Columbus, Ohio, is a city that completely surprised us. We had never really considered visiting this Midwestern gem, but I am always up for checking out a new destination. So, when Travel Mindset and Experience Columbus reached out to us about visiting for a video project, we happily packed our bags and arrived in Columbus ready to explore.
What did we find when we arrived? Throughout our four days in the city, we found fantastic restaurants and breweries, cozy coffee shops, adorable local boutiques, an abundance of nature and so much more. We left with a long list of spots that we want to visit when we return to the city. Because there will most definitely be a return visit to this underrated city someday.
We packed so much into our four day visit. I’m not going to detail everything we did throughout the trip here because this post would have to quadruple in size for that to happen. But, you can bet there will be lots of details on each and every stop we made in our upcoming Ale Trail, Coffee Trail, Made in CBUS Trail and Hocking Hills State Park posts.
Here’s a peek into some of our favorite photos and sights from the trip—get ready for a long one!
After quickly dropping our luggage off at our hotel, our first stop of the trip was a walk by the Scioto River for views of the skyline. It was a gorgeous day and the walk by the river was a relaxing way to soak up the views of the city.
We absolutely loved staying at Hotel LeVeque, which is located right in the middle of downtown Columbus. The location was perfect, and we were less than a mile or two from many of the city’s main attractions. It was perfect for either walking or hopping on the free downtown bus line.
One of our favorite adventures, or I should say three of our favorite adventures, were the trail booklets for the Coffee Trail, the Ale Trail and the Made in CBUS Trail. The booklets were essentially a group of participating businesses that create a trail of stops throughout the city. They are meant to encourage both locals and visitors alike to get out and explore new spots around Columbus. If you visit a certain amount from each book, there are prizes to be had, and you are sure to have some great experiences along the way.
For dinner on our first night in Columbus, we walked to the Short North neighborhood and ate at The Eagle Food & Beer Hall. We had to try the fried chicken and for sides we ordered mac & cheese, cornbread and biscuits. It was basically a carb feast, but it was oh so delicious. The mac & cheese and biscuits with jam really stole the show, but the entire meal was wonderful.
We kept hearing about the famous Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, and because it was on our way back to the hotel, stopping for dessert was a must. There were so many unique flavors to pick from, and after a few samples, I decided on pistachio & honey and Micah picked chocolate. I know, not the most adventurous flavors, but they were tasty and each bowl comes with a waffle cone wedge!
After an evening full of too much food, the next morning we decided to go somewhere for a light and fresh breakfast. Alchemy Juice Bar + Café was the right choice. Micah ordered a piece of PB&J toast and I had the Blueberry Almond Butter acai bowl. Both were great choices to get our day off to a good start.
From there, we made our way over to German Village to browse through some shops. German Village is a historic neighborhood, and you will find pretty streets lined with brick buildings and lots of preserved historic charm.
One of my favorite stops in this neighborhood was The Book Loft of German Village. The Book Loft is one of the largest independent bookstores in the country. There are 32 rooms, and you can find almost any book inside from a wide range of genres. I love book stores and Micah could barely pull me away—I had to seriously resist the urge to walk out with an armful of books.
Our next stop of the day was North Market—we hopped on the free bus and rode a couple of miles down the road to the city’s public market. The North Market was established in the late 1800’s, and today it is filled with over 30 merchants selling items like flowers, produce, meats, baked goods, coffee and an abundance of freshly prepared foods. We decided to eat lunch at the market and honestly had a hard time deciding where to stop. There were so many good choices.
In the end, we decided to duck into Hot Chicken Takeover on the top floor of the market for some of their famous hot chicken. I went straight for the “hot” chicken sandwich and Micah stuck with the “warm” chicken breast and we split a side of mac and cheese. Yes, I know we just had fried chicken and mac & cheese the night before, but sometimes you just have to go big or go home. And, when they say hot, they mean hot! It was sure a spicy lunch and our mouths were on fire, but it was delicious. Thankfully, the free sweet tea available really helped cut through the spice!
After another filling meal, we took a long walk through Goodale Park, and on our way back to the Short North for some shopping we found some interesting art in the courtyard of a museum. We had to take a minute to admire some of the beautiful pieces before continuing on our way.
