Introduction Beckoning visitors to the Midwest with a pleasing mix of down-home charm and contemporary flair, Columbus has become the country's 32nd-largest metropolitan area. Named after Christopher Columbus, the city invites exploration. Highlights are as assorted as the area's past residents. The itinerary includes stops at the 24,000-square-foot complex honoring a Masters golf legend and the former home of an award-winning author and cartoonist who attended The Ohio State University, one of the largest schools in the country.
The city's diversity also is found in its people and surroundings. The legacy of Native Americans who once inhabited the region surfaces in the names of places and streets and in preserved historic sites such as Newark Earthworks. More recently, Black Entertainment Television rated Columbus as the top place for African Americans to live. The city also is home to one of the fastest growing Hispanic populations in the state as well as a large Somali population. Even within individual neighborhoods, diversity manifests itself. Shoppers in the Short North Arts District can find an antique Qing Dynasty bench, a pound of Amish cheese or an Indian sari. Just next door in Victorian Village, striking houses exhibit a collage of architectural styles. Neighboring Italian Village, which most likely acquired its name from a prominent church, reflects a hodgepodge of ethnic influences, from Irish to Lebanese to Greek. And German Village is a great place for lovingly restored German architecture, charming brick streets and sidewalks, distinctive retail shops and some of the city's finest restaurants.
In addition to the cultural and commercial conveniences this modern city affords, Columbus' historic roots and natural landscapes create a singular vacation destination. Home to the renowned Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, notable art and science museums and such music-filled events as the Jazz and Rib Fest, this flourishing city captivates and enlightens, no matter which direction you head.
By CarThe intersection of two interstate highways and a number of lesser routes makes Columbus accessible from all directions. The primary east-west highway is I-70, which spans about two-thirds of the nation and connects such cities as Baltimore, Md., Wheeling, W.Va. and Indianapolis, Ind.; I-70 passes through downtown Columbus, with convenient interchanges at major streets.
Closely paralleling the freeway is old US 40, which serves local traffic and provides a link to other downtown avenues. US 62 approaches Columbus from the northeast and southwest to bring the city a steady flow of in-state traffic, as does SR 16, combining with US 40 coming in from the northeastern suburbs.
Mainly an intrastate interstate, I-71 links Cleveland to the north and Cincinnati to the south, passing through Columbus and continuing southward to Louisville.
Running north-south through the city is US 23, which collects traffic from northern Ohio and Michigan as well as from southern Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. US 33, leading directly downtown, connects towns northwest and southeast of Columbus.
I-270 is a circumferential freeway that swings in a wide path around Columbus and, with interchanges with all major highways, provides a bypass of the city. I-670 combines with I-70 and I-71 to form a tight rectangle around downtown Columbus, offering the usual convenient interchanges.
Street SystemDespite Columbus' growth to big-city status, driving in and around the city is not as hectic as in many metropolitan areas. Driving from one end of downtown to the opposite end averages 25 minutes, and few suburban commutes take more than 45 minutes at non-peak traffic hours. Right turns on red are permitted unless otherwise posted.
Streets are organized on a grid system, with addresses beginning at 1 at the corner of Broad and High streets in the center of downtown and increasing as routes go out of the city. Numbered streets, running north-south, are divided by Broad Street; numbered avenues, running east-west, are divided by High Street.
ParkingParking lots and garages are plentiful downtown, with rates ranging from $2 to $10 Monday through Friday and generally decreasing on the weekends. Higher rates may apply during special events. On-street metered parking, costing 50c to $1 per hour, can be found along most downtown streets; parking is restricted to 3 hours or less at most meters. Park and Ride lots are at many suburban shopping centers. Credit and debit cards can be used at many of the lots and at parking meters.
In-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. All hotels must meet the same basic requirements for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality to be AAA Approved. A rating of one to five AAA Diamonds tells members what type of experience to expect, from no-frills to highly personalized.
Columbus has a sales tax of 7.5 percent and a lodging tax of 10 percent. There is an 11 percent concession fee on rental cars picked up at Port Columbus International Airport.
Time and Temperature
Doctors Hospital, (614) 544-1000; Grant Medical Center, (614) 566-9000; Mount Carmel Medical Center (Mount Carmel West Hospital), (614) 234-5000; The Ohio State University Hospital East, (614) 257-3000; The Ohio State University Medical Center, (614) 293-8300; Riverside Methodist Hospital, (614) 566-5000.
277 W. Nationwide Blvd. Suite 125 Columbus, OH 43215. Phone:(614)221-6623 or (800)354-2657
Port Columbus International Airport
Hertz offers discounts to AAA members; phone (614) 239-1084 or (800) 654-3080.
Greyhound Lines Inc., (614) 228-2266 or (800) 231-2222, 111 E. Town St. between S. 3rd and S. 4th streets, serves Columbus.
Yellow Cab, (614) 444-4444, is the largest cab company. Fixed fares are $3 base rate, $4.50 for the first mile, 45c for each additional 2/9 mile and $2.25 for each mile outside Franklin County. A $3 surcharge is added for fares originating at the airport.
Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) provides bus transportation throughout the city and suburbs Mon.-Fri. 5:30 a.m.-11:45 p.m., Sat. 6 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 8-7. The basic fare is $2, express fare is $2.75 and transfers are free. Multiday passes and reduced rates for children and senior citizens are available. Passengers must have exact change.