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News recently broke that Tom Hanks was moving to Columbus, Ohio. Even if the rumors are untrue, we could totally see Hanks loving the city. Columbus, you say? YES! Between the stunning culinary gems and as a vibrant art city with a music scene like a mini-Nashville, America’s 15th largest city is a real jewel of the Midwest. It’s super affordable, so we think it’s also one of the US cities with the highest quality of life. You better plot your vacation (or even relocation) before rent shoots up. Read on for the top seven reasons why Columbus should be next on your travel bucket list.
1. The fashion is unbeatable. DSW, Abercrombie & Fitch and The Limited’s headquarters are based in Columbus, and the creative juices have trickled down from corporate wunderkinds into a wildly fabulous boutique culture. Whether you’re looking for a gold-plated leaf necklace to gift to your BFF or stylish men’s backpack for your bro, the possibilities are nearly endless when you’re wandering around the energetic and stylish Short North area. Don’t miss Malvar=Stewart for totally natural boho-chic looks. With an artsy twist made from salvaged materials, wool from local farmers and local, natural dyes, Malvar=Stewart is a must. Try their Farm-to-Fashion experience to visit a local sheep farm, and then make your own scarf in the designer’s workshop!
2. You’ll think you got lost in a Foodie playground. We’ll cut straight to the chase. Be sure to beeline your way from the airport to Katalina’s, where you can indulge in a variety of hits like pancake balls, black bean soup and avocado tacos before scribbling your name in chalk in the bathroom. Next, plant yourself at The Denmark for a casual happy hour in a space filled with living room-worthy art. Get the famous vegetarian burger (hello, beets) at The Northstar Cafe, with a waitstaff so nice that if you forgot your wallet in the car, they may even comp you. For dinner, transport yourself to The Pearl, where the ambiance is a combination of your favorite antique book shop and a dimly-lit liquor den. The food is first-rate, of course.
3. The eclectic arts scene will reinvigorate you. Your creativity is about to be seriously recharged. From the majestic and newly-expanded Columbus Museum of Art (pictured above) to unique galleries like Duff Gallery, which focuses on folk and outsider art, Columbus has a diverse and rising arts scene that makes it among the best in the country. Be sure to get lost in the Pizzuti Collection for an afternoon.
To get in on the action, make time to swing by the up-and-coming creative hub, Columbus Idea Foundry. Every unique hobby you’ve ever wanted to take up — glassblowing; metalsmithing; wood carving; jewelry making and more — is all under one roof, where talented crafters and makers mingle and learn from each other in a supportive community.
4. You’re smack in the middle of a Robert Frost poem. Idyllic Hocking Hills is so picturesque, you’ll almost forget it’s a stone’s throw away from a major city. Take a hike where waterfalls, gorges, cliffs, caves and trails for both the adventure-minded and Instagram-focused await. Enjoy unique excursions you never even knew were a thing with Mimi Morrison of Touch the Earth Adventures, whose off-the-beaten-path late-night beaver kayaking adventure is one for the books. Test your inner daredevil at High Rock Adventures where you can rappel, hike and climb to your heart’s delight.
After you’ve tossed off your hiking boots or life jacket, sleep soundly (the sheets are otherworldly) at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, for rustic lodging with a B&B feel. Couples getaway? Try the romantic Glenlaurel Inn (they’re renowned for their elopements for a reason). Robert Burns would be rolling over in his grave if he knew about the nightly poetry readings at dinner (Saturday night features bagpipes too).
5. The craft liquor and beer scene is taking off. Take a tour at Watershed Distillery, where your palate will be tickled by smooth gins, vodkas, bourbons and more. There’s even an Old Fashioned drink that comes ready for pouring from the bottle and is only available in Ohio. Re-opening this spring in a massive warehouse space that’s been converted into a distillery-restaurant, we also love Middle West Spirits, where the OYO honey vanilla bean vodka will have you screaming “O-H…I-O” all the way home in happy, sloshed glee. Meanwhile, brewski enthusiasts will love Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, which also happens to have one of the best restaurants in town.
6. You can disconnect over a cup of coffee. Fox in the Snow (Yes, named after the Belle and Sebastian song) is the perfect WiFi-free coffee shop to house a creative morning brainstorm or sit back and catch up on magazines. While you’re at it, order the famed egg sandwich that’s the perfect balance of fluffy and crispy.
7. A unique blend of yoga and essential oils will restore you. Yoga on High has a celebrated reputation for good reason. Spacious, welcoming studios at one of two locations in Columbus offer a variety of different yoga styles from hot to their signature Sekoia (a unique blend of approaches with music, essential oils and restorative poses). Be sure to sneak into a class with Lara, who will have you flowing and laughing so hard you almost can’t breathe. Bring a bit of their happy spirit in your carry-on and pick up some tea or aromatherapy oils from their signature Sekoia line.