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Columbus NightlifeYou might think that Columbus would be hard-pressed to satisfy the entertainment needs of its diverse populace of college students, entrepreneurs and suit-and-tie business types, but guess again. Whether you're a mellowed-out jazz aficionado, a fist-pumping rock fan or you just want to dance until you drop, you'll find a night spot in Columbus that suits your fancy.

Sometimes the best place to experience a city's music scene and feel its flavor is a local “dive” bar. You can hear live jazz almost every night of the week at the saloon-like Ruby Tuesday (not affiliated with the national chain restaurant), 1978 Summit St. This long-lived local haunt has been open since 1973 and yes, it was named after that song. Phone (614) 291-8313.

Dick's Den , 2417 N. High St., also fits right in to the “dive” category and is a favorite with the college crowd since it's on The Ohio State University campus. Rough-hewn wood and an old jukebox mark the décor of this fairly nondescript hangout. It's not a rock and roll bar as you might expect of the usual college juke joint; instead, blues, soul and jazz bands play Wednesday through Monday and there are bluegrass jams on Tuesday. Phone (614) 268-9573. Also on the OSU campus is the Wexner Center for the Arts, High Street and 15th Avenue, where you can catch underground acts like indie songstress St. Vincent, or enjoy screenings of alternative and foreign films; phone (614) 292-3535.

The Short North Arts District has its fair share of evening entertainment and is easy to spot, especially at night, with colorfully lit high arches that stretch over North High Street from one side to the other, luring lounge lizards and barflies like moths to a flame.

If it's cold outside, baby, Barrel , 1120 N. High St., has just the thing to warm you up. Have the barkeep mix you a hot toddy from its more than 80 varieties of whiskey, or, if the weather calls for something on the rocks, go for an Old-Fashioned or a Rusty Nail (just like Dad used to drink). This whiskey bar and restaurant is located in a building that was a speakeasy and brothel more than 100 years ago, which adds to its mystique. Phone (614) 564-9058.

flickr/Jagrap
Restaurant by day, nightclub by night (and they make a darn good hamburger), Skully's Music & Diner , 1151 N. High St., hosts one of the most popular theme nights in town: Thursday's Ladies' 80s. A large, 1950's-style sign grabs your attention outside; inside, leopard print and the color red highlight the décor. Crowds of revelers gather on the large dance floor to groove to alternative, indie and reggae bands; phone (614) 291-8856.

Going downtown? The Arena District has a small but diverse mix of entertainment choices. Conveniently, three of them reside within just a few steps of each other. The Basement , 391 Neil Ave., is the place to go to see the coolest underground acts, both locally and nationally known (at least to those “in the know”), including acts like Fall Out Boy and The Whigs. The dark, intimate space comes complete with thrift-store sofas and graffiti-covered walls. EXPRESS LIVE! (formerly LC Pavilion), 405 Neil Ave., is a concert venue where bands that are too famous to play at the Basement perform. Arctic Monkeys, Buddy Guy, Indigo Girls, Insane Clown Posse and The Killers are just a few current acts that have played here. The walls at A & R Music Bar , 391 Neil Ave., are plastered with 30 years' worth of concert posters and photos of well-known performers. Live bands don't play here, but it's a popular pre- or postgame gathering spot convenient to nearby Huntington Park or Nationwide Arena, as well as a perfect place to stop in for a cocktail after a concert at EXPRESS LIVE!, right next door. Phone (614) 461-5483 for all three Neil Avenue venues.

For something completely different, make your way to The Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar , 401 N. Front St. Despite its name, it's not just a couple of pianists having a faceoff. The show, which mixes music and comedy (and alcohol if you so choose), almost always requires audience participation, so be prepared to take part in a sing-along or even go on stage, all in the name of a good time. Phone (614) 233-9999.

R Bar Arena , 413 N. Front St. is not your usual sports bar. Yes, it has pool tables, sports memorabilia everywhere you look, beer-drinking sports fans and flat-screen TVs, but take a closer look. This bar is devoted to the sport of ice hockey and the memorabilia (jerseys, hockey sticks, pucks, framed autographs) are covered with the logo of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who play at Nationwide Arena. R Bar is within walking distance of the arena, so it's a natural gathering spot for hockey fans. Phone (614) 221-4950.

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Columbus, OH

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Travel Information

City Population

787,033

Elevation

777 ft.

Sales Tax

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.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

(614) 645-4545

Fire (non-emergency)

(614) 221-3132

Time and Temperature

(614) 281-8211

Hospitals

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.

Visitor Information

277 W. Nationwide Blvd. Suite 125 Columbus, OH 43215. Phone:(614)221-6623 or (800)354-2657

Air Travel

Port Columbus International Airport

Rental Cars

Hertz offers discounts to AAA members; phone (614) 239-1084 or (800) 654-3080.

Buses

Greyhound Lines Inc., (614) 228-2266 or (800) 231-2222, 111 E. Town St. between S. 3rd and S. 4th streets, serves Columbus.

Taxis

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.

Public Transportation

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.

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