it’s cheap.
13. CD 102.5 The Alternative Station
Tired of vanilla radio stations? Turn up your car stereo and tell Clear Channel to screw off. CD 102.5 (formerly CD101) has fought the good fight against mediocre music with lively programming. Also name one dude who doesn’t have a crush on spin jockey Lesley James. I dare you.
14. Columbus Is Home to this Bridge
Franklin County built this ridiculous bridge over the relatively small Olentangy River. I have no idea why the county needed this behemoth structure to cross a stream, but it’s a badass bridge.
15. Thurman Burger
This is a Thurman Burger. After eating it your stomach will alternately love you and hate you. That is the price you pay for greatness. The massive Columbus burger comes with what is essentially a ham sandwich on top. If looks familiar because the glutton from “Man vs. Food” swung by The Thurman Cafe to give it a nibble.
16. Home of Origins
Sure, Columbus doesn’t host E3 or Comic-Con, but the city is home to Origins, a massive gaming and popular cultural convention. Why fight through hordes of looky loos at larger conventions when you can see concentrated fandom here?
17. Tow Trucks Are Like Vultures
It’s a sad fact that if you lived on Ohio State’s campus you grew to hate tow trucks. These asshats drive around every weekend night looking for a quick $200. I’ve lived in a lot of places, but Columbus has been the worst when it comes to these clowns.
18. Columbus’ Library Is Awesome
Seriously, there is a reason Columbus is smart. Let’s consider the city’s library system. It received a five out of five rating by the Library Journal—for five years in a row. It also has a National Medal for Museum and LIbrary Service.
This is a Schmidt’s cream puff. It’s about half the size of your head. It tastes like heaven. Stop drooling on your keyboard.
20. Goody Boy
Nestled in the Short North district, this tiny restaurants serves delicious and dirt-cheap diner food. It’s changed a lot in the last couple of years. At one point it was a crapshoot whether it would be open. Now its claim to fame is a ginormous patio.
21. Hounddog’s Pizza
Hounddog’s has the best pizza in Columbus. Ignore the surly waiters and waitresses. Make sure to get garlic butter crust, otherwise you’re killing a kitten.
22. Other Cities Do Not Know How to Tailgate
Tailgating is a profession in Ohio. A good tailgate will include—but is not limited to—large amounts of charred meat, beer, mixers, a random person who you invited, beanbag toss (cornhole), and redneck horse shoes. Typically, there will be so many tailgates, you won’t know where to go first.
23. Catfish Biff’s
This is not the best pizza in Columbus. I know that this is a weird thing to say, but it needs to be mentioned just in case someone decides to swing by this place. Catfish, which is situated across the street from OSU’s freshman dorms, is still standing because of the “freshman 30” all those bright-eyed students pack on throughout the school year. If you’re from Columbus, or spent any time on the Buckeye campus, you’ll know this place.
24. Columbus Park of Roses
The first of two parks on this list, the Columbus Park of Roses is a huge, huge, rose garden in Clintonville. If you live in the area, you already know about this gorgeous park. In fact, it probably shows up on Columbus tour guides. So this isn’t an insiders guide, but it is still awesome.
25. Glen Echo Ravine
While Glen Echo Park isn’t as well known as the Columbus Park of Roses, this little gem is a great place to take in some nature. It’s a ravine park near the Clintonville/University area. Bring your camera for bird watching.
26. Olentangy Trail
Sorry for the aside, but I get a kick out of calling this thing the “Old Tangy.” People of Columbus, you should do this more often. Anyway, the Olentangy Trail is almost 14 miles long and winds from Worthington Hills to downtown. Go ahead, ride your bike along it or go for a stroll with your sweetie.
27. Hidden Hiking Off of Olentangy Trail
If you’re into urban hiking, there is a hidden trail off the bike path near the section of the Olentangy Trail near Blake Avenue. I don’t condone going off the trail, but if you happen to get the urge, you’ll find some decent fishing locations. If you’re more adventurous, you might even find a part of the Gates of Hell, a heavily graffitied tunnel under North High Street.
28. Community Festival
No one actually calls it the Community Festival; it’s called ComFest. No one will judge you for making the mistake—at least not to your face. This annual event is when all the free spirits around Columbus come out of the woodwork. Don’t plan on getting any sleep.
29. Gay Friendly
Back in 2010, the New York Times called Columbus the gay Mecca of the Midwest. Also, in 2006, a study by the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute estimated that 6.7 percent of the city’s population was gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals.
30. High Ethnicity
Speaking of diversity, Columbus has a significant immigrant population—including the second-largest Somali population in the country. All this means that Columbus has one helluva ethnic food scene.
31. This City Is So Meta
Ohio’s capital is home to The Topiary Park, which is a landscape of a painting of a landscape. Do you feel like you were just Inceptioned?
32. Everyone’s Favorite Flavor Is Salty Caramel
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, pretty much the best ice cream in the city, is known for its salty caramel flavor.
33. Columbus Has More Spirit
The folks in this city are into their specialty distilleries. Here are some you should know: Middle West, Watershed, and Brothers Drake Meadery. Bottoms up!
Now that you know what’s up in Columbus, prepare to move to the best city in Ohio—and probably all of the Midwest.