Robin Waldron

Columbus: A unique city ‘unexpected and unforgettable’

The architectural beauty and different types of art displays surround you everywhere as you drive into Columbus. This city is alive!

Visiting Columbus fills the bill for both children and adults where learning opportunities are unequal anywhere else in Indiana.

It is a city of only 46,000 and is ranked sixth in the nation for Architectural Innovation and Design by the American Institute of Architects right behind Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington D.C., and recently was designated one of five Indiana Cultural Districts by the Indiana Arts Commission.

Checking into the Visitor Center Gift Shop located on Fifth Avenue, also known as the “The Avenue of the Architects,” is the first experience of what is offered. There you will find pieces of fine art, coffee table books about Columbus and literature on the many opportunities offered here. You can take an on-your-own walking tour of 1.4 miles where you can see 14 of the 75 buildings and pieces of public art by internationally noted architects and artists. Works created by I.M. Pei, Gunnar Birkerts, Dessa Kirk, to name a few.

Several guided tours are offered at the visitor center including walking and bus riding. The highlight of the one-hour walking tour is said to be an insider’s look at the distinctive personal office of J. Irwin Miller, the benefactor, and champion of the arts movement in Columbus.

The Inn at Irwin Gardens, the Irwin House, now a bed and breakfast, was the Irwin family home, and childhood home of J. Irwin Miller, virtually unchanged since 1910. A stay here is a real treat for those looking to go back in time and spend the night in early century luxury.

The children in your group get both educational and cultural value from a trip to Columbus, but beyond that, there is an entire building devoted to fun just for kids!

Explore the “Commons.” This 5,000 square-foot playground is free, and it houses a 35 foot tall “Lucky Climber.” This structure promises to be line none other your or your child have experienced. The climber was created by the late Thomas Luckey, and artist, sculptor, and architect known for building his own brand of unique climbing structures throughout the country.

But the climber is only one feature inside the Commons. There are slides; a water cylinder kids crank to make their own tornado and oversized musical chimes. The playground is divided into age-appropriate areas for toddler, preschoolers, and bigger kids.

Before leaving Columbus, stop at the Zaharakos old-fashioned ice cream parlor for an unforgettable treat for the end of the day.

There’s more to see as the list goes on, but we know you will find Columbus is “unexpected and unforgettable!” Request information at https:\\Columbus.in.us\request-info/.

First published in Senior Life Newspapers, August 2017.

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