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Ultimate Columbus Summer Bucket List

614now

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Hello and welcome to summertime! Today is the longest day of the year—plenty of time for you to sit down with your family and/or friends to map out your bucket list for this summer. Or…you could get a start on ours!

We’ve put together the ultimate list of summer activities in Columbus to ensure you have a summer full of fun. Just remember to wear sunscreen!

Go berry picking

Nothing tastes better than something you’ve worked for. And nothing tastes sweeter than something picked right from the dirt. Don the sun hats and sturdy shoes because we’re about to put you to work for your fruit! Here are more than 20 farms offering U-pick berry programs for strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and peaches in central Ohio.

Support local growers at neighborhood farmers’ markets

Do you know where your produce is from? Odd are if you don’t purchase them straight from a farmer, you’ve got no clue. Fuel your summer with goods pulled right from central Ohio dirt at local farmers’ markets!

Score a beer mug at ComFest

Besides epic memories, the best takeaway from ComFest is always the brightly-color plastic beer mug. Just remember to drink responsibly! Click here to read about the recent drama that went down with ComFest.

Celebrate freedom at Red White & Boom

Columbus’ biggest Fourth of July celebration will be returning to downtown on July 3 for the largest fireworks display in the Buckeye State. Arrive early for the parade and stay late for the party!

Spend a day at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

This one is an absolute must. There’s nothing like a warm summer day spent taking in the amazing animals at one of the best zoos in the country. Make sure to wave at the polar bears for us!

Gaze at the stars at John Glenn Astronomy Park

The John Glenn Astronomy Park is dedicated to sparking an interest in science, learning, and exploration by sharing with visitors the wonders of the sky, both day and night. Make sure to plan a trip to JGAP on a clear night to gaze at the wonderment of our universe.

Take in an outdoor movie

NightLight 614, a 21+ social outdoor film series on the banks of the Scioto featuring some of Columbus’s Best local food trucks, and craft beer & wine. Easton’s Movies by Moonlight series is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a lineup bigger and better than ever!

NightLight 614

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Spend a day at the drive-in

Since the 1950s, the South Drive-In at 3050 S. High St. has been Columbus premier destination for late night, big screen movie showings under the stars. And since the 1970s, it’s been the largest central Ohio location for…flea markets? Yes, indeed. Click here to read more!

Eat as much ice cream as humanly possible

Ice Cream is a pillar of summer. But where to begin? We think this list of the best alt ice cream shops in Columbus would be a sweet place to start.

Chow down at the Jazz & Rib Festival

If you’re not elbow-deep in BBQ sauce at least one time this summer, you’re not eating correctly. There is absolutely no better place to put your manners aside and let your carnivorous nature shine than at the Jazz & Rib Festival. Hot ribs, cool jazz.

Stay afloat at Trapper John’s

Leash up the pooch and buckle up your life jacket for an afternoon at Trapper John’s Canoe Livery! Enjoy canoeing, kayaking and tubing on the State and National Scenic Big Darby Creek.

Chill on some patios

Ditch the AC for once and take advantage of these few fleeting months when Ohio offers a tolerable climate. We’ve got dog-friendly patios, High Street patios, NW Columbus patios, seven perfect patio pairings, and, of course, the best drinking patio as voted on by you!

Grab the perfect pic at a rooftop bar

Columbus is quickly becoming a rooftop bar city. With the recent additions from Lincoln Social, Juniper, and VASO, we’ve got eight high-up drinking establishments you need to patronize this summer.

Bonus: All The Way Up: My experience at Lincoln Social rooftop

Lincoln Social

Have the perfect picnic

The grass is lush, the butterflies are flying, and the sun is shining—the perfect al fresco dining experience. We’ve put together pairings of the city’s top places to fill up your basket accompanied by the best nearby park for the picnic of your dreams!

Sing along to a free show at Columbus Commons

Each summer, the Columbus Commons is your destination for free live music. From local bands like Doc Robinson, to national acts like Boyz II Men, the outdoor amphitheater is where you need to be.

Pitch a tent

The campers, RVS, and pop-up tents will be returning to the outdoors this summer, serving as a home away from home for those looking to escape the city for a few days. It’s time to get outdoors, enjoy nature, roast some marshmallows over the fire, and get off the grid if not for a couple moments of bliss.

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Cannonball into a pool

Leave your layers and insecurities at home, because it’s time to give the pool whatever body you’ve got! Just remember to pack the good snacks, okay? Click here for 30 Columbus pools to beat the heat.

