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How to Spend a Day in Downtown Columbus

Parks and Event Venues

November 26, 2019


If you’re spending time in downtown Columbus, be sure to visit some of the amazing parks and event venues.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day in the park or a night out on the town, there’s no better place than downtown Columbus.

The city’s downtown has undergone a drastic transformation and today is home to an incredible amount of entertainment options, both indoor and outdoor. So take in a live show at one of the Theater District’s four historic venues, catch a game at the ballpark or arena, or simply enjoy the outdoors.

Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular parks and venues:

Theaters

Palace Theatre: The Palace Theatre was built in 1926 at the base of the stunning LeVeque Tower. Drawing inspiration from France’s Palais de Versailles, the 2,827-seat theater features a large chandelier, grand staircase, fountain, and ornate designs. It is owned and operated by the nonprofit Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA).

Ohio Theatre: The 2,791-seat Ohio Theatre, known as the Official Theatre of the State of Ohio, opened in 1928 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977. The beautiful Spanish-Baroque theater is owned and operated by CAPA, which was originally formed to save it in 1969.

Courtesy Columbus Metropolitan Library

Southern Theatre: The theater opened in 1896, making it the oldest surviving theater in Central Ohio. In addition to concerts and performances organized by CAPA, the Southern Theatre is home to Opera Columbus, the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, Chamber Music Columbus, and the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra.

Lincoln Theatre: This historic performing arts and education center is a landmark in African-American and jazz history. Opened in 1928, the theater made the King-Lincoln District one of the country’s most popular venues for live jazz from the 1930s to the 1960s.

EXPRESS LIVE!: Said to be the first indoor-and-outdoor concert venue in the U.S., EXPRESS LIVE! features a reversible stage, accommodating 2,200 guests for indoor events and 5,200 guests for outdoor events.

The Bluestone: This beautiful 19th-century church was converted into a venue for country concerts, corporate events, weddings, and private parties. The cathedral ceilings and soaring stained glass windows make for a truly unique experience.

Columbus Children’s Theatre: This professional theater that has been entertaining families for more than 50 years.

The Columbus Athenaeum: The beautifully restored venue has a ballroom, theaters, and meeting rooms for weddings, parties, business seminars, theatrical productions, and more.

Juniper: This rooftop event venue is open to the public Tuesday through Friday evenings, and for Sunday brunch. Perched atop the iconic Smith Bros. building, Juniper is uniquely designed as a 1920s gin bar, with a stunning downtown panorama and retractable glass rooftop.

Arts and Culture

Columbus Museum of Art: The newly expanded museum houses a wonderful collection of late 19th and early 20th-century American and European modern art and serves as a beautiful event venue.

COSI: This nationally renowned science center features more than 300 interactive exhibits across a massive 320,000-square-foot facility. COSI inspires interest in science, technology, engineering, and math topics, engaging more than 1 million people annually through onsite, offsite, and online experiences.

National Veterans Memorial and Museum: The country’s only museum dedicated to honoring all those who have served in the military, the 53,000 square-foot cultural institution opened in October 2018. Outside the museum is a 2.5 acre Memorial Grove, designed for contemplation and reflection. NVMM is the catalyst of a budding new cultural district, the 56-acre Scioto Peninsula, that will be one of Downtown Columbus’ next great neighborhoods.

Public Parks

John F. Wolfe Columbus Commons Park: Surrounded by the downtown skyline, this public green space has hosted hundreds of events annually since opening in 2011. The Columbus Commons replaced the forlorn City Center Mall and has catalyzed about $400 million in private development in the burgeoning River South neighborhood.

Scioto Mile: The 175-acre urban oasis stretches along the Scioto River waterfront from the Arena District to the Whittier Peninsula. The Scioto Mile and its network of parks came about thanks to the Scioto Greenways project, completed in 2015 and forming 33 acres of new parkland, 1.5 miles of multi-use trails, and river access points. Parks along the trail include:

Topiary Park: This one-of-a-kind park uses plant life to imitate Georges Seurat’s iconic painting, A Sunday Afternoon of the Isle of La Grande Jatte. The park is free and open year-round from dawn to dusk, and the gift store and visitor center is open during summer months on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The park land dates to the early 19th century when it served as a campus for a neighboring Deaf School.

Sports

Nationwide Arena: Built on the site of the historic Ohio State Penitentiary, Nationwide Arena is the centerpiece of downtown’s Arena District neighborhood. The arena accommodates 18,500 for hockey, 19,500 for basketball, and up to 20,000 for concerts.

Huntington Park: Opened in 2009 in the downtown’s Arena District neighborhood, the award-winning ballpark is home to the Cleveland Indians AAA-affiliate Columbus Clippers. The beautifully designed Huntington Park accommodates up to 10,100 — and there’s not a bad seat in the house.

Clearly there’s endless ways to spend a day downtown, so get out there and start exploring!

And be sure to read our articles on Dining and Drinking and the evolution of downtown Columbus to learn even more.

Learn more about Downtown Columbus. If you’re excited by all that’s happening downtown, consider calling the neighborhood home. Check out all of the properties offering Rhove, where you can make money on rent.