Out & About in Columbus, Ohio
Named one of the Travel Channel’s Top 10 Domestic Destinations to Visit in 2020 and among Expedia's most exciting LGBTQ-friendly travel destinations in the world, Columbus is a city unlike any other. Vibrant and alive, Ohio’s capital is known for its open attitude, smart style and entrepreneurial spirit. Columbus' blend of neighborhoods, dynamic nightlife, noteworthy music scene, arts and culinary experiences, events, attractions and accommodations are all made unforgettable by the diversity of its outgoing locals who warmly welcome visitors.
Nightlife & Entertainment
For exciting entertainment, check out Columbus’ many independent theaters or nightlife options. The Short North Stage shows everything from Broadway classics and edgy off-Broadway musicals to progressive one-act plays, dance and everything in between. Shadowbox Live, the largest resident theater company in America, offers a hybrid form of entertainment with their original sketch comedy, live rock ‘n’ roll, dance theater and new media.
Columbus’ reputation for being an open and smart city is highlighted by its vast array of LGBTQ bars and nightclubs throughout the city. Axis Nightclub features Columbus’ largest dance club, cabaret (with all male revues) and the best in entertainment from the country’s best drag queens. You may recognize Nina West, Columbus’ favorite drag queen, from season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Head to German Village to Tremont Lounge, one of the city’s oldest gay bars or Slammers, a popular lesbian bar featuring great drinks, delicious pizza and live entertainment.
The city’s craft beer scene keeps growing and changing, boasting nearly 40 local craft breweries ranging from highly regarded production breweries to neighborhood nano-breweries. One fun way to explore the beer scene is through the Columbus Ale Trail. Pick up a Brew Book at any participating brewery and use it to guide you through a great beer experience and earn prizes along the way.
Columbus has several extraordinary neighborhoods throughout the city where LGBTQ residents call home that also offers fun opportunities for exploration. Anywhere from the dive bar scene in German Village, the exceptional architecture of Clintonville or the modern and trendy Short North Arts District – also home to the recently-opened Stonewall Columbus Community Center. The center features a first-level LGBTQ artist gallery, expansive event space and exciting new programming, while adding a new hub for the vibrant LGBTQ community.
New & Upcoming Events
Columbus is home to one of the largest Pride festivals in the Midwest. Attracting more than 700,000 people every June, it includes a downtown parade along with more than 180 vendors, two music stages and a family area set along the Scioto Mile riverfront. The festival was recently named on the list of 11 Spectacular Pride Celebrations in Unexpected Cities by Fodors. Every October, fashion is at the forefront at HighBall Halloween, a costume couture party that closes down High Street for two nights. The local fashion scene is on full display with eight local designers presenting runway shows. There’s a high bar for the public costume contest, so bring your best.
From Feb. 14 through May 17, 2020, the Columbus Museum of Art will feature “Art after Stonewall.” Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, this long-awaited and groundbreaking survey features more than 200 works of art and related visual materials that explore the profound impact of the LGBTQ civil-rights movement of the art world. Check out the museum’s Facebook page for some virtual tours.
Aug. 24-29, 2020, the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA) returns to Columbus. The world’s largest annual LGBTQ single-sport competition brings more than 5,000 participants from 45 cities competing in the Gay Softball World Series at Berliner Sports Park.
Fashion’s Best Kept Secret
Columbus is home to popular brands like Bath & Body Works, Express and DSW and many of Columbus’ neighborhoods offer chic boutiques to independent fashion retailers. The Short North Arts District features one-of-a-kind shops for classic men’s casualwear and hip, trendy women’s apparel. The Candle Lab’s three locations throughout Columbus offers the opportunity to pour your own custom-scented candle or purchase a pre-made ‘Nina West’ candle and the proceeds go to one of her charities. The unique village setting at Easton showcases major national brands like Tiffany’s and Nordstrom and offers a broad assortment of restaurants, entertainment and retailers, just 15 minutes from downtown.
A True Foodie City
Columbus is full of hidden gem restaurants, coffee shops, diners and bakeries – some tucked down back streets or hidden just out of sight – making it one of Food & Wine’s 32 Places to Go (And Eat). Get a true taste of the city with Katalina’s famous pancake balls, the Spanish cuisine at Barcelona with their pride flag flying proudly out front or the North Market, downtown’s historic public market, which also includes the original location of Jeni’s Spendid Ice Creams. Lesbian-owned restaurant, The Kitchen, offers a fun participatory dining experience and features themed nights like Taco Tuesday. Visit The Keep inside the iconic Hotel LeVeque, or the modern American kitchen at Service Bar, located inside Middle West Spirits.
A great way to get a sampling of all Columbus offers is on a Columbus Food Adventures tour. There are 11 unique tour experiences to choose from that highlight the city’s diverse food scene. From fast-casual to fine-dining, you won’t have a problem finding something to suit every taste.
Find all there is to see and do in Columbus and start planning your trip at outincbus.com. Sign up for the Out in Columbus e-newsletter or request an LGBTQ to be sent to you to start exploring!
Photos courtesy of Experience Columbus