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Peter's Guide To Columbus, Ohio


2019 Nightlife Edition

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Peter's Guide To Columbus, Ohio


2019 Nightlife Edition

The best place you've never head of: Columbus, Ohio

Okay maybe you've heard of it, but I'm willing to bet that 9/10 of you (who don’t have some sort of Ohio-connection) have never considered actually visiting.

I mean, why would you? 

If you’re a Columbus local, you may or may not be aware that the national reputation of Columbus is basically nonexistent. And, internationally, just forget it. As great as Columbus is.... it's a bubble. Unlike the iconic cosmopolitan metropolises of our age such as New York or Chicago, relatively few people will move to Columbus unless they have a very specific and compelling reason to do so. And fewer still will ever leave Columbus.

And I can’t say I blame them.

Columbus is actually an amazing place! 

Columbus is the rising star of the Midwest, bustling with young people and new businesses. Nightlife, restaurants, coffeeshops, music, academia—Columbus really does have it all! The one thing that you won't find much of in Columbus is people who are not from Ohio. Refugees and international university students are notable exceptions to the rule (both of which also live here in large numbers), but for the most part, Columbus, Ohio is full of people that were born in Ohio. That's part of why the word about Columbus might never really get out. Or if it does, it’s gonna take a long time.

How do I know this? Because I was born and raised here. 

I’ve been gone for nearing 10 years now, and in that time I’ve literally been around the world. When I left, although I knew that Columbus would always hold a special place in my heart, it felt obvious that I was on to bigger and better things. However, the farther I travel, the more I come to the begrudging conclusion that Columbus actually stacks up really well. Here are some things you might not have known…

 

 

20 SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT COLUMBUS, OH

1. It was recently announced that Columbus had become the 14th biggest city in America, as well as the 2nd biggest in the Midwest after Chicago—AND it’s growing fast.

2. Smart Asset lists Columbus in their Top 15 Cities Requiring the Least Amount of Hours of Work to Pay Rent. Similarly, CNBC lists Columbus in their Top Cities Where You Can Really Live Well on $60,000 per year

3. Unsurprisingly, Kununu ranked Columbus as their #4 Cities The With Happiest Workers

4. Columbus has been ranked as the #1 City for Single (Straight) Women. (*hint* ladies)

5. Columbus is increasingly considered to be an American gay capital outside of San Francisco and New York City. 

6. The Columbus Business Journal recently reported on findings from the Kauffman Foundation which suggested that Columbus is the #1 Best City in America for Start-Ups, which is pretty mind-blowing.

7. Forbes reports that Columbus was the best place to invest in housing in 2017. Likewise, Curbed lists Columbus as one of 10 rising cities where home ownership is affordable

8. Columbus was ranked in the "Top 3 Best Cities for Millennials" by TIME and one of the "Best Cities for Young Professionals" by Forbes

9. Columbus has also been listed as the 2nd Safest City in America for Raising Children... which is pretty crazy because for most of my childhood it was actually a pretty sketchy city.

10. MotherJones said that Columbus is poised to become “The Next Hot Millennial Enclave,” sharing stories of transplants from larger cities like San Francisco and Chicago.

11. Columbus is the #3 City for Small Black-Owned Businesses

12. Columbus is home to 7 universities and 113,000+ students. And one of those universities, Ohio State, is the largest in the U.S. with enrollment pushing towards 80,000. 

13. Columbus is also known as one of the Top 7 Smartest Cities in America

14. National Geographic recently published an article likening Columbus to Brooklyn and saying that it is the next up-and-coming cool city. 

15. Forbes said that Columbus is the #1 "Opportunity" city in the U.S. I've heard working professionals in Columbus make similar observations.

16. Going off of that, Travel + Leisure lists Columbus in their Top Friendliest Cities

17. Fashionista said that Columbus is a Mecca for fashion designers, after it was reported that after New York and LA, Columbus is #3 in fashion designers per capita in America. 

18. The Columbus Business Journal recently reported on findings from the Kauffman Foundation which suggested that Columbus is the #1 Best City in America for Start-Ups, which is pretty mind-blowing.

19. The New York Times listed Columbus in their list of the best places to visit in 2019, saying that it is “poised to become the model for the future of innovative urban transportation.”

20. Columbus recently beat out cities such as San Francisco, Portland, and Austin to win a $40 million grant to invest in a next-generation, green public transit system. Don't believe me? Read about it HERE

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I know, right? 

