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.
The Franklin Park Conservatory is an institution serving Columbus residents and visitors since 1895. It has always been home to a wide range 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.
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 here throughout the year.
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.
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 serves as a host to numerous event venues.
From the early 18th Century, German immigrants have called this section of Columbus their home. Their profound history and contribution gave birth to one of the city's most popular neighborhoods, aptly named the German Village. From participating in the American Civil War to enduring atrocities during World War I, the then residents of German Village saw it all, and the streets of their neighborhood narrate tales of their heroic past. Archaic buildings, historic churches, old parks and revered theaters, the streets of the German village are lined with many stories making it a must-visit for culture and history aficionados.
The Arena District is a popular and bustling hub of entertainment and city living in Columbus. There are numerous venues for live music, sports and other entertainment plus restaurants, bars and hotels, making this a true one-stop destination for a great weekend. Events here range from international superstars to that of indie rock bands, ensuring that the Arena District has something to offer to everyone.
The Riffe Gallery, run by the Ohio Arts Council, differs from its neighboring galleries in that it focuses on folk art and craft exhibitions. The gallery also shows mixed media and contemporary paintings but mainly reserves its space for Ohio's artists and the collections of the state's museums and galleries. Be sure to check out the many children's activities offered here.
Located inside the Ohio State University, the OSU Urban Arts Space is a haven for art lovers. The place provides a platform to the alumni of the university as well as the students to showcase their creations here. The exhibitions, workshops, creative projects and various other diverse artistic events give visitors a broader perspective of the current art scene. This space is best explored with the guided tours offered here where one can gain maximum knowledge on the various dynamics of art.
Columbus Commons is a 7-acre park in downtown Columbus. The park was build where the Columbus City Center mall once stood. Today, this green open space offers plenty of recreational opportunities from strolling through landscaped gardens, reading in the outdoors, watching a concert or riding a handcrafted carousel. The Columbus Bicentennial Pavilion is found here, and every summer there are shows and performances that welcome a crowd of locals to enjoy the music and warm weather in the open. For refreshment, visitors can head to one of two cafes and enjoy a slice of pizza at Mike's or a refreshing cone of ice cream at Jeni's.
Scioto Mile Park is an urban paradise located in the heart of downtown Columbus. Beautiful fountains provide a relaxing atmosphere and seating throughout the park allows visitors to stop and rest for a little while. The view of the city is uniquely beautiful and the atmosphere is perfect for a romantic stroll or a family picnic.