Spend your staycation in the heart of the city.
If the Short North is becoming the spot for YoPros to get together to soak up each others’ pretty faces and sip expensive drinks, Downtown Columbus is for the real ones who aren’t ashamed to admit they like dark and dingy dive bars, and probably smoke cigarettes behind their mother’s back. Wait, just me?
If you read that and weren’t immediately appalled at the idea of eating food that isn’t exactly special and grabbing ordinary drinks at low key spots, Downtown can be your safe haven from everything near the campus bubble. Not to mention, it’s about time you get out of the confides and false realities of campus. Sure, Downtown offers all the establishments that have become iconic to the city—you can still grab tacos at Condado, and PiNS Mechincal’s duckpin bowling will still be slammed from Thursday to Sunday—but those places have been gassed up (rightfully so) and it’d be a disservice to not touch on the underknown spots that make Downtown that much better.
A day spent Downtown will have you feeling like a true Columbusite. As soon as you enter in the area, you feel encapsulated by the high rise buildings. And like the old geezers working their 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. jobs in those buildings, you can’t really start your day without a cup of joe. Find comfort in Columbus classics like Stauf’s Coffee Roasters in German Village or, if Wi-Fi is not of concern, Fox In The Snow recently set up shop in German Village as well. But, if you are looking to venture into a more urban feel, Two Dollar Radio Headquartersis where the cool kids go. Here you can find a new book, catch some tunes from a live DJ, grub on some vegan bites, and of course, get that morning caffeine rush to balance out that early morning wake and bake.
Grabbing a bite to eat Downtown is something like a dream. Looking to keep things on the cheap and find a classic summer staple? Dogs and cheese fries from Dirty Frank’s. Need to satisfy that sweet tooth? A carrot cake cupcake from Red Velvet Café can do the trick. Just want to hang in a spot with cool bartenders and gyros for you and your vegetarian friend? The Little Palace it is. But that isn’t to say you can’t sit down and treat yourself to a boujee meal. Lindey’s in German Village is quaint and intimate making it a perfect date spot—day or night.
I’m sure you didn’t come to Downtown to just eat, although spending a day devouring food at new spots does sound enticing. However, Downtown is bubbling with entertainment, friendly for both upper- and underclassmen. You won’t need a fake ID to spend an afternoon at the Franklin Park Conservatory channeling your inner Flower Boy (shout out to Tyler), but there’s only so much time you can spend at the park before you want to actually do something. That’s where the Scioto Mile comes into play. Keep things above water level by renting a bike from CoGo for the low price of $8 for the entire day and you’ll have free roam of exploring the city at your own speed. But if you are looking to get aquatic, renting a kayak or stand-up paddle board from Paddle in the City to float down the Scioto Mile is always a great way to forget you are living inside Wa busy city. 16-Bit Bar + Arcade is a safe bet for rainy nights or nerding down with your old buddies from high school, but you will absolutely need an ID to get in so don’t even waste your time with a fake because they are stingy.
But if you are 21, or own a fake ID that is good enough to fool the undercovers on High St., set aside some money for drankin’—not drinking. You’ve got your local breweries holding things down in Franklinton, Land-Grant Brewing and BrewDog as well as the dive bar Rehab Tavern that serves up local brews. Keeping things low key, Olde Towne Tavern is the perfect spot to grab some drinks during happy hour ($5 plate of vegetarian nachos, $1 pretzel sticks served with queso and honey mustard, and half off drafts) while you work on your buzz on the patio out back. Just down the road is the small set up at The Oracle which was recently opened by the minds behind Yellow Brick Tavern, which is conveniently in the area as well. But (for some unknown reason beyond my logic) some people don’t like beer, and Downtown has the connections for liquor lovers and winos alike. If your bougieness for booze knows no bounds, The Keep at Hotel LeVeque is where you have to go. The atmosphere is elegant and unlike any bar still standing on High Street—including the price. Maybe you just stop in for one drink, maybe you stay for a few. Either way, hanging out in a historic and lovely building such as the LeVeque is always worthy of an Instagram post—even if you just stop in for a glass of water.
Thursdays: Food Trucks In The Columbus Commons
Every Thursday at the Columbus Commons you can find food trucks serving up bites in a wide open urban space. Sure this might just be a quick lunch stop, but being surrounded by high rise buildings whilst munching on some grub from a local food truck will surely make any good day better. Each month brings in a new speciality truck and July will bring you Schmidt’s Restaurant und Sausage Haus Food Truck.
7.10 Taco Tuesdays at the Columbus Commons
The Columbus Commons is more than just a green space you pass through on your way to the Condado downtown. In addition to food trucks setting up shop every Thursday in the Commons, July 10 will serve as a Taco Tuesday where some of the most famous Columbus taco staples will stop by and dish out all of your favorite tacos.