This is the nightlife edition, so let's start bar-hopping....

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The 19 Best Bars In Columbus, OH


The cool kids call it "C-Bus"

The 19 Best Bars In Columbus, OH


The cool kids call it "C-Bus"

1. Brothers Drake | $$$$$

Address: 26 E 5th Ave, Columbus, OH 43201
Hours: [Closed | Monday – Tuesday]
………...…[5:00am – 12:00am | Wednesday]
…...……...[5:00pm – 2:00am | Thursday]
……...…...[4:00pm – 2:00am | Friday]
……...…...[1:00pm – 2:00am | Saturday]
……...…...[3:00pm – 10:00pm | Sunday]

Brothers Drake is (in my humble opinion) the coolest brewery in Columbus. But it's not beer that they brew. Brothers Drake is a meadery... meaning that they are local producer of mead. If you don't know, mead is a somewhat antiquated alcoholic drink that is composed of fermented honey and water. So, they definitely hold the local superlative in that narrow category, but Brothers Drake also stacks up pretty well with the rest of the beer breweries around the city. You can view their mead menu here, but they also serve a variety of craft cocktails if you come here and discover that you hate mead. AND, if you're curious what this whole mead thing is about, you can arrange tours of their mead-brewing facilities on most weekends.

Brothers Drake sits about half a block back from High Street in one of the biggest intersections in the Short North, so the bar is always crowded when you get there past 5:00pm, but it's is more than just a bar. It's also a small venue! You can catch small local and touring acts here most nights of the week. The performers they bring in tend to trend towards the jazzier end of the musical spectrum, but you can expect a good variety. Check this place out! 

 

 

2. Pins Mechanical Co. | $$$$$

Address: 141 N 4th St, Columbus, OH 43215
Hours: [4:00pm – 2:30am | Monday – Friday]
………...…[12:00pm – 2:30am | Saturday]
…...……...[12:00pm – 12:00am | Sunday]

I've spent a lot of time driving back and forth from Nashville to Columbus. For those who have spent time drinking in both cities, Pins always draws comparison's to Nashville's Pinewood Social. It's almost got too much going on for its own good! It's got multiple full-service bars, a bonfire, a food truck, and a mini-arcade where all of us millennials can take a trip down memory lane. However, the main attraction at Pins, and the namesake of the entire establishment, are their bowling lanes. It's a real (duckpin) bowling alley! Except instead of being surrounded by old men and children's birthday parties, you'll be at one of Columbus's coolest bars.   

You'll find Pins sitting on an urban corner of Columbus, right on the presipace of Downtown. This is an area that, until very recently, had been a dangerous cluster of vacant lots and industrial parks. Today, new businesses can't move into this real estate fast enough. Pins is a testament to the gentrification of Columbus. Obviously gentrification is a mixed bag, but I think establishments like Pins embody the good things in that bag. Indeed, this is not just a place for rich yuppies; this is a place that does its best to foster a sense of community, hosting bowling and pinball leagues every year. You can sign up and be a part of them if you want! You'll find everything you need to know on the website linked to their headline above. ⬆️

 

 

3. Seventh Son | $$$$$

Address: 101 N 4th St, Columbus, OH 43201
Hours: [Closed | Monday]
………...…[3:30am – 12:00am | Tuesday – Wednesday]
…...……...[3:30pm – 2:00am | Thursday]
……...…...[11:00am – 2:00am | Friday – Saturday]
……...…...[11:00am – 12:00am | Sunday]

Seventh Son is one of Columbus's coolest breweries. They opened for business in the spring of 2013 in historic Italian Village, and they have been on the fast track to becoming one Columbus's most popular fixtures ever since. Their flagship beers include 2 hoppy India Pale Ales, as well as an Oat Brown Ale and another strong Ale. However, they also carry seasonal brews, as well as full bar full of spirits and an extensive list of other, less popular beers. If you are a beer enthusiast, this place will be paradise. 

Italian Village sounds about as nice as it is; it's a very charming little slice of Columbus, that had historically been home to Italian immigrants. This heritage is reflected in the architecture of the buildings surround Seventh Son, but in more recent years, this has been the HOOD. Seventh Son was one of the first new establishments to open in this area, and while things are slowly improving, it's still a place where you need to be careful. If you hadn't gathered, gentrification is going to be a recurring theme throughout this article. Columbus is changing.    

