Explore Columbus and all its offerings at Annual Session

by Jackie Best

     Coming to Columbus for the Ohio Dental Association Annual Session Sept. 13 through 16, 2012 can be about more than just the exhibit hall, continuing education, speakers and programs. It can also be about enjoying the dining, shopping, night life and attractions the city has to offer!

     Columbus has many exciting attractions for all ages and interests within walking distance of the Convention Center and several more that are just a short drive away. With all there is to do around Columbus, Annual Session will feel like a vacation.

     The Short North is just north of the Convention Center and is home to 14 art galleries; 50 pubs, clubs, restaurants and food shops; and 65 fashion boutiques, home décor and specialty shops. Known as the “art and soul” of Columbus, the Short North features eclectic art, dining, nightlife, fashion, home décor, and unique gifts. While in town, the Short North Tour of Homes and Gardens will be Sept. 15 and 16, 2012.

     The Arena District is another great area in downtown Columbus that features exciting nightlife, bars and restaurants. Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant features an American menu and hand-crafted German lagers brewed on-site. After dinner, head to Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar where two entertainers combine music and comedy behind two grand pianos. Visitors can also enjoy a movie at the Arena Grand Movie Theatre, an art-deco inspired facility featuring a full service bistro and bar.

     German Village is a historic neighborhood just south of downtown. The area was settled by German immigrants in the mid-1800s, and since the 1960s more than 1,600 buildings have been restored. Today, visitors can enjoy a stroll along the narrow brick streets lined with trees and uninhibited by new developments. Stop into the Book Loft, a bookstore that is a city-block long, or dine at Schmidt’s Restaurant und Sausage Haus, which has been featured on Food Network’s “Best of Ohio” and the Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food.”

     The Brewery District is also home to restaurants, bars, entertainment and night life. Check out the more than 500 beers at World of Beer, catch a show at Shadowbox Live or eat dinner at the Columbus Brewing Company or Claddagh’s Irish Pub.

     Beer connoisseurs can enjoy samples from local microbreweries at the Columbus Microbrew Festival on Sept. 14 and 15, 2012 at the North Market. The North Market is Columbus’ only public market and is a great place to try new food, purchase gourmet groceries and people watch. The market features independent merchants and farmers selling fresh produce, meat, seafood, ethnic food, groceries and unique gifts.

     For those who enjoy a walk on the wild side, be sure to visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Named the number one zoo in the United States by USA Travel Guide and home to the famous “Jungle” Jack Hanna, visitors of all ages can see, hear and sometimes even touch the more than 9,000 animals. At the recently opened Sting Ray Bay, visitors can safely pet sting rays, or at the Polar Frontier visitors will feel as if they are immersed in a polar bear habitat as the bears swim above their heads. Be sure to check out the Manatee Coast, which is one of only three manatee exhibits at zoos outside of Florida and a place where injured, orphaned or sick manatees are cared for and rehabilitated.

     Science enthusiasts and learners of all ages will love a visit to COSI, an interactive science museum. At the space exhibit visitors can ride in a space capsule, maneuver a rover in space and test their skills as an astronaut. Be transported back in time at the Progress exhibit and experience life as it was in 1898 through 1962. The Life exhibit takes a look at each stage of life to show curious minds what makes humans human.

     Golfers can learn about the history of golf and journey through Jack Nicklaus’ exceptional career at the Jack Nicklaus Museum in The Ohio State University Sports Complex. The museum brings to life Nicklaus’ career through pictures, trophies and mementos and highlights the total commitment and mental toughness that brought him 20 major championships and 100 worldwide professional victories.

     Other fun attractions include the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Easton Town Center, The Ohio Historical Society, the Columbus Museum of Art and the Topiary Park.

     Be sure to visit www.oda.org for more information about these attractions and more, including ODA staff and member dentist picks about the best dining, shopping, night life and local attractions in Columbus.