Aspie Guide to Columbus

“Okay, okay, it’s true! I’m a Spartan in Buckeye country and I’m having a blast!” That’s what my social media accounts should have said during my trip to Columbus, but I kept my mouth shut. I did have a blast in Buckeye country, though.

Here are some ideas for your itinerary for Columbus, Ohio.

Ohio State University

Big Ten sports fans will enjoy a day on the Campus of Ohio State University. Even if you aren’t there on game day (who needs the crowd and the chaos anyway?) this is still a treat. The parking garages are expensive, but convenient. You can find the different garages and decide which will work best at the OSU CampusParc page.

Named after Ohio State Alum and 4-time Olympic gold medal winner Jesse “Buckeye Bullet” Owens, Jesse Owens Plaza sets the mood as you approach the iconic Ohio Stadium. Nicknamed the “Horseshoe” because of its shape, the stadium is one of the largest and most popular stadiums in college football. I’ve never been there for a game, but I got chills when I peeked through the gate. I could feel the energy and hear the crowd just like it was game day.

Just east of the Shoe, the Numbers Garden is a cool spot to sit and reflect or people watch. Stop by Oxley’s by the Numbers first and grab a Buckeye Mocha, a delicious blend of peanut butter and chocolate with a nice caffeine boost.

numbers garden
The Numbers Garden, Ohio State University

Fans of architecture and books alike will enjoy a visit to Thompson Library. If you love being surrounded by books like I do, the glass-encased stacks towering overhead will make you want to drop everything and spend the rest of your trip reading. If you can resist that temptation, stop by the gallery to check out an exhibit from the libraries’ special collections. On my visit, they had an awesome self-publishing exhibit that walks you through the history of self-publishing. The displays included some really obscure ‘zines covering music, poetry, and LGBT rights, among other topics. Before you leave, head up to the 11th floor for a great view of the Oval.

German Village

Wow! I love this place. Settled in the early to mid-19th century, German Village is one of the largest historic preservation districts in the U.S. and it has something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you have German heritage or not, head south of downtown to explore the neighborhood.

The buffet at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus is hands down the best German meal I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant and could even compete with home cooked German meals. I skipped the soup and salad and went right for the meat and potatoes. Four different types of sausage, sausage stew, green beans and spaetzle, fried chicken, delicious sauerkraut, and the best hot German potato salad I’ve ever had (my grandma made hers cold, so I’m allowed to say that). Get the buffet but be prepared to be too full for their award winning half-pound cream puff for dessert. That’s not an excuse not to get one, of course. Get one for the road and eat it for dinner!

Schmidt’s has a Fudge Haus, too. Don’t make the same mistake I did and go in the Fudge Haus while you are waiting for your table and hungry. Lot’s of fudge, chocolate, and other candy, plus cool German-style gifts. If you want a souvenir, you can buy it here or at The Red Stable Gift Shop across the street.

Fudge Haus
A Schmidt’s Fudge Haus employee tempts me with a sweet treat while I wait for a table at the Sausage Haus.

The Book Loft of German Village is totally unassuming. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I walked through the door. It is the third largest independent bookstore in the country, with a labyrinthine 32 rooms full of books. I could have spent a whole day there. Check out this directory and map ahead of time so you don’t get lost! After you make your purchases, you can go next door to Stauf’s Coffee Roasters for a drink while you peruse the new additions to your book collection.

Scioto Mile Promenade

You can walk off the sausage and kraut at the Scioto Mile Promenade. Walk a half-mile along the east bank of the Scioto River, stop for a rest on one of many shaded benches or swings, and enjoy great views of the city from the Scioto River bridge. Wait… who is that on the bridge?

Deer on Scioto River Bridge
Excuse me, sir. Can we enjoy the view with you?

Across the street from the Promenade is the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) hands-on museum. If you love science, don’t miss this! There is so much to see and do here, so at $25 for a day pass, plan on spending the whole day. There is way too much to list here and exhibits change, so check out current exhibits at the COSI website.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden

The Conservatory is a fun stop year-round, but is best to visit in Spring, Summer, or Autumn when you can enjoy the outdoor gardens in addition to the indoor exhibits. The butterfly garden runs from March to September and is nice if you can handle butterflies fluttering around you and possibly landing on your body. For adults, I recommend enjoying this early in the season while kids are still in school.

If the butterflies exhibit sounds too overwhelming, there are plenty of other exhibits to enjoy. You will find over 400 plant species in a variety of biomes, including Himalayan Mountain, Rainforest, Desert, and Pacific Island Water Garden.

Chihuly glass is part of the permanent collection and is featured throughout the conservatory.

Chihuly glass
Dale Chihuly’s glass art works are a prominent feature on display at Franklin Park Conservatory.

You will get a special treat from light artist James Turrell when viewing the Conservatory’s John F. Wolfe Palm House after dusk. Turrell’s Light Raiment II consists of 7,000 computer-controlled multicolored LEDs that light up the glass greenhouse each evening.

I hope you enjoy your next trip to Columbus, Ohio. If you have more time and want to explore more, you might visit the Columbus Zoo. The zoo made famous by Jack Hanna is one of the best in the world and I was sorry I missed it. Next time I visit Columbus it will be first on my itinerary.

Are you an Autistic or Aspie traveler and have something to add to the Columbus list? Please leave your tips in the comments below.

Have a question about something in this article? Post in the comments or contact me. I want to help you live your travel dreams!

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