 

 

4. Little Rock | $$$$$

Address: 944 N 4th St, Columbus, OH 43201
Hours: [Closed | Monday]
………...…[4:00pm – 1:00am | Tuesday – Thursday]
…...……...[4:00pm – 2:00am | Friday]
……...…...[12:00pm – 2:00am | Saturday]
……...…...[1:00pm – 2:00am | Sunday]
……...…...[12:00pm – 12:00am | Sunday]

Sitting just a block away from Seventh Son in Historic Italian Village, (which, as we've discussed, has been a dicey area for quite a long time and is only just now beginning to improve), is Little Rock. Is it named after the city in Arkansas? Not sure. Anyway, gentrification always brings new arrivals, spearheaded by young, bearded, tattooed entrepreneurs. However, Little Rock does not feel like one of those new arrivals. The sentiment around Columbus seems to be that this bar has been here forever, even though it only opened in 2013. Still, despite its young age, it manages to fit in with its surroundings in a way that most bars on this list do not. 

Before coming here, it had been described to me as a dive... which would make sense in this neighborhood, but I don't think that is entirely accurate. This is an establishment that is clean and cool. However, they have managed to walk a fine line that beckons hipster and townies alike to sit amongst one another to enjoy a drink. They host karaoke, stand-up comedy, and live music on a weekly basis. Outside of that, it never feels overly crowded, so check their schedule and plan your visit! 

 

 

5. Mouton 🏳️‍🌈 | $$$$$

Address: 954 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
Hours: [Closed | Monday]
………...…[5:00pm – 11:00pm | Tuesday – Thursday]
…...……...[4:00pm – 1:00am | Friday – Saturday]
……...…...[4:00pm – 10:00pm | Sunday]

I first came to Mouton because a friend of mine was tending bar. It was a cold, dreary night, but inside it was cozy and warm. Standing amongst the packed tables of guests who were talking merrily amongst themselves, I was introduced to the owner, who proceeded to make me a gingery, off-menu concoction of his own design. It was one of the best cocktails I've ever had, and I've been coming back to Mouton ever since.

Mouton sits in the heart of the Short North, Columbus's vibrant arts district and “gay-borhood.” One of the classiest and most understated cocktail bars in Columbus, Mouton has strong ties to the gay community in Columbus (but all are welcome, obviously). It's a small space with a clean, grey aesthetic, where anybody from any walk of life can feel at home. They have a great cocktail list, which brings in good business without ever feeling overcrowded or uncomfortable. 

 

 

6. Wolf's Ridge | $$$$$

Address: 215 N 4th St, Columbus, OH 43215
Hours: [Closed | Monday]
………...…[10:30am – 11:00pm | Tuesday – Thursday]
…...……...[10:30pm – 12:00am | Friday]
……...…...[10:00am – 12:00am | Saturday]
……...…...[10:00am – 10:00pm | Sunday]

Wolf's Ridge is the 2nd and final beer brewery on this list, but categorizing them as "brewery" alone feels limiting. Yes, they have a full-scale brewery and a tap room, but they also own and operate their own restaurant out of the same facility. It's actually a very nice place for dinner, and it's open starting for brunch everyday too! You can check out their food menu here. And on top of all this, they have been known to transform these spaces into event or concert venues from time to time. They have beautiful facilities, so it's no surprise that it's a popular spot to hold events. 

So it's a multi-faceted, dynamic place, but most nights, the tap room functions much the same as any other bar in Columbus. You can check out the upcoming closures through their events calendar here to make sure they'll be open during your visit. They have a nearly infinite beer menu for you to pick from, so there's a 0% chance that you won't find a drink that you love. It's located on the edge of Downtown, right next to Pins, so Pins and Wolf's Ridge make for a good bar-hopping combo.

 

 

7. Old North Arcade | $$$$$

Address: 2591 N High St, Columbus, OH 43202
Hours: [4:00pm – 2:30am | Monday – Friday]
………...…[10:00pm – 2:30am | Saturday – Sunday]

Old North Arcade is an amazing new(ish) arrival to an area of High St. in between Clintonville and (OSU) Campus that has now officially been named the "Old North." I prefer reading the name more as "Ye Olde Arcade," but the word 'old' is actually modifying the word 'north' instead. ANYWAY, that doesn't mean this place is any less retro! They've got a wide array of old-school arcade games that you can play, but—and this is where it gets good—they also have TVs mounted on the walls with the Wii and Gamecube versions of Smash Bros and Mario Kart.

