From a spontaneous workout to a pre-date pick-me-up, here are our picks for the best things to do in Columbus.
Coveted Pool Party Invitation
Developer Brett Kaufman relishes turning an overlooked plot of land into high-end real estate. Take 600 Goodale, which opened in mid-2013 to turned heads. The 174-unit apartment complex sits adjacent to a Route 315 off-ramp on the outskirts of the Arena District. "When we cleared the site and got up in the air, we realized quickly there are some pretty views," Kaufman says. But people don't really live there for the views. The effortlessly hip aesthetic-a boutique-hotel-esque lounge, a minimalist meeting space, cabana beds near the pool-is what's been attracting new residents. "The amenities are great," Kaufman adds. "I love the way this place has turned out-it's electric, which is a big thing for us."
Bar Crawl Vehicle
Don't let the keg on the yellow-hued Cycle Tavern fool you-open-container laws are still in effect, and you can't drink on the 16-seater. "The bike was built in the Netherlands; that's where the keg comes from," says Dusty Wymer, who runs the biz-the first bicycle bar in Columbus-with wife Dana. It's still an awesome bar-hopping mechanism, though. "We saw this concept in Minneapolis and thought it would be great in Columbus," Wymer adds. It's akin to riding in a limo, with one big difference: You're out in the open where everyone can see you. "It's an eye-catcher. People wave; cars honk," Wymer says. "Everyone gets a kick out of it."
A hundred or more spandex-clad, yoga-mat-towing, barefoot people gathered in a park or in the middle of a street can only mean one thing: It's pop-up yoga time. Since last summer, POGA Columbus has taken to Facebook to organize free monthly gatherings of enlightened yogis and novices alike. Never done a downward-facing dog before? Don't sweat it! These hour-long, do-what-you-can group sessions are designed to be fun-but you'll get a great workout if you keep up with the instructor. Held in a new Downtown neighborhood location each time, they're a welcome change of pace for traditional gym-goers-nothing beats a sun salutation or savasana under the open sky.
Place to Run Hills
What's a girl got to do for a good hilly run in this town? Answer: Head north to Highbanks Metro Park. This pleasantly secluded, densely wooded park is an oasis of uphill respite in Columbus' desert of flat horizons as far as the eye can see. With 11 miles of winding hiking trails where the steep hills just keep coming, the rugged terrain delivers that oh-so-good burn every incline-loving runner craves. Follow the Overlook trail up, up, up to the top of the 100-foot shale bluff that towers above the Olentangy River to truly appreciate your elevated workout. It's all downhill from there.
It's nearly impossible not to gasp while watching the fit, super-flexible men and women in Movement Activities' aerial dance class twirl and flip and soar on suspended trapezes in a small studio space at 400 West Rich. Just when you think they'll slip from the bar, they catch themselves with their hands, their bent knees or their feet. Thanks to owner Mikey Thomas' beginner classes, you, too, can participate in this strenuous workout that's deftly disguised as circus practice. Don't expect to fly the through air with the greatest of ease on your first day, though. First, you'll build strength, stability-and, of course, courage.
Way to Explore the Local Beer Scene
Why crawl when you can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride? Since September, local foodies Jim Ellison and Bethia Woolf have been hauling thirsty Columbusites through the city's burgeoning craft beer scene via Columbus Brew Adventures. Tours are offered by neighborhood, and tickets run $55 to $65 per person. That gets you behind-the-scenes access at breweries on your route, where you'll sample three to five beers and talk trade secrets with the brewers themselves. (Pro tip: The Brew Adventures van comes cooler-equipped, so don't hesitate to grab a take-home growler from your favorite stop.)
Encounter with a Columbus Institution
Columbus radio and entertainment legend Fritz the Night Owl, who turns 80 later this year, shows no signs of slowing down. Where there's a creepy, crawly, mysterious movie, he's probably nearby. Find Fritz at Studio 35 once a month, doing his thing hosting a movie night (he presents "Alien" on July 19). "He'll sign autographs and take pictures with people," says Studio 35 co-owner Eric Brembeck. During intermission, the theater screens movie clips in which Fritz has been added in the spirit of his wonderfully wacky "Night Owl Theatre," which he hosted for 17 years on 10TV.
At the Blowout Bar on Grandview Avenue, stylists focus on one thing: perfecting the art of the blow dry. Every appointment starts with a shampoo and complimentary head massage. Then take a seat at the white marble and distressed wood bar and enjoy a glass of Champagne (also complimentary) while your stylist works her magic. In about 30 to 45 minutes, your hair will be transformed from frizzy to straight or from flat to voluminous. The service has proven so popular that sisters and co-owners Kristin and Kailen Kouvas (who both admit they're terrible at styling their own hair) have already signed a lease for a second location in Dublin.
There's no such thing as a free lunch, but now there is a free ride in Columbus, thanks to COTA's new Downtown circulator. Called Cbus, the circulator runs along High and Front streets from the Short North to the Brewery District seven days a week. Depending on the day and time, buses arrive every 10 to 15 minutes at the route's 29 stops. Whether you're looking for an easier way to commute or you want to enjoy the city's nightlife (the bus runs until midnight Friday and Saturday), you can ride the Cbus free of charge at least through December, when COTA will re-evaluate the cost of the program.