Hi there! Are you new here? Me too! My little family and I moved to Columbus from Dallas, TX at the end of January 2016. Granted, my husband and I are native Ohioans, we’ve never lived in Central Ohio, and as any true Ohioan can tell you, Cincinnati ≠ Columbus ≠ Cleveland.
So from someone who is still new to this city to another Cbus newbie, here are 5 things about Columbus I’d encourage you to explore, learn about, or just tuck away in your brain. Columbus may not be as shiny or as obvious as some other towns, but it truly is a charming place. A place I’m happy to call home.
1. Welcome to the Midwest, land of the friendly people!
Maybe you’re moving to Columbus from another Midwestern city, or maybe, like me, you’re moving back (welcome home!), or perhaps you come to us from a completely different part of the country. Wherever you’re coming from, please remember/be reminded/know, Midwesterners are famous for their kindness. We Midwesterners were brought up to be helpful, generous, and welcoming. So embrace the smiles, the neighbors who will come by to talk, the cashiers who ask about your day, or the other parents at the playground who give you a knowing look. Take advantage of these opportunities to explain that you’re new here, trust me, people will be falling over themselves to give you suggestions, directions, or a welcoming intro to your neighborhood. (Yes, this DID happen to me when we first moved into our house this past winter.)
2. Neighborhoods are key
Before we moved here I was told that Columbus is one big suburb. And in many ways it is, but I think more accurately, Columbus is a large city, composed of many unique and identifiable neighborhoods. So while you may live in Worthington, or Bexley, or Hilliard, and you should get to know your town, also get to know the other neighborhoods of the city. Clintonville, Victorian Village, Italian Village, and German Village, all play a huge role in the history of Columbus. Outside of the city center, each suburban town offers its own identity apart from the broader Columbus metro area. Gahanna boasts a lovely downtown complete with river, paddle boats, and concerts. Upper Arlington and Grandview have phenomenal restaurants and shopping, as well as some of the most beautiful homes in the area. Dublin, ever expanding, has a quaint downtown area perfect for an afternoon stroll (with a cone of Jeni’s ice cream in hand, of course!)
3. The 20-minute rule
In Dallas we lived right in the city, so my husband’s commute was 15 minutes door-to-door. Moving to Columbus, we had no idea where to live, so we consulted with friends about commute times, and over and over we heard some version of “it won’t take you longer than 20 minutes to get anywhere.” We were thrilled! Commutes are the woooooorst! Well, I will say that with the exception of the occasional traffic related incident, this advice is spot on. Columbus has excellent highway and road infrastructure, which makes it easy to get most places. I frequently travel across town to check out a new playground, get my hair done, or even visit my doctor and it’s truly no more than 25 minutes.
4. Holy Farmers’ Markets!
Ok, so this is one of those things that I’ve still got to explore myself as a Columbus newby, but OMG are there a lot of farmers’ markets in this city! It seems like almost every suburb has their own. Worthington seems to be particular popular, but there are also markets in Uptown Westerville, Dublin, New Albany, Grove City, Clintonville and the list goes on (check out the complete list: Columbus Farmers’ Markets)! If you can’t make any of these seasonal markets, or you moved here in the dead of winter (like me!), there’s always the North Market in downtown Columbus, serving our city since 1876! You want local, seasonal food? You got it! Foodies rejoice!
5. Culture, and Sports, and Nature Oh My!
Last, but certainly not least, Columbus is a small city with the heart of a large metropolis. Coming from big ole’ Dallas TX, my husband and I were concerned about losing the culture and events that a large city has to offer. Maybe you have the same concerns. Do mid-sized Midwestern cities offer arts and culture? What about sporting events? Urban parks? Yes! Yes! Yes! Columbus has it all! When we first came for my husband’s office meet-and-greet and to scope out the city, some friends of ours took us on a driving tour around town. We simply could not get over all of the urban parks and green space. We could watch from our hotel room as families strolled along the river front in downtown Columbus late into the evening. Additionally, Columbus has an art museum, botanical gardens/conservatory, a world renowned zoo and aquarium (home to Jack Hanna) a symphony orchestra, Broadway plays, a ballet company, minor league baseball, major league soccer team, and of course the Ohio State Buckeyes. You’ll find metroparks galore, biking trails, and plenty of rivers to take out your kayak or canoe.
Feeling at home in a new city is hard, but Columbus is a warm and inviting place with plenty to offer. Since moving here many months ago I’ve made friends, explored parks, eaten local Ohio produce, and already booked my half-priced tickets for the Nutcracker ballet this December (yay! Christmas in July!) There are days when I miss Dallas terribly, but Columbus offers so much, I certainly don’t feel as though I’m missing out on anything. So, from me to you, welcome to Columbus, welcome home.