It's pretty friggin' awesome. 

Looking at it from the street, this place has pretty unassuming building-front, but once you get inside, this place turns out to be pretty huge. There are 3 huge game rooms, as well as a sizable patio area for when the weather is nice. There's one bar that serves your standard array of alcoholic beverages, but let's be honest; nobody comes here for drinks. It's all about dat gamer life, which means that Old North Arcade tends to be pretty mellow. To me, that's a great thing in a bar. 

 

 

8. Oddfellows + Late Night Slice | $$$$$

Address: 1038 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
Hours: [4:00pm – 2:30am | Monday – Friday]
………...…[10:00am – 2:30am | Saturday – Sunday]

Sitting on High Street in the Short North, Oddfellows is a goofy character in Columbus's nightlife scene. It's got moose heads mounted on the wall with Christmas lights in their antlers. There are random high school portraits of dorky guys from the 80s in frames. They even have the leg lamp from a Christmas story mounted behind the bar. All things considered, it's a pretty entertaining atmosphere. Most of nights of the week you'll find Oddfellows crowded with people and you won't regret being one of them. 

Oddfellows is an interesting specimen because it shares a patio space with a popular, out-door pizza place called Mikey's Late Night Slice. The consolidation of the crowds of people from Oddfellows and Late Night Slice creates a nightly mini-street festival, quite literally. And it's hard to be in one establishment without visiting the other. Outside the doors of Oddfellows, there are huge areas of park benches under low-hanging stands of Christmas lights. There are routinely movies being projected on the giant brick wall of the next building over and people gather, sometimes by the hundreds, to share a beer and slice of pizza together. This place is a dream in the summer time. Pictured below is the interior of Oddfellows. I’ll get some pictures of Late Night Slice this summer!

 

 

9. Pint House | $$$$$

Address: 780 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
Hours: [3:00pm – 2:00am | Monday – Thursday]
………...…[11:00am – 2:00am | Friday – Sunday]

The Pint House is one of the rowdier and less-hipster bars on this list. The thing about this place is that, when see it from the street, it looks pretty modest. You're getting your ID out to show the bouncer, and it still looks pretty modest. You take your first step through the door, and you might think "this place is a little bigger than I thought it was," but then BANG! You realize that it's HUGE! It's a damn mastodon of a bar, stretching back farther and farther... and the sea of people just never ends. It's a good place to drink too much. 

The whole place is cast in shades of green, like every night is Saint Patrick's Day, and there's even a photo booth that will take your picture in front of a weird beer-fountain area (pictured below on the right). The menu includes just about every drink you can think of, it's relatively affordable, and I’ve found that there's almost always a little bubble of space waiting to accept you. It looks like a mad-house, but I always end up finding a spot to sit no problem. However, 11:30pm on a Friday night is not the best time to put that statement to the test. It'll be packed, but so long as you have some energy, it will be fun. 

 

 

10. 16 Bit Bar & Arcade | $$$$$

Address: 1308 McGavock Pike, Nashville, TN 37216
Hours: [11:30am – 12:00am | Sunday – Thursday]
………...…[11:30am – 1:00am | Friday – Saturday]

16 Bit is our 2nd arcade themed bar of the article. Personally, I like the Old North Arcade better... but I think I'm alone in that sentiment. People LOVE 16 Bit. It's ridiculously popular around Columbus. I have friends who routinely drive into Columbus from hours away, specifically to come here. I can't say I share their fascination, but I feel obligated to include it anyways. I have two major complaints about 16 Bit, and they are as follows... 

First, it's Downtown so parking is a nightmare. Second, and more importantly, the selection of games here is… maybe just a little too good? One thing is guaranteed when I come to 16 Bit: as we walk through the doors, the people I'm with will immediately stop talking to one another and silently wander off to go play arcade games. It always happens, and it feels a little anti-social to me. But, for the avid gamer or nostalgic 80s/90s baby, this place can be paradise. So which one are you? Nostalgic appreciator of nerd culture? Or just somebody trying to hang out with friends? If you're the latter, maybe don't pick this place. 

