Reviews & Comments
Columbus, OHJust look past the surface and you'll find a gem
I was born in Columbus and grew up in Hilliard. By the time I went to college, I applied only to out of state schools because I wanted adventure and had only known the suburbs, which I would argue is as boring as it gets. I couldn't afford out of state costs, and I'm so glad, because I ended up at Ohio State, which has given me such a great appreciation for this city that I never had growing up.
I've traveled and lived in different places abroad and around the country (all with very different climates than Ohio). While I love those places and long to be there again for their own charm, I've realized I couldn't imagine calling anywhere but Columbus home, and I'm okay with that.
We have all four seasons, yes it gets hot and humid in summer and frustratingly cold and gray in the winter, but we have beautiful fall foliage and spring blooms, and most importantly, we get big change every few months, which really helps you appreciate all the seasons. It's easy to forget all of the beautiful days that we have scattered about the year, but we do have them!
The cost of living is generally good here. I live between campus and Clintonville (Old North Columbus?) as a renter, and the costs are rising rapidly here in the more central parts of town, which makes me sad, but there are lots of affordable homes not far at all. The north side of Columbus has great diversity and incredible food shops and restaurants. Some good ones that come to mind include El Salvadoran, Tibetan, Jamaican, Ethiopian, and Vietnamese hole-in-the walls that have some of the most incredible food in Columbus! We have our fair amount of more expensive foody places in the Short North, German Village, Grandview, etc. if that's the kind of thing you're more interested in. Personally, I like the less crowded hidden gems scattered about the city.
I think Columbus offers lots of options all the time and that's great. Sure, we're not a big city kind of city, but as far as I've experienced, we have options available to us (we're not monopolized by one internet company, which keeps prices competitive, for example) and everything we need is never too far away. We're the state capitol so a lot of Ohio-related places tend to be nearby. There are tons of hospitals, so you don't have to worry about safety! Also the library system rocks since they're all networked together and you can get what you need from your local library, even if it's somewhere else at the time. They do a lot of good programming for kids too!
We may be mostly pretty flat, but we have incredible metro-parks systems. Go to Highbanks or Slate Run just outside of 270 on either side of town for a decent hilly hike. If you need something more challenging, there are plenty of state parts within an hour drive with good hikes. There are lots of hidden historic gems all over. Go see the earthworks recently discovered at Blacklick metro park, or the mounds and bison at Batelle Darby Creek (Highbanks has a few too!). The metroparks have all sorts of family-friendly programming year round, free and worth checking out. The history of central Ohio is rich and fascinating and goes back thousands of years. If you're in to that kind of thing, it's everywhere if you're willing to seek it out! Check out the Ohio History Center and their network of sites around the state. I probably get a little defensive when people say the midwest and Ohio specifically doesn't have any interesting culture or history because we do, it's just not always what people are expecting. Did you know that Ohio sites are next up as the US nominees for World Heritage status? Not Columbus, but nearby in Newark, Chillicothe, and a few others, go check them out and learn about how fascinating and significant this region was thousands of years ago! Sorry, that was a rant-- can you tell I like history?
As far as more modern culture, we have some other museums and the like to visit like the art museum (free on Sundays), COSI, the zoo, Franklin Park Conservatory, Wexner Center for the Arts to name a few. If you'd rather be more interactive, take classes at the Cultural Arts center (they offer new classes every 8 weeks, plus they have a free gallery you can visit in the lobby), or the Idea Foundry. Take ASL classes at the deaf services center for only 30 bucks. Our bike path systems are nice, and a lot of the roads have bike lanes. I ride downtown on Summit and 4th all the time and feel very safe in the lanes.
All sorts of summer camps are available for kids through the city, or the Audubon center for example. You can go to talks at OSU. Want to take classes but can't pay too much money, Columbus State is a great resource.
Go to the number of farmers markets around town, the arts fest, com fest, the folk fest, all the other free music and craft fests, the Ohioana book fest. Check out events at places like Wild Goose creative (art workshops, talks, comedy and improv shows). We have lots of great small venues for shows like Ace of Cups or Rumba Cafe or Bourbon Street. Rambling House is one of the best bars/venues for community and music I've ever been to (hope you like bluegrass and fresh-made sodas like sarsaparilla! Wanna learn or get better at an instrument, join the Old Time Jam one night). We have larger venues that bring in big bands/artists too. Honestly most of the bands I listen to that tour make a stop here, so I never have to travel to see good music. We also have a great symphony and local group performances (musicals, plays, dance, etc.) that are worth checking out! The Commons downtown will often have free shows and events.
If you like sports I'm not even gonna talk about OSU because you probably get it (not a huge fan personally) but our city loooves our Bluejackets, our minor league baseball team turns out some impressive numbers, and best for last, we probably just saved the Crew! I think that says something nice about our community, we've got people who have a lot of energy and who won't give up and will speak up when we care.
We may not make national headlines, but we do have a decent amount of activism here too, and people who get involved in that are often the most inclusive and welcoming people, at least in my experience. It's great to have a city where people can come together and make you feel like you're a part of that community, a community that believes in good causes and is willing to speak up about them. There are tons of opportunities to volunteer and otherwise get involved if nearly any area that you're interested in.
I see a lot of reviews about all the fat people and Olive Gardens. I honestly don't even know where one is around here. Also, I'm not into hating on people just for being fat, I really don't get that, but if fitness culture is something you're looking for, trust me, it's all over. There are parks, trails, gyms, crossfit gyms and yoga studios (among others) everywhere. There are all sorts of children and adult sports leagues that take it very seriously (soccer and lacrosse comes to mind here), and those that don't as much (beer-league softball and kickball). I live in an area that is very walkable and that's certainly intentional on my part, but it is possible to find an affordable spot where you don't have to drive your car to get around if you don't want to. Our public transit isn't amazing, but depending on where you live, it does seem to be getting better at least. I get that some of the outer parts aren't as walkable, but even when I was still living in Hilliard I would ride my bike to get around all the time and never had problems with cars on the road.
I guess I'm probably biased because I grew up here (but I'll remind you I hated it till about 18, I'm 31 now). I think more than anything I'm defensive because I read a bunch of posts talking about how there's no culture and the people suck and there's nothing to do. I get it, I used to feel that way too. But then I actually got up and dug a little deeper and realized that all the things I wanted from the place I lived do exist in this city (and there's probably more!) I just didn't know about it because I couldn't see past my brooding. We have a nice little city here with some of the nicest people I've ever met. Maybe it's not what other people want out their town, but I have to say that I've come to love it.