About This Place
Named for the legendary European explorer who discovered the New World, Columbus, Ohio, began as a shipping port at the confluence of the Scioto and Olentangy Rivers. In 1816, members of the state legislature chose the community as the capital, impressed by its central location in Buckeye Country and its promise as a Midwestern commercial hub.
Today, Columbus has become the largest city in Ohio—and the 15th largest in the U.S.—with a burgeoning, tech-driven economy, a revitalized downtown and an internationally renowned art scene. Visitors stroll past grand 19th-century buildings and discover the colorful neighborhoods adjoining downtown: the brick-paved German Village, the Brewery District, art-inspired Short North and the mixed-use Arena District.
The Scioto River flows northwards, curving through Columbus, the state’s political powerhouse. East of the river on Capital Square, the historic Ohio Statehouse anchors downtown with a soaring rotunda. Built by hard-labor prisoners and completed in 1861, the pillared Greek Revival masterpiece houses the Ohio General Assembly and Governor’s office. Daily free tours start at the visitor center, using its carved-marble map of Ohio for orientation.
The prestigious Columbus Museum of Art lies four blocks east of Capital Square and features a permanent collection from artists such as Degas, Matisse, Monet, O’Keeffe and Picasso. Art aficionados unwind in the outdoor Russell Page Sculpture Garden or peruse the Ross Photography Center.
Two of the hippest neighborhoods in Columbus sit north of downtown. In the Arena District, trendy restaurants, boutiques and hotels fill brick buildings and industrial warehouses near professional hockey’s 20,000-seat Nationwide Arena. Shoppers peruse the open-air North Market for seasonal produce. Just a mile north from the Arena District sprawl the art galleries, bars and coffee shops of Short North.
For a historical trip through Columbus, head north from the Arena District and Short North to Ohio State University, founded in 1870. East of campus, at the Ohio Historical Center and Ohio Village, history buffs can explore the state’s archaeology and cultural evolution from prehistoric days to the present. The 25,000-square-foot museum displays more than one million items, with exhibits featuring ancient Native American art. At the Ohio Village, museum goers imagine life during the Civil War era at a re-created 19th-century Ohio town.
South of downtown, locals bustle through German Village, a beautifully preserved neighborhood in Columbus lined with bakeries, sausage shops and restored 19th-century homes, from grand Queen Anne Victorians to red brick cottages. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 233-acre neighborhood surrounds Schiller Park, the site of a summer Shakespeare festival and Huntington Gardens Promenade. Tourists pour into the German Village in the fall for its popular Oktoberfest. To the west, beer pubs and restaurants fill the historic Brewery District.
A trip to Columbus would not be complete without a tour of the Santa Maria—a museum replica of Christopher Columbus’ legendary flagship that sailed in 1492. While docked on the Scioto River, guests can envision life more than 500 years ago, when Columbus sailed for the Indies and discovered America.