 

 

11. Union Café 🏳️‍🌈 | $$$$$

Address: 782 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215
Hours: [11:00am – 2:15am | Monday – Saturday]
………...…[10:00am – 2:15am | Sunday]

Normally I only include establishments that I would *personally* hang out at, but I'm going to diverge from that policy here. The gay community of Columbus is a huge part of the city's identity, and I feel that excluding the bars catering to this scene would be a misrepresentation. And while Axis is the flagship gay nightclub in Columbus, hosting hundreds of rowdy youths at all hours of the night, Union Café is the place where the adults come to hang out. 

Union Café is likely the most popular gay bar in Columbus. It's been around forever and occupies center-stage in the Short North, which the arts district of Columbus and a predominantly gay neighborhood. They actually serve great food during the day, but at night this place gets PACKED. It can be tough to move around in there, but people love it. Union hardly ever gets a bad review, and I'm not about to give it one now. This is a cool spot—check it out! 

 

 

12. The Standard Hall | $$$$$

Address: 1100 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
Hours: [3:00pm – 2:00am | Monday – Thursday]
………...…[11:00am – 2:00am | Friday – Sunday]

The Standard Hall is a recent addition to the Short North bar scene. It opened its doors in the summer of 2016 to a warm Columbus welcome, and the rest is history. It's a huge place, with multiple areas for people to sit and stand. They have a few different seating areas, but on weekend nights, this place gets pretty packed and rowdy. It's by no means a "club," but you'll still find dancing here from time to time. Outside, you'll find more seating and, occasionally, a bonfire. They do a good job of making this place feel good no matter how hot or cold it is outside. 

I was not surprised to learn that this bar is the brainchild of the same folks that graced us with Pint House (which we mentioned earlier in the article). These two bars have similar vibes: crowded, rowdy, mainstream, huge. The establishment occupies the same space as the now-defunct music venue, Little Brothers Music Hall. They serve a big selection of both beer and cocktails, and they also have a good food menu, all of which is made from scratch. This place actually serves a mean brunch—FYI to all you brunch lovers. 

 

13. The Library | $$$$$

Address: 2169 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
Hours: [3:00pm – 2:30am | Monday – Saturday]
………...…[7:00am – 2:30am | Sunday]

The Library is a true dive bar and probably the only place I'm guaranteed to go every time I visit Columbus. This little dive is part of the real old guard of Columbus. They have been sitting at the intersection of High St. and Lane Ave., literally the cornerstone of The Ohio State University, forever. I've been unable to track down the year they opened, but it was definitely pre-1990s, and it's pretty clear that there hasn't been a whole lost of up-keep that has happened during that time. 

It's no secret that Ohio State is a huge party school, but despite its close proximity to frat row and the associated debauchery, The Library has always been pretty mellow. It's got a regular crowd of regular people that can be found playing pool, throwing darts, or just having a beer on any given night of the week. This is what the old Columbus looked like. It's been a part of this city forever, and it's been a part of the landscape of my social life for longer than I care to admit. For all you young 'uns out there... 

Ouyay ancay etgay intoyay isthay arbay ithway onay IDyay—ustjay ogay oughthray ethay ackbay oorday.

 

 

14. Dick's Den | $$$$$

Address: 2417 N High St, Columbus, OH 43202
Hours: [12:00pm – 2:30am | Monday – Saturday]
………...…[1:00pm – 12:00am | Sunday]

A true Columbus classic, Dick's Den is far-and-away the oldest bar on this list. Founded in the 1960s, this place has a rich and fabled history that almost any fun-loving local over the age of 40 has a personal connection to. Hanging on the walls surrounding the pool table in the back room you'll find photo collages from various events stretching from the 1970s to the 1990s, most of which seem to common knowledge among my parents' social circles. One highlight that has been passed on to me is the story of the annual "Dick's St. Patrick's Day Marathon," wherein bar regulars would take a shot, run almost 5 miles up High Street to buy a fifth of whiskey at a particular liquor store, turn around to run the 5 (ish) miles back to Dick's, and then finish by chugging a beer. Laughing, a friend recently told me "...my parents told me there was one guy who stopped to take a shot at every bar between Dick's and Graceland... it took him like 12 hours." This 10 mile run has not "officially" occurred in a few years now, but you can read more about it here.

Dick's was founded and co-owned by a man named Ron Yednock. He was a regular bartender for Dick's since the very beginning, and is responsible for tuning Dick's Den into THE quintessential jazz club in Columbus. To this day, Dick's hosts live music pretty much every night of the week, most of which are jazz, with a few token bluegrass nights. However, you won't find Ron Yednock there anymore. On Christmas Day of 2016, he was struck and killed by a car, but judging by the many newspaper articles and the massive farewell party Dick's held, it's safe to say that his legacy is alive and well. Dick's is still the kind of place where you find yourself talking to total strangers as if they are old friends, and never fails to reinforce my belief that Columbus is one of the most genuinely friendly places in this country. 

