My husband and I love Columbus so much, we decided to head back for another getaway! This time our focus was on food and fun! If you are headed to Columbus, make sure to check out Experience Columbus for all things Columbus including where to stay, shop, play and much more!
Where to stay? Most of the activities we had planned were downtown so the Hampton Inn & Suites in Downtown Columbus made perfect sense. The staff was so nice and accommodating. The rooms were very clean and had just about everything we needed. The only thing missing was a mini-refrigerator. The amenities were plentiful and we had very easy access to a pool, whirlpool, work out room and hot breakfast. The complimentary breakfast was among the best I have seen! Between the two mornings we were there, we enjoyed waffles, omelets, sausage, cereal, fruit, juice, coffee, yogurt, oatmeal and much more! What a nice way to start the day. Be advised that as with most hotels downtown, you will need to valet park (additional daily fee). But luckily, the Hampton Inn & Suites had such a great location, just down the street from Short North, so we were able to walk to many places!
Where to eat? Did you know that Columbus Food Adventures offers a variety of public food tours in several areas of Columbus? Bethia, a wonderfully knowledgeable and friendly UK native, started Columbus Ohio’s only food tour company with the belief that the quality and diversity of the Columbus food scene is a story worth sharing. I could not agree more! The available tours include: German Village tour, All Dessert tour, Alt Eats tour, Coffee tour, Short North tour, Taco Truck tour and the Meat Lover's tour. Each tour focuses on a particular neighborhood or cuisine and includes stops at 5 to 7 of the city's absolute best restaurants. We had the pleasure of going on a private mini Short North Food Tour with Bethia!
Our tour started right across the street from our hotel at the North Market. From butchers to bakers to candy makers to fishmongers to greengrocers and restaurateurs; Bethia was familiar with every corner of the market! As Columbus’ only public market the North Market is a very cool place to shop, eat, mingle and people-watch. It was so awesome getting a tour with Bethia who introduced us to many small business owners and gave us a bio of every place we stopped. One of the highlights included Jeni's Splended Ice Creams. Oh my yumminess! Jeni's is well known in the Columbus area for their delicious handmade ice cream. You can find 30+ flavors in the North Market location including my favorite, Whiskey & Pecans! The whiskey used in this flavor is distilled by Columbus, Ohio-based Middle West Spirits. All of Jeni's flavors support Ohio heritage farms and dairies. You must visit one of the several Columbus locations when you are in town. Other highlights included brēzel, delicious bavarian-style pretzels; North Market Spices, a veritable smorgasbord of rubs and spices; and The Greener Grocer, featuring local, healthy and sustainably grown food. We saw many more wonderful places but you will have to visit the North Market to see the rest for yourself!
Next we hopped in the Columbus Food Tours van and headed down Short North to the Brothers Drake Meadery. To be quite honest I have never heard of a meadery before this very day! So for those who did not have a clue like me, here is what you have been missing.
Mead is an ancient form of a fermented beverage that uses honey as it’s primary sugar source. Modern meaderies in the U.S. have begun to put mead back in the spotlight. Drawing from ancient recipes, concocting new and evolving the process of mead making has produced a consumer drink that has bucked the system a bit on the old beer and wine standards. Mead is available in endless styles from beer style Braggots, to sparkling or still wines.
Brothers Drake produces wine style mead. We took a short tour with co-owner and mead maker Sarah Jones. We even got to see the back room where the mead is made. Sarah, so nice by the way, told us all about the making of mead and of course let us sample some! The best thing to do is to try the 5 Mead Sampler for $15. You will get to try Wild Ohio, Hopped Traditional, Pillow Talk, Scarlet Solstice and Bergamot Blue. My favorite was Hopped Traditional, which is known as the beer lover's mead. Every single inch of the Brothers Drake is utilized. The meadery has a performance space for live music, a full service bar and of course the mead making room! One of the hottest places to hang out is also one of the best kept secrets in Columbus. If you want to try something cool, hip and different, you must pay a visit to Brothers Drake Meadery!
Bethia had to drop us off so she could get ready for her next tour, but on the way back she pointed out several of the Short North food tour stops like the James Beard nominated Rigsby’s restaurant. The other stops include Knead, Le Chocoholique, Eleni Cristina Bakery, Tasi and Jeni's. Check out this highlight video of the Short North tour.
I highly recommend one of Bethia's Columbus Food Tours where you will not only enjoy her wealth of local culinary knowledge, you will get to eat at the city's best restaurants too!
Where to play? How about a Columbus Clippers game! Huntington Park was just a short walk from our hotel. The state-of-the-art facility has about everything you might expect when you get "taken out to the ball game"! The food! The fans! The facility! The atmosphere was fantastic and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit! We loved the six open patios overlooking the field on the second story. You had a great view from practically everywhere in the park. I enjoyed a very good cheeseburger and some popcorn. My husband had a hot dog and some nachos. There were so many options available for food! There was even Bob Evans and of course the walking vendors. What a fun way to spend a Friday evening!
The Columbus Zoo and Zoombezi Bay Waterpark are some of our favorite Columbus attractions. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has been voted the #1 Zoo in the country! There is so much to see and do. My favorite is the aquarium. I could watch the electric colored fish and sharks swim by in the 100,000 gallon saltwater tank for hours! Also not to miss is the African Forest, home to endangered lowland gorillas, rare bonobos, red river hogs, leopards, okapi, Colobus monkeys, and over 700 species of plant life indigenous to Africa. The gorillas are so fun to watch!
Located on the same property is Zoombezi Bay. This fun filled 22.7 acre water park features 17 state of the art water slides, a wave pool, an action river, a lazy river, private cabanas, a kiddie play pool and a whole lot more! We love the lazy river and the wave pool! There is so much splish-and-splashing fun to be had it is just incredible!
Alana's Food and Wine is located right next to the Ohio State University's campus. Chef Alana Shock focuses on local, seasonal ingredients sourced from Ohio farms to craft her cuisine. Alana's Food and Wine is in a quaint house in a neighborhood setting. We had the option of sitting on the patio or inside. We chose to sit inside. We started out with the retro avocado goddess shrimp cocktail. It was served cold and covered with a creamy avocado sauce. We liked the unique take on a classic shrimp cocktail appetizer. I chose the trofie pasta with scallops, minted sweet peas, parmesan and complimentary saucisson. The scallops were my favorite part of the dish with the most prominent flavor being the parmesan. My husband enjoyed the beer brined pork chop with tater tots, beer kraut and mop sauce. The pork chop was huge (see photo above) and he loved every bit of it! I tried some of the tater tots which were crispy and delicious. This dish had a very nice pairing of flavors.
Are you ready to go on your own Food and Fun Getaway?! Columbus has so many options for not only just couples, but for families too! Plan your getaway at Experience Columbus and get ready for some summer fun!
Disclosure: I did not receive any financial compensation for this post. All opinions are my own and uninfluenced by anyone else. I did receive some free product(s) to facilitate my review from the companies or their PR agencies. See my full disclosure.