PHOTOGRAPH: BOB STEFKO
No city blends worldclass architecture and small-town charm quite like Columbus, Indiana, where art is a way of life and history colors the present.
Downtown Columbus, Indiana
Great Design WE BUILT THIS CITY ON
Columbus went for mid-century modern before it was hip. Tour 70-plus selfie-worthy landmarks.
LIBRARY PLAZA First Christian Church, designed by noted Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen and built in 1942, rang the bells for the cityâ€™s architectural awakening.
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DID YOU KNOW?
Columbus owes its architectural legacy to local businessman J. Irwin Miller, who set out to lure an elite workforce by commissioning buildings from A-list architects like I.M. Pei, Eliel Saarinen, and more.
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF COLUMBUS AREA VISITORS CENTER, (NORTH CHRISTIAN) BOB STEFKO
CITY HALL You can’t fight City Hall’s appeal— sharp angles, a glass curtain wall, and cantilevered brick.
CUMMINS CORPORATE OFFICE BUILDING Pergolas perk up the work environment. Speaking of the daily grind, an 1800s mill houses the cafeteria.
NORTH CHRISTIAN CHURCH Eero Saarinen, Eliel’s son, gave this 1964 revelation a nearly 19-story spire topped with a goldleaf cross.
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PHOTOGRAPHS: (BRIDGE) BOB STEFKO, (AT&T) COURTESY OF COLUMBUS AREA VISITORS CENTER
ROBERT STEWART BRIDGE Charge up your phone for posting pics of the stunning bridge spanning the East Fork of the White River.
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DID YOU KNOW?
Columbus ranks sixth among U.S. cities for architectural design and innovation (American Institute of Architects).
Learn more about the city’s architectural gems on a guided bus or walking tour with a group, or make a self-paced journey using your phone. Tours fill up fast, so book in advance at
AT&T SWITCHING CENTER The “organ pipes” (or are they supersize crayons?) out front beg for Instagram photos, as do the mirrored facade’s reflections.
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Downtown? WHAT’S UP
Slip on a pair of comfortable shoes and take the easy walk or bike ride from your hotel to shops, restaurants, and pubs.
foodie HOT SPOTS
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The Savory Swine
See how an old-school butcher cops a cutting-edge attitude, stocking the shop with Duroc pork, Italian prosciutto, and wines.
You’ll swear you’re at a sidewalk cafe in Italy, not Indiana, when you dine alfresco on the house-made sausage and ricotta ravioli.
4th Street Bar and Grill
OK, so not everybody here knows your name, but there’s Cheers-style familiarity in this neighborhood spot’s wooden booths and conversation.
Baker’s Fine Gifts and Accessories
PHOTOGRAPHS: DON NISSEN, (STREET, TRE BICCHIERI) BOB STEFKO, (4TH STREET, VIEWPOINT BOOKS) COURTESY OF COLUMBUS AREA VISITORS CENTER
The Savory Swine Viewpoint Books
Lockett’s Ladies Shop
4th Street Bar and Grill
VIEWPOINT BOOKS You know the locally owned corner bookstore that every town used to have? This is it. Among the nostalgic nods is the selection of vinyl records and a turntable for playing them. TRI-STATE ARTISANS Find fuel for the fires of creativity. Lessons, gallery space, even BYOB canvas painting parties align aspiring Picassos, Rockwells, and van Goghs with their muses. Who says you have to suffer for art?
LOCKETT’S LADIES SHOP SHOPAHOLIC Get trending now at this contemporary clothier that’s proud to be just a little old-fashioned. Smart, sensible styles hang with a curated collection of modern brands such as Christo by Brighton, Frank Lyman and Joseph Ribkoff.
BAKER’S FINE GIFTS AND ACCESSORIES Drop by this landmark for just-because gifts. The store glitters with fascinating treasures. Be sure to ask for the free gift-wrapping, lest you be tempted to keep purchases for yourself.
Board member at Columbus Museum of Art and Design WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE SPOTS AND EVENTS? I live downtown and always take advantage of the walking access to great local restaurants that are popular meeting spots, like Henry Social Club. Arts and culture events like the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic cabaret series or the Arts Council’s JCB NeighborFEST! are wonderful ways to spend the evening and support the local arts. Mill Race Park is a favorite place for walking or biking.
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Talk about big reveals. See the wow-inducing Miller House & Garden, created by a 1950s dream team: architect Eero Saarinen, interior designer Alexander Girard, and landscape architect Dan Kiley.
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BRINGING THE OUTDOORS IN