 

 

15. Studio 35 | $$$$$

Address:  3055 Indianola Ave, Columbus, OH 43202
Hours: Check Showtimes 

Studio 35 is one of the last remaining independent cinemas in the region. Like many other independent movie theaters around the country, the survival of Studio 35 has been often seemed unlikely. However, against all odds, the community in Clintonville, and Columbus at large, has come together time and time again to keep Studio 35 alive. It has changed owners many times over the years, but the lights have stayed on through it all. Growing up here, people never seemed to be sure if this place was going to last the year, but now that Columbus has become cool, the market for "retro" gems like Studio 35 is exploding. I think it's safe to say that this place has made it through the tunnel. 

Studio 35 first opened its doors in 1938, making it by far the oldest establishment on this list. Setting out to write this series on Columbus, I wasn't sure how I was going to fit Studio 35 in to an article, but then I remembered that around 2010 the lobby of this theater was renovated to be a fully-functioning bar, even open to people who aren't there to watch the movie being shown. So that pretty clearly falls under the category of "nightlife." However, Studio 35 is first and foremost a theatre, so this "bar" attracts a crowd that takes their cinema very seriously. Want to see a midnight screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show or The Room in Columbus? This is the place. Long live Studio 35! 

 

 

16. Mac's | $$$$$

Address: 693 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215
Hours: [11:00am – 2:30am | Everyday]

Mac's Scottish Pub is the full name. You'll see the white "X" of the Scottish flag hanging in one of the pictures below, along with other clan flags from various regions of the British Isles. It's a cool place, and the really do play European football matches on their televisions when they are happening. Mac's sits on one of the last corners of the Short North before High Street leads to the Arena District and Downtown, but it tends to be a fairly chilled place. They serve a decent menu of bar food, and have your basic set of beers on tap, but to me, the most important thing about this bar is its authenticity. 

Right now, we are relatively close to the beginning of Columbus's rebirth. Lots of awesome bars and restaurants are popping up on every corner, and the forces of gentrification are in full-swing, even in the roughest neighborhoods around the city. Many of the establishments listed on the these Columbus city guides are relatively recent developments, but Mac's has been here the whole damn time. In fact, on a visit to my parents house when I told my father that I had recently been to Mac's, he said, "the last time I was there, your mom was pregnant with you."

I'm getting pretty old now, so that should serve as some serious street cred for this little pub. 

 

 

17. Skully's | $$$$$

Address: 1151 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
Hours: [11:00am – 2:30am | Monday – Friday]
………...…[12:00pm – 2:30am | Saturday]
…...……...[1:00pm – 2:30am | Sunday]

Skully's is probably Columbus's biggest small music venue. It's been part of the pulse of the Short North for longer than I can remember (almost 30 years!), and it's not getting any less cool. They host a wide variety of musical events on a weekly basis, from indie band to hip-hop, to DJs, and somehow, the crowd always seems to be full of true believers. Most venues are a bit more centrist, but Skully's has a way of lending itself to the most extreme version of every genre. You'll get the real thing when you come to a show here, and most publications around Columbus seem to agree.  

Skully's "Ladies 80s" night had won the "Best DJ Night" award 14 years in a row, while other accolades have continued to roll in over the years from Publications like Columbus Alive and ColumBEST, including "Best Mid Sized Venue," "Best Place to Rock and Roll," and "Best Hip Hop Venue." If you want to check this place out, be warned that finding free parking is pretty much impossible around Skully's. Be prepared to parallel park into a tight spot 4 blocks away. And note that photos below were taken pre-show, during soundcheck—this place will get PACKED, depending on the night and the event. 

 

 

18. Rumba Café | $$$$$

Address: 2507 Summit St, Columbus, OH 43202
Hours: [4:00pm – 2:30am | Everyday ]

Rumba is another one of my favorite venues around Columbus. It's a small venue to be sure, but they host some of the coolest small artists that come through Ohio. It's pretty far removed from the craziness of the Short North, sitting at the border between Ohio State's campus neighborhood and Clintonville. It's a little more low key, but still very cool and young. Most houses in this area are shared by 5-too-many college students. 

