Columbus Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Columbus

The state capital of Ohio is the beautiful and historic city of Columbus. Located in the middle of the Buckeye State, Columbus is known as both the governmental and cultural center of Ohio.

Columbus was first inhabited by the indigenous Adema, Hopewell and Fort Ancient people. Nearby mounds and a large number of artifacts kept at the Ohio Statehouse show evidence of these early cultures.

Europeans began visiting the area in the mid-17th century. Due to its prime location, there were many skirmishes over who would eventually settle the land. The city of Columbus wasn't officially founded until 1812 when it was named after explorer Christopher Columbus.

Columbus was slow growing in its infancy but now is one of the largest state capitals in the country. Likewise, it is the second largest city in the Midwest, behind Chicago. Much of the industry in Columbus comes from automotive, steel and aerospace manufacturing. It is also known for agriculture, which has earned the city the nickname of Cowtown.

Ohio State University, located in Columbus, is one of the large public universities in the country. Its influence has helped museums, art galleries, libraries and sporting events become major parts of the city's culture.

Visitors to Columbus will find themselves enmeshed in the historical buildings, dazzling waterways and artistic atmosphere. Spots like the Ohio Statehouse in Capitol Square, the Scioto Mile Promenade and the Short North are popular choices. The city's German Village is always a great choice for authentic German cuisine, shopping and atmosphere.

Take this self-guided tour to see some of the great sights in Columbus, Ohio.
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Columbus Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Columbus Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Columbus (See other walking tours in Columbus)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Author: Caroline
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • William McKinley Monument
  • Ohio Statehouse
  • Ohio Theatre
  • Columbus Commons
  • Scioto Mile Promenade
  • LeVeque Tower
  • North Market
  • Short North Arts District
1
William McKinley Monument

1) William McKinley Monument

The monument to the 25th President of the United States is more than a century old. It was placed at the east entrance of the Ohio Statehouse in 1906 after McKinley's assassination. The statue was crafted by artists Hermon Atkins MacNeil and Carol Brooks MacNeil with partial funding from the state legislature. Additional funds were covered by the public who contributed about $25,000 for the statue.

Along with a stately statue of William McKinley, the monument includes two statues that are referred to as "Peace and Prosperity." They represent older individuals guiding youth into a prosperous future.

The William McKinley Monument is easily accessible for anyone who is taking a walking tour of Columbus. A visit to Capitol Square shows the monument looming proudly over the street for all to admire. It is only steps away from the Ohio Statehouse and the many statues and monuments located in and around the square.
2
Ohio Statehouse

2) Ohio Statehouse (must see)

The Ohio Statehouse is the ideal location for any visitor to the state capitol. The Statehouse combines history, current events and art. It is also in an easily reachable location for walking tours.

Anyone who visits the Ohio Statehouse is welcome to take a self-guided tour. They can visit the entire Capitol Square complex, which includes the Statehouse along with the Senate Building and the Atrium. About 500,000 people visit the Ohio Statehouse each year.

Building of the Statehouse began in 1839 and was completed in 1861. It was designed by multiple architects thanks to a competition hosted by the Ohio state government. The state asked architects and artists to submit designs, which would then be narrowed down to an ultimate winner. In the end, a consensus could not be reached. Three winners were chosen: Henry Walter, Martin Thompson and Thomas Cole. A number of architects were hired over the years to combine elements from the winning designs while also adding their own touches. The Statehouse is designed in a Greek Revival style.

Inside the Statehouse, visitors will see ceremonial offices, working offices and a museum. The museum includes a number of exhibits that reflect on Ohio's state history and its place within the country. The eight U.S. presidents from Ohio are prominently featured. There is also a hall of gubernatorial portraits, a gallery that honors women in Ohio history and flags that represent the different counties of the state.

The George Washington Williams Room honors African Americans from Ohio who have had meaningful impact on the state legislature. The Statehouse also honors Great Ohioans, an award that is given each year. Some of these Great Ohioans include the Wright Brothers, Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, John D. Rockefeller, Annie Oakley, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William T. Sherman, Gravnille T. Woods and Thomas Edison, among others.

