Interested in architecture, design or good family fun?! Then Columbus, Indiana is the perfect location for your next midwest weekend getaway!
Suggestions and Tips for Planning a Trip to Columbus, Indiana!
I recently realized that I haven’t taken very many opportunities to travel locally in the midwest. I think we were so concentrated on traveling far, seeing something totally different than our surroundings, that we ignored the states closest to us. Not anywhere! It’s my mission to start traveling around the midwest and taking more opportunities to travel again, especially since road trips are more affordable and generally easier with a toddler. First up – Columbus, Indiana!
To be honest, I didn’t know much about Columbus before I started researching for this post. The coolest thing I learned?The American Institute of Architects ranks it 6th in the nation for architectural innovation and design behind Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. It features buildings and works by some of the most renowned artists and architects.
Columbus is a perfect midwest city for a weekend visit and my niece D and I great weekend away together, so I’m going to share my tips for planning your own trip including activities everyone will enjoy and the must stop places for food. Because a trip is incomplete without good food and we definitely had good food, including the best strawberry ice cream (and the pinkest!).
WHAT TO EAT IN COLUMBUS, INDIANA
HENRY SOCIAL CLUB
Henry Social Club feels like a restaurant that I would have found in Chicago. Located in downtown Columbus off their main street Washington, it’s sleek and inviting with an open kitchen concept; perfect for a special occasion or fun date night. The menu is filled with unique seasonal items that every foodie will love!
DONUTS N’ COFFEE
So we missed visiting this one ourselves because I originally missed that they were not open on Sundays, but I always need to find a good donut place and a good ice cream place when I’m visiting a new place. This is the donut place to try! They make their menu of donuts and pastries fresh every day, and I’m always a sucker for a long john, apple critter and pecan roll!
ZAHARAKOS OLD-FASHIONED ICE CREAM PARLOR
Speaking of ice cream … This 1900-style ice cream parlor and museum has been fully restored and definitely makes the must visit list in Columbus! We loved seeing the vintage soda fountain, Tiffany glass and tin ceiling while enjoying rich, creamy ice cream! Darby got chocolate ice cream while I ordered the pinkest and tastiest strawberry ice cream I’ve ever had.
Best part of the experience? Zaharakos make their waffle cones fresh in front of your eyes and their waffle recipe has a hint of some spice (maybe just the perfect blend of vanilla and cinnamon?) that made the 4 hour drive to Columbus worth it regardless of all our other fun. So yummy!
My niece tends to be very picky about food, so when we rolled up to ZwanzigZ Pizza and Brewing, I was totally expecting her to want a cheese pizza for herself. I was happily surprised when she instead wanted the Hawaiian BBQ pizza because not only was she trying something new but it ended up being amazing!
We loved the combination of ingredients on the Hawaiian BBQ Pizza (so don’t be surprised if an interpretation of it shows up on the blog soon), but we also both really loved the fresh crust of the pizza. It was soft and flavorful, and they make it fresh every day. We also ordered cheesy breadsticks that tasted far better than they should – we downed almost the whole order!
If Bryan had been traveling with me, he would have also need super excited with this restaurant because it’s also a local brewery!
HANGAR 5 RESTAURANT AT COLUMBUS AIRPORT
D was very skeptical when I told her we were going to have breakfast at the airport, but I’m pretty sure Hangar 5 Restaurant ended up being her favorite part. She liked watching the planes taxi in and out and watch them take off from a distance. It’s a pretty cool restaurant view and totally worth checking out! The food is a very classic diner breakfast.
This is another one we missed out on because we realized too late it wasn’t open on Sunday, but I have plans for ordering from their site. 240 Sweet makes gourmet marshmallows, including Birthday Cake marshmallows and Bourbon Chocolate Swirl! How can I not place an order?!
WHAT DO DO IN COLUMBUS, INDIANA
The Miller House and Garden showcases the work of leading 20th-century architects and designers Eero Saarinen (the winning architect of the St. Louis Arch), Alexander Girard, and Dan Kiley. In 2000, it became a National Historic Landmark, and, in 2011, was opened for public tours.
Even if you don’t care about architecture and design, you should still go see the Miller House. It’s an interesting step into the past as the house has been carefully preserved over the years to reflect it’s original creation. You get to see how and where a family in the 50s and 60s lived. As a Mad Men fan, I’m all about this! You also get to see gorgeous landscaping and gardens. It was incredibly lovely!
To see the Miller House, you have to book a tour through the Columbus Area Visitors Center (which also has some really cool art and gift shop!) Learn More About the Miller House
The Miller House is not all Columbus has to offer for architecture though. Remember how I said the American Institute of Architects ranks it 6th in the nation for architectural innovation and design? This architecture bus tour is an easy and enjoyable way to see a lot of the unique buildings and art in the city by someone who is very informative. The tour can tend to sell out in advance though, so they recommend booking at least two weeks in advance.
THE INN AT IRWIN GARDENS
The Inn at Irwin Gardens is a gorgeous bed and breakfast in Columbus, Indiana. The original house was built in 1864 and later expanded in 1890 and then 1910 to grow and accommodate 4 generations of family. The gardens, finished in 1913 and inspired by a garden in Pompeii, are gorgeous and make you feel like you are in a European garden. The Irwins opened their garden to visitors on the weekends without charge, and the Inn owners does the same on Sundays and Tuesdays between 2 and 6 p.m.
If I could have, this is definitely where I would have stayed! The Inn has changed very little in 100 years, using it’s original light fixtures, furniture, and even some bathroom fixtures. It would be like stepping into the past and sounds dreamy! But since we couldn’t, D and I loved exploring the gorgeous gardens! They do provide paid tours as well for those who want to hear all the details about the garden’s design.
KIDSCOMMONS AND COMMONS PLAYGROUND
If you are traveling to Columbus Indiana with kids, you will definitely want to stop off at kidscommons. It’s a fun children’s museum with lots of hands on activities, including a bubble room, a rock climbing wall, a house to explore with a giant toilet and more! It’s also a couple doors down from Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor which is a big win for the whole family!
Additionally, across Washington street from kidscommons is the Commons Playground. They have a giant indoor playground with a really cool climbing feature that’s completely free. It’s amazing!
Here is another great suggestion if you are traveling with kids. D and I didn’t head over to check this park out, but I think it’s too awesome not to mention. Freedom park is an all-inclusive playground – the first of its kind in the nation! The playground was designed to provide the freedom to play for those with special needs. Nearly all the pieces of equipment are accessible by wheelchair, including a cool wheelchair glider. It also features rock climbing areas, independent play stations, a climbing wed, and a toddler friendly area. Plus the surface if all rubber which I always prefer for Liam! It’s a park every kid can have fun at!
Ceraland seems to be the perfect outdoor activity hub and playground you could ask for. Honestly! It has an 11 acre lake for fishing, paddle boats, row boats and canoes, a large campground site as well as cabins, picnic areas, 2 basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, baseball and softball diamonds, Corn Hole sets (both permanent and portable) and horseshoe pits. Then it also has a go-kart track, mini-golf, driving range, trap and skeet, rifle and archery range, remote control airplane strop, and outdoor amphitheater. THEN there is an aquatic center with water slide and toddler play area and a large sports and fitness center. I seriously think this place has everything!