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Eclectic Entertaining: An insider’s guide for out-of-town guests

J.R. McMillan



Columbus is the city of the next century. But sometimes it’s difficult to see during your daily drive; even harder if you’re only home for the holidays. If that long-lost college cohort or twice-removed cousin hasn’t stopped by since the waning days of MySpace, the local to-do list is almost too long to fathom. So if you’re looking for someplace new or unique to impress your out-of-town guests, consider these enviable options.

Where to find unpretentious eats well after midnight

Hounddog’s Pizza | 2657 N High Street

The Old North is just far enough away from campus and just south enough of Clintonville to carve out its own neighborhood identity. Columbus-style pizza is still king, but the chewy garlic butter handle of Smokin’ Joes hand-tossed crust and sauce are essential. Try the veggie-heavy Backyard Dog, or keep it classic with spicy Italian sausage, fresh garlic, and extra cheese.

Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace | 248 S 4th Street

This once sleepy stretch of street has become a downtown hub of hip haunts in the past decade. Choose from more than three dozen signature hot dogs, brats, polish sausages, or veggie dogs—or create your own. The Pittsburgh Princess is a notable nod to Primanti Brothers’ legendary sandwich, dressed with creamy slaw, hand-cut fries, and a splash of malt vinegar.

Where to take your siblings who think the suburbs aren’t sophisticated

Lupo on Arlington | 2124 Arlington Avenue

An obscure enclave of boutique retail shops may not seem like the obvious complement for Spanish small plates. But the dynamic tapas menu was the perfect fit for the former bank whose exposed vault door mechanisms remain a decorative accent. Though the featured fare changes frequently, the octopus a la plancha and lamb meatballs have become much-beloved staples.

Photo: Brian Kaiser

Hen Quarter | 6628 Riverside Drive

Southern standards find a fresh take at the intersection of rustic and refined. Don’t let their bottomless brunch delay your visit. Succulent fried chicken served with brown butter waffles, bourbon maple syrup, and a side of collards are always on the menu—as are the impressive smoked short ribs, with ginger cilantro rice, Brussels sprouts, and green tomato kimchi.


Where to imbibe elevated cocktails with a view to match

Juniper | 580 N 4th Street

The standard speakeasy is a hidden haunt. But this one literally ups the ante by hiding on the roof of Smith Brothers Hardware, offering Caribbean cuisine and just the right vantage of the city skyline. Try a plate of authentic Johnny cakes and the crispy-skin parrot fish coupled with one of their reimagined, prohibition-era cocktails like the Tropical Knees, Lion’s Tail, or Pith and Peel.

Photo: Brian Kaiser

Lincoln Social | 711 N High Street

Del Mar SoCal Kitchen’s Midwest twist on coastal cuisine is perhaps only rivaled by its sister establishment’s exclusive rooftop patio. Among the more innovate alcoholic beverage offerings, Cameron Mitchell can also claim the city’s first CBD “mocktail”. Mellow Beets is a raw juice blend of beet, carrot, apple, and ginger balanced by a cannabis-infused, blood orange soda.

Where to go with those who seek and savor something secret

Sacred Palm | 457 N High Street

High Street has plenty of hotspots, but few are as elusive as the one in the basement of Mikey’s Late Night Slice in the Short North. Cleverly concealed by an old walk-in cooler beyond repair is a secret tiki bar. Tropical tropes set the tone for the tiny oasis illuminated in pink and purple. Umbrella drinks served in ceramic tumblers complete the immersive, island-inspired experience.

The Light of Seven Matchsticks | 5601 N High Street

The unmarked entrance for the underground establishment beneath Natalie’s Coal-Fired Pizza is entirely on-brand for the quaint and quirky bar about the size of a box car. Wes Anderson himself would be hard-pressed to improve on the iconoclastic niche whose namesake is the fictitious tome featured in his film, Moonrise Kingdom. Even the bar’s select menu is a secret.

