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flickr/Bob Hall

Shopping in Columbus Columbus is a natural for discovering bargains and hard-to-find items. If you like the time-saving convenience of shopping at malls, choose from these: Easton Town Center, off I-270 exit 33 at Easton Way; The Mall at Tuttle Crossing, off I-270 and Tuttle Crossing Blvd. (in Dublin); and Polaris Fashion Place, off I-71 and Polaris Parkway.

The sprawling Easton Town Center, off I-270 exit 33 at Easton Way, is a shopper's delight. Set up as an old-fashioned open-air village market, the upscale center has more than 200 retailers and restaurants, including Banana Republic, Barnes & Noble, Burberry, Chico's, Coach, The Container Store, Crate & Barrel, Gap, H & M, Macy's and Nordstrom. Quaint, British-style red phone booths and fountains sprinkled throughout the center add panache to this already chic center. Five free parking garages allow for plentiful parking.

If you'd rather ferret out more unique merchandise, explore the city's shopping districts and specialty shops. Local bakers, butchers, chocolatiers, fishmongers, florists, farmers and ice cream makers sell their wares at the North Market, 59 Spruce St. On Saturdays during growing season (May-October), more than 20 farmers set up shop. Saturdays also feature live music, and festivals are held throughout the year. In operation since 1876, the indoor market is open Tues.-Sat. 9-7 and Sun.-Mon. 10-5.

Step into the brick-fronted shops in the restored 19th-century German Village, south of I-70/I-7 on 3rd Street, where shopkeepers will give you a warm “Wilkommen” as you sort through their delightful collections of books, home decor and even baked goods. Wandering through the 32 rooms of books in the labyrinthine The Book Loft, 631 S. 3rd St., might make you feel like a mouse in a maze. Instead of finding cheese, though, you'll find countless numbers of books, many with a discounted price. Be forewarned: Some staircases are narrow and you may have to step aside to let another customer pass.

The relaxing scent of French lavender bath products infuses the air on the first floor of Caterina Ltd., European Housewares, Art & Gifts, 571 S. 3rd St., where armoires and tables are stacked with vibrantly colored Italian ceramics, Polish pottery, and French and German linens; the shop also showcases local artists in galleries on the second and third floors. Pistacia Vera, 541 S. 3rd St., is a modern French patisserie; try melt-in-your-mouth pastel macarons in flavors like lavender honey and black raspberry hibiscus, flourless passion fruit Chambord and chocolate bombe tortes, and pastries such as pain au chocolat and orange brioche.

The Short North Arts District, along N. High Street from Poplar Street to Smith Place, offers boutiques, antique shops, restaurants and eclectic art galleries behind restored 1930s facades. Posh Pets Boutique, 743 N. High St. treats pet lovers to irresistible items like pearl-studded kitty collars, dog T-shirts with cute sayings like “favorite grandchild,” fruit-shaped crocheted toys and The Ohio State University pet beds and hooded sweatshirts.

Tigertree, 787 N. High St., deals in trendsetting apparel for 20- and 30-something women and men by Fred Perry and Ben Sherman as well as newer labels like Dear Creatures and Ace & Jig. Sweet floral dresses and cute tops for the gals, and plaid shirts and casual pants for the guys are mixed in with pendants, backpacks, vases and pillows. Rowe Boutique, 718 N. High St., carries a well-edited collection of contemporary fashions by lines such as Lauren Moffatt and Foley & Corinna, curated by former PR director Maren Roth, who earned her stripes in New York City handling accounts for fashion designers.

One man's trash is another's treasure at Rag-O-Rama, 3301 N. High St., a consignment shop where you can also find patent leather go-go boots, candy-colored Afro wigs and a sea of racks filled with gently used vintage and modern clothes, most contributed by college students. Among some recent findings: Paige Denim jeans, an Odile top and Chloe sunglasses.

It's practically a rule that college towns have to have a used record store, and Columbus is no different. Used Kids Records, 2500 Summit St., fills the bill with a collection ranging from Nat King Cole to Florence + the Machine. Vinyl geeks can excavate for quasi-buried treasure to stock their collection, quite cheaply in fact; most used records and CDs sell for under $10. Used Kids' well-informed clerks are not the pretentious music snobs you might expect and will gladly help you in your search for hard-to-find discs. The go-to shops for avid Buckeye boosters are College Traditions, 286 W. Lane Ave., and Conrads College Gifts, 316 W. Lane Ave., which carry everything from sweatshirts to dog collars to football-shaped soap dishes with The Ohio State University logo.

Behold beautiful objects from decades and centuries past at Columbus-area antique malls. Try Eclectiques Antique Mall, 3265 N. High St.; Grandview Mercantile, 873 N. High St., in the Short North District; Greater Columbus Antique Mall, 1045 S. High St., and Heritage Square Antique Mall, 1865 Brice Rd.

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Columbus, OH

Top AAA Diamond Hotels

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Hilton Columbus/Polaris

8700 Lyra Dr. Columbus, OH 43240

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SpringHill Suites by Marriott Columbus Easton Area

4048 Morse Rd. Columbus, OH 43230

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Hampton Inn & Suites New Albany Columbus

5220 Forest Dr. New Albany, OH 43054

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Best Western Port Columbus

1450 Airpointe Dr. Columbus, OH 43219

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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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