Cleveland seems to get more attention, but Columbus is bigger population-wise and rivals any town for big-city amenities.
2. FOOTBALL WEEKENDS
You don't have to attend the game, just hang around the stadium and watch tailgating enthusiasm at its best.
3. SHOPPING WEEKENDS
The Easton Town Center has made a stab at re-creating streets and storefronts to house the big chains—just a dab of nostalgia to go with the merchandising. www.eastontowncenter.com
4. THE COLUMBUS ZOO
Home base of TV star Jack Hanna. Need we say more? www.colszoo.org
Theaters, orchestras, dance companies, that university campus, art museums . . . and don't miss Topiary Park, where Georges Seurat's "A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte" has been reproduced with plantings and hedge clippers. www.topiary
Short North for artsy atmosphere, including massive murals reproducing masterpieces in amusing ways (i.e. a reclining Mona Lisa). Brewery District for dining and clubbing. German Village for restored immigrant housing. Italian Village (part of Short North) and great swaths of Victorian mansions on the North Side. www.germanvillage.org, www.shortnorth.org
7. NORTH MARKET
An indoor cornucopia of produce, meats and fancy specialties near the Convention Center. www.north