Why You Should Visit
- To learn about Ohio History
- To appreciate a melding of architectural designs

Tips
The Ohio Statehouse is open Monday through Friday from 8 AM through 5 PM. It opens at 11 AM on weekends.
3
Ohio Theatre

3) Ohio Theatre

The Ohio Theatre is a highly ornate movie palace that is known as the "Official Theatre of the State of Ohio." Built in 1928, the theatre was designed by Thomas W. Lamb in a Spanish Baroque architectural style for the Loew's Theatre chain. The first motion picture shown at the Ohio Theatre was "The Divine Woman" on March 17, 1928.

The theatre fell out of use as television became more popular. In 1969, the theatre played its last movie and was scheduled to be demolished. Luckily, the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts was able to raise enough money to save the building. Soon after, it was listed as a National Historic Landmark.

Today, visitors can enjoy the opulence of the building as they stroll by on foot or they can attend a live show. Festivals, symphonies, concertos, operas and traveling Broadway performances are all regularly enjoyed at the Ohio Theatre.

The Ohio Theatre is conveniently located in downtown Columbus. Those on walking tours can explore the theatre while visiting the Ohio Statehouse, as it is located directly across State Street from the Statehouse's south entrance.
4
Columbus Commons

4) Columbus Commons

Columbus Commons is a park in downtown Columbus, Ohio. It is comprised of six acres of green space along with playground equipment, a carousel, performance space and an outdoor reading room. The area was created and opened to the public in 2011.

The commons is enjoyed by locals as well as tourists. Open play areas are fun for kids as well as adults. These include an electronic playground, life-sized foam building shapes and a bocce ball court. The park regularly features special events like festivals, summer orchestral performances and road races.

Visitors can access Columbus Commons from State, High, Rich and Third Streets. It is surrounded by historic buildings and other places of interest. Nearby spots include the Ohio Theatre and Ohio Statehouse. It is also walking distance from the Scioto River and the Promenade.

The park is open daily from 7 AM through 11 PM. It is closed on holidays.
5
Scioto Mile Promenade

5) Scioto Mile Promenade (must see)

The Scioto River runs through the center of Columbus. Along its banks is the Scioto Mile Promenade. This must see destination is a vital part of any visit to Columbus. Walkers can stop by for a short visit or plan to spend a full day enjoying the riverfront.

Scioto Mile consists of multiple areas. This makes the area perfect for large groups with varying interests. Outdoors enthusiasts will love the parks that are located on different spots of the riverwalk. Bicentennial Park and Battelle Riverfront Park sandwich seven other parks that each have their own appeal.

Genoa Park is the location of the Riverfront Ampitheater, which hosts numerous performances throughout the year. North Bank Park offers stunning views and a spray ground for the kids. McFerson Commons is home to the historic arch that was salvaged from the demolished Union Station. Scioto Audubon gives access to nature, has a 2.5 acre dog park and a large, free climbing wall. Dorrian Green is specifically for lovers of trees and plants. It includes a butterfly garden, sensory garden and a cherry tree grove.

Bicentennial Park is one of the most known parks in Columbus. It is a 4.6 acre park with a unique, 15,000 square foot fountain. Batelle Riverfront Park is the right place for anyone who enjoys learning about and honoring history. This park includes the City of Columbus Firefighters Memorial, the Spanish American War Memorial, a Workers Memorial and tributes to indigenous people of the area, fallen astronauts, holocaust survivors and many others.

Parks are only one part of what makes Scioto Mile a must see spot. The Cultural Arts Center exhibits work from Ohio's famed and budding artists. Special events and workshops are also hosted onsite. The Scioto Greenway is a popular trail system in Scioto Mile that is easily followed by those on walking tours or anyone who wants some fresh air and exercise.

Why You Should Visit
- To experience a wide variety of outdoor activities
- To see works from Ohio artists in the Cultural Center

Tips
Summer is a great time to visit the Scioto Mile Promenade, but it is also beautiful during chillier months. Just make sure to bundle up!
6
LeVeque Tower

6) LeVeque Tower

At 47 stories high, LeVeque Tower is the seventh tallest skyscraper in Ohio and the second tallest building in Columbus. It was the tallest in the state from the time it was built through 1974 when it was replaced in status by the 624 foot high Rhodes State Office Tower.

