If you only have one day in Columbus, you should definitely head down to the Short North Arts District, the city’s hippest urban neighbourhood. With many of Columbus’ top restaurants and its biggest collection of art galleries, it’s easy to spend several days here.
Connecting downtown Columbus with The Ohio State University campus, the Short North stretches 16 blocks along High Street. It’s easy to find the district – just look for the lighted aches spanning High Street.
If you can, time your visit to coincide with the Gallery Hop, held the first Saturday night of the month. All of the galleries and boutiques stay open late and entertainers line the street, which makes for a great night out, as well as the perfect introduction to the local area.
Where to see great art
You don’t have to go into a gallery to see art in the Short North. Several murals are painted outside on buildings. See the Short North’s version of Mona Lisa (her head is sideways) on north Pearl St., and American Gothic (the woman’s head is upside down) on Lincoln St.
More than 17 galleries are scattered throughout the district. At the northern-most end is pm gallery, which showcases glass art, pottery and jewellery. Lindsay Gallery specialises in folk art, while Sherrie Gallerie has museum-calibre glass and ceramic art, along with artistic jewellery you won’t be able to find anywhere else. Artist-owned Studios on High features the work of local artists, creating everything from watercolours and oil paintings to woven clothing and whimsical clay animal sculptures.
The newest addition is the Pizzuti Collection. The contemporary art museum showcases pieces from one of the top modern art collectors in the world, Columbus resident Ron Pizzuti. Frank Stella and Ai Weiwei are among the big-name artists in the collection.
There’s even an impressive art collection in the ultra-modern Hilton Columbus. Works by local artists can be found throughout the hotel – even on the bedroom ceilings.
Where to shop
There’s more to the Short North than art – it’s also known for its impressive array of independent boutiques. Can’t-miss stops for women’s clothes are Ladybird, Rowe and Substance, where you can create one-of-a-kind clothing with the help of their designer. Head to Mukha for spa treatments and custom-made makeup.
Where to eat
Many of Columbus’ top restaurants can be found in the Short North. One of the area’s original restaurants, Rigsby’s Kitchen, is still making the city’s “Best of” lists after over 20 years. Among the best: Northstar Café for locally sourced foods and Basi Italia, for beautiful Italian and Mediterranean dishes. Local restaurateur Cameron Mitchell also has three restaurants in the Short North, including his latest, The Pearl.
Treat yourself by savouring a scoop or two of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, which lives up to its name with flavours like Cherry Lambic. And for something a little different, choose from dozens of ethnic eateries at the North Market.
Where to go at night
See professional actors at one of the Short North Stage‘s weekly shows, or hit the trendy bars on Park Street, the classy Eleven or the LGBT-friendly dance club Axis. Sample local microbrewery North High Brewing and taste locally made spirits at Brothers Drake, including their 15-plus varieties of mead.
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Written by Claudia Plumley