I wouldn’t exactly call myself 100 percent hipster, but I do like coffee, street musicians, and things that dare to stray from the mainstream. Until recently, I thought of Columbus, Ohio as a dull Midwest city without much to offer to hipsters. In this expert’s opinion, Columbus, while far from Seattle and Brooklyn’s hipster levels, is cool enough for the pickiest freethinking, bohemian. Here is why:
Where there are college students, there are hipsters. Ohio State University is the third largest in the country, and Kenyon College in Gambier is just over an hour away. The large student population translates into both football fever and high levels of hipsterism. All you have to do is take a walk around the artsy northern area of Columbus, and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
If you have the chance, stop in at the university’s Wexner Center for the Arts, which frequently hosts exhibits that you can’t catch at the Columbus Art Museum.
Short North Arts District
This area just south of Ohio State University takes the crown as Columbus’s most hipster-heavy district. Art is everywhere, including on the sides of many of the brick buildings. You can take a self-guided walking tour of the area that shows you Short North’s best public arts displays. Of course, I’m sure your walking tour will suffer a few delays by distractions of all the fascinating shops, art galleries and cool restaurants.
A highlight of Short North is the Italian Village Neighborhood, which has beautiful historical buildings and a down-to-earth vibe. Italian Village also has great coffee at places like One Line Coffee and Impero Coffee — and what better place for hipsters to gather than in a coffee shop that isn’t Starbucks?
To explore Columbus in all its hipster glory, you might want to stay in downtown or in the Arena district (which has the modern and cool Lofts Hotel). That way, you are between Short North and German Village, and can easily visit both.
German Village area has an abundance of old homes with cool stories, and the food in the neighborhood is some of the best around. The true hipster highlight of the area is the bookstore. The Book Loft has somewhere in the ballpark of half a million books — all spread out across 32 rooms. Yes, you might get lost; make sure you pick up a map on your way in.
If you manage to find your way out of the Book Loft, head to German Village’s other cool spots, like Via Vecchia Winery and German Village Art League.
The bottom line? Roaming hipsters, don’t discount Columbus because it is in the Midwest. The city might just get your thumbs up (unless giving a thumbs up is too mainstream for you).
Joy Nelson is a professional freelance writer who likes to travel to offbeat places and see unexpected things.