Let the kids loose at splash pads around town

Splashpads: Free and fun water spraygrounds without the worry of deep bottoms or high dives. We don’t know about you but to us, that seems like a home run, nay, grand slam. This summer, diversify your cool down routine by hanging at one of Columbus’ many exciting splashpads.

Awe at the beauty of Franklin Park Conservatory

Did you know Admission to Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is FREE to all residents of Franklin County, the first Sunday of every month, before 5 pm. And did you know FPC has a farmers’ market? Plan your trip now!

Stop and smell the roses at the Whetstone Park of Roses

The Whetstone Park of Roses is just begging for you to stop and smell. It’s the perfect place to pitch your hammock, take photos, and to enjoy the beauty of one of the largest public rose gardens in the U.S.

Sunbathe at Alum Creek Beach

It may not be the white sand beaches of Mexico, but we’ll take what we can get. This public beach can be your seaside vacation if you have an imagination and tons of salty pretzels. A beach is a beach, right?!

Take your dog for a dip

We can’t be sure what dogs dream, but we’d imagine it’s a lot of neon yellow tennis balls, frisbees, bones, and playing fetch in ice cold water. Make your pup’s dream come true this summer with these awesome places to take your dog for a dip.

Walnut Woods Metro Park

Eat 10 cent hot dogs at a Clippers Dime-a-Dog Night

Dime-a-Dog Nights are an important staple of summer, especially on the firework nights. But you can’t go into this eating excursion without a game plan! Check out our Columbus Clippers Dime-a-Dog Night Survival Guide to expertly navigate your hot dog hay day.

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Food & Drink

5 Very Veggie Brunches: Savory and sweet without the meat

J.R. McMillan

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Cover photo by Brian Kaiser

For the uninitiated omnivore, vegan and vegetarian options may seem scarce, even in a city as innovative and inviting as Columbus when it comes to inclusive cuisine. Long gone are the heyday of hippie joints with lean offerings long on salads, yet still short on something you could sink your teeth into—not that the stereotype was ever entirely accurate.

Though there is certainly far more fare from which to choose than there was a generation ago, veteran vegans and vegetarians may reluctantly admit midday meals and evening eats have always been easier to accommodate than traditional morning menus. And anything a little later, maybe with a little liquor, is almost impossible to find. Even Oddfellows’ unambiguous “Classy as F*ck Brunch Buffet” couldn’t last forever. Woodhouse Vegan’s Monday/Tuesday pop-up persists, though with any luck their new digs in Italian Village will revive the tradition.

Brunch is more than breakfast’s big brother. It’s at least as much a social imperative as a search for sustenance. Be it boozy or just bougie, the leisure class case for more conscientious consumption still remains somewhat shaky. Brunch is about familiar comfort foods, and requires rousing a gaggle of friends whose idea of weekend decadence may not be implicitly plant forward.

But this is when sneaky vegans and vegetarians can show the skeptics exactly where Columbus secretly shines, with approachable spots and unassuming options that might just change the minds of many who can’t imagine brunch beyond bacon.

THE ANGRY BAKER | 891 Oak St.

This Olde Towne East eatery has inspired two o shoots in the Short North and Upper Arlington. But the atmosphere of the original is still a strong draw with scratch-made breads and pastries that are all vegan by design.

Go for the Brioche French Toast Sandwich stuffed with eggs and swiss with a side of maple syrup for dipping—or the Fork & Knife Burrito, filled with potatoes, avocado, black beans, and mozzarella then baked and topped with two eggs, salsa verde, sriracha, and green onions. Make either vegetarian choice vegan with seitan and cashew mozz instead. Be sure to grab something sweet to go.

Check out: theangrybaker.com

ALCHEMY KITCHEN | 1439 Grandview Ave.

The more robust sibling of the Parsons Avenue café, the Grandview location offers an expanded menu with holistic nutrition that makes it far more than just another juice bar. (But seriously, if you don’t order a smoothie, you’re missing out.)

Toasts are tempting, especially the Baconana, topped with almond butter, banana, coconut bacon, smoked sea salt, and maple on whole wheat. But the standout here is still the Mexican Shakshuka, a twist on the Mediterranean staple with sunny-side eggs in a spiced pepper and tomato sauce, black beans, avocado, Bulgarian feta, pickled chilies and red onions, cilantro, and a slab of farm toast.

