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Perched on the western bank of the river and across from downtown, the hulking COSI building is jam-packed with thrilling explorations of the world of science. Entertaining movies, hands-on workshops and interactive exhibits all aim to encourage the young (and young at heart) to discover new and exciting things about the natural world around them. Family-themed events and overnight adventures are scheduled throughout the year.
Sprawled across a big city block in the center of Downtown Columbus, the Ohio Statehouse is a shining beacon of history and culture. In this opulent building, it is as if the state's bygone glory exists, lingering over hallowed halls, past antique paintings and well-furnished rooms. A jewel of the Capitol Square, this statehouse bears stunning semblances of Greek Revival style, its columnar facade giving way to opulent interiors, including an impressive rotunda. Said to be one of the oldest functioning state houses in the country, the Ohio Statehouse is particularly known for sheltering a treasure trove of artworks including paintings and sculptures depicting the glory of those who have, in one way or another, helped shape the course of the state. The focal point of the state's legislative stride, the Ohio Statehouse is a stunning reminder of the state's political nuances and its long-standing social and cultural history. Doubling as a museum, the statehouse also harbors exhibits, artifacts specially-tailored tours, giving visitors stunning insights into the heritage it carries in its fabric.
The Columbus Museum of Art is a great place to get acquainted with the works of artists such as Renoir and Picasso. If intricate observations on Cubism, Picasso and the like go right over your head, helpful docents come to the rescue. Sit back and enjoy a cup of piping hot tea at the museum cafe, while surrounded by paintings by some of the world's greatest artists. Public tours are held regularly. Become a member and avail yourself of free admission and parking.
The King Arts Complex is the anchor of a small African American community east of downtown Columbus. Here, performing arts troupes from a wide variety of disciplines come to entertain the people. Over the course of the year, a varied program of music, dance, theater, discussion, workshops, luncheons, art openings and more keep the place humming. Special attention is paid to African roots, religion and jazz. See website for full calendar.
Known as the second oldest park in the city, Schiller Park is tucked away in the German Village area of Columbus. A sprawling 23 acres, the park features lush foliage, picnic and gazebo area, playground, fishing pond, basketball and tennis courts, baseball diamond, walking trails and recreation center. The park was temporarily renamed during World War II, when anti-German sentiment was widely popular in the United States.
Named for its benefactor, Victoria's Secret magnate Les Wexner, the Wexner Center for the Arts is a self-contained monument to everything artistic. It houses a venue for every type of art imaginable, and the place itself is a work of art in terms of architecture, landscaping and interior design. There are world-class facilities for film and video screenings, gallery exhibitions, concerts and all manner of performing art. Look for a varied schedule of programming, including performances by renowned musicians like She & Him and Robert Forster, as well as retrospective exhibitions like Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms, and even screenings of cinematic masterpieces such as Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds.
Maintained by the Ohio Historical Society, the Ohio History Center aims to celebrate the history of the city. From archaeology and natural history to political and cultural artifacts, this museum has it all. So, if you're in the mood to go back into the past of the city, this is the right place to be. The center also houses a resourceful library, Ohio Village and a number of event venues.
The Franklin Park Conservatory is an institution. Serving Columbus residents and visitors since 1895, it has always been home to a premiere collection of exotic flora. The place has changed with the times, however, opening facilities for other educational and entertainment-oriented events. Today, it's famous not only for its plants, but also for its James Turrell light installation and its Dale Chihuly glass exhibition. Throughout the year, the conservatory hosts an ongoing series of special events, some aimed at the science-minded set, others more like an unabashed party.
The idea for the Park of Roses was conceived in 1951 when members of two different rose clubs teamed up to share their love for roses with the rest of Ohio. The Park opened in June 1953 and continues to host the Columbus Rose Festival every June. There are 12,000 rose bushes in the park of 400 varieties, as well as other specialized gardens such as the herb garden, perennial garden, and daffodil garden, which houses more than 1,000 varieties of daffodils! Admission to the park is free, and it is open every day sunrise to sunset.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is that rare zoological institution whose most famous face is that of a human. Jungle Jack Hanna has ferried many a wild beast up to the most hallowed stages in late-night television. That said, the Columbus Zoo is where he's most at home, surrounded by lions, bison, tigers, elephants, eagles, bears, rhinos, prairie dogs, bobcats, sharks, bonobos, pythons, clownfish, koalas, cougars, frogs, pronghorn, timber wolves, manatees, wolverines and more. Hanna's celebrity makes for ample funding, so the animals' habitats and other zoo exhibits are finely crafted and a wonder to behold.