Make A Plan

experience columbus 001Linda Burton posting from Columbus, Ohio – “Plan Your Visit” is a category unto itself when you travel. It’s also wise advice for living on this earth. “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up somewhere else,” is a sage bit of advice I’ve passed along to my grandkids over the years. That doesn’t mean you don’t adapt, and change plans as necessary (or desirable); it just means you have a plan. Like a Journey to 50 capital cities! Today I’m ready to make a plan for my visit in Columbus, my 39th capital city. I always seek advice from the locals – residents, and those whose task it is to promote the city, such as the visitor’s bureau; here in Columbus they go by the moniker “Experience Columbus,” which, to me, is good advice for residents as well as visitors. I have in hand the Official Visitors Guide, complete with maps, 13 german restand Columbus City Guide (from Columbus Monthly), so I’m going to read all about it, and make my plan. Neighborhoods and tours, historical sites and adventuring, eating and events – those are the basics. I see there are some interesting neighborhoods, such as Short North (so named because it is north of downtown, but short of the OSU campus); the Arena District (sports, natch); German Village (historic, south of downtown); Victorian Village/Italian Village (historic, north of downtown); Olde Towne (vintage Columbus); and of course, Downtown, home of the Statehouse, the Museum of Art, and COSI (Center of Science and Industry), a 320,000-square-foot facility that recently was named America’s #1 science center. America’s #1 science center and America’s #1 zoo in one town? I settled in to read more. Jack Hanna is Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, I read. Well then, no wonder it is great!

13 columbus zoo signWhen Jack Hanna took over as director of the Columbus Zoo in 1978, the zoo had an annual budget of $600,000. Today’s annual budget is $61 million, and last year nearly 2 million people came for a visit. Jack began to make his zoo famous in the 1980s when he started appearing on national TV shows like Letterman and Good Morning America with his lovable personality and unusual animals; today his numerous books and award-winning TV programs like Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures and Into The Wild continue to promote the zoo, and a better understanding of the world of animals. The zoo is big on conservation and education programs, and offers countless opportunities for seeing animals in as natural a habitat as possible with Asia Quest, Australia and the Islands, The African Forest, and the animals of North America, from brown bears to polar bears to barnyard animals like goats and chickens. And did I mention it’s an aquarium too?

cosiCOSI is a “center of science,” rather than a standalone science center; it has partnerships with WOSU@COSI, the only working television station in a science center; the Ohio State University (OSU) Labs in Life, working research laboratories created through a partnership with The Ohio State University and staffed by OSU researchers; Battelle’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Innovation Network, in partnership with one of the world’s leading research institutions; the Columbus Historical Society; and the STEM-based Metro High School, among others. Since its opening in 1964, COSI has engaged with over 30 million people from all 50 states and around the world, both on-site and through its award-winning outreach programs. The John Glenn Theater is home to Extreme Screen, with 12,000 watts of sound and award-winning films; in Space, a mockup of the International Space Station teaches about life “in orbit;” or you can watch live NASA TV.

13 cmoaThe Columbus Museum of Art started out in 1878 as the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, and was the first art museum to register its charter with the state of Ohio. Its original building was the Sessions Mansion, replaced in 1931 by the current building. The museum historically focused on European and American art, but in recent years has branched into contemporary exhibits; today see works by Picasso, Cézanne, Boucher, Ingres, Degas, Matisse, Monet, Edward Hopper, and Norman Rockwell; the photography collection includes works by Berenice Abbott and Eugène Atget. The museum has the largest public collection of woodcarvings by Columbus folk artist Elijah Pierce, and the world’s largest repository of paintings and lithographs by Columbus native George Bellows. Major expansion began in 2007; there is an outdoor sculpture gallery and “Eye Spy: Adventures in Art”, an interactive exhibit tailored for children.

13 nicklausA few more museums catch my eye:

Jack Nicklaus Museum spans the history of golf; Nicklaus is a Columbus native and widely regarded as the most accomplished golfer of all time,  Kelton House is a Victorian townhouse that traces the history of the Kelton 13 thurber timefamily and urban life and arts in Columbus during the 19th century; beware, it’s rumored to be haunted,  Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum covers the 75-year history of motorcycles,  Ohio Village is a recreation of a Civil War-era Ohio town,  Thurber House is a living house museum in the restored home of James Thurber (1894-1961), one of the most popular humorists of his time,

13 statehouseAnd of course the Ohio Statehouse is at the top of my list; it is open every day of the week, hooray! They have self-guided tours, docent-led tours, school tours, IPod Podcast tours, monument cell phone audio tours, and “Miss Emma” tours. Miss Emma Jones was a socialite who lived on Capitol Square across from the Statehouse from 1850 to 1938. She and her family often provided gracious hospitality in her home and at her table, offering hearty food for the leadership of the Ohio House and Senate, legislators from all corners of Ohio, and officers of the Union Army during the Civil War. The Miss Emma tours of today offer a chance to sit at “Miss Emma’s Table” and 13 miss emma tourenjoy a Victorian lunch or supper of regional cooking served boarding-house style in the Capitol Café. After the meal, choose from two tours – the Classic Tour gives a general overview of the history, art and architecture of the buildings on Capitol Square, and focuses on the rotunda, atrium, and chambers of the Statehouse which are still in use today. The Ohio Portals of History Tour brings history to life as visitors meet first-person interpreters who portray prominent figures from Ohio’s history – the historical actors talk about their experiences in the buildings. Packages are available for groups of 10-55 and reservations must be made 90 days in advance, I read.

Rats – reservations must be made 90 days in advance! I would have so loved a Miss Emma tour, but that’s what happens when you don’t look far enough ahead, and make a plan.

Experience Columbus @

Columbus City Guide @