The state capital, Columbus, is the largest city in Ohio and the 15th largest city in the U.S. Located in Central Ohio at the intersection of Interstates 70 and 71, the city is within a one-day drive or a one-hour flight of 60 percent of the population of the U.S.
It’s easy to get to, so it’s no wonder that many travelers head to Columbus for a vacation or weekend getaway. One of the newer attractions of the city is the Arena District, a 95-acre planned development surrounding Nationwide Arena, the home of the National Hockey League’s Columbus Blue Jackets. The district features restaurants and nightclubs as well as the Arena Grand Theatre, an upscale movie theater, and the LC, an indoor/outdoor music hall styled after the House of Blues.
A National Historic Landmark and a masterpiece of 19th century Greek Revival architecture, the Ohio Statehouse was completed in 1861 and restored in 1996. The new, interactive Ohio Statehouse Museum encourage visitors to participate in the government process, challenges their knowledge of Ohio history and government and even allows them to give a State of the State address. Tours of the Statehouse are given daily.
The Columbus Museum of Art features works by Impressionists, German Expressionists, Cubists, American Modernists and contemporary artists, including works by Degas, Monet, Matisse, Picasso, Bellows, Hopper, Marin and O’Keeffe. The museum remains open throughout extensive renovation and expansion, which is scheduled to be completed in 2012.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, which attracts more than 2.5 million visitors each year, has received national recognition for its success in breeding cheetahs and lowland gorillas. TV host Jack Hanna is director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo. Located along the banks of the Scioto River, the zoo features an endangered manatee exhibit, gardens, picnic areas, recreational facilities and a golf course. The newest exhibit, Asia Quest, features some of the most endangered and magnificent animals in the world. The zoo opened the new 22.7-acre water park Zoombezi Bay in May 2008 and a Polar Frontier exhibit in 2010.
COSI -- the Center of Science and Industry -- features more than 300 interactive exhibits throughout its discovery-based exhibition areas, including Ocean, Space, Gadgets, Life, little kidspace, Progress and the outdoor Big Science Park.
The Franklin Park Conservatory features horticulture from a variety of climate zones, as well as large bonsai and orchid collections. Its signature 1895 Victorian glass Palm House and 73,000 square feet of greenhouse is located in a 90-acre park just east of downtown. As part of its focus on combining fine arts with horticulture, the conservatory boasts a signature collection from internationally acclaimed glass artist Dale Chihuly. Special exhibits include an annual living butterfly display.
Just south of downtown, German Village is a 233-acre restored neighborhood originally settled in the mid-1800s by German immigrants, and today is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Along its tree-lined, brick-paved streets are restored red-brick homes, wrought iron fences, urban gardens and fine restaurants and specialty retailers.
The Jack Nicklaus Museum includes interactive exhibits and memorabilia documenting Nicklaus’ career as a golfer, golf course designer, businessman and family man. Highlights include a series of exhibits that chronicle Nicklaus’ playing career through his performance in the sport’s five major championships.
Located adjacent to the world headquarters of the American Motorcycle Association, the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum features displays of historic motorcycles and plaques dedicated to those inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
The Ohio Historical Center is both the headquarters of the Ohio Historical Society and a museum showcasing Ohio’s history from the Ice Age to 1970. The Ohio Historical Center also hosts a number of temporary exhibits throughout the year, and the adjacent Ohio Village is open to the public.