Many people know Columbus to share a name with Christopher Columbus. Others recognize it as the hometown of Wendy's and White Castle. But we travelers and explorers understand that the only way to know a place honestly is to walk a mile in it.
With that in mind, here are my top 8 picks for places you need to visit while backpacking in Columbus, Ohio.
Visit the Book Loft of the German village
Finally, a place for the bookworms to nestle in! The Book Loft is a beautiful, red-brick independent bookstore housing shelves over shelves of novels, both contemporary and classic. One of the largest bookstores in the US, it houses 30 separate rooms arranged in a maze-like pattern. Book readers can easily get lost for hours in both the hefty tomes and the place itself.
Explore how Old North Columbus is a testament to the power of music
The neighborhood of Old North Columbus doesn't just offer a pleasant stroll, peppered with many local bars and restaurants. It is most commonly known for the open mic sessions that happen all over town.
Let's not forget, Columbus is where the ever-famous Ma Rainey hails from (she's also the subject of a 2021 Oscar-nominated movie!) The blues is ingrained in Old North, and a steady walk through its alleys on a Sunday night will reveal as much.
Don't miss the Inniswood metro garden - it's simply incarnate
If this place doesn't take your breath away, there's very little in life that will. This botanical garden may not be the largest across the USA, but it certainly ranks high amongst the loveliest.
Columbus' natural atmosphere gives free rein to peonies, daylilies, daffodils, and over 2000 other species of plants. Best of all? This wondrous vision is freely accessible from 7 AM until sunset. You'd best take advantage of this!
Watch the Columbus Blue Jackets practice live
The Nationwide Arena in and of itself is already a place worth visiting. But what makes that visit even more special? Watching an actual professional team honing their craft in the ice rink!
The Columbus Blue Jackets often set up practice sessions in the Arena, and visitors are allowed to watch these National Hockey League superstars duking it out against each other!
This is also a relatively common occurrence, and the chances are that you might be able to meet with these athletic natives on your trip.
Gasp in awe at the artistic genius housed by the Columbus museum of art
The Columbus Museum of Art may come off as a rather generic visiting place. Everyone's seen an art museum before, right? Well, the CMA, as we'll call it, houses some legendary figures in the art world. Paintings from the likes of Monet, Mary Cassatt, and Robert Delaunay are some of the highlights you'll encounter.
But, more attractive than that are the more contemporary works. The CMA works closely with local artists, which ultimately gives the gallery a unique look that no one else can emulate. It's also a free walk-in during Sundays!
Follow the Columbus Coffee trail to taste the best coffee in Columbus
What can I say? I'm a complete sucker for good coffee. I also love going out on long walks. And any activity that successfully combines the two together is right up my alley! The Columbus Coffee Trail is a roadmap of 17 different coffee locations scattered across Columbus.
You can start from anywhere (Fox in the Snow is my personal recommendation), grab a map, and begin! For each location, travelers can collect a stamp. 4 stamps lead to a free t-shirt, while all 17 grant you a traveler's coffee mug!
North Market is your go-to place for inexpensive item shopping
North Market is situated in downtown Columbus and has been a vendor hotspot since 1876! Housing over 35 different vendors, the market covers all sorts of niches, such as food, specialty goods, gifts, clothes, kitchenware, and so on.
It's an excellent way to support the locals who're housing you while also getting killer deals along the way.
The Hoof hearted brewery and kitchen is the perfect place to relax
Maybe you want to take your last days in Columbus lightly. Well, then the Hoof Hearted Brewery is a cool place to drop by. While it's a decent restaurant set in a lovely location, the real draw here's not in what you eat. It's in what you drink.
Columbus' local craft beer scene is already well known, and the Hoof Hearted Brewery forms its literal heart. With fruit-forward and hop-forward lagers to fulfill anyone's desire, it's a good taste of Columbus. And the idea of ending your trip to this great city with a literal parting glass does have a poetic ring to it.
And that's about it. This list of my top 8 locations to visit in Columbus just scratches the surface of this great town. But this article's purpose isn't just to rattle off some famous hotspots. It's to give a good feel for what Columbus truly is. I truly hope I've succeeded in that endeavor.
Travel safe. Follow the travel guidelines in the county you plan to visit.