Monday, December 9, 2013

Holiday Shopping…Downtown Style

It is an urban myth that there is nowhere to shop in downtown Columbus. During this time of year, it isn’t necessary to jump into car to do my holiday shopping as there are a lot options within walking distance of my downtown condo.  And the best thing is I get to support lots of local businesses.

For my friends who love the arts, I might consider purchasing tickets to an upcoming show like the ballet, jazz orchestra or theater. That way I also have a companion to go with to the show.

Both the Columbus Museum of Art and the Statehouse Museum gift shops offer special deals on unique and handmade jewelry, creative children’s toys, scarves and more. The Columbus Museum of Art gift shop is now offering free gift wrapping on all purchases. I always find great things at these gift shops for my girlfriends and maybe even something for me.

One new idea I plan to try out this year for family members is to gather up local made sauces, salsas, chips and a bottle of wine sold at the Hills Market Downtown to prepare a nice gift basket.  For more practical minded family members, I will probably make a stop at Zeroz for a wallet and Robert Mason Stationer & Furnishings for a few fun office and schools supplies.

I window shop at the two jewelers on Gay Street, Chet’s Jewelers and the Diamond Exchange. Then I send my husband my gift suggestions so he doesn’t have to work so hard to read my mind on what I want for Christmas.

Finally, for my friends and family who live out of town, I think about something fresh or tasty, like Edible Arrangements, T. Bears Florist & Gifts or Sugardaddy’s Sumptuous Sweeties.

And just for fun, I plan to attend the December Holiday Moonlight Market on December 14 where local vendors will sell their crafts and wares to pick up any last minute needed gifts.

Now I challenge you to find something for everyone on your holiday shopping list the downtown way.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Necessities of Living… Downtown

With the time change and change in weather, this this is a great time to review the essentials of how people living downtown tend to their personal needs. We all need to treat our body wells by getting our hair cut and styled, our nails polished and perhaps an occasional massage to work out the kinks from toiling over computers and other technology devices all day.

Walking around downtown takes its toll on our bodies and we must be kind to it. A pedicure or facial this time of year also brighten up our spirits as the days grow darker.

There are a few good options for good hair styling and day spas nearby. 

  • Nail Styling Salon, 37 East Gay Street, 614-221-5245

With the holidays around the corner, tending to our bodies will help us feel and look our best for our family and friends.  But keep in mind, these essentials are good to keep close at hand throughout the year.

Pictured here is the recently opened Square One Salon at 275 North Fourth Street. The salon had relocated from its location at Gay and High streets.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tips for Treats to Enjoy Downtown in the Fall

Fall is here in all of its glory.  The leaves on the trees are starting to change color. And many of people like me look for fun and interesting fall activities to do, including things involving Halloween.  After all, we are all kids at heart.

Take a ghost walk: Columbus Landmarks offers a Halloween Lantern Walking Tour and a Gables, Gargoyles & Ghost Bus tour. For more information or to purchase tickets, go their website:
All things pumpkin: That’s my favorite fall flavor and I can’t get enough of it.  Where can you find some good Pumpkin-flavored treats? Check out the Elevator and Tip Top to taste good fall beers. 39 Below offers Pumpkin flavored yogurt and Super Chef’s features a Pumpkin Oatmeal.

Last month for the Pearl Alley Market:  October is the last month for the market, so stock up on harvest squashes, honey, tomatoes, baked goods, meats, eggs and cheeses. The market is open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Take a Rooftop Garden Tour: The OSU Urban Arts Space and the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation are offering a tour of the Lazarus Building Rooftop garden on Friday, November 1 from 1:45 to 3 p.m. Sign up by e-mailing

Free Sundays at the Columbus Museum of Art: CMA is currently highlighting one of Columbus' best-loved native sons, George Bellows, known for his controversial boxing images and evocative urban scenes of America through January 4, 2014.  Admission is free is Sundays!

