Offbeat Places in Columbus


When one thinks of Columbus, Ohio, images of a vibrant city with a burgeoning arts scene, prestigious universities, and a strong sports culture often come to mind. However, beyond the well-known attractions lies a treasure trove of offbeat and unconventional places waiting to be explored. These hidden gems offer a unique glimpse into the artistic, historical, culinary, and natural facets of the city. Let’s dive into the offbeat side of Columbus and uncover its lesser-known yet captivating attractions.

Offbeat Art and Culture

The Pizzuti Collection

The Pizzuti Collection, located in the Short North Arts District, is a haven for contemporary art enthusiasts. This privately owned museum boasts an impressive collection of contemporary art from around the world. The exhibits here are carefully curated and often push the boundaries of traditional art, making it a perfect spot to experience the unconventional in the heart of Columbus.

934 Gallery

Tucked away in the Milo-Grogan neighborhood, 934 Gallery is a hidden gem for local artists and art enthusiasts alike. This non-profit art space is dedicated to showcasing emerging artists and fostering creativity within the community. With ever-changing exhibits and events, 934 Gallery promises a unique and offbeat art experience.

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

For lovers of cartoons and comics, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is a true delight. Situated on the Ohio State University campus, this museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of cartoons and comic strips. From vintage comics to contemporary cartoons, this museum offers a fascinating look at the art of visual storytelling.

Quirky Historical and Architectural Sites

The Kelton House Museum and Garden

Stepping into the Kelton House is like stepping back in time. This historic landmark in the East Town Street Historic District showcases the Victorian era through guided tours. The museum highlights the struggles and triumphs of a 19th-century family, giving visitors a glimpse into Columbus’ rich history.

The Topiary Park

Inspired by Georges Seurat’s famous painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” the Topiary Park in downtown Columbus is a living art installation. The park features carefully sculpted shrubs that mimic the characters and elements of the painting, offering a whimsical and artistic outdoor experience.

The Thurber House

Fans of humorist James Thurber will appreciate a visit to the Thurber House, once the residence of the renowned writer. The house is now a literary center that hosts various events and writing programs, keeping Thurber’s legacy alive and inspiring future generations of writers.

Unusual Dining and Culinary Experiences

The Book Loft of German Village

In the heart of German Village lies The Book Loft, a maze-like bookstore with 32 rooms packed with books. What makes this place even more charming is the attached restaurant, where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal surrounded by walls lined with literary wonders.

The North Market

While markets are common, the North Market offers a diverse culinary experience like no other. From international cuisines to unique local delicacies, this market is a food lover’s paradise. Exploring the array of flavors and cultural dishes here is an offbeat dining adventure worth savoring.

Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant

Experience a taste of German culture at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant. This iconic eatery is known for its hearty sausages and traditional German fare. The lively atmosphere and delicious food make it a favorite among locals and visitors seeking an offbeat dining experience.

Nature and Outdoor Adventures

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Escape the urban hustle and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature at the Franklin Park Conservatory. This haven of greenery features stunning botanical gardens, art installations, and seasonal exhibits, providing a peaceful and offbeat retreat within the city.

The Scioto Audubon Metro Park

For outdoor enthusiasts seeking an offbeat adventure, the Scioto Audubon Metro Park offers a unique urban escape. The park boasts a climbing wall, a dog park, and stunning views of the downtown Columbus skyline, providing an unconventional outdoor experience in the heart of the city.

Grange Insurance Audubon Center

Birdwatching enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. Nestled along the Scioto River, this center offers birdwatching opportunities and educational programs, allowing visitors to connect with nature and explore Columbus’ avian diversity.

Hidden Retail and Shopping Gems

The Candle Lab

Indulge your senses and create a unique souvenir at The Candle Lab. This charming shop allows you to customize your own candle by choosing your preferred scents and colors. It’s a delightful and offbeat shopping experience, perfect for taking home a piece of Columbus.

Grandview Mercantile

Antique lovers will find a treasure trove at Grandview Mercantile. This antique store is a maze of vintage furniture, art, and collectibles from different eras. Exploring the aisles is like stepping into a time machine, making it an offbeat shopping adventure for history enthusiasts.

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