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What to Do in Columbus Hear the Victory Bell ring at a football game at The Ohio State University. Weighing 2,420 pounds, the bell sounds at Ohio Stadium (411 Woody Hayes Dr.) after every Buckeye win. Get into the spirit of things by donning scarlet and gray, OSU's official school colors.

Visit the “Umbrella Girl” in German Village (588 S. 3rd St.), one of the city's oldest neighborhoods. In the 1950s, this bronze statue mysteriously disappeared from Schiller Park. The village dedicated a new version of the young girl, garbed in traditional Bavarian dress and carrying an umbrella, in 1996.

Taste such Mediterranean staples as tabbouleh and baklava, inhale pungent spices, bite into a juicy locally-grown tomato and snap up some snapdragons at the North Market (59 Spruce St.), one of the area's best places to eat. This public farmers market on Spruce Street is the last of its kind in central Ohio.

Take a tour of a tropical rain forest, the Himalayan Mountains or an arid desert at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (1777 E. Broad St.), which also features the Palm House, a 12,500-square-foot glass structure built in the style of the Glass Palace at Chicago's World Fair and Columbian Exposition in 1893.

While in German Village, get some sweets for you and your sweetie pie at Pistacia Vera (541 S. Third St.), where glass cases are filled with delicate creations like melt-in-your-mouth macarons and cookies, tantalizing tarts and tortes, and buttery croissants and brioche.

Lift a car all by yourself at COSI Columbus (333 W. Broad St.), a science center boasting a mix of education and fun. At COSI's outdoor Big Science Park, the Big Giant Lever exhibit lets you raise a 2,437-pound automobile. Or ride a unicycle on a tightrope several stories high in the center's atrium – yes, you can do it!

Coo at koalas at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (4850 W. Powell Rd.), one of the few U.S. zoos permanently housing the marsupials. Like the kangaroo, the koala carries its newborn, which is only about the size of a jelly bean, in a pouch. You can also go on a walkabout with gallivanting kangaroos, ogle polar bears swimming in icy waters and giggle at manatees and penguins cavorting in the aquarium.

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Watch a newsreel from the 1920s while exploring the 271,000-square-foot Ohio History Center (800 E. 17th Ave.). The expansive collection includes animal and plant specimens (including the extinct ivory-billed woodpecker), prehistoric Native American art, Civil War artifacts and classic cars. A gigantic mastodon skeleton greets visitors at the entrance.

Unearth a few gems in the Short North Arts District. This urban neighborhood on North High Street embraces an eclectic array of art galleries, restaurants, antique shops, coffee bars and hip boutiques selling everything from Indonesian baskets and Native American jewelry to vintage clothing and designer fashions.

Dip a spoon into a cup of Graeter's Ice Cream (2555 Bethel Rd.). Heralded as the best ice cream around, the creamy dessert is a lasting tradition in the Midwest. Try Graeter's best seller, Black Raspberry Chip, or Oprah Winfrey's personal favorite, Butter Pecan. Another sweet favorite is Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams (714 N. High St.). Flavors include salty caramel and Riesling poached pear sorbet as well as such seasonal offerings as sweet corn and black raspberries.

Pose among the figures sculpted from shrubbery at The Topiary Park (480 E. Town St.) in Old Deaf School Park; it's one of many fun things to do with friends in Columbus. You'll feel like you're actually inside the painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by post-impressionist artist Georges Seurat. The park's beautiful landscaping lends itself nicely to a relaxing picnic and some Frisbee-tossing.

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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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