Take an art class: The Urban Arts Space offers Crafternoons, creative art-making programs geared towards adults that love innovative and crafty projects.  Go to to find and sign up for classes.  The Cultural Arts Center offers a variety of workshops and classes for adults. To check out the classes, go to

Check it out at the Library:  The Columbus Metropolitan Library has a wealth of information at your fingertips.  Looking for a good book to read or a video to watch, you can take a short walk over or download it to your iPad.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Believe It Or Not: You Can Grocery Shop Downtown

"Excuse me?  But if you live downtown, where do you buy groceries?” I’ve been asked this question countless times.  But I take a step back and realize most people who come downtown, probably head to their destination and then leave without ever exploring what is here.

As a downtown resident, I have plenty of options to buy groceries and food, just as I did in the suburbs.  Yes, many times we still need to get into a car to buy the main staples if we want them at a lower price.  There is the Kroger in the Brewery District, which houses a state liquor store, as well as a Giant Eagle in German Village and Victorian Village.  The latter also has a state liquor store.  Both of these stores are about just over mile from my condo and are still in the 43215 zip code which is the downtown area. 

We also have more options that are closer and more unique.  The Hills Market Downtown carries many local and unique brands you won’t find at any other grocery stores.  It is conveniently located in the Neighborhood Launch development, putting it within walking distance. In addition to carrying items you need every day, the market also features casual dine-in options for breakfasts on the weekends, salad bar during lunchtime, a charity pizza night and other fun dining gatherings throughout the year.

Just a few blocks away is the North Market, Columbus’ last public market.  Merchants at the North market offer both fresh and prepared foods.  A farmer’s market takes place in the spring and summer. The North Market hosts a number of special events throughout the year including the Food and Ohio Wine Festival and Fiery Foods Festival.  Speaking of Farmer’s markets, the Pearl Alley Market take place may through October in Pearl Alley.  You will find a variety of merchants offering both locally grown produce as well as homemade products including balsamic vinegars, soaps, pies, bread and jewelry.  Something for everyone.

Pictured below are some local items offered at the Hills Market Downtown

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Leave Your Car in the Garage!

That’s right.  If you are serious about living downtown at Neighborhood launch, you will leave your car in the garage as much as possible.

You can probably walk to work, which is why you decided to move downtown anyway. And if you want to really discover some of the great sights of downtown and beyond, the best way is by bicycle.
Bicycles are an effective mode of transportation and the major means of transportation in many parts of the world. Plus it’s a great way to get some exercise.  In fact, according to the federal government, riding your bike counts towards your 150 minutes a week of physical exercise and is one of the safest ways to get physical activity.

With all this in mind, my husband and I purchased bikes a year after moving into our condo at Neighborhood Launch.  I hadn’t ridden a bike in quite some time and was a bit apprehensive.  But with all of the changes the city has been making to create a more bike friendly city, the experience has been great. There are marked bike lanes on the road and signs to remind motorists to share the road.  In addition, many of the bike paths around the city have been improved.

We take ride our bikes up to the Short North for dinner and stop back by Gay Street for some frozen yogurt at 39 Below. Or we will ride down Bryden Road and view the majestic homes of yesteryear that are being restored with a stop at the Black Creek Bistro or the Franklin Park Conservatory.

 After a year, I traded in my three-speed for a bike with more speeds to go longer distances and enjoy riding on some of the bike paths.  We have gone as far as the Hills Market in Worthington on the Olentangy Trail.
There are several resources for those looking to bike in downtown or Columbus.  These sites include maps with bike paths and information on bike laws and bike shops:
So park your car, get off the couch and enjoy the great weather by taking a bike ride!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Entertainment Options Heat Up Downtown in the Summertime

What I love about summertime downtown are all of the entertainment options that are available so close to home.  Many of them are free or of little cost and offer you a chance to stay cool.

