Considering a move to Columbus? The Biggest Small Town in America is an affordable city with friendly people, delicious food, a rich arts scene, and outdoor activities for the whole family. Full of popular and hidden gems, here are 13 things to know about living in Columbus!
Live Affordably in Columbus
Despite being the third-fastest-growing metro in the Midwest, Columbus is still one of the most affordable cities in the U.S. for real estate. Here, you can expect a median home price of $131,000 and average rent of about $856—10% less than the national average! Plus, the cost of living is 12% below the national average, with groceries and restaurant prices generally more affordable than those of Cleveland. Cbus also ranks among the best places to live in the Midwest, making affordable living in a great area an option for many people.
Find Employment in a Thriving Job Market
Looking for jobs in Columbus? Arch City is home to the headquarters of several Fortune 500 companies like Bath & Body Works, Big Lots!, and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. There are also over 50 data centers for global companies like Google Cloud and Meta—Columbus State Community College even offers a certification program for Amazon Web Services. And as more top companies move to Ohio’s capital, Columbus solidifies its position as a top ten city for recent college graduates and one of the best cities for young professionals!
A Hub for Higher Education
There are around 50 private and public colleges in Columbus, making it an excellent place to continue education. Take advantage of the variety of courses taught in 55 subjects, including business and health, human services, and more at Columbus State Community College. Enroll in Otterbein University to see why it’s ranked #9 among Midwest universities and its undergraduate teaching programs in nursing and biology are renowned. Attend the home of the Buckeyes and the top-ranked college in the state, Ohio State University—offering degrees in finance, psychology, biology, marketing, computer engineering, and more. Find accessible, faith-based learning with financial aid available to 100% of first-time freshmen Ohio Dominican University. Flex your creativity with programs in animation, graphic design, and more at Columbus College of Art and Design. Or kickstart your education with pre-professional programs like Pre-Law, Pre-Medicine, or Pre-Dentistry, among a variety of other majors and minors, at Capital University.
Enjoy a Variety of Sport Events
No matter which sports you follow, Buckeye City offers both college and national leagues. Football fanatics will be hard-pressed to find a more loyal fanbase than the Bucknuts. On game days, over 100,000 fans flood Ohio Stadium to experience why OSU is one of the best U.S. schools for college tailgating—as well as support the Buckeyes. Experience the fast-paced action of a Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL) hockey match at the Nationwide Arena, where an 1857 Napoleon replica cannon is fired before matches and after each Blue Jackets goal. Catch a Columbus Crew Soccer Club (NPSL) match with fellow fans in the outdoor beer garden at newly-constructed Lower.com Field. Or head to Downtown Columbus’ buzzing Arena District to cheer on the Columbus Clippers (MiLB) at Huntington Park.
Take Advantage of Columbus’ Park & Trail Network
Columbus has mild weather, so you can take advantage of all the outdoor activities Columbus has to offer—including over 400 parks spanning 13,500+ acres! Meander through the Columbus Park of Roses, which is free to visitors, and take gorgeous photos of the more than 12,000 rose varieties growing there. Find peace on the walkways of Glen Echo Park, where native trees and plants captivate picnickers and nature enthusiasts. Want to stay a bit closer to home? Take in the beautiful cityscape of Downtown Columbus while strolling along the Scioto Mile. Visit the Scioto Mile Fountain to splash with your family among the hundreds of arcing water jets in Bicentennial Park.
See Why Topiary Park Is Unique
What started as a simple backyard topiary in the early 1800s, Topiary Park is a 9.2-acre park and among Columbus’ most unique outdoor attractions! Topiaries are shrubs, hedges, and trees carefully pruned into different shapes and sizes—and Columbus’ park has the world’s only topiary representation of a painting. Marvel at the topiary rendition of the people, animals, and objects depicted in Georges Seurat’s famous pointillist piece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Stand on the bronze plaque to see the topiary from the original painting’s point of view. Or freely wander among the living sculptures yourself!
Celebrate Columbus Festivals
There’s no shortage of cultural events in Columbus to experience. Have a blast and tailgate, sample goodies from food trucks, and listen to world-famous country music artists at the Buckeye Country Superfest. and their allies Gather with other LGBTQ residents and allies to celebrate by the thousands to celebrate one of the largest Pride events in the Midwest, with drag performances, music, and more at the Stonewall Columbus Pride Festival and Parade. Gasp in awe at the vivid fireworks display every summer at the Red White & Boom! Fourth of July festival. Embrace your own heritage or celebrate others’ at the Columbus Greek Festival, where you can enjoy authentic Greek food, music, and dance, as well as purchase jewelry, clothes, and crafts. Explore art, music, food, and dance of many different cultures—and remember to check out the annual dragon boat races along the Scioto River during the Asian Festival. Celebrate bees and beekeeping with music, sweet treats, and homemade arts and crafts at the nearby Lithopolis Honeyfest.