The Rumba Café has been around since 2006, and has established a solid reputation for itself. Recent highlights include Andrew Belle, Stu Larsen, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Nick D, William Wild, Corey Kilgannon—that should give you an idea of the sorts of artists that come through this place. However, if you're not a music nerd like me and just want to go rock out to some good songs, there is a funk band called The Hoodoo Soul Band that plays the late slot every Sunday night. They are tight. Check them out some time. 

 

 

19. Juniper | $$$$$

Address: 491 S 4th St, Columbus, OH 43206
Hours: [Closed | Monday]
………...…[5:00pm – 12:00am | Tuesday – Friday]
…...……...[5:00pm – 1:00am | Saturday]
……...…...[Closed | Sunday]

Having opened in the fall of 2017, Juniper is the most recent addition to the Columbus nightlife scene that is featured on this, but it comes with some history. Juniper sits atop The Smith Bros. Hardware building. To any Columbus local, this building needs no introduction, but I'll explain it for all of you out-of-towners. Smith Bros. is a massive warehouse just outside of Downtown Columbus, on the border of one what was formerly one of this city's most dangerous neighborhoods (it is now being gentrified). Towering high above the highways and streets that wrap around it, this building had been vacant and rotting for so long that nobody seems to remember its original purpose. It was relatively recently that this building was bought and its transformation began. It has been the home off some really cool office space and event venues for a few years now, but Juniper is a recent development. It's a cocktail bar and event space that was actually built on TOP of this warehouse, raising its height by a few more meters.

If you're looking for a rooftop bar in Columbus, this is it. It's not going to get any better than this. Smith Bros. was chosen for the site of this project after an extensive regional search. The management of Dock580 (who built and own this place) would contend that you won't find a better urban rooftop venue in all of Ohio (and probably even the region), and I can't think of a single reason why they'd be wrong. So, this place is something special. The indoor space has a glass roof and glass walls so that the Columbus skyline is visible from any point. The bar itself has a chic, Gatsby-esque, Art Deco feel, but the real story is out on the deck. Check out those photos below! Normally it'd be much more crowded, especially out on that deck, but the night that I took these photos it was 1 degree Fahrenheit, before windchill. 😬 Columbus gets cold in the winter. The bar is open to the public Tuesday through Thursday of every week, and functions as a venue for private events the rest of the time. If you need a drink recommendation, try the Park of Roses. 

 

 

R.I.P. Curio 😢💀

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Happy drinking!


Just a few more things...

Happy drinking!


Just a few more things...

🍺 The Best Nightlife In Columbus 🍷 

That's everything! Columbus's nightlife is skewed vertically on this map following High Street. There's a lot going on, but most of it is concentrated in a district called the Short North. Parking is pretty challenging, but it's a beautiful area composed of historic mini-neighborhoods like Victorian Village and Italian Village where large yearly festivals like "ComFest" happen often. Here's a bit about parking, as well as some information on an awesome festival that happens once every month! 

 

 

Parking In The Short North

You'll notice that most of these places are in an area called the "Short North," concentrated along High Street. This is the most "happening" place in Columbus, which means that finding parking is near-impossible. Street parking usually means that you'll end up parallel parking 5 blocks away from where you had wanted to go, which isn't ideal. If you'd rather pay for a parking garage than a Lyft or Uber, here's a guide to all the public parking areas in the Short North. Good luck with that. 

Short North Gallery Hop

The Short North is Columbus's Arts District. On the first Saturday of each month, every art gallery in this neighborhood opens its doors and thousands of people come together to browse through them. Galleries will debut new collections, restaurants and bars will stay open later and run specials, there will be street performers, the list goes on—it's amazing. Ohio Magazine has dubbed it "The Best Arts Event In Ohio," so I would highly recommend you check it out if you can!   

 

 

Hopefully this has been helpful! To see more guides like this one about Columbus, visit the Columbus Guides page. Or, if you'd like to contact to me to talk to me about Columbus or this guide, don't hesitate to reach out by shooting me a message. I'm pretty good about responding to messages reasonably quickly. 

That just leaves our track of the day! Envelope is a local white rapper that reins from the same Columbus neighborhood I grew up in (which, actually turned out to be pretty cool). Shout out to Clintonville! He was pretty popular among my friends growing up, but even as an adult, I still listen to him. His songs remind me of Columbus so much that he was the clear choice for this article.