Since the opening of the Scioto Mile, the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department has done a great job of planning activities at Bicentennial Park. There are concerts, movies, festivals and other types of family shows.  In addition, the water fountains offer cool and refreshing respite when the temperatures start to spike. To keep informed of events at the Scioto Mile, go to, you can sign up for free updates.

Columbus Commons has also done a tremendous job of scheduling the green space. Thursdays are Food Truck Court during lunch time, in the evening is Pints & Pies. Picnic with the Pops offers a series of concerts through the summer and movies are also shown at the park periodically. To keep up with current activities, visit the Columbus Commons website at and signup for their e-newsletter.

CAPA offers their Summer Movie Series.  For as little as $4 you can see wonderful classic movies in the historical Ohio Theatre. Live organ music by Clark Wilson begins30 minutes prior to show time and during intermission.  What a great way to spend a hot evening!

Finally, the Columbus Museum of Art is only two blocks away from Neighborhood Launch.  The museum has outstanding collection of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century American and European modern art. The museum is recognized its public collection of woodcarvings by Columbus folk artist Elijah Pierce and the world’s largest repository of paintings and lithographs by Columbus native George Bellows. And admission to the Columbus Museum of Art of Sundays is free!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Dining Alfresco Downtown Style

Dining Alfresco Downtown Style
Summer time is one of my favorite times to dine out – outside that is! Downtown has many venues with patios that make eating and drinking outside fun and enjoyable when the weather is nice.  Here are a few of my favorite patio picks:
  • Due Amici: Located on Gay Street, this modern Italian restaurant is located in the middle of hustle and bustle of downtown. The menu includes small plates, salads and lots of seasonal specials make the experience worth the trip.  Tip: Mondays feature half price bottles of wine & champagne with live jazz music starting at 6 p.m. Due Amici is located at 67 E. Gay Street.
  • Latitude 41:  Located within the Renaissance Hotel at the corner of Third and Gay streets, the outdoor patio here offers comfy couches in a great urban setting. Happy hour specials for the summer last until 7 p.m. and include $5 pizzas and wine specials.  The patio is a great hangout for after work and evening relaxation.
  • J. Gumbos:  Voted Best Cajun by the readers of 614 Magazine, J. Gumbos offers great Cajun fare like Bourbon Street Chicken and Voo Doo Chicken. While sitting on the patio after hours, enjoy a Mike’s Hard Lemonade, margaritas, and several varieties of beer for only $3. Or get the mix-and-match bucket of 5 for $14. Happy Hour is Monday through Saturday 3 to 7:30 p.m.  J. Gumbos is located at 31 E. Gay Street.
  • Manifesto Tuscan Grato & Scotch Bar: A relatively newcomer to downtown, Manifesto, located at 21 E. State Street in the Fifth Third Building, offers Italian fare that includes lots of wonderful small plates as well as Italian wines and premium cocktails. What’s not to like about having a cocktail on the patio before a show at the Ohio Theatre or afterwork?
  • Hills Market Downtown: Most recently, I have enjoyed having Sunday brunch at the Hills Market patio where they prepare sweet and savory crepes from Crepes a La Carte. On Saturdays, Hills offers a $5 Pancake Breakfast that includes a stack of pancakes, sausage and Silver Bridge coffee. Of course they offer Ohio made maple syrup to put on top. Brunch is served from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.! Hills Market Downtown is located at 95 N. Grant Avenue.

Patios coming to downtown soon include:
  • El Camino Inn located at 238 S. Fourth Street is a So Cal lounge offering cheap eats such as $2 tacos as well as margaritas and canned Mexican beers.
  • Little Palace Bar + Kitchen located next to El Camino Inn at 240 S. Fourth Street is a historic downtown neighborhood diner. The menu includes pizzas, Stromboli, sub sandwiches, burgers and other favs such as gyros and hand cut fried.

But my favorite spot to dine outside is in the courtyard of Neighborhood Launch with our neighbors. Occasionally we gather around the fountain in the courtyard on nice evenings to enjoy food, beverage and good conversation.

What’s your favorite place to dine outside downtown?