LeVeque Tower was constructed in 1927. It was designed in an Art Moderne architectural style by C. Howard Crane. It was commissioned by the American Insurance Union, which is why it was originally called the American Insurance Union Citadel. The building was eventually purchased and owned by the LeVeque family, who were prominent real estate owners and developers in the city. It underwent many changes in tenants over the years, from radio stations to State of Ohio government offices.

Today, LeVeque Tower is a mixed use property. It now contains residential units, a boutique hotel and United States government offices.

Those wishing to view LeVeque Tower can see the building from many spots in the city. It is easily accessible by foot for those walking along the Scioto Mile Promenade's greenway or walking from the Ohio Statehouse.
7
North Market

7) North Market (must see)

Foodies, shoppers and history lovers can all unite at the North Market in downtown Columbus. North Market is a public market where merchants have been selling food and other goods since 1876.

The area where North Market stands is part of the North Market Historic District. However, the building itself is not an original. The first building was lost to a fire in 1948. Local residents purchased a corrugated metal hut to take its place, but years of financial struggle would follow. It wasn't until 1995 that the existing building was constructed and put into use.

Vendors at North Market change on a regular basis. About two-thirds of the vendors are grocers and food service establishments. Another one-third offer specialty items, like gifts, clothing and artisan crafts.

Those who visit North Market may also see a few pop ups that are populated by makers and growers. As North Market is a not-for-profit market, local artists and urban farmers can sell their wares on a short-term basis with little investment. This allows visitors to see a wider range of goods when they spend time at North Market.

The farmer's market is open at North Market on Saturdays from June through October. Each winter, visitors can look forward to the North Market Holiday Shop. This is a great location to purchase holiday decor and baked goods. Tourists can also listen to live music, let their kids take part in a crafts area and even cross paths with Santa!

Why You Should Visit
- To shop until you drop!
- To be part of a historic marketplace

Tips
The full season runs from June 5 through October 30 from 8 AM to noon. The farmer's market is only open on Saturdays.
8
Short North Arts District

8) Short North Arts District (must see)

Head north from downtown Columbus to explore the artsy neighborhood of Short North. This area is centered on High Street between Victorian Village and Italian Village. It extends from downtown all the way to Ohio State University.

Short North Arts District is known for public art displays, music, performing arts and numerous art galleries and museums. Visitors to Columbus could easily plan an entire day of exploration in this hip neighborhood.

The artistic influences of the neighborhood have their roots in the 1980s. The Short North Business Association started monthly art shows that quickly grew into regular events. Galleries soon developed and the district became the center of arts in the city.

Those visiting Short North Arts District will see more than a dozen unique galleries. There are also a number of shops and eateries in the district. Those who want to return to the area at the end of their walking tour can take in a live performance at one of the many clubs and bars.

Public art is a mainstay of the district. Tourists are encouraged to take photos of the many works of art on the Short North Art Trail and share them widely. Visitors will see permanent pieces like "Are You A Life-force?" by Sally Meier and Joe Kavalec, a mural that celebrates a prominent local band. Other permanent art displays include an obelisk titled "In Dreams Again" by Andrew Lidgus, a suspended sculpture called "Jubilation" by Stephen Canneto and Judith Spater and "Mona Lisa Mural" by Brian Clemons.

Temporary murals are considered part of the annual mural series. These highly detailed and beautifully crafted murals are placed in the Short North Arts District each summer. Unlike many of the pieces in the galleries, murals do not primarily come from local artists. Visitors may see works from all over the globe represented on these temporary displays.

Why You Should Visit
- To visit one or more of the many art galleries
- To enjoy free, public art

Tips
Don't rush! The Short North Arts District is part of Columbus that should be savored. Plan a few hours at minimum to explore all that this neighborhood has to offer.

Walking Tours in Columbus, Ohio

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Creating your own self-guided walk in Columbus is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
German Village Walk

German Village Walk

One of the oldest and most treasured historic neighborhoods of Columbus, the laid-back German Village is known for charming brick houses built by German settlers along Beck, Mohawk, and Deshler streets in the early-to-mid-19th century. Many of the local buildings – boutique shops and art galleries, pubs, restaurants and coffee shops – look exactly the way they did 150 years ago thanks to a...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles

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