Secret Columbus: Wonders Hidden In Plain Sight

Secret Columbus: Wonders Hidden In Plain Sight

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If you didn’t know already, Columbus is a great city. The city’s vibrant opportunities and entertainment always surprise outsiders — but never locals.

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    There are very few canine visitors to the Topiary Park, home of the larger-than-life shrub version George Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte.” This tidbit is just one of many than can be discovered at the Museum Store Visitor Center there. Built in 1998 to complement the historic mansions surrounding the Old Deaf School Park, the building, which faces Town Street, displays a French flag and is an homage to things both Columbus and Paris.
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    Maynard E. “Jack” Sensenbrenner didn’t enter politics until his 50s. But the two-time Columbus mayor left a huge mark on the city and made national headlines with his catchy buzzwords and always-on-the-go political hustle. In an ironic twist, the park honoring him is a shady spot more ideal for quiet reflection and weekday lunches than wheeling and dealing. Sensenbrenner Park is filled with flower beds, shade trees, picnic tables and a fountain.
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    The 0.2-acre lot between Berger Alley and Beck Street was renamed in 1985 to honor Frank Fetch, founder of the German Village Society. In 1996, the German Village Garten Club transformed the park known for visitors who didn’t clean up after their dogs into a destination reminiscent of parks in Germany. Adorned with antique gaslights, a fountain and a variety of plants including the official Frank Fetch hosta, the park is maintained by the Friends of Frank Fetch Park.
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    Near the west end of the Hayden Run Bridge is a parking area just large enough for a dozen or so cars. At the end of the lot are wooden steps that lead into a ravine and, at the bottom, a boardwalk, which runs alongside a small stream that merges with the Scioto River. Here you’ll find Griggs Reservoir Park: a nature preserve and a small-yet-stunning waterfall.
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    The Olentangy Trail by nature encourages activity, providing 20 miles of smooth pavement. But there is one spot built for a break: Side by Side Park, not even a quarter of an acre in size, is tucked on the trail just south of West Third Avenue. Here, rest is rewarded with a colorful flower garden, park benches and a sculpture by Charlotte Lees of Solon depicting life in Victorian Village. It’s title? “Side by Side.” This beautiful park was once a grown-over lot.
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    Studio 35, a favorite local theater that serves up its snacks with booze, is also home to “Bad Movie Night.” The event takes place on the first Friday of every month, and usually has a laughable theme to go along with the unintentionally hilarious screenings. It’s a great way to poke some fun at plotlines that were just a little too far removed from reality.
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    Corpse flowers, which are rainforest plants that emit a grotesque scent, are rare blooms, but the Biological Sciences Greenhouse at the Ohio State University is home to a few of them. Four bloomed at the greenhouse in the span of two years, and when another blooms, it may only do so for a few hours. Keep an eye on visiting hours, and wish for good luck.
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    It may take some chutzpah to arrange, but the cupola of the Ohio Statehouse is worth a visit. Home to signatures of visitors since the late 19th century, this spot also features panoramic views from the graffiti-lined windows.
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    The Kelton House Museum and Garden has preserved 19th century life on its property. Everything from the parlor furniture to kitchen silverware is as it would’ve been to the Kelton family, and the home was also a part of the Underground Railroad. Plus, the property’s Victorian garden is a secluded place to enjoy the outdoors. Stop by this property in the East Town Street Historic District to walk amongst the hedges, flowers, and manicured walkways.
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