Modern Sleigh Ride

Modern Sleigh Ride

When inclement weather strikes, leave driving to the pros, thanks to COTA's policy on snow emergencies. Anytime the Franklin County Sheriff's Office declares a Level 2 or Level 3 snow emergency, COTA's buses drop their fares to the low, low price of free. The consolidation of commuter traffic makes it easier for road crews to clear the streets. The free fare stays in effect throughout the entire day.

Rip-off Protection

If you've ever nervously scoped out every stranger at a Starbucks, hoping no one's about to rob you as you wait to buy your latest Craigslist find, the Columbus Division of Police has a solution: Internet Purchase Exchange Zones at police substations throughout the city. The five zones are monitored by video surveillance and, because they're at substations, marked police vehicles are generally around. Find the list of locations at columbus.gov/safeexchangezones.

Imaginary Attraction

There has been an increase in Bigfoot sightings at Central Ohio's Mohican State Park since 2010, according to a press release from the Ohio State Park Lodges and Conference Centers. The release also notes that there have been more than 30 sightings since the 1970s at Salt Fork State Park, which holds the annual Ohio Bigfoot Conference, a valuable boon to the mythological tourism industry.

Country-Western Shopping Spree

The All American Quarter Horse Congress at the Ohio Expo Center is not only the largest single-breed horse show in the world, it's also home to 7 acres of indoor shopping. Every October, more than 250 vendors offer deals on everything from cowboy hats to boots, whether it's for kicking up dust or making a fashion statement. Shoppers can show local love by purchasing from Ohio-based companies like Rod's Western Palace, Schneider's Saddlery and Big Dee's Tack.

Résumé-Builder

Elaborate Lego models of an aquarium, a portrait of his mother and a giant turntable earned Maxx Davidson his not-so-ordinary dream job. The 22-year-old University of Akron student won the master builder position for the Legoland Discovery Center Columbus in May by creating the aforementioned Lego models, beating out more than 70 contestants in a colorful competition. The center is set to open Sept. 21 at Easton, where Davidson will use his block-building genius to create a Miniland Ohio.

Place to Shine

In 2014, Jen Townsend and Anne Holman opened The Smithery in Grandview as a storefront to sell their handmade jewelry. The founders also use the space to create their wares, and they offer their studio for classes and workshops. The lessons help students learn how to use metalsmithing, stamping and enameling techniques to complete accessories like rings, bracelets, necklaces, pet tags, wine charms, earrings and wedding bands. The lessons are beginner-friendly, and whether people sign up for a one-hour class or four weekly sessions of three hours each, they always leave with at least one completed piece. shopthesmithery.com

Old-School Archive

In the digital age, tracing your roots is as easy as clicking a few ancestry.com leaf icons from your computer. But history buffs still get a thrill from reading the stories of their ancestors in the local and county history books of the 19th century. The state's best collection lives in the grand research room at the Ohio History Connection Archives Library, 800 E. 17th Ave., open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Regifting Boutique

From Columbus historical landmarks carved into wine corks to bracelets made out of bicycle chains to purses knitted from VHS tapes, Glean, in the basement of the Greystone building at 815 N. High St. in the Short North, is dedicated to creating something new from discarded items. Store owner Dawn McCombs and about 50 local artisans use reclaimed, repurposed materials to create virtually everything in the 5-year-old shop, which tripled in size in February. shopglean.com

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Faceoff: Free Plants

Who said nothing worth having is free? At the Westerville Public Library, seed packets are gratis, and whenever the Oakland Streetscapes team changes Downtown planters, the flowers left on the sidewalk are up for grabs. How can locals get in on this thrifty action?

Oakland Streetscapes

Origins: In the early 1990s, Oakland Nurseries co-owner John Reiner knocked on businesses' doors throughout Downtown, preaching the benefits of potted flowers to beautify streets.

Time and place: Anyone can take flowers left on the sidewalks from the Scioto Mile to Grant Hospital during seasonal changeovers, which typically happen in March, May, September and November.

Plant types: A wide, rotating mix—spring: azaleas, forsythia, pansies, snapdragons; summer: hibiscus trees, cordyline, oleander; fall: mums, cabbages; winter: evergreen plants, junipers

Most popular: Succulents are trendy.

Number: There are about 5,000-10,000 Oakland plants around Downtown, estimates Genevieve Mills, Reiner's daughter and the director of Streetscapes.

Downside: Weather makes it hard to predict exactly when the plants will change, and some businesses allow their employees to get first dibs.

Other resources: Mills sometimes posts on Instagram, @OaklandNurseries, when her team is doing swaps.

Westerville Seed Library

Origins: Librarians saw the idea in library journals and then won a grant that allowed them to open the Westerville Seed Library in March 2018.

Time and place: Peruse the selection in the apothecary cabinet in the Adult Services Department at the Westerville Public Library any time during business hours.

Plant types: Vegetables: peppers, okra, squash; herbs: oregano, sage, tarragon, catnip, chamomile; annuals and perennials: nasturtiums, forget-me-nots, money plants, Johnny-jump-ups, hollyhocks

Most popular: Herbs were popular at first, especially rosemary, but lately perennial flowers have been hot, says Jessica Curtis, who oversees the seed library.

Number: It started with 100 heirloom seed packets, and then a donor gave thousands of packets in seven trash bags. Librarians had given away 1,502 seed packets by late May.

Downside: There's a max of five packets per person. And you still have to grow them.

Other resources: The library offers regular classes on topics like indoor growing and pruning. westervillelibrary.org/seed-library