Our second day in Columbus was sunny and warm, the sky was almost turquoise in color, provided a beautiful background for our exploration of a neighborhood known as Victorian Village. Located in northwest Columbus, Neil Ave is the main street through the district. Because of the close proximity to Ohio State University and the fact that a street car line ran through the area, Victorian Village was a very desirable place to live. Most homes were built between the late 1800′s and early 1900′s and as the name implies they were Victorian in design. I have to say, these are not the typical homes one envisions when you hear the word “Victorian”; for one thing they are almost all brick. The homes are grand, elegant, and ornate; porches are large and welcoming, windows are beveled or stained glass. The shapes are unique to each home as are the colors of brick and trim. Features such as gingerbread, tile roofs and turrets grace the neighborhood. The distance between porches and the sidewalk are short, many opt for gardens instead of lawn, the landscape is designs are wonderful. This is one of my favorite historic urban neighborhoods; it’s the kind of place I can walk all day and my feet never get tired. We couldn’t have picked a better time to visit, all was in bloom; Tulips, Dogwood, Azalea and Lilac, it smelled as pretty as it looked!
The next neighborhood on our list was Short North. Just a short walk from Victorian Village, this district is home to some of Columbus’s most eclectic shops and restaurants. Nestled along High Street the area is known for its signature arches. Yes, arches! Back in 1888 Columbus was chosen to host the centennial celebration of the Northwest Territory, thus installing a series of 17 lighted arches running about a mile down High Street. Somewhere along the line they disappeared, in 2002 a new set of arches were put up, high-tech and LED technology allow a range of colors and programmable light shows on the hour after dark giving Short North a distinct personality. If you like to browse, this is the place; galleries, fashion and home decor are well represented. We parked on High and walked the length of the district stopping in a variety of shops along the way. We hit a chocolate store first, you have keep your energy up….from here we traversed High and the little off-shoot streets running perpendicular to it; quirky boutiques, candles, funky art, a flower shop and cooking store. We saw jewelry, wine and baked goods. Flower Child is two levels of vintage finds; if you miss the days avocado green, bell bottoms, kidney-shaped tables, lava lamps and shag carpeting you can get your fix here. The window of Karavan Treasures lures you in with its stunning collection of mosaic lanterns. The Grandview Mercantile Co features fine antiques and vintage items, this place is huge! The outside of buildings can be as interesting as the inside; a whimsical take on the classic “American Gothic” painting can be found on the corner of High and Lincoln, check out the Mona Lisa mural at Lincoln and Pearl.
Being a weekday we headed out-of-town a bit early and decided to look for an interesting place to have a late lunch along the way. It didn’t take long; just outside of the city on 5th Ave we found the Cambridge Tea House. Housed in an enchanting old brick building known as Marble Cliff Station, the place just oozed charm. We were seated at a table window-side, sunlight streamed in from three sides of the room. Brick and stone walls, white tablecloths and Victorian accents give the room personality. The menu is a lovely selection of teas, scones, sandwiches, salads and soups, our waitress was outgoing and friendly. We selected the spinach salad topped with thinly sliced pears, spiced pecans and goat cheese crumbles, delicious. The fresh veggie sandwich sounded appealing, at the waitress’ suggestion we added bacon to it, yeah, I know….but I’ll tell you, it was the perfect combination! The house iced green tea was wonderful. We were nourished, hydrated and ready to take the scenic route home.
Kris knows a great route; from 5th Ave we take 33/257 north, which follows the scenic Scioto River. It’s gorgeous in springtime; Redbuds are in full bloom. We stopped in at Griggs Dam; at 500 feet long and 35 ft high it’s impressive. Watching the water tumble over the drop and into the river is mesmerizing. Back in the car, we follow the river into the tiny village of Prospect. We continue our route north through the countryside, dotted with pretty houses and farms, horses and cows it’s serene and relaxing. From Upper Sandusky we take 199 into the Toledo area, and finally I-75 back to Detroit. Columbus is a short drive from the D and has so much to offer;one-of-a-kind districts, cool shops and great food. Perfect for a weekend getaway!