While most tourists stop at the German Village, Columbus Museum of Art, Huntington Park, and the Columbus Metropolitan Library, there’s much more to this city in Ohio than just tried-and-true, popular attractions. There are also unique eateries, eclectic museums, and breathtaking parks that may change your perception of nature. After booking your Columbus vacation rental, put these hidden gems on your must-see list and wander off the beaten path.
1. Early Television Museum
Located in northwestern Columbus, the early Television Museum will blow your kids’ minds — and maybe even your own. This quirky little museum contains a collection of rare, vintage television sets that date back to before World War II. You’ll sea the big, boxy American-made Andrea 1-F-5 with a 5-inch screen and General Electric’s 12-inch screen with attached speaker manufactured in 1939. The museum also has a collection of pre-war British television sets, as well as early mechanical TVs of the 1920s and 30s, postwar TVs, and early color TVs. Explore the gradual growth and development of one of America’s most popular pieces of technology.
2. Topiary Park
Despite the Topiary Park’s location in the heart of Columbus, it’s a low-key, quiet green space missed by most in favor of the more popular Goodale Park. Other than a quiet atmosphere, the park boasts bushes trimmed to reproduce the people and animals of the well-known Seurat painting. Stroll along the paths and admire the artistry, or join the people-shaped bushes in lounging by the pond. The park is just down the block from both the Columbus Museum of Art and the Kelton House Museum and Garden, so you can explore all three in one afternoon.
3. Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park
Because of its location on the western outskirts of the city, the Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park is definitely not usually a top attraction. However, if you get a vacation rental out in the suburbs, you can easily explore this 7,000-acre space at your leisure without crowds jockeying for space. Plus, the park has miles of trails through forests, fields, and rivers, regular family-friendly events, and bison. Take the easy 2-mile Ancient trail along Darby Creek to where For Ancient once stood, or opt for the scenic lake trail. The park also has nature centers, play areas, and picnicking areas along with tons of activities. Go kayaking along the river or do some fishing in the lake. If you visit during the winter, there’s cross country skiing and ice skating available.
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4. Rambling House Soda
Rambling House Soda is a like a brewery, but with homemade soda instead of beer. While it serves good old favorites such as sarsaparilla, ginger beer, and lemon lime, it also has the new flavor of the week and an entire line of Columbus Cola. Think Cinnamon or kola nut flavors. Once there, enjoy the easy, laid back live music scene; bluegrass musicians add ambiance to the Rambling House experience, soothing all your tense muscle. The shop has a local following, but its low-key atmosphere puts it out of the way of most tourists. Afterwards, pick up some Ohio State Pizza across the street for dinner.
5. Book Loft
The Book Loft, a hidden gem, is located in the German Village, one of the most popular areas in Columbus. Not only does this store boast 32 rooms filled with books, but the buildings that houses the enormous collection are all historic, dating to before the Civil War. Peruse the stacks while enjoying the old architecture. Get some eats at Mo Joe Lounge next door, a great place to take a lunch break during your book-shopping extravaganza.
6. The Old Mohawk
The Old Mohawk is another German Village establishment known and loved by the locals. Once upon a time, it was a speakeasy, an underground watering hold during the prohibition. Now it’s a tavern catering to all types of people whether they be families or individuals who want a cold drink after work. While The Old Mohawk serves up your favorite drinks, it also has an extensive menu for both adults and children ranging from quesadillas and sandwiches to homemade meatloaf and season specials.
7. Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum
Kids and kids-at-heart are sure to love this museum dedicated to cartoons of all types throughout the ages. There are political cartoons from the 1800s, old comic strips (Peanuts, anyone?), and even manga, appealing to the younger generations. You can even view cartoons from other countries. The museum hosts regular events and workshops. The museum is located on the Ohio State University campus, so you can follow it up with a visit to the Wexner Center for the Arts and a stroll through The Oval.
If you want to add a unique destination to your Columbus trip, make your way to Cornhenge, a field filled with giant sculptures of corncobs. The 109 6-foot tall cobs were built in honor of Sam Frantz in the very field where he created hybrid corn. However, the monument isn’t just about corn, it’s about the history of the land back to the Native Americans. Cornhenge is located in the northwestern metro era, a nice breath of fresh air from the urban hubbub of downtown Columbus. Plus, the nearby Kiwanis Riverway Park makes this a great area to get a vacation home in for the duration of your stay.
9. Eddie Rickenbacker Childhood Home
Appreciate local history and heroes by visiting the Eddie Rickenbacker Childhood Home, located in east Columbus. In order to support his family, Eddie quit school to work full time in the 6th grade, eventually moving into race car driving before being swept up in the war. He was just as good, if not better, in an airplane. He shot down 26 enemy aircraft in a year and was awarded the Medal of Honor. This National Historic Landmark is one of the few areas dedicated to the war hero.
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