Written by Kelly Stincer.
As you stroll down High Street past the Short North’s more than 300 shops, restaurants and galleries, it’s hard to believe the area was ever anything but the hub of Columbus culture and creativity. Twenty years ago it was Columbus’ burgeoning art scene that turned the Short North into the metropolitan hot spot it is today. The city rallied behind the artists’ efforts and worked tirelessly to revitalize the area’s century-old buildings and street-spanning steel arches, the neighborhood’s iconic feature.
If you’re looking for a place to find some inspiration, we recommend spending a weekend getting to know the Short North.
Kickstart your day with caffeine
If you’re one to caffeinate before you get moving, Mission Coffee should be your first stop. Their newest specialty beverage, the salted maple cortado, brings the Buckeye State to your cup with Kodiak espresso, cinnamon, Ohio maple syrup and Hartzler Family Dairy cream, straight from the Wooster farm.
Feast your eyes on some amazing local art
Just walking down the street, you’ll find fresh works of art thanks to the Short North Temporary Mural Series, a collaboration of 19 local galleries and art institutions that install murals on the brick facades of buildings along High Street. To see artists in action, head inside the Studios on High Gallery. Founded in 1986, it’s the area’s oldest artist-owned and operated gallery. Exhibiting artists take turns staffing the space while simultaneously creating new pieces onsite.
Grab an eco-friendly lunch
For lunch, stop into Northstar Cafe for some wholesome goodness. You’ll taste the difference in their locally-grown, organic ingredients, and knowing that the restaurant is committed to sustainability will make your Buddha Bowl or Northstar Burger taste even better. Their earth-friendly practices go beyond the food to their building operations, takeout containers, and their staff’s organic cotton t-shirts and hats.
Fill up your pint with local brews
Check out North High Brewing after lunch for a cold one. Hop lovers can try the American IPA, while those looking for a smoother taste of autumn can try their maple brown ale. If you want to be your own brewmaster, stick around and let the experts guide you through creating a one-of-a-kind beer made in their onsite brewing operation.
Slice your hunger with a piece of pizza
For a casual spot to have a slice or two (or three!), head to Mikey’s Late Night Slice. Despite their name, you won’t have to wait until the wee hours of the morning to try their delicious Cheezus Crust. The pizza shop operates out of a renovated shipping container, which shares an open-air patio with Oddfellows Liquor Bar.
Or class it up with innovative Italian cuisine
If you’re looking for a more of a cosmopolitan vibe, Columbus restaurateur Cameron Mitchell has you covered with Martini Modern Italian. You’ll certainly taste the passion of the chef’s carefully crafted dishes. And who can leave without trying a hand-crafted cocktail? Their Italian grapefruit gimlet or Short North tea will show you what inspired the eatery’s name.
Hit the town for some local live music
Try Skully’s Music-Diner if you want to dance, a diner by day and music venue by night. Or sip a glass of honey wine at Brother’s Drake Meadery, which features everything from jazz artists to acoustic shows every night of the week.
Brunch never tasted so good
Day two in the Short North must start with brunch. Every day is Sunday at Tasi Cafe, where you can enjoy ham benedict or an order of potato latkes with smoked salmon. Top if off with a house-made Bloody Mary, a maple hot toddy or a cappuccino.
Take a serene walk through the park
As the oldest park in Columbus, the Short North has been built around Goodale Park’s slice of history. Donated to the city in 1851 by a pioneer who became Columbus’ first physician, visitors can enjoy the walking trail, sports fields, or just relax in the gazebo next to the park’s large pond and fountains.
Shop ‘til you drop
Finally, no trip to the Short North is complete without a visit to the North Market. Local vendors offer an array of artisan food, fresh flowers and authentic international specialties. The public market was in the area long before the Short North became what it is today, and has been located on the same block for 140 years.
While exploring the best of the Short North, there will undoubtedly be boutiques, cafes and galleries that will bring you back for more – perhaps the antique treasures at the Grandview Mercantile or a flight of wine at Wine on High. Whatever you come back for, the ever-evolving neighborhood brings new experiences with each visit, propelled by the unique and creative locals in Columbus’ arts district.