Alcohol has played some small role in several of the stories so far, and Columbus is no exception. Almost called Ohio City, Columbus was, of course, named after Christopher Columbus. The name was suggested by General Joseph Foos, a state legislator and local tavern owner who, according to legend, got his fellow legislators drunk at his tavern in order to sway their vote toward Columbus. The Ohio General Assembly officially named the town Columbus on February 20, 1812.
Ohio Statehouse: The grounds are as impressive as the building itself. Don’t miss the very moving holocaust memorial and the war letters carved in stone. The rotunda is lovely. The tours are every hour on the hour and are free. The tour guides are so informative. This is a must for all grade school children to learn about Ohio government. Parking is nearby at the commons and is very reasonable priced. The tour starts in the basement. Reservations are not needed for individuals. This could be a fun afternoon for adults looking for an activity. You will get more access and get to see the senates and house of rep meeting rooms when you go on the tour. The architecture is beautiful. They also have elevators to access the second and third floors, so for children and elderly it should not be a problem. The beauty of the meeting rooms, dome, and overall structure are unique and exemplary. The nooks and crannies and historic staircases will surprise you. The gift shop is worth a separate trip and makes Ohio’s creativity and resourcefulness shine.
Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum: it is a national treasure for cartoons. Come here to see the history of comics, funny papers, editorial commentary. Multiple galleries and a library; comfortable and spacious. Located on the Oval, near the Ohio State University Union. Two rooms and a hallway comprise this museum of mirth and politics. You know, cartoons are either political or funny. The museum has permanent exhibits and ones that change throughout the year. Depending on your level of interest, you can spend as much time as you want or spend about 20-30 minutes. Either way, you will be pleased that you visited. The staff is passionate about preserving the cartoon history and is very friendly and accommodating.
Central Ohio Fire Museum: Tons of fun and interactive activities. You can take great pictures of the kids dressed up in fireman clothing and sliding down the fire pole. Kids will talk about this for weeks after you trip. Great teaching opportunity for kids as well. Top notch displays in a historic fire station. The museum is hosted in an old Columbus Fire Department station from 1908. It originally had 10 horses in the station and sometime in the early 1920’s went away from the horses and to fire trucks. It was purchased from the city in the 1980’s and fundraising and restoration started at that point in time. This is a must do in Columbus. It kind of bring out that inner kid in all that at some point in time wanted to be a fire fighter. Oh and by the way, be sure to ask about the ambulance restoration taking place.
Ohio History Center: This is a great place to spend a couple of hours learning and re-learning some of Ohio’s amazing history. From the natural history gallery to the “White Castle exhibit on the second floor and everything in between, there is something for everyone. You may especially like the 1950’s exhibit featuring the Lustron home, the ’56 Chevy Bel-Aire, and the vintage Airstream. The Civil War battle flag exhibit is also a favorite. Currently there is an exhibit of Korean War photographs by Max Desfor. The Ohio Village is open during the museum hours during the summer. the village is great, and great gift shop. Such an assortment of historical items and placed so that it is easy to navigate. A must.
Kelton House Museum & Garden: On the national register of historic places, Kelton House is gem. This 1800’s Victorian brick home built by a well-respected businessman of the time is pleasure to experience. The terrific audio tour (included in your $6 admission fee ) provides a wealth of information on the family that owned the home, the practicality of decor in the 1800’s ( i.e. lace curtains on every window as screens were not yet invented & curtains served as a bug/dust barrier to the home during the summer months, and the history of one runaway slave that helped to support the undocumented history of this home as a stop on Ohio’s Underground Railroad. The garden behind the Carriage House is small, but delightful. Make sure to visit the basement for an amazing but shocking story.
Ohio Stadium: Filled with tradition, school spirit, and fall fun, this is a must do experience for any buckeye fan. Avoid B deck, as viewing can be restricted by poles or the overhang of c deck. Any seat in c deck will give you a great view. Make plans to attend the skull session before the game to get pumped up with the band and team! Ohio Stadium is a unique experience since you have 110,000 screaming fans and if that doesn’t give you goosebumps nothing will. Home of the Ohio State buckeyes powerhouse football team packed to capacity and rocking almost every Saturday in the fall, if you’re a Buckeye fan this is a must on your bucket list, you will not be disappointed.
