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Ohio's capital city, Columbus, an exciting blend of cultural attractions, arts and history museums, lively evening activity and old architecture, appeals to a wide range of visitors.
Columbus is home to the enormous Ohio State University, which injects the city with the vibrancy of student life. The Wexner Centre for the Arts, which forms part of the university, boasts a fabulous collection of modern art. Another worthwhile museum is the Columbus Museum of Modern Art, where visitors can enjoy a superb series of Impressionist and post-Impressionist works and a unique sculpture garden.
Columbus has a massive, world-famous zoo where you can see over 600 species of wildlife in the 162-hectare area. The zoo is known for the success of its breeding program, probably enhanced by the wonderfully maintained environment and the expansiveness of its grounds. A highlight at the zoo is the spectacular 100,000 gallon tropical aquarium and coral reef.
The centre of the city is dotted with statues of historical figures, particularly that of its namesake, Christopher Columbus. A replica of the Santa Maria, the ship in which Columbus travelled to America, is docked downtown on the Scioto River. The Ohio Statehouse, otherwise known as the 'Hat Box Capitol' because of its domed roof, is one of the oldest capitol buildings in the US that continues to be utilised today. It is a fantastic example of historic architecture, designed in the Greek Revival style.
At Ohio Village, visitors can see how locals lived in the mid-19th century. This re-creation is complete with costumed 'villagers', who demonstrate daily activities, crafts and life as it was during the American Civil War.
The picturesque German Village, south of the city centre, is an excellent place for a leisurely stroll through the tree-lined streets and past red-brick buildings, old iron fences, and German restaurants and inns. Nearby is the fashionable area of Short North, with its collection of bars, coffee shops, nightclubs, boutiques and art galleries creating a stylish but bohemian atmosphere.
The major suburbs in Columbus are: Dublin, Gahanna, Grove City, Groveport, Hillard, New Albany, Pickerington, Powell, Whitehall and Upper Arlington.
Columbus' central location in the state of Ohio means that it is surrounded by numerous attractions, many of which are within easy driving distance of the city.
The town of Granville, situated approximately 50kms northeast of Columbus, is known for its beautiful 19th century buildings and notable museums. It also has a fine selection of cosy inns and variety of restaurants, and is a lovely place for a night's stopover or a day's excursion.
Lancaster, in Fairfield county, is the birthplace of William Tecumseh Sherman, famous for his key role in the ending of the Civil War. The house in which he was born dates back to 1811, and is one of the town's major tourist attractions. About 25kms north of Lancaster, Buckeye Lake and Buckeye State Park provide wonderful opportunities for recreation in a beautiful setting.
There are some intriguing cave systems in the region around Columbus, including the Ohio Caverns, which are the state's largest, and filled with crystal-white stalactite and stalagmite formations. The Zane Caverns, eight kilometres east of Bellefontaine, are permeated with exquisite pearl-like deposits.
Flint Ridge State Memorial and Museum in Brownsville is built over a flint pit that was once used by the Hopewell Native Americans, and houses displays demonstrating the process by which their weapons were made. In Newark, Moundbuilders State Memorial consists of colossal circular earthworks, created over 2,000 years ago by the Hopewell Indians. The onsite Moundbuilders Museum is the first museum in America that is entirely devoted to prehistoric Native American art.
Mad River Mountain ski area is located about 35 minutes by car to the northwest of Columbus, and is a destination ski and snowboard fanatics won’t want to miss. It encompasses 49 hectares of skiing terrain, with 17 different trails to choose from.
Port Columbus International Airport is situated approximately 15 minutes driving time east of Columbus city centre. A large number of airlines serve Port Columbus, with 350 arrivals and departures daily serving 35 destinations non-stop, and hundreds of additional cities on a direct or connecting basis.
Taxis and shuttle services provide transport into town, with taxis charging about US$15 for a one-way trip. Shuttle buses are a more affordable way of reaching Columbus central, though not as convenient. They leave from outside the airport building every 30 minutes.
Columbus is easily reached by car via I-70 and I-71, which cut across the city. I-270 loops around the city, and is a good alternative route to use when driving to outlying areas in order to avoid traffic congestion. It is useful to have a car while staying in the city as the public transport is unimpressive.
Greyhound buses serve destinations within the state and nationwide, providing an extensive and efficient network that connects almost every town and city in the US.