As the 14th largest city in the U.S., and recently named by the New York Times as one of "52 Places to Visit in 2019," Columbus, Ohio, carries with it an energy and excitement that travelers seem to pick up on as soon as they arrive. From the artsy enclave of the Short North and cobblestone roadways of German Village and the city's year-round sports scene, Columbus has something for groups of all sizes.
A Neighborhood for All
The 212.5-square-mile city is divvied up into seven distinct communities that are easily inter-accessible. Here are a few highlights from three of them.
A hub for many hotels, travelers to Columbus' Downtown will also come across cultural institutions like the Columbus Museum of Art and its eight indoor and outdoor meeting spaces. CMoA has event capacity for up to 450 guests.
The Scioto River and its trails and parklands separate Downtown from Franklinton. Here, meeting planners can take advantage of unique spaces such as the Columbus Idea Foundry -- a 60,000-square-foot venue filled with tool shops, assembly spaces, offices, classrooms and communal areas. Groups can rent out one of the Foundry's black-box-style rooms for memorable events and receptions.
COSI, a 320,000-square-foot science museum and learning center, is another offbeat offering. COSI hosted the 2019 ASAE Annual Meeting opening ceremonies earlier this year. Across the street from the science center is the new National Veterans Memorial and Museum, with seven different meeting spaces and buyout potential for up to 2,000 guests.
The Short North
Directly north of the Greater Columbus Convention Center is the fast-paced Short North Arts District. Brimming with restaurants, rooftop spaces, shopping, nightlife and entertainment, the neighborhood stretches a mile and a half along High Street from Nationwide Boulevard to King Avenue.
The district features some of the city's most recognizable public art. The Short North Gothic mural, painted on the outer wall of the locally based Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, embodies the spirit of the neighborhood. The nearby Mona Lisa mural is another important symbol of the area, and is known for its sideways perspective. The Short North Mural Series acknowledges the arts' temporary occupation on otherwise blank brick walls.
Originally built by German settlers in the mid-1800s, German Village features restored brick houses, shops, streets and sidewalks full of historic flare. If architecture is high on your group's list, explore Beck, Mohawk and Deshler streets. At the neighborhood's southern end, Schiller Park offers trails, fountains and an amphitheater that hosts Shakespeare in the Park performances on summer weekends.
For more information on the above neighborhoods, as well as the Arena District, Clintonville, Easton and Near East Side, visit the Experience Columbus website.
Hotels on the Rise
The July debut of the Canopy by Hilton Columbus Downtown Short North (pictured above) added 167 guest rooms and 1,850 square feet of meeting space to the walkable convention district's profile, and the just-opened Graduate Columbus tacked another 171 rooms and 4,000 square feet of meeting space onto that.
The 532-room Hilton Columbus Downtown has broken ground on a new tower that, when complete, will make the convention property the largest hotel in Ohio. The 463-room tower, which will add 47,000 square feet of meeting space to the existing facility, is slated to debut in 2022. At that point, the Hilton will offer 1,000 rooms (some current rooms will be reconfigured) and 79,000 square feet of meeting space in total -- as well as direct access to the Greater Columbus Convention Center, which exists already in the form of an enclosed skybridge.
Even More Venues
Opening in 2020, The Fives will be the largest event venue in downtown Columbus. Also home to the White Castle headquarters, The Fives will feature accommodations for up to 400 seated guests, 750 reception-style attendees and an outdoor rooftop space for up to 300.
A Foodie's Fantasy
Those looking to take in the expanse of the city can enjoy drinks and small plates at Lincoln Social, the city's highest rooftop bar, offering skyline views, Instagrammable walls and private event space for up to 175 people.
The Budd Dairy Food Hall, the latest outpost of the Cameron Mitchell Restaurants brand, is expected to open early 2020 in the city's Italian Village. The space includes multiple private dining options, a test kitchen space for hands-on cooking demonstrations, a live-performance stage, multiple bars, interactive games and a rooftop deck.
Del Mar Social Kitchen offers farm-to-table dining and highlights menu items from the sea, garden and farm. Del Mar offers a semi-private dining space for groups of up to 24. A full buyout is available for groups of up to 180.