7 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Columbus
The Ohio state capital, Columbus, situated almost exactly in the geographical center of the state, was founded in 1812 and named after Christopher Columbus. Features of interest are the State Capitol, in the grounds of which is a monument commemorating the murdered President William McKinley (1843-1901), and the Ohio Historical Center, with two "history malls" illustrating the archaeology and history of the state with the most modern methods of presentation. The German Village, south of downtown Columbus, is a refurbished old quarter of the town well equipped with shops and restaurants.
See also: Where to Stay in Columbus
1 Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden
The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus offers an incredible horticultural display with 88 acres of indoor and outdoor gardens. The seasonal exhibits provide an ever changing experience for visitors who will find a wonderful selection of plants, particularly stunning in summer. The park has an active event calendar that features whatever is currently blooming. Of particular note are the orchids in the January through March timeframe.
Address: 1777 East Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43203-2040, United States
2 Ohio Statehouse
The Ohio Statehouse in Columbus is a Greek Revival style building. It is open to the public for guided or self guided tours, along with Capitol Square and the Senate building and atrium. Visitors are welcome to wander around the statehouse at their leisure and audio tour wands are available for free. The building underwent much needed, extensive renovations in the 1990s which returned it to its former glory. The ground floor offers educational displays, along with a cafe and gift shop.
Address: 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215-4210, United States
3 Center of Science and Industry (COSI)
The COSI, as it is usually referred to, is the Ohio Center of Science and Industry. The Center contains 116,000 square feet of exhibit space, with additional space for the Ohio State University Labs in Life and a working television station. Visitors will find more than just the exhibits fascinating, the building itself is a sight to see and very leading considering the facility was built in 1991. It was designed by architect Arata Isozaki.
Address: 333 West Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43215, United States
4 Kelton House Museum and Garden
The Kelton House Museum and Garden in Columbus allows a glimpse into life in the last half of the 18th Century. This two story Victorian townhouse has been restored and displays period furnishings and decorative arts. Most of the collection in the Kelton House Museum came from the family of Sophia and Fernando Cortez Kelton. The Kelton House Garden is also maintained in a Victorian style and based on the original design by Grace Kelton. In spring and summer the gardens come to life with a vast array of colors.
Address: 586 East Town Street, Columbus, OH 43215-4802, United States
5 Topiary Park
The Topiary Park is where art and nature truly collide. Located at the Old Deaf School Park in Columbus this is one of the most unique topiary gardens. The garden is based on the painting by Georges Seurat, entitled "A Sunday On The Island Of La Grande Jatte" which depicts people lounging by the River Seine. Artist James T. Mason recreated this scene in the early 1990s through sculpted shrubs, which involved 54 topiary people, numerous boats, dogs, a cat, and a monkey, along with a real pond built to represent the river.
The Topiary Garden is definitely worth seeing while in Columbus.
Address: 480 East Town Street, Columbus, OH 43215, United States
6 Santa Maria
The Santa Maria in Columbus is a replica of Christopher Columbus' historic ship, the Santa Maria. Tours of the ship attempt to recreate life on the boat, showing everything from the type of equipment that would have been used during that time period to the types of social activities the explorers would have engaged in as a 15th century sailor. Displays also explore the historical implications and changes that came with the expeditions on the Santa Maria and the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the new world.
Address: 90 West Broad Street, 1st Floor, Columbus, OH 43215-9019, United States
7 Prehistoric Indian Mounds
Ohio is home to a great number of prehistoric Indian Mounds. Some of the most interesting of these can be seen on a round trip from Columbus, starting on U.S. 23 and heading south. Among them are the 23 mounds (200 BC-AD 500) of the Mound City Group National Monument at Chillicothe; the single large mound (250 ft long, 30 ft high) in the Seip National Monument (17 mi. west of Chillicothe); the Serpent Mound State Memorial on SR 73 (total distance 90 mi.), a quarter-mile long mound in the form of a snake (800 BC to AD100), the largest of its kind; and the Fort Ancient State Memorial at Lebanon (total distance 138 mi.), a cult site constructed about 500 ad by Indians of the Hopewell Culture.
Where to Stay in Columbus for Sightseeing
The best place to stay in Columbus is right downtown, where many of the city's main attractions are located, as well as restaurants and shopping. The city center has a lively entertainment scene centered on the Short North and High Street area. Below are some highly-rated hotels in convenient locations:
- Luxury Hotels: Le Meridien Columbus, The Joseph is a new hotel, centrally located to the bustling and lively High Street and the Short North Arts District. Nearby, the Hilton Columbus Downtown, with an indoor pool, is adjacent to the convention center and connected via a skyway. On the Ohio State University campus, just a little bit out from the city center, The Blackwell is a well-appointed luxury hotel, with a free shuttle to trendy High Street in downtown.
- Mid-Range Hotels: The Drury Inn is conveniently located next to the convention center, a short walk to the Arena District for sporting events. The Hampton Inn is just steps from the galleries and restaurants in the Short North District. Another option, just a short drive from downtown and on the grounds of Ohio State University, is the Hyatt Place, adjacent to the Buckeye Hall of Fame Grill. All of these properties have good service and indoor pools.
- Budget Hotels: The recently remodeled and upgraded Red Roof PLUS+ has a central downtown location, across the street from the Convention Center. The Comfort Inn is another budget option in the city center, with in-room microwaves and fridges. About a 15-minute drive from downtown is the newly renovated La Quinta Inn & Suites Columbus West - Hilliard, with comfortable rooms and an indoor pool.