The best part about traveling (whether to far-flung destinations or in your backyard) is being able to experience what the locals do, see, and eat. However, unless you know someone there, it can be tricky to figure out where is worth the hype and where has simply turned into a tourist trap. For our new travel series, we will be asking five local creatives to share their favorite spots in their hometown so that you can be assured when planning your travel itinerary that you are doing it the local way.
For our first local travel guide, we are heading to the capital of Ohio, Columbus. As the largest city in the state and home to Ohio State University, Columbus is an up-and-coming travel destination with plenty to explore thanks (in part) to its vibrant food and arts scenes. Read on for the must-visit places in Columbus as picked by those who know it best:
images via Emily
Emily is the co-founder of STUMP, curated plants and wares shops in Columbus, Cleveland, and Philadelphia.
I love stopping by Small Talk on a weekend after having brunch at Dough Mama next door. This shop is stocked with beautiful clothing, accessories, and home goods. Every time I stop by, I leave with something that I know is well made and going to last for years. It’s always a treat to see the owners, Chloe and Suzy, who are some of the sweetest and most enthusiastic people you’ll ever meet. You can tell they really love what they do and it shows when you walk into their store. They also now have a second location in the Short North.
When my husband, Brian, and I have extra time in the morning, one of our go-to breakfast spots is Dough Mama. This place is full of charm from the moment you walk in the door. I love that they have a small selection of curated items from local makers around Columbus that you can peruse while waiting in line to place your order. The space is decorated with all kinds of whimsical plants, and it’s fun to see how they’ve grown each time we visit. For breakfast, we especially love their avocado biscuit, and we usually add on a cookie or pastry as a treat for later.
So many items in our home are from Opal Stackhouse. The shop owners, Ashley and her partner Scott, have such a good eye for antiques and vintage items and arrange them in a way that makes walking into their antique shop feel like your walking into someone’s home – the only difference is that everything is for sale! Even the location feels special – it’s located on a quiet side street nestled in Victorian Village – one of my favorite neighborhoods in Columbus.
Simonair is a designer, illustrator, and creator.
Marigold Curated is a fabulous second-hand shop that features special finds of apparel and housewares. I first got introduced to Marigold through one of their pop-up events that featured a local photographer. While there, I fell in love with the selection, someone has a great eye! It’s an awesome shop for the conscious fashionista.
Columbus Cultural Art Center
The spot for local creatives that want to experiment with a new craft. From making bench jewelry to ceramics, fabric making to enameling, they offer lots of classes with experienced teachers. On top of that, they have a wonderful exhibition space to view artwork from artists in Ohio and the USA at-large. I’ve had the pleasure of taking classes there, and I love every minute of it!
Westerville Antiques & Rustic Revamp
Located in uptown Westerville, it’s the gem of the Main street. I can spend half the morning looking through this local store. They always have new, unique finds! A collection of vintage cameras or letterpress tiles, quirky dinnerware, or a fully functioning traffic light. There are many things there to pique your interest and spark a new project.
Shannon is a wearable art artist.
Jekyll and Hyde Salon
Jekyll and Hyde is an incredible independent salon in Columbus that features art all over its walls and has some of the best stylists in the Midwest. Owner Angie Hatzifotinos started the salon and also created her own line of products called Nisla that are made with plant-based ingredients and are made in facilities that are focused on reducing environmental impact. And right next door is Dabl x The Tart Peach, where you can shop vintage goods and locally made lip products.
The Columbus Climbing Community
Our city has an incredible climbing community. You can rock climb outside at the Scioto Audubon Climbing wall, boulder indoors at Chambers, or top rope indoors at Vertical Adventures.
The second Friday of every month is Franklinton Friday. All the art studios in the area are open to the public, local galleries ROY G BIV and The Vanderelli Room are open, and you can get food and drinks at several local spots – all within a block of each other. My favorite is Strongwater (the jackfruit tacos are fantastic).
images via Chelsea
Chelsea is a designer and illustrator.
Florin Coffee is a brand new coffee shop here in Columbus! Having been there only twice, I already know that this cute little cafe is going to be one of my favorite places to work. I am so excited to have a spot with great coffee that is close enough to bike to in our little neighborhood of North Linden. Sit by the windows that are filled with tropical plants while you sip your coffee that is roasted in-house by the owners themselves. The cozy space is perfect for meeting up with a friend for a latte, reading a book at one of the many quaint tables, or working from your laptop or iPad in the calm ambiance.
Saraga International Grocery
One of my favorite places in Columbus is a grocery store? Yes! If you know me, you know I love food! But, Saraga is not just a grocery store. While I do love scanning the aisles for food items (and design inspiration) that you can’t find at other groceries, one of my favorite restaurants in the city is also right inside Saraga! If you walk through the produce section and veer to the back left corner, you will find yourself at Momo Ghar, a tiny but charming Himalayan/Nepalese restaurant with the best dumplings in town. Grab dessert on your way out at my absolute favorite panadería, Panaderia Mi Pueblo, also located inside the grocery store right by the exit. The sugar-covered buns and pineapple pastries are to die for!
Columbus Park of Roses
Of course, one of my go-to places to get inspired or just relax and unwind is the great outdoors! Columbus Park of Roses is just a short drive from home but makes you feel like you’ve ventured out of the city limits. As you could guess by the name, the park features a rose garden that consists of over 300 different types of roses. Most often, I find myself going to the part of the park that comes just before the rose garden. The designated off-leash dog area is my favorite place to take my dog, Flora, year-round. Not only is it beautiful when the weather is nice and warm but, the landscape is just magical with a fresh coat of snow. Take your dog for a lovely walk through the little steams, take up a game of tennis at one of the many outdoor courts, or stroll through the beautiful rose garden!
Olivia is a photographer.
Camelot Wine Cellars
Camelot Wine Cellars is a locally owned wine cellar located in Old Town East. I take my clients here for business dinners, enjoy lunch and a glass a wine with my friends, and have even experienced their winemaking service. With my family, we were able first to do a wine tasting, pick the wine we liked best, and finally make our own bottles of Merlot. It’s a fantastic experience, and to top it off, you create your own custom wine labels! I’d recommend this place to anyone traveling to Columbus or who lives in Columbus desiring a night to wine down. Pun intended!
My Friend’s Lash Bar
My Friend’s Lash Bar is a locally owned Esthetics Salon in Whitehall, Ohio! They offer eyelash extensions, waxing, and skincare. The owner Jae is a young and ambitious momma who loves people and making women feel beautiful! I go here once a month! But first, let me warn you before experiencing their volume eyelash extensions, you will get addicted!!!
This store, located in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, specializes in custom embroidery and screen printing! Any custom apparel you need, whether personal or business, this is your go-to! I know the owner Jaleel and his family personally, and they are amazing people! They take care of everyone who walks through the door. This is a hidden gem in the city! Anyone who has been holding onto their creative shirt or hat idea needs to go here ASAP!
Thank you, ladies, for sharing your favorite spots with us! I can’t wait to visit them all!!
Where would you like to see the next post in this series from?
+ For more travel inspiration, six female travelers shared their must-visit destination for 2020.
+ Looking to travel more consciously? Here are the first steps to take.
+ My Portland City Guide!