5 Reasons to Visit Columbus, Ohio: America’s Test Market City

With a vibrant downtown to a local food and brew scene that continues to blossom, this Midwestern city is an exciting travel destination

With glowing fountains, dining and music venues, Bicentennial Park is a must-see downtown destination for visitors to Columbus, Ohio.


If people like it in Columbus, Ohio, it’s bound to be successful elsewhere. Sound crazy? Many companies with a national presence would disagree. This city has been a longtime “test market” for large corporations that want to launch new products or services. Why? Well, its population is socially and demographically diverse, thanks in large part to the presence of Ohio State University and other area colleges—making it closely representative of the country as a whole. This helps make it a perfect home for several fast food and apparel giants, including Wendy’s, White Castle, Express and Victoria’s Secret. Still, there’s much more to this Midwestern city than food tests and fashion trends. Here are five reasons to make it your next travel destination.

Tickle your taste buds at the North Market

Choose a dish from the trendy North Market, home to more than 30 savory sellers. Photo Credit: FOAP.com

Located in the trendy Short North neighborhood, this public market is home to more than 30 merchants that sell a wide range of fresh, local foods. There’s something here for every palate, such as irresistible vegetable dishes at Little Eater or pastries at Pistacia Vera. Satisfy your hunger at Hot Chicken Takeover, where Nashville-style hot chicken is paired with macaroni and cheese, cole slaw and sweet tea. Finish it off with a scoop or two from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, an artisanal ice cream company touting unique flavors like sweet corn, black raspberry and Queen City cayenne.

Hit the bricks in German Village

The Historic German Village packs its meandering, brick-lined streets with picture-perfect shops, parks and restaurants.

Wander the brick-lined streets of German Village, a south-side community settled by German immigrants more than two centuries ago. Explore its diverse shops and restaurants. Start at the Book Loft, housed in pre-Civil War-era buildings, and browse its 32 rooms filled with bargain reads. Then grab a classic Reuben or BLT at Katzinger’s Deli or kick back at Schiller Park, known for its beautiful gardens, ponds and picnic areas.

Stroll along the riverfront at Bicentennial Park

A performance pavilion, a splash-and-play fountain for the kids and an outstanding promenade are the highlights of this 4.66-acre downtown park on the Scioto River. With a backdrop of skyscrapers, Bicentennial Park and the Scioto Mile (a riverfront park system featuring interactive fountains, a 3-D installation and a cultural arts center) also have a stone colonnade with swings, flowering gardens, a scenic overlook and paved pathways for walking and biking. Tours are available at the nearby Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center, which boasts stylish 1930s Deco architecture. The world’s largest gavel, made of stainless steel, sits in a reflecting pool in a park adjacent to the center. A short walk across the river takes you to the Center of Science and Industry, a hands-on science center for all ages.

Grab a cold one on the Columbus Ale Trail

The Columbus Ale Trail is a great way to check out every brewery in Central Ohio area, and more than half of its 35 local craft breweries are in Columbus. Start at Brewers Row, home to six brewers: Barley’s Brewing Company, Hoof Hearted Brewery & Kitchen, Elevator Brewery and Draught Haus, North High Brewing, Wolf’s Ridge Brewing and Seventh Son Brewing, where the patio is always full during warm-weather months.

Explore the Ohio State’s ivy halls

The Ohio State University, one of the largest public universities in the country, is just north of downtown. The 1,764-acre campus includes several notable places, including The Oval, a historic green space in the center of campus; and four buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Visit the Wexner Center for the Arts, a public gallery of contemporary art named for Leslie Wexner, a major donor to the university and the founder of Limited Brands. And be sure to check out Ohio Stadium, home to the Ohio State Buckeyes football team. Can’t be there on game day? Schedule a behind-the-scenes tour instead.

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