Ohio’s often underappreciated capital city celebrates its bicentennial this year. One of Columbus’s longest standing—and most welcoming—pockets lies just south of downtown: German Village. Settled by German immigrants in the mid-1800s, the 223-acre community possesses a quiet charm, with its brick homes, wrought-iron fences, and narrow brick-paved streets.
“It has a European scale to it,” says Bethia Woolf, owner of Columbus Food Adventures.
One of the largest privately restored neighborhoods on the National Register of Historic Places, German Village opens its houses and gardens to the public during the annual Haus und Garten tour. The mostly residential neighborhood also harbors some of the city’s best local shopping and foodie spots—including a new outpost of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at 900 Mohawk St.
With fewer than ten tables inside, the popular brunch spot always attracts a line of locals out the door. But dishes such as the duck and sweet potato hash make it worth the wait.
Restored brick homes surround a 23- acre, picnic-friendly oasis. Free Shakespeare plays run Thursday through Sunday nights in the summer.
This cozy neighborhood bar is famed for its (farm-raised) turtle soup and bratwursts.
Helen Winnemore Craft
In operation since the 1930s, the treasure trove of a shop stocks American artisan-made gifts (ceramic drop earrings, colorful glass wind chimes).
A German Village staple, the store is a labyrinth of 32 rooms with books on every imaginable subject, from boating to bodybuilding to business.
Some say this airy patisserie’s delicate macarons—in unusual flavors such as pink guava yuzu and orange date—rival Ladurée’s in Paris. Linger over a cappuccino, or take a box of some sweet treats to go.
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Diners have splurged on rib eye and sea scallops at this corner bistro since 1981. Today you’ll find locals enjoying happy hour on the brick patio. Share calamari or crab cakes from the half-off bar menu, which ranges from $4 to $7, until 6:30 p.m. on weekdays.
The fare leans to the casual (burgers, meatloaf ), but the buzzing, music- fueled scene—complete with a classic photo booth—makes the bar one of Columbus’s hottest.
This piece, written by Aubre Andrus, appeared in the June/July 2012 issue of National Geographic Traveler.
[Related: Where are America’s Best European Villages?]