You can flight directly into Columbus and have a great time in this state capital. Just give TravelKatz a call at 352-277-7300 and we will make it happen for you.
If you prefer to stay in Cincinnati, here are 36 fun filled hours to keep you busy…
36 Hours in Cincinnati
In the early 19th century, Cincinnati, then the biggest city in the west, was nicknamed Queen City. Two hundred or so years later, it is experiencing another boom, this time in its historic Over-the-Rhine district, which is being transformed with significant investments in infrastructure. Changes include a new streetcar that connects downtown to the neighborhood, and an expansion of the district’s art scene. The latter will include three new or enlarged performing arts venues opening this fall. By then, the Brewing Heritage Trail in Over-the-Rhine will feature signposts linking many of the city’s old breweries. Spotlighting the city’s fine arts, Blink Cincinnati, a display of light installations projected across 20 blocks, will run Oct. 12 to 15.
4 P.M. Stimulus Plan
The Contemporary Arts Center in downtown Cincinnati, which opened in 2003, is best known as Zaha Hadid’s first American project. But it’s the curatorial content that makes it truly compelling, from an entire floor that was recently filled with lifelike clown sculptures by the Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, to topical shows covering racism and sexism. Last year, thanks in large part to $150,000 raised by many millennial donors, the museum went admission-free, at least for the next two years — a yardstick by which to measure support for the arts in Cincinnati. Make art of your own at the top-floor UnMuseum, a play space not limited to children.
6 P.M. Highbrow Happy Hour
Browse the contemporary art collection at the gallery-like 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati over drinks from the hotel bar. A fitting neighbor to the Contemporary Arts Center, the 156-room hotel harbors a bi-level gallery of rotating exhibits largely drawn from the collection of the hotel’s owners, Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson. Grab a vodka-grapefruit Sunrise in Florence ($8) or a tequila-lemon Juarez ($10) from the hotel bar and restaurant Metropole and browse the collection. The management often stocks art supplies in a room adjoining the second-floor galleries, should inspiration strike.
7:30 P.M. Seductive Supper
When you descend from street level to the subterranean, candlelit Sotto with quasi-private, brick-arched nooks, you can understand why Serena Williams and Drake were photographed canoodling here one summer. The sexy Italian restaurant, a casual counterpart to Boca restaurant above, specializes in wood-grilled dishes from the exposed hearth. They include simple bread rubbed with garlic ($4), quail ($34) and a porterhouse steak for two ($85). Don’t miss the homemade pastas, especially the ravioli-like short rib cappellacci ($18), and the piping hot ricotta doughnuts ($8). If the atmosphere doesn’t improve your date, nothing will.
10 A.M. Rolling on the River
Cincinnati’s shared bicycle system, Red Bike, with 56 stations in the metro area (including Newport, Covington and Bellevue in northern Kentucky) gives cyclists the singular thrill of cycling in two states. A one-day pass ($8) allows unlimited rides of up to one hour at a time, easily allowing renters to pedal along the banks of the Ohio River on the Cincinnati side, which is largely park land, then crossing over to Kentucky via the Purple People Bridge. Opened in 1872 as the area’s first train bridge, the half-mile span now serves only pedestrians and cyclists. On the Kentucky side, bike paths top the grassy levee, offering views to flood gates. Return to Cincinnati via the 1866 vintage John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, a fraternal twin to the namesake engineer’s Brooklyn Bridge.
11 A.M. Freedom Quest
On the banks of the Ohio River, which once separated a free state, Ohio, from a slave state, Kentucky, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (admission $15) examines slavery in America, from the nameless scores who died at sea during the Middle Passage from Africa, to the enslaved heroes who went on to be authors, lawyers and leaders. Powerful exhibits include a slave pen from the early 1800s, which once held individuals in rural Kentucky before they were sold. Other exhibits explore past and present human rights issues. A new virtual reality experience puts users in Rosa Parks’s seat on the Montgomery bus ($5).
