Best of the Burbs: A day in Delaware

G.A. Benton, Columbus Alive
The Strand Theatre

The past rises up to meet the present on the undulating streets of pretty downtown Delaware. Through multiple historical markers, those charming, narrow Delaware roads tell local stories about General Sherman and Frederick Douglass making fiery speeches during the Civil War era, and note the birthplace of President Rutherford. B. Hayes and the field where the Ohio State Buckeyes played their very first football game. But they also lead to a cool craft brewery, an artisanal ice cream joint and the edgiest restaurant in central Ohio.

Fuel up on coffee and a deep-fried, maple-iced cinnamon roll at vintageHamburger Inn Diner(16 N. Sandusky St.)-established in 1932, it's opencontinuously from 6 a.m. Wednesdays until 9 p.m. Sundays. Next, explore the lovely nearby environs ofOhio Wesleyan University(61 S. Sandusky St.), which is older than Ohio State and helps define this idyllic-looking small Ohio town.On OWU's tree-lined campus, you'll find interesting architecture, the site of that initial Buckeyes gridiron match (an 1890 OSU victory over OWU) and theRichard M. Ross Art Museum, a converted post office building whose permanent collection includes works by Pablo Picasso, Frank Stella and Alfred Stieglitz.

Have lunch at hip and inexpensive12 West(12 W. William St.), where the dynamic blackened shrimp diablo with a masa-dough cake rules and the killer burger is blended with chorizo and served with sublime sweet potato fries. Then explore quaint downtown shops such asDelaware Antique Mall(18 N. Sandusky St.),A Little Simplicity(locally made jewelry, woodworks and more; 53 N. Sandusky St.)and the patio-equippedBarley Hopsters(1 N. Sandusky St.),awell-stocked outlet/tasting room for Ohio wines, beers, ciders and brewing supplies.

Lounge around with made-on-site beers atStaas Brewing Company(31 W. Winter St.). Specializing in small-batch Belgian and English-style ales, Staas offers a hospitable drinking space equipped with a patio, wooden bar, sports-beaming TVs and stained glass windows. In the mood for another craft beer? Hit up the great happy hour at 1808 American Bistro(29 E. Winter St.).

If ever there was a "destination restaurant" for Columbusites, it's casual-yet-sophisticatedVeritas Tavern(15 E. Winter St.), the best eatery in central Ohio. Modernist techniques merge with classic aesthetics to create an artful cuisine unlike any other in the area. Because Veritas' fashionable, bar-like space is small and popular, and because you still have more things to do, go early. After slurping a creative cocktail such as the Brushfire - which arrives literally puffing smoke - move on to the stylishly presented, narrative-driven small plates. Recent favorites include shrimp and grits reimagined into chips and dip, the creation of which was prompted by Chef Josh Dalton's hometown of New Orleans; velvety corn soup with tapioca-like "blackberry caviar" - Dalton's homage to a beloved Jeni's ice cream flavor; and a football-season-celebrating, playful-yet-beautiful Buckeye candy with a liquefied peanut butter center. If you hope to visit the original location, do so now; Veritas recently announced it was relocating to Downtown Columbus.

Treat yourself to a cone atOllie's Fine Ice Cream(19 S. Franklin St.). Inhabiting an old brick house built in the 1850s that sports a quaint courtyard, Ollie's website aptly describes its contemporary-slash-classic personality as: "Old-Fashioned ice cream meets the new-fangled interwebs."

If you're game for more delightful Delaware sights, two unbeatable nighttime options await: a movie at the historicStrand Theatre (28 E. Winter St.) or a transporting trip through the galaxy and beyond atPerkins Observatory (3199 Columbus Pike). Celebrating its 100th birthday this year, the Strand is one of the 10 longest-operating cinemas in America, and catching a modern flick in its refurbished, vintage digs is a unique experience. So is visiting Perkins. Like the Strand, Perkins is associated with OWU. Unlike the Strand, this grand stargazing and educational facility - which includes a dome and a huge telescope endowed with a 32-inch diameter - requires advance planning and ticketing. Programs run most Fridays, commencing at 8 p.m.