Where to settle a bet with friends who like to keep score

Columbus Axe Throwing · 560 S High Street

Channel your inner lumberjack with a sport more dangerous than darts, but still slightly safer than jousting. Few seasonal frustrations and family feuds can’t be settled by a few rounds of hurling a lethal hunk of steel at a wooden target. Even amateurs will leave better prepared for the zombie apocalypse. Ash & Em’s smart “starters” and smashed burgers are equally sharp.

Photo: Megan Leigh Barnard

Pins Mechanical · 141 N 4th Street and 6558 Riverside Drive

Duckpin bowling, pinball, and ping pong dominate this novel destination for kinetic entertainment, now with an additional location in Dublin. Start with paddles, a little flipper action, or foosball as an appetizer. The diminutive dimensions of duckpin make it the perfect scale for kids of all ages, with adults-only hours after 8 p.m. Rotating food trucks keep the menu fresh.

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Things To Do

Hit Your Peak: 3 worth-the-drive ski slopes near Columbus

Asa Herron



The cursed Ohio Winter Monster has made its presence known to all with its 5pm sunsets, snow storms, and seasonal depression for all. How are you going to fight back against the gloom this year? It may seem like it’s impossible to do fun things with your friends or to stay active in the winter, but I’m here to tell you that not all hope is lost. Finding a new hobby is a great way to kick your winter woes to the curb and start the new decade on a good foot.

Skiing can be a great way to casually exercise with friends and resuscitate your serotonin levels. Here are three high quality places to ski within driving distance of Columbus for you to check out.


Located in Zanesfield, Mad River Mountain is about an hour's drive northwest of Columbus. They have the most reasonable prices of all the nearby ski resorts. Plus, their on-property bar, The Loft, has 12 taps of craft beers on rotation to add a little more fun to the night. Mad River is open until 1 a.m. on Fridays, too, so you’re getting a full Friday night of flurries.

Mad River is home to over 20 trails (spanning 3.9 miles) and four terrain parks making it the largest ski resort in Ohio. They also bolster ten ski lifts (the most in Ohio) and are tied with Snowtrails for the largest vertical drop in the state with their 300 foot slope. An added perk of Mad River is that they just built a new $6.2 million facility in 2016 to replace the space they lost to a fire in 2015. Plus, most of their trails are designated “easy” difficulty. Mad River has everything you need to have a relaxing, affordable day of skiing.

Details on hours and pricing can be found at


Founded in 1961, Snowtrails is Ohio’s oldest ski resort. It is located in Mansfield, so also about an hour drive north. This resort is only slightly more expensive, with lift rates starting at $31 for midweek evenings and $52 for all-day on the weekends, with skis, boots, and pole rentals are $37. If there’s one day this month that you visit Snowtrails, let it be January 25 for their mid-season party. Get ready for an outdoor DJ, a custom built snowbar, and a fireworks show 30 minutes after the slopes close for the night. Not into skiing? No problem! The party is free and open to the public, so let your expert friends hit the slopes while you hit the spirits at the snow bar.

Snowtrails is the second largest resort in the state with six ski lifts and 3.3 miles of trails. The majority of their trails are designated “intermediate” difficulty, so more experienced skiers will enjoy their time here.

More information can be found at www.


Boston Mills & Brandywine is the farthest ski resort from Columbus on this list, but great for a full weekend away. This quaint resort is in Peninsula, OH is a two hour drive from Central Ohio. Their pricing is $40 after 3:30 p.m. and $45 for an all-day pass. Staying another night? Come back on Saturday for $5 Late Nights admission from 8:00 PM to 1:00 AM.

Boston Mill & Brandywine ski resort is known for being especially conducive to beginning skiers. They offer high quality lessons and will walk you through the process. This is the place to go if you have “stupid” questions about skiing, or just want to tube. However, they also appeal to veteran skiers as the majority of their 18 trails are designated “advanced”. Despite the high quantity of trails, this resort is much smaller than the other two, with only 1.2 miles of skiable trails, and their largest vertical drop being 264 feet. But for these prices? Could definitely be worth the trip.

Learn more about Boston Mills & Brandywine at

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Arts & Culture

Watch: “World’s largest mural” in Short North is more than meets the eye

Regina Fox



At a glance, "The Journey AR Mural" adorning the Graduate Columbus hotel in Short North is stunning. Look a little harder, and it actually comes to life.

Standing at over 107 feet tall and over 11,000 square feet of augmented reality, "The Journey AR Mural," is the world's largest AR mural, offering technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.

The gaily-painted snapdragons, hibiscus, Easter lilies, and hummingbirds bloom and fly when viewed through the Journey AR Mural app (free for iPhone and Android). Watch the murals come to life in the video below.

Los Angeles-based artists Ryan Sarfati and Eric Skotnes (going by “Yanoe” and “Zoueh," respectively) are the creatives behind the project.

In an interview with Short North Arts District, Skotnes revealed he was inspired to take on the project after learning that Columbus is home to the second largest population of Somali immigrants in the country—he hopes the murals symbolize strength and prosperity for its viewers.

To learn more about The Journey AR Mural, visit

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Things To Do

8 of our favorite free, weekly events

Kelsey Lawrence



Recovering from all of that holiday spending? We’ve got a list of eight of the best free, recurring events around the city. Leave the wallet at home and have a great time!

Jazz Wednesday @Brothers Drake Meadery
26 E 5th Ave, Columbus

Brothers Drake offers live jazz performances every Wednesday with no cover! Rotating performers every week and, as always, sweet sweet mead on tap at all times.

Tuesday Night Bluegrass @Dick’s Den
2417 N High St, Columbus

Everyone knows Dick’s Den for their awesome jazz, but did you know they also have some toe-tapping, swing-your-partner-round-and-round Bluegrass music every Tuesday night. Dick's Den. Because why not?

Tuesday Night Magic @P3 Theater
2575 N High St, Columbus

P3 hosts Tuesday Night Magic, where the best magicians in the world come to Columbus to showcase their skills, for FREE. Complimentary snacks and adult beverages included. Don't forget to tip your bartender!

Free Sundays @Columbus Museum of Art
480 E Broad St, Columbus

Tired of another lazy Sunday? Head over to The Columbus Museum of Art, where they offer free admission every Sunday. Whether you’re looking for a family friendly activity or if you just want to check out some beautiful art, there’s something for everyone.

Acoustic Open Mic Wednesdays @Shrunken Head
251 W 5th Ave, Columbus

When you hear "open mic night," you may picture your drunk college roommate singing Destiny's Child. But at Shrunken Head's open mic night, they bring in only the best local musicians to wow you with their acoustic skills. It's like a free music variety show with reasonably-priced drinks.

Everybody's a Comedian Wednesdays @Little Rock Bar
944 N 4th St, Columbus

It's a pretty simple premise: instead of actual questions and answers, you'll provide the funny/smart a** answers to vague questions, with free beer and bragging rights going to the winner. Hosted by former (614) Magazine Editor-in-Chief Travis Hoewischer. It's like that time you wrote something sarcastic at pub trivia because you didn't know the answer—except in this case, you do that all night. -Everybody's a Comedian Facebook

Free Pizza Mondays @High Beck Tavern
564 S High St, Columbus

Now, you actually have to purchase a drink to qualify for free pizza on Mondays at High Beck, but it's well worth it. Unlimited pizza, tons of topping options, great atmosphere. There's really only one place to be on a Monday evening and that's High Beck.

Sad Boyz @Skully's Music-Diner
1151 N High St, Columbus

On the last Wednesday of each month, all the emo kids and 80s and 90s babies turn out to Skully's for a little something they like to call Sad Boyz. This emo, pop punk, screamo, and alternative dance party is powered by PBR deals and angsty tears. Always free before 10pm

Did we miss your favorite free, reoccurring event? Comment below!

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