2 P.M. Progressive Feast
Use the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar ($1) to travel from downtown to the nearby Over-the-Rhine district (abbreviated as OTR), a former German enclave. Stylish boutiques, trendy restaurants and handsome Italianate buildings fill the gentrifying district, especially along Vine Street. Follow your nose to the bustling Findlay Market. In operation since the mid-19th century, the market today mixes produce stalls with cheesemongers, butchers and prepared-food specialists serving everything from barbecue to gelato. Sample its offerings with Barb Cooper, the owner of Cincinnati Food Tours, during a 90-minute walk ($20) that introduces visitors to the market. Samples en route often include goetta, the traditional pork-oat sausage patty synonymous with Cincinnati.
4:30 P.M. Houses of Mirth
Cincinnati was home to 36 breweries by 1860, a density that earned it the nickname “Beer Capital of the World.” Prohibition doomed most of them, but new microbreweries are reclaiming the city’s place in the beer galaxy. Try the Truth IPA ($6) at Rhinegeist, which occupies the former bottling building of historic Christian Moerlein brewery, a warehouse so vast patrons can play whiffle ball indoors. In 2015, Taft’s Ale House moved into an abandoned 1850-vintage Protestant church, replacing pews with picnic tables and the altar with a bar tapping styles from the quaffable Nellie’s Keylime Caribbean Ale to the rich Maverick Chocolate Porter ($8 for a five-sample flight).
6 P.M. Farm-Fresh Fare
The chef José Salazar, a James Beard nominee for best chef in the Great Lakes region, mixes a respect for ingredients, often locally sourced, with a sense of play at his eponymous Over-the-Rhine restaurant Salazar. It seats only 40, so make a reservation in advance for a spot in the bright, storefront bistro where seasonal dishes may include heirloom polenta with a duck egg ($12), and “everything salmon,” a play on a loaded bagel, complete with a sesame-poppy seed crust on the fish ($29).
8 P.M. Curtain Time
Catch a show at one of three major performing arts theaters in Over-the-Rhine, each either reopening after major renovations or debuting in the fall. The grand red brick Music Hall, home to the Cincinnati Symphony, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati Opera, will reopen in October after a $143 million investment in the 1878 landmark. Down the block, Ensemble Theater Cincinnati will unveil its approximately $7 million renovation and expansion in October with “This Random World,” by the playwright Steven Dietz. Nearby, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company will open its new theater where no seat will be farther than 20 feet from the thrust stage when its fall season opens with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” running Sept. 8 to 30.
11 P.M. Doctor’s Orders
Review the show over an adult elixir at Sundry and Vice, a neighborhood corner bar modeled on an old apothecary (antique pharmacists’ prescriptions paper the bathrooms). Try the thematically appropriate Night Cure ($10) with bourbon, lemon, honey and grapefruit oil, or an old-fashioned on draft ($9). Wine lovers can catch last call at the laid-back urban winery Revel OTR.
9:30 A.M. Sunny Side Starter
Stick to your diet or go gleefully off it at the new Maplewood Kitchen and Bar downtown. Its breakfast choices hew healthy — green juice ($8), avocado toast ($6) and Greek yogurt with chia seeds ($8) — with a selection of more substantial dishes, including chipotle-braised chicken with two eggs ($10) and a side of goetta from locally acclaimed Eckerlin Meats ($4). The sunny restaurant has an organic appeal in its food and décor, with pale wood rafters and hanging ferns that attracts a hipster-to-senior range of fans.
11:30 A.M. Queen of the Tunnels
Many 19th-century breweries in Over-the-Rhine maintained subterranean tunnels that allowed them to age their lager in cool, dark places. American Legacy Tours guides visitors to some of them in its Queen City Underground Tour ($20). The two-hour walk provides a historic overview of the neighborhood before descending to a historic church crypt and a warren of brick-arched lagering tunnels. The tour ends in the former malt-house-turned-tap-room of Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. for a final toast to the weekend.
In addition to its art galleries, the 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati features 156 rooms, a spa with three treatment rooms, and a rooftop cocktail lounge. Rooms from $199.
For a stylish hotel at more affordable rates, cross the river to the new Hotel Covington in Kentucky, a former 1910 department store refashioned by the Aparium Hotel Group to hold 114 rooms, a restaurant and coffee bar. Rooms from $149.
Flying from Miami: From $150 to $220