Urban Architecture

The Drive: Columbus, Indiana
Miles: 328
More Culture: The annual Columbus Scottish Festival takes place Sept. 8 and 9 at the Bartholomew County Fairgrounds. www.scottishfestival.org
Columbus, Ind., is known for its amazing buildings, but you might not notice unless you get out of your car and walk around. The beauty is subtle, and that’s what makes it even more special.

You’ll be surprised at how some buildings, like the First Christian Church, look so plain from the windows of a hatchback but so delicate when you have time to stop and stare.

Stay downtown at The Columbus Inn, a good central location. Take the daily architecture tour to make sure you see the highlights of the buildings in town (including six national historic landmarks). If you don’t know where to look, you might miss it.

It wasn’t until he went to college that resident Tré Reising learned of the treasures in his hometown: He used to go to a mall designed by Cesar Pelli (the same guy that designed the Key Center in downtown Cleveland) and hang out by an art installation put together from junk by Jean Tinguely, a famous sculptor. “It’s weird, I used to pick quarters out of that sculpture,” he says. “I didn’t realize it was a big deal until I was in art school.”

Skip the upscale restaurants and head for the laid-back Power House Brewing Co.’s Columbus Bar (332 Fourth St.). When you walk in, expect everyone to turn around to see who you are. Sit down alone and expect someone to invite you to their table and tell you about how good the onion rings are until you order a basket.

If you’re bringing kids, check out the kidscommons children’s museum. There’s plenty to do, like sliding down a giant toilet to learn about how household plumbing works. Also, don’t miss the Irwin Gardens, sure to impress those with green or flesh-colored thumbs. 1-800-468-6564 or www.columbus.in.us          
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