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Check out: alchemyjuicecafe.com

BLUNCH | 2973 N High St.

Perfectly blurring the line between breakfast and lunch was always the point at this High Street haunt just south of Weber. With a generous mix of vegetarian selections, there’s plenty here to keep everyone happy— including a drink menu from bloody to bubbly with a solid slate of local craft brews.

The Veggie Benedict with sautéed vegetables on a panko-crusted portabella with poached eggs and roasted red pepper-cashew sauce is the vegetarian spin on a morning mainstay. For something less savory, you can’t go wrong with a Pancake Flight of sautéed bananas foster, blueberry lemon ricotta, and sweet potato with toasted marshmallows.

Check out: blunchcolumbus.com

LITTLE EATER | Multiple locations

“Produce inspired” is more than just a mantra for this quaint Clintonville location now with a sister shop in the North Market. Bright, white, subway tiles are as synonymous with the brand as the seasonal selection of locally sourced ingredients.

Start with the Spinach & Leek Frittata, with an unexpected balance of dill, turmeric, and feta—or the Mushroom Quiche with shallots and Gruyère. For something with some crunch, try any of their toasts, from Avocado Toasted Seed Mix with olive oil and sea salt on a slice of Lucky Cat bread to Pistachio Nut Butter with strawberry-citrus jam on a Matija Breads ciabatta.

Check out: littleeater.com

PORTIA’S CAFÉ | 4428 Indianola Ave.

Once coupled with the beloved Clintonville Community Market, this Indianola outpost is adding a second location later this year in a familiar space, the same spot as the old Whole World Natural Restaurant and Bakery off High Street, a neighborhood standard for nearly four decades.

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

The Garden Breakfast Wrap with tofu eggs, “cheeze,” “sawsage,” tomato, lettuce, and mayo on a gluten-free tortilla is a meal you can hold in one hand. But don’t skip a side of their Rosemary Herbed Home Fries. If sweet is more your speed, their waffles are unmatched with toppings ranging from banana and blueberry to chocolate chip and coconut, as well as seasonal surprises.

Check out: portiascafe.com

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It’s Bubblicious: 5 places to score boba tea

Mike Thomas

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Iced coffees are great, but aren’t you due for a new drink order? Mix it up with a Bubble Tea! Here are five spots around town to get the chewy, liquid-suspended tapioca balls with an anatomically-inspired name. Happy bubbling!

Kung Fu Tea | 1161 Kenny Centre Mall

The Columbus location of this national chain is running a promotion in honor of National Bubble Tea Day:

Vivi Bubble Tea | 2408 N High St

National Bubble Tea Day is also a Jackets game day. Wear your gear to get a buck off at Vivi Bubble Tea!

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The Brewed Leaf | 809 Bethel Rd

The Brewed Leaf fits right in with the amazing lineup of asian dining on Bethel Road.

Cha Time | 2060 N High St

Pro tip for enjoying Cha Time Bubble Tea (among others): stab the straw through the lid – don’t try to peel it off!

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A colourful group of friends~

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Bubbles the Tea and Juice Company | Polaris & Easton

This is your destination for classic, quality bubble. Conveniently located in both Polaris and Easton, there’s no reason this drink shouldn’t be in your hand on your next shopping trip!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy bubble tea? Let us know in the comments.

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Food & Drink

Tiki Time: 3 places for a tropical getaway in Columbus

614now

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What makes Tiki so special is the bones of the thing. Tiki is transportive. It’s immersive. It’s tactile and present, yet mysterious and intoxicating. Tiki is community. Tiki is an escape.

While there may be a gaping hole left by the departure of the Kahiki, Columbus has still manages to breathe life into the tropical trend. Here are some places you can celebrate tiki around Columbus:

The Grass Skirt | 105 N Grant Ave

Aloha! Get away from it all at this downtown oasis with extensive rum and tiki drink selection, laid back atmosphere and island-inspired food.

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Sacred Palm | Top Secret

It’s always Tiki Time at this secret bar beneath High Street. We’d love to tell you where it’s at so you could experience this little slice of paradise for yourself, but we wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise!

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Tikis up! 📸: @dgbrenn

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Huli Huli Tiki Lounge | 26 W Olentangy St, Powell

New to the tiki game is Huli Huli in Powell. This lounge serves specialty cocktails and small plates Tuesday through Saturday. Tiki Tuesdays are the way to go, though, if you’re looking for a deal!

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