Mural in the Short North Arts District; Art: Mona Lisa by Brian Clemons

Touring the Best Art in Columbus

Photo: Experience Columbus

Whether by wheels or on foot, here’s a colorful route to cruise the best of the Ohio capital city’s art and eats.

Fitness, culture, food and drink: These don’t have to be separate endeavors. Grab your running shoes, bike or skateboard and check out some of the best public art—from street murals to fine art and notable architecture—that Columbus has to offer. Traveling by foot or wheels is the best way to soak in all the city’s variety of cultural and historical sites, allowing you to make culinary and open-space discoveries along the way. To help you enjoy, expand and enhance your route, the city created Columbus Art Walks, a series of self-guided walking maps that identify a few hundred sites across a dozen art-filled neighborhoods, such as the Brewery District, German Village and River South. (Call 614-645-2646 and punch in the 3-digit site codes to learn more about the statues, murals, buildings or parks you locate on the maps.) 

Start: Scioto Audubon Metro Park to Capitol Square Walk 

Begin your tour at Scioto Audubon Metro Park where there’s plenty of parking, water and restrooms. Head north on the Scioto Greenway Trail for a couple of miles. Just past the Scioto Mile Fountain, exit the trail and head east on Town Street to the Ohio Statehouse and its surrounding square, filled with statues, monuments and lots of Ohio history. Start at the southeast corner of the square at the old Post Office & Federal Courthouse Building (100 S. 3rd St.). Punch code 183 to learn about one of the area’s oldest (1887) and most ornately decorated, and overwhelmingly Victorian Gothic buildings. President Taft (an Ohio native) was on hand for the unveiling of the 1912 renovation. 

Around the corner is the Ohio Theatre (55 E. State St.), a “palace for the average man.” This Spanish baroque masterpiece opened in 1928 as a movie theater and vaudeville house that seated about 3,000 people. The cost of decorating the interior, more than $1 million, exceeded the construction cost, but just might have been worth it.

When you get to the corner of East State and High, look up to see the monocle- and tophat-wearing Mr. Peanut, who has been waving hello to roasted-nut lovers for more than a century. This is one of the last-surviving Mr. Peanut signs. Stop inside for some peanuts or caramel corn.

Head across the street and onto the statue-filled grounds of the Ohio Statehouse. Completed in 1861, the column-filled, Greek Revival building is one of the nation’s oldest state capitals. There’s a ground-floor museum, and tours are available. There’s also a restaurant (House Taco) on the ground floor if all this history whets your appetite.

On the northwest side of the Statehouse grounds is the These Are My Jewels statue, a series of life-size sculptures of the seven sons of Ohio who played a prominent role in the Civil War: Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, James A. Garfield, Phillip Sheridan, Edwin Stanton, Salmon P. Chase and Rutherford B. Hayes. Dial 614-728-6884 to learn more about this statue and the inspiration behind its name (from the quote, “These are my jewels,” attributed to ancient Roman aristocrat Cornelia, referring to her sons).

On the South High Street side of Capitol Square is the large monument and statue of Rutherford B. Hayes, the nation’s 25th president, infamously assassinated in 1901 with the monument unveiled five years later to a crowd of 50,000. Looking forward, another block south and then east is the Urban Art Space of The Ohio State University (50 W. Town St., Ste. 50), a wonderful gallery located in the former Lazarus department store building. The Space is filled with modern art from a varied, diverse and rotating group of urban artists. Admission is always free. 

Art Walk Pitstop: Capital Square is swarming with hungry people who work within walking distance on weekdays. It’s much quieter in the evenings and on the weekends, but is slowly changing as the downtown revitalization continues. As a result, the area specializes in lunch spots. A couple options are Condado Tacos (132 S. High St.), Tasty Dawgs (107 S. High) and Pizza Rustica (175 S. High).

Want more modern street art? Follow East Main Street until you get to South Fifth Street. At this corner is the #CbusLoveMural (better at night when neon lights highlight the word ‘love’) and the #CbusColorWall where you can snap your perfect selfie in front of a rainbow backdrop. Less than a mile north and east from here is Topiary Park (480 E. Town St.), which isn’t a mural but is too good to pass up. It’s a recreation of the famous pointillist painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte—in 3D topiary form.  

A view of people in Short North Arts District Photo: Experience Columbus

Next up: Short North Arts District (and Goodale Park) Walk 

From downtown, head north on High Street, which runs through the heart of the Short North, lined with art galleries, shops and boutiques, restaurants and bars. Keep your eyes open for the diverse collection of murals, both permanent and temporary. Near Goodale Park, at the corner of North High and East Lincoln, check out Short North Gothic, a mural that turns the classic Grant Wood painting American Gothic on its head, so to speak. For those who love the art of ice cream, you’re in luck: This mural adorns the wall of an upscale ice creamery that serves one-of-a-kind flavors like maple-soaked pancakes, wildberry lavender, and goat cheese with red cherries. Across the street is the Lincoln Social Rooftop, where you can relax with a drink and a great view from the ninth floor outdoor space.

Just around the corner, you’ll find the Mona Lisa Mural (28 Bollinger Pl.), another piece that turns a classic on its head. (Experience Columbus has a detailed online guide to the murals.) Continue on to the Luxe23 building (1079 North High) for the Live Well Mural, another perfect selfie spot where you’ll sprout wings. 

A couple blocks to the west of High Street is Goodale Park, which was originally described as a “pleasure ground,” when Dr. Lincoln Goodale donated the land for the 40-acre park to the city in 1851. It’s now filled with pleasing works of art from Mother Nature and several of the man-made variety, including an ornate gazebo, where concerts are held; a large bust of Goodale in the southeast corner of the park; and a pond marked by a fountain topped with elephants, a tribute to the Columbus-based Sells Brothers Circus, one of country’s largest and most popular traveling circuses through the late 19th century. (Sells’ mansion, an ornate, Romanesque, circus-like edifice, is just off the park’s northwest corner.) Finally, the park’s east side is marked by the Pizzuti Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art, a museum that houses the wonderful, modern-art collection of local developers Ann and Ron Pizzuti. 

Art Walk Pitstop

As mentioned, the Short North is a foodie destination with a long list of options. But for some sure bets, The Lox bagel shop (772 N. High St.) makes a heck of a schmear, and the Northstar (951 N. High) is great for a burger or salad. In the mood for a slider? Columbus is the home of White Castle and the company’s flagship restaurant (965 N. High).

Feast and Art Walk Finale: Gravity Project 

From the Short North, turn around and head south on High until you come to Broad Street. Head west to 500 West Broad, home of Gravity, a new housing and retail development in Franklinton. Here you’ll find some 1,400 square feet of murals, including the five-story self-portrait by Eduardo Kobra. Just a stone’s throw away on Broad is Taft’s Brewpourium, which has more than a dozen beers on tap and serves pizza and salads. After you’re finished with your drinks or meal, head east on Broad until you return to the Scioto Greenway Trail. From here, go south (you can cross the river on Main) and return to Scioto Audubon Metro Park. All told, this outing comes in at 9 miles, so it’s doable on foot or wheels.

More Info

Visit for more Art Walk info, and download the MASA app to find street art in Columbus and other cities. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.