How can one possibly see Columbus in just 15 hours? A city of its size and stature surely warrants at least a weekend if not more in order to explore the various ethnic and kickass neighborhoods. Hell, a game at The Shoe is a cultural experience in of itself.
True, it’s impossible to see it all in just 15 hours. But when you’re fueled by beer and bike, it’s damn near possible.
Off to the Races
Melanie and I arrived around 7:30 p.m. on a hot Thursday evening. We knew our plan: check in at the Hampton downtown, and grab some bikes from the new CoGo bike share. There’s even an app (of course there is) for the new bike system, allowing me to spot two locations spitting distance from our hotel. After dropping off our bags, we headed to the bike racks at The North Market and were off to the races.
It took an embarrassing few moments to figure out the gear shifting, but it was smooth sailing during our two-ish mile jaunt through downtown to the Columbus Brewing Company brewpub in the, you guessed it, Brewery District. Suffice it to say, CoGo isn’t rocket science, and it’s a damn nice amenity for hurried travelers that find driving a 4,000-pound vehicle around other cruising death-boxes to be relatively suicidal.
We split a Santa Fe pizza that comes with all the staples of a good burrito but in pie form. Black bean hummus, pico de gallo, roasted sweet corn, chipotle chili sauce, provolone and cheddar cheese with a light drizzle of cilantro aioli will have you staring blankly and in bewilderment, wondering “Why have I not had this heavenly creation before?” Best of it all, their Bodhi double India Pale Ale washes it all down nicely. In fact, it just might be the best IPA I’ve ever had. It was, after all, voted Ohio’s best beer, so maybe I know what I’m talking about.
After dinner, we marched back to our CoGo bikes, appreciative for the opportunity to ride after all the calories. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than plopping into a car seat right outside the restaurant after a large meal. The body needs to shimmy that stuff around a bit before going completely sedentary.
“Horrifyingly Sweet Booze”
Back downtown, we ditched the bikes and went for a walk through Short North — easily walkable from our hotel and covered with bars and restaurants. Though we were both a bit saddened by how empty the streets were. But that’s, unfortunately, a problem for urban areas across the Buckeye state. As people continue to realize how awful life in isolated suburbs is and/or that they will not be shot as soon as they step into the city, cities like Columbus will continue to welcome people looking for something to do other than watching their lawn grow.
First, we ended up at Mac’s Café, your standard neighborhood bar fare, for a beer and to watch the Indians lose. Liquor sponsors (or models) came through offering shots of some horrifyingly sweet booze, which was ultimately enjoyable in a masochistic way.
Next, we headed for familiar territory in Barley Brothers Brewery back toward our hotel. (Melanie and I had made a pit stop here on our way back from Athens one day). I can’t for the life of me remember what I got. The blonde, maybe? Whatever it was, I gladly tipped ‘er back before heading in for the night.
The next morning I grabbed a complimentary breakfast from the Hampton before heading back to Short North where Cup o Joe Coffeehouse was waiting for me. I gladly made myself at home on their patio for the next hour or so before it was time to start our trek back to Cleveland. But before we could get on the road, I made Melanie stop with me at Homage, a vintage t-shirt company that serves as a Columbus institution. Great shop, great designs, and I now finally have my first Columbus Crew shirt.
Craving more Columbus, I opened my handy-dandy AllTrails app to see what hiking might be in the area. There she was, right off I-71, Highbanks Metro Park. It was nice hiking without having to constantly take notes (shameless book plug here). We went with the 3.5-mile Coyote Run Trail — mostly flat and cutting through a mixture of meadows and forested trail.
If you’re keeping score, that’s CoGo, Columbus Brewing, Mac’s Café, Barley Brothers, Cup o Joe, Homage and Columbus Metro Parks in our 15-hour one-night stand with Columbus. Not bad, if I may say so.
But driving home, the reality of just how painfully monotonous the I-71 asphalt is to Cleveland had never been more evident. Perhaps if we would’ve gotten our 3C Corridor — connecting Cleveland to Cincinnati through Columbus by way of passenger rail — we wouldn’t have to be such strangers.