Explore the Vibrant Arts Scene
It may surprise you to see just how rich the Columbus art scene truly is. Stimulate your mind and creative spirit by visiting the Short North Arts District, a vibrant urban neighborhood where you can hop between local artists’ galleries, enjoy live music, and view public art installations. Travel to a new world by visiting an immersive art installation with over 40 scenes full of large-scale art and mixed-reality playgrounds at Otherworld Ohio. For a more subdued creative experience and a trip through art history, check out the Columbus Museum of Art and enjoy their huge collection of late 19th and early 20th-century pieces. Soak in the visual art galleries, live music, film screenings, and a wide array of vendors at three-day Columbus Arts Festival. Tour The Wexner Center of the Arts, OSU’s public venue for the exploration and discussion of all Contemporary arts. With its striking late-20th-century architecture, the Wex has become a cultural and educational resource to the university and Columbus at large!
Have Fun with the Entire Family
Parents will love the range of things to do with their kids in Columbus! Have a blast on carnival rides and enjoy live music, livestock shows, and hundreds of vendors serving up all your favorite foods on a stick at the Ohio State Fair. See why it’s among the top 10 best zoos in the nation and check out the 10,000+ animals in exhibits and activities you can walk, boat, or take a train to see at The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Conquer haunted houses, scare zones, and rides like The Dust Devil and The Sea Dragon with you and yours at the ZOMBIEzi Bay theme park (also called Zoombezi Bay). Satisfy your curiosity with a hands-on approach to learning about science, technology, and math in a fun, accessible environment at the Center of Science and Industry, COSI. Get annual passes to watch Lego movies in 4D, rescue a princess on the Kingdom Quest ride, and bring your imagination to life with Lego crafts at the Legoland Discovery Center—even parents can join the fun with evening events!
A Test Market for the Nation
Columbus has long served as a test market for retailers and fast food restaurants like Starbucks, Wendy’s, and White Castle, which recently moved its headquarters here. Why Columbus? The city ranks #4 on the list of cities that resemble the U.S. in terms of sociodemographics, economics, and education—so residents sometimes get to try out new products before they’re sold internationally. Plus, with one of the oldest food markets in the nation, it makes sense why chefs and foodies flock to Columbus and take advantage of its test market. Even famous foodie and Columbus-born TV personality Guy Fieri has stopped at six local restaurants on his Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives!
Dig In to Arch City’s Foodie Culture
The list of places to eat in Columbus is practically endless! Visit the German Village neighborhood to gorge yourself on the famously huge Thurman Burger (or the even bigger Thurmanator) at the Thurman Cafe. Or, while perusing the art and amenities in the Short North District, stop by Marcella’s and enjoy the Salmon Puttanesca paired with a light, crisp Masianco wine. Check out Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace for more casual fare, where even vegans and vegetarians can enjoy an Ohioana or CBJ Dog. To satisfy your sweet tooth, stop by the imaginative artisanal donut shop Destination Donuts for a Buckeye or a Tripple-Berry Cardamom. Or, check out Coco Cat Confections, where you can indulge in chocolate-dipped fruits and nuts made with fresh ingredients, natural herbs, and exclusive spice blends.
Cbus Brews Up Excellence
Beer and wine enthusiasts will find themselves welcome among Columbus’ many breweries and wineries. Sample “craft beers and fine food with all the subtlety of David Lee Roth in bunless chaps” at quirky Hoof Hearted Brewery & Kitchen. Sip a Seventh Son American Strong Ale or a Miracle Lite Hazy IPA at Seventh Son Brewery, which is consistently ranked as Columbus’ best brewery by the readers of 614 Magazine, Columbus Alive, and Columbus Underground. Catch live performances and savor fine wines made from Ohio-grown grapes at the Wyandotte Winery, where you can even order bottles with customized labels for special occasions. Or hop on the Columbus Ale Trail to try all of Columbus’ participating breweries—be sure to redeem the brewery stamps you collect for swag at The Ohio Taproom!
Have Fun in Columbus After Dark
Whether you’re single and ready to mingle or the kids have been put to bed, Columbus’ nightlife is calling! Revisit your favorite classic video games like Donkey Kong, Frogger, and Street Fighter while sipping on a Gintendo or Carrie Fisher cocktail at 16-Bit Bar + Arcade. Enjoy live performances in the Brewery District like sketch comedy routines, live music, and more at cool Columbus cafes like Shadowbox Live. Hurl axes or play extreme laser tag while enjoying your choice of drinks at the largest venue for indoor combat entertainment in Ohio, Coliseum X. Or watch your favorite artists perform or check out other live events in Columbus like UFC fights, WWE Raw matches, touring comedy shows, and more at Nationwide Arena.
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