Then it was time to do some browsing in the Made in CBUS shops, as well as a few others on High Street. The adorable map display in the On Paper store drew me in as did the jewelry at Red Giraffe Designs. Once again, I wanted to buy almost everything in both stores!
Our next stop was one we were super excited for. Both Micah and I love candles, so we just had to visit The Candle Lab. The Candle Lab is a shop where you can create your own candle—you pick the scents and jar and then make your very own candle. We both made woodsy tree scented candles and it’s so fun to burn them at home now!
It was a busy day so far, so we decided to head to One Line Coffee for a break as we waited for our candles to dry. We ordered our coffees and I read a bit from one of the books that I purchased from The Book Loft earlier that morning—you know I can’t resist buying at least a couple of books!
The rest of our evening was spent visiting breweries. One of our favorites from the trip was Wolf’s Ridge Brewing. In addition to great beer, there is also a restaurant on site. Everyone told us how amazing the food was at Wolf’s Ridge, but not surprisingly we weren’t very hungry when we visited. We did decide to order a plate of chicken wings (more chicken, ahh!) and fries to share, and they were absolutely delicious.
I am starting to feel like all we did on this trip was eat. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case; although, we did start out the next morning with breakfast at Skillet, another restaurant that came with multiple recommendations. The menu changes daily as the ingredients are local and seasonal. We split the griddled cinnamon roll and the biscuits and gravy for a bit of a sweet and salty mix—both were fantastic.
Our next stop was one that would send us on a little adventure outside of the city. We ventured out to Hocking Hills State Park, about an hour from Columbus, for a day filled with hiking. The state park is absolutely gorgeous and as we walked the trails we couldn’t put our cameras down. The trails take you through caves, by waterfalls and along the canyon walls and river. It’s a beautiful spot and it was a wonderful way to spend a few hours moving our bodies and soaking up nature.
By the time we made it back into Columbus, it was late afternoon. We decided to combine lunch and dinner and went to a local institution, Thurman Café, for burgers. This spot has been featured on TV Shows like “Man vs. Food”, and its giant ¾ lb. burgers live up to the hype. Sadly, we couldn’t even come close to finishing our food, but it was delicious nonetheless.
That evening we hung out with a friend that lives in Columbus. We first met when we were all living in Florida, so it was fun to cross paths and catch up again! Land Grant Brewing was our first stop and then we made our way over to Lineage Brewing to wind down the night. Both were great choices!
The next morning was our last day in the city, so we wandered around downtown and made our way past the World’s Largest Gavel because I guess I can never pass up a silly roadside attraction!
Our coffee shop stop that morning was at Hemingway’s Coffee Nook. It’s located in the bottom floor of a downtown office building, but it feels worlds away. The shop is designed with a Paris theme and it was so cozy—I could have sat there for hours.
For lunch, we met up with Joe from Experience Columbus to chat about our visit. We went to The Northstar Café in the Short North neighborhood—Micah had a burger with sweet potato fries and I ordered the raved about veggie burger. It was a super delicious meal—I can see why people go gaga over the veggie burger and I couldn’t stop sneaking Micah’s sweet potato fries!
We had a few more hours before we had to leave for the airport, so we made our way over to STUMP for a look around. STUMP is a plant shop with the goal to “educate our customers to ensure that they have a successful experience owning and caring for their plants.” I absolutely loved this mindset because I have a hard time keeping my plants alive. I guess I just need to buy them from a shop that will educate me and help me pick the right plant for our lifestyle! Once again, this was another shop where I would have loved to buy everything. If only I could fit a bunch of live plants in my carry-on suitcase….
Our last stop was one more coffee shop, Fox in the Snow. We heard the baked goods here were to die for, so we split a cream filled donut for a late afternoon snack. It definitely lived up to the hype and the atmosphere inside the shop was amazing, too. What a great way to end the trip.
We had a blast exploring Columbus and can’t wait to return again someday. As you can see, we fit quite a bit in four days, and I didn’t even cover everything in this post. Stay tuned for more goodness from this unexpectedly cool city coming your way soon!
Have you ever been to Columbus? What are you favorite things to do there?
We visited Columbus as part of a video project campaign. Special thanks to Travel Mindset and Experience Columbus for hosting us on our adventures through the city. As always, all opinions are our own.