Which U.S. state is "high" in the middle and round on the sides? Well, Ohio, of course... Sorry if you've already heard that old chestnut a million times -- but think of the children who haven't! Besides, not every zinger can be a humdinger.
Fortunately for you, we're not here to tell bad jokes. Not exclusively, at least. Instead, we're here to talk about Ohio's largest city, Columbus, and why you should visit it. Ohio itself draws many tourists thanks to the border it shares with the states like Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. And don't shrug at the northern shore of Lake Erie.
Since Columbus is situated in a central location at the heart of the state, it's often the destination of choice for visitors from all walks of life. This being the case, this Midwest metropolitan marvel is more than prepared to show its adventuresome neighbors a great time!
Whether you're taking a bus to the Columbus area from Cincinnati or Marietta or flying in from far away, we hope this guide to the town helps make your trip one for the books.
What Is The Capital of Ohio?
?Columbus is indeed the state capital of Ohio. But don't get too excited if you guessed that right. You'd have to be two years old not to take all the hints. No offense intended if you are actually two years old. In fact, congratulations on your reading ability if that is the case. What's your secret? Ohio's leading newspaper, the Columbus Dispatch?
At over 225 square miles, the Columbus metro area contains more than 2 million souls. It's growing, too; according to the 2020 census, Columbus grew by 12.2 percent since 2010. To put that in perspective, the entire state of New York only grew by 8 percent in that same period.
What is Ohio Famous for?
The Buckeye State has a lot of fame to claim, from being the birthplace of the Wright Brothers to its status as the home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The creation of the Erie Canal in 1836 led to Columbus growing in both size and stature throughout the 20th century.
Not surprisingly, the capital city of Columbus only adds to the state's many distinctions. It's home to the Ohio State University, which has a top-rated football team and is often billed as one of the nation's largest and most prestigious public colleges.
In addition to the university, Columbus is also the location of the world-famous Ohio Zoo and Aquarium. If you want to know more about Ohio's fame and fascinating history, an excellent site to check out is "Ohio History Central" at ohiohistorycentral.org.
One last thing about Ohio: it's a name thief. The Buckeye State is known for is its propensity for "borrowing" the names of other places and assigning them to its own cities and counties. Ohio city names include familiar titles like Delaware and Toledo, while counties count "Miami" among their ranks.
7 Reasons to Visit Columbus, Ohio
1. The Ohio Capitol Building
The Ohio Statehouse is located in the Franklinton region of the city directly west of the Scioto River. Like many capitols, it is home to the Ohio state legislature, aka the Ohio General Assembly. While politics can be a bit of a snooze fest when it comes to travel, you'll be happy to know the statehouse doubles as a museum and is open for tours.
As it turns out, the city of Chillicothe was Ohio's premier capital when this northwest territory (relative to the rest of the U.S. at the time) first gained statehood at the beginning of the 19th century. After some bickering, it was moved to Zanesville, then back to Chillicothe, before it finally settled in the area we know as Columbus today.
2. Historic Sites
There are several historic sites in the Columbus area, including but not limited to the German Village Historic District and the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums. Columbus lays claim to some buildings on the National Register of Historic Places that any fan of the past should consider visiting along with these popular destinations. Similarly, Civil War buffs might want to check out the Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery.
3. Columbus Museum of Art
Art museums are sort of like state capitol buildings. If there's one in the neighborhood, it should definitely be on your itinerary. The Columbus Museum of Art's collections include paintings, sculptures, and mixed forms of media that are better seen than summed up here. Meanwhile, traveling exhibitions that pass through for months at a time include everything from Legos to comics.
4. Center of Science and Industry
Don't let the highfalutin name scare you off -- COSI is just a humble old science museum for brainiacs. Its exhibits cover everything from dinosaur fossils to live shows starring lab rats and oodles beyond. More importantly, it's loaded with hands-on attractions and interactive installations that'll thrill kids of all ages.
5. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
As mentioned above, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is famous for its breathtaking assortment of majestic beasts and creatures from all world regions. Animal lovers will enjoy regional attractions that feature fur and scale-covered friends from Asia, Australia, Africa, North America, and elsewhere. And, oh yeah, it certainly doesn't hurt that the zoo has rides like a rollercoaster and log jammer.
6. Topiary Park
At nearly 10 acres, Ohio's Topiary Park is a great place to take quiet walks and snap some exciting selfies. Although it doesn't have a maze or man-eating hedges that'll spring to life and stalk you when your back is turned, it is modeled after a famous French painting. For more information about the park and its history, visit the columbus.gov website.
7. Nationwide Arena
Suppose it's the right time of year and you're a fan of the National Hockey League. In that case, you should definitely catch an Ohio Blue Jackets game in downtown Columbus at the Nationwide Arena.
Even if the NHL isn't your thing, the arena hosts a wide range of entertainment, including concerts and rodeos, to name just a couple. For more information, be sure to click your way over to the website so you can plan your trip accordingly.
What are your favorite things to do when in Columbus, Ohio? Let the folks at home know on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!