Since 1816, Columbus has been the capital of Ohio, growing from little more than a fur trading outpost to one of the largest cities in the nation. The Biggest Small Town in America is home to a thriving arts community, professional sports teams, and even a replica ship of the Santa Maria.

Located near the center of the state, Columbus has long been a hub for multiple industries, attractions, landmarks, and more. Whether you’ll be home there for the holidays or visiting for business or pleasure, be sure to catch these five hot spots while you’re in Columbus.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Unlike other botanical gardens, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens does a great job of incorporating artwork, displays, and architecture into their plant exhibits. The result is being able to spend several hours to half a day at a time strolling through vibrant flowers, unique sculptures outside, indoor artwork, and seasonal offerings as well. Given Ohio’s colder climate, there’s a definite chance that the gardens are going to be covered in snow; however, during the holidays, this only adds to the special Christmas displays.

Columbus Ohio Franklin Park Conservatory

via BigStock Photo contributor pdb1

Ohio Theatre

In the late 1920s, this famous historical theater was almost destroyed; luckily, it was saved from demolition and faithfully restored. Today, the Ohio Theater is more than a landmark; it serves as a hub of entertainment for residents and guests alike. The Ohio Theater offers a reprieve from the muggy summer season with movies, ballet, opera, and Broadway performances scheduled throughout the year, and the local Columbus Symphony Orchestra serenading audiences as well. Not only does this theater feature performances of the Nutcracker during the holiday season, but also provides a beautiful backdrop for old classic movies to enjoy with family throughout the year. Whether you’re a theater geek or just need a great indoor attraction to visit, the Ohio Theater has a little something for everyone.

Ohio Theatre (feb 2014) 3.jpg
By www.jrdphotography.comOwn work, CC BY 3.0, Link

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The base of operations for Jack Hanna has been entertaining and educating guests since 1927 and has grown to include land and aquatic animals from all around the globe in one amazing location. With lions from Africa, Asian elephants and rhinos, Australian kangaroos, and more, there’s a whole world of adventure waiting for you at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

lion at the zoo

Just be forewarned that many exhibits are only able to remain open seasonally, so be sure to check the website before heading over or else you may miss your favorite exhibits. The upside is the zoo and aquarium offer several special seasonal offerings, which shouldn’t be missed if you’re already heading over.

COSI

Posted by COSI Columbus’ Dynamic Hands-On Science Center! on Friday, September 19, 2014

For over 35 years, the Center of Science and Industry has been delighting guests from all around the world with exhibits displaying lessons concerning machines, space, history, and science. If your family has one or more budding engineers, science geeks, or has an interest in STEM subjects, then a day at the museum is a great way to keep warm. Many exhibits allow eager visitors to learn by doing with hands-on exhibits and lessons. And if you’re interested in chemistry, every first Thursday of each month is COSI After Dark, a 21 and Up special event with a cash bar, special events, and fun activities for adults.

German Village

Posted by German Village Society on Saturday, March 24, 2012

You’ll know you’ve arrived in the historic German Village when the tallest skyscraper is only three stories tall. This unique neighborhood offers specialty shopping and dining options, historic tours, and local art and music events that shouldn’t be missed. No matter what time of year you happen to be strolling through, there will be something fun and exciting to see. Best of all, it is a residential neighborhood, which limits the amount of kitsch you’re going to encounter when compared to other historical walking areas in other states. If you love unique offerings and historic architecture, then you should walk through what the German Village has to offer.