This time last week I was in Columbus just having attended The Women of Faith Conference. It was excellent and I highly highly recommend it if you have an opportunity to attend. It was held at Nationwide arena. The Arena District is one of the newest and hottest areas in Columbus. I hadn't been to the arena district since I attended one Blue Jackets game in their first season, and I felt like a tourist in my own hometown.
The Arena District is built on the site of The Old Ohio Penitentiary. The Old Ohio Penn was a foreboding and extremely cool building at the same time. It was closed to prisoners in 1979 and stood vacant until the early 90's when it was demolished. It was quite controversial when it fell to the wrecking ball, as it is a building with an amazing amount of history. It housed O. Henry (he wrote "Gift of the Magi" there) and Sam Sheppard, upon whom the series "The Fugitive" was based. The link above will take you to a page with more info.
In addition to Nationwide Arena, which houses the Columbus Blue Jackets, a new stadium (Huntington Park) was built and debuted this year for the Columbus Clippers. I was sad for me when the Clippers moved from their old stadium as my parents live and I grew up very near to it. The area is undergoing a slight case of urban blight, and an empty baseball stadium is the last thing that it needs. But the new stadium is supposed to be rockin' with better views, better seats, the whole nine.
I know I keep mentioning the Blue Jackets, but the conference was held smack dab in the middle of the NHL play-offs that pitted The Blue Jackets against the Detroit Red Wings. Hockey fans were pretty psyched as this is the first time that The Blue Jackets have made it to the playoffs. They didn't have a great record in their first few seasons, so this season was major.
You won't go hungry during your visit (but that's a given anywhere in Columbus - we like to eat)!
Gastropub that has entertainment like the Reaganomics, a local band that plays '80s hits
There are a number of popular chain resteraunts (and a Starbucks, which should just be a given) in the area. Buca di Beppo, Boston's, and Ted's Montana Grill are all within walking distance. I also noticed a few cool mom and pop eateries on my walk from the parking garage to the arena.
Lest you think that all we do is eat and go to sporting events in Columbus, there are quite a few entertainment options near the arena. The Lifestyle Communities Pavilion hosts band like Toad the Wet Sprocket (love them!), The Killers (love them, too!) and Third Eye Blind (ditto). The Arena Grand Theater is pretty cool according to my parents (they validate your parking, too, which is good, because you will likely pay $10 to park anywhere).
Probably my favorite feature of the Arena District is the original doorway to Columbus Union Station, which existed on the site from 1897-1976. It resembles a mini (and not so lavish) Arc du Triomphe, and I can remember being fascinated as a child that this beautiful archway existed by the Old Ohio Penn (the area around the Penn resembled a jungle in those days). Now, it is shown off in its full glory and is the entrance to a pretty park.
Seen from afar, surrounded by the official flower of Ohio, the orange barrel.
Check out the angels, the marble. So cool.
Here's a close up of one corner with a very patriotic eagle seal. Isn't the stonework at the top of the capital beautiful?
Columbus is cool.