You start with a blank canvas when planning an event. Pull out your paint brush, add splashes of color to the empty slate and don’t be afraid to color outside of the lines. If your painting is of a Columbus, Ohio, event, the vibrant art, culinary and sports scene there will turn any meeting into a masterpiece.
Need to Know
5 Fortune 500 companies
4,250 Guest rooms in downtown Columbus
10,100 Seats at Huntington Park baseball stadium
Meet and Sleep
Wherever you go in Columbus, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a place without artwork. A painting even hangs above every bed in the 532-room Hilton Columbus Downtown. One piece of note is located outside the ballrooms, where planners will find more than 32,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. From a distance, the artwork simply appears to be leaves. Upon closer inspection, you’ll discover braille is printed on select leaves. Another piece to pay special attention to is in the lobby. From afar, it looks like a female profile admiring the skyline. Walk up close and you find that the piece is comprised entirely of crayons!
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Walk across the skybridge that connects the hotel to the 1.8 million-square-foot Greater Columbus Convention Center. One of the exhibits, As We Are, is a ginormous LED-light head. Step inside the bust for a photo booth that snaps your picture from multiple angles. Your face then shows up on the head for the world to see in a rotation of images.
The art tour of Columbus continues at Le Meridien Columbus, The Joseph. Affiliated with Pizzuti Collection museum, the 135-room hotel has pieces on display throughout. It also has 5,464 sq. ft. of meeting space and two tranquil spa suites.
Eat and Drink
The heart and soul of any city can often be discovered through its culinary scene. Local influencer and food blogger Nick Dekker takes groups on a progressive meal through the Short North’s eateries to sample pastries, meals, coffee and juice to jump-start the day.
A great lunch option for convention groups is North Market, a two-story food hall with more than 30 independent vendors. There is something for everyone. Local favorite Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream has an outpost there with a wide selection of unique flavors, as does Instagram-worthy Destination Donuts. Gift certificates are available if you would like to provide attendees with a prepaid lunch. North Market’s mezzanine, pavilion and patio can be rented for private events for 500 to 2,500 people.
The go-to restaurant group in Columbus is Cameron Mitchell, with more than a dozen restaurants sprinkled throughout the city. Gift certificates are available if you would like to cover the cost of your attendees’ meals but still offer them the freedom to select a cuisine and setting of choice.
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Columbus also has a thriving distillery scene. Wolf’s Ridge Brewing recently opened The Hickory Room for private events of up to 120 guests. Middle West Spirits (MSW) ferments vodka and whiskey on site. Group tours, tastings, mixology classes and private event spaces are available. MWS’s year-old, 59-seat restaurant can be bought-out.
The walking path along Columbus’ revamped riverfront leads to the brand-new National Veterans Memorial and Museum. The first museum of its kind pays tribute to soldiers who have served in all branches of the U.S. military through artifacts and multimedia exhibits, allowing veterans to tell their stories in their own words.
A short drive outside of the city, you can take your meeting on safari at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, where giraffes and zebras will photo-bomb your group’s selfies at Africa Event Center. The 400-person capacity banquet room and terrace overlook a savanna full of African wildlife. The zoo’s Water’s Edge Events Park overlooks Scioto River and can fit up to 1,300 guests for a complete buyout. Individual pavilions and boardwalks within the area are also rentable for smaller groups.
The Candle Lab, across from the convention center, offers custom-blended candles. The lab is in the process of constructing a private event room downstairs for meetings and receptions.
Check out all the event space at Nationwide Arena, home of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. One of its most exquisite spaces is Founders Club, which fits 185 people for a reception. It includes an area with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Columbus’ Arena District.