A capital city

Columbus offers the perfect getaway that’s close to home.

When the sleet is beating against the roof and the forecast is once again calling for nothing but gray skies, it’s hard not to get discouraged. Although life may slow down during the winter, it certainly doesn’t have to come to a grinding halt. There’s still so much to see and do, and there’s no better place to visit than somewhere that’s practically in your own back yard. It’s time to say good riddance to the cabin-fever blues and head to Columbus, a city that’s packed with surefire ways to beat the cold. Now’s an ideal time to visit our capital, since a variety of events and attractions make this Buckeye State city a hot spot.

The thermometer may say zero, but the art is hot in Columbus this winter — proving there’s no need to travel to Paris or New York to see world-class art.

“To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum” brings the excitement of ancient Egypt to the Columbus Museum of Art Feb. 13–June 7. This opulent and thought-provoking exhibit focuses on the ancient Egyptian idea of death, and how it can be “defeated” through preparation. Featuring more than 100 objects — including the 2,000-year-old mummy Demetrios — coffins and jewels, the collection explores mummification, funeral rites, tomb contents and afterlife beliefs.

While at the museum, be sure to make a day of it, since there’s plenty to explore at this premier art venue. With an exemplary collection of late-19th and early-20th century art, as well as works by Monet, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir and O’Keeffe, the Columbus Museum of Art rivals some of the most respected institutions in the nation. (614/221-6801, www.

Hankering for the lush green of spring? Then a stop at the Franklin Park Conservatory is in order. Located just two miles east of downtown, the conservatory is home to gorgeous botanical gardens, the renowned Dale Chihuly glass-art collection and several seasonal exhibitions. “Bending Nature: Nature Shaped by Art,” a unique display of contemporary works featuring breathtaking sculpture, photography and installations, on exhibit through March 29, is guaranteed to help you forget the doldrums of winter. Make sure to check out the comprehensive orchid exhibition, which is on display through March 1. One of central Ohio’s favorite seasonal events, it fills the Pacific Island Water Garden with thousands of pink, orange and purple flowers, transforming a blustery Ohio day into a tropical excursion. (800/214-PARK, www.fpconservatory.org).

There’s no such thing as a dreary day on the Columbus stage. From incredible local talent to national tours, the winter performing-arts season features nothing but first-rate entertainment.

Revisit your youth with the enchanting tale of Caractacus Potts and his magical car in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” which comes to the Ohio Theatre March 24–29. This Broadway Across America show, based on the widely popular 1968 film, will stop only once in Ohio, making Columbus the place to be for all the excitement and adventure. (614/224-7654, www.broadwayacrossasmerica.com).

For those who enjoy their music with dance, “Jazz Moves Take 2” will not disappoint. Featuring two of Columbus’ most renowned arts organizations, this show is testament to the fact that genius can occur through collaboration. BalletMet and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra pair up on stage Feb. 5–14 at the Riffe Center’s Capitol Theatre. The resulting performance combines the sophistication of jazz and the romance of ballet into one very special valentine. (614/229-4848, www.balletmet.org).

Winter’s also a great time to catch up on leisurely pursuits, and Columbus is hosting several events to help you do just that.

The Central Ohio Home & Garden Show, held at the Ohio Expo Center Feb. 28–March 8, is packed with so many gardens and floral displays, you’ll forget about the ice outside. The theme for 2009 is “Hooray for Hollywood,” and living landscapes inspired by such films as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “The Secret Garden” will be on display. For anyone who’s ever wanted to make a space more beautiful, this show is a must: One-on-one talks with experts and daily home decorating demonstrations are just several of the show’s many attractions. (www.dispatchevents.com/home_garden.php).

Whether you’re a wiz at crafts or just looking for the inspiration needed to finally organize that box of old photographs, the “Memories Scrapbooking” show, held at the Ohio Expo Center March 27 and 28, is another great excuse to get out of the house and shake off some of that winter chill. Shopping, classes, demonstrations and DIY crafts are all part of the fun. (740/452-4541. www.memoriesscrapbookingexpo.com).

For more information about things to see and do, contact Experience Columbus at 614/221-6623 or visit www.experiencecolumbus.com.

Where to Stay
» The Lofts (55 E. Nationwide Blvd., 614/461-2663) is a luxury boutique hotel featuring 44 truly distinctive rooms, personal concierge service and a great downtown location. Several special promotions are offered, including the “Do the District” package, complete with dinner and a movie in the Arena District; the Art-a-Go-Go package, which features admission to the Columbus Museum of Art; and the Hockey Getaway package, which includes tickets for two to a Columbus Blue Jackets game.
» The Columbus Renaissance (50 N. THIRD St., 614/228-5050), also located downtown, boasts stylish, contemporary rooms, superior guest service and one of the city’s best fine-dining options, Latitude 41.
» The Short North Bed & Breakfast (50 E. Lincoln St., 614/299-5050) is a great option for those wanting a romantic getaway. Guests enjoy delicious breakfasts, a cozy, welcoming parlor and plush bedrooms. Since it’s just a short walk to the shops and galleries of the Arts District, a stay at this B&B is a convenient choice for a weekend of Columbus fun.

Where to Dine
» Lindey’s in German Village (169 E. Beck St., 614/228-4343) is one of this charming historic neighborhood’s most prized restaurants. Voted by patrons as one of the area’s Top 10 restaurants for two decades, the upscale American bistro boasts a Sunday brunch featuring crab cakes and eggs, and a sumptuous dinner menu filled with such classics as tournedos of beef and portobello mushroom ravioli.
» Mitchell’s Steakhouse (45 N. Third St., 614/621-BEEF) is the ideal downtown spot for celebrating a special occasion or enjoying a romantic dinner. A modern American steakhouse, Mitchell’s menu features hand-selected prime steaks, Japanese Kobe beef and a wine list that includes more than 200 labels. Stay for dessert and indulge in a cordial or slice of New York cheesecake.
» Jeni’s ice cream (59 Spruce St., 614/228-9960) is the perfect treat after a long afternoon of taking in the sights and sounds of Columbus. Thai Chili, Pistachio and Ashland County Honey and Salty Caramel are just a
few of the signature flavors offered.

Where to Shop
» Short North Arts District (N. High St., 614/299-8050) is the true arts hub of Columbus. With dozens of antiques shops, art galleries and clothing boutiques exclusive to the city, the Short North is a shopper’s haven. Make sure to check out the Gallery Hop, held the first Saturday of every month.
» The Book Loft of german Village (631 S. Third St., 614/464-1774) takes up an entire city block and boasts more than 30 rooms of bargain-priced new books. The pre-Civil War building is chock-full of travel guides, science fiction, mysteries, the latest hit novels and more. The Book Loft also boasts an impressive collection of CDs covering many genres of music.
» The Statehouse Museum Shop (Corner of Broad and High Streets, 614/728-9234) features distinctive Ohio-themed gifts crafted by area artists and businesses. The ultimate spot for everything Ohio, you’ll find wine, pottery, Ohio political memorabilia, home décor items and much more.

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