German Village offers delectable eats, unique shopping, phenomenal homes and more...

How do they love thee, German Village? Let your residents count the ways.

The folks who live in what they simply call The Village are almost cult-like about their passion for this charming neighborhood. And rightfully so.

Nestled on 233 acres a stone's throw from Downtown, The Village was settled in the early 1800s and proudly calls itself one of the preeminent historic districts in the country. It boasts brick streets, houses neatly lined along sidewalks and a cozy-chic neighborhood vibe with friendly shopkeepers and talented chefs.

It's a place where home aficionados buy quaint, rundown cottages-sometimes in sets of two, to combine and enlarge-and transform them into million-dollar gems. (And once a year, hundreds descend upon The Village to tour them in the popular Haus und Garten Tour.)

But you needn't reside there to enjoy The Village's bevy of gifts. It's a great place to spend a Saturday-and always sure to impress out-of-town guests. Here's a look at some highlights.

Shop

Helen Winnemore Craft (150 E. Kossuth St.) is packed with unique gifts from American artists, and it's run by uber-kind Sarah Kellenberger Harpham (above). They'll offer you tea when you arrive, so take them up on it and enjoy the fun jewelry, dishware and more. Then, move from whimsy to chic at Twig Garden & Home (495 S. Third St., at right). You'll feel a little bit cooler just for walking into this sophisticated home décor shop that doubles as a florist and provides flowers for the likes of Victoria's Secret and Nordstrom. Next, Caterina Ltd. (571 S. Third St.) offers an array of imported luxuries, including ceramics, linens and flatware. Owned by Catherine Adams (below)-a longtime attorney and wife of former Columbus Mayor Greg Lashutka-the shop sells, in her words, "cool stuff from Europe."

Sip & Read

Cup o' Joe (627 S. Third St.) and Starbucks (650 S. Third St.) offer comfy spots to meet up for a morning drink. Order your favorite blend, then walk over to The Book Loft (631 S. Third St., shown at left) to peruse its legendary 32 rooms of bargain books.

Snack

Pistacia Vera (541 S. Third St.) is a dessert boutique lauded for its delicacies by Spencer Budros (above)-and deservedly so. No Village trip is complete without a couple macarons (at left). Bakery Gingham (189 Thurman Ave.) will also delight those with a sweet tooth: Cupcakes, anyone?

Lunch

All personalities-and moods-can certainly find a satisfying mid-day meal here. Want to mingle with the city's movers and shakers? Head to Lindey's (169 E. Beck St., below left) and enjoy mimosas and gossip before your meal. (And while you're there, step across the street to Metroscap (177 E. Beck St.) to admire its black-and-white cityscape photos.) Looking for fun? Katzinger's (475 S. Third St., below right) offers gigantic, sharable-size sandwiches with all sorts of fixins. (Neal's Let's Make A Meal is an indulgent delight!) Looking to impress out-of-town guests? Take them to the famed Schmidt's (240 E. Kossuth St.)-the place keeping the German in German Village-for a Bahama Mama sausage (above) and giant cream puff. Want to picnic in the park? Visit Brown Bag Deli (898 Mohawk St.) to pick up sandwiches and homemade sides, walk down the block to Schiller Park, spread a blanket and enjoy.

Explore

The annual German Village Haus und Garten Tour features fabulous homes and gardens each year for guests to explore (above, at right and below). This year's tour is June 24, and tickets typically cost $15 in advance and $20 at the door. (True insiders relish the higher-ticket preview the night before, taking private tours of the homes, then gathering for intimate home dinners and a neighborhood party.) During holiday time, Village Lights (above right) is a fun way to get in the spirit. The Sunday night event (this year Dec. 2 from 6 to 10 p.m.) includes carolers, luminaries, hot cider, shopping and more (GermanVillage.com).

Dine

Foodies will find some of the city's most exciting food at G. Michael's Bistro (595 S. Third St., above). The ever-changing seasonal menu includes treats like Wild Alaskan Halibut on a risotto cake topped with crawfish remoulade, served in intimate digs by folks who know exactly what they're doing. Barcelona (263 E. Whittier St.) offers another nice dinner choice, with a swanky-chic atmosphere, Spanish-influenced dishes and a perfect patio.

Drink

There's no shortage of places to meet for drinks. Going casual? Try The Old Mohawk (819 Mohawk St.). Happy hour? Order house-made chips with your cocktails at Club 185 (185 E. Livingston Ave., above top). Patio nightcap? Lindey's (169 E. Beck St., above left) and Barcelona (263 E. Whittier St., above right) are good options. Wine for later? Stop in Hausfrau Haven (769 S. Third St.) for an extensive selection.

Play

Schiller Park (above) is the well-manicured heart of German Village. Want to stroll? Admire its colorful flowers (and the neighborhood dogs) by walking its 0.8-mile loop. Want to relax? Buy cheeses and bread from Katzinger's (475 S. Third St.) and enjoy a homemade cheese plate picnic. Love theater?
Visit in the summertime, when The Actors' Theatre of Columbus brings the Schiller Park Amphitheater to life with free weekend performances of Shakespeare and other classics
(TheActorsTheatre.org).

Burgers, anyone?

Burger lovers can relish a few tasty opportunities in The Village. The Thurman Café (183 Thurman Ave., shown at right) is famous for its giant, gooey burgers. The Village's Max & Erma's (739 S. Third St.) is the chain's original location. And at Easy Street Café (197 Thurman Ave.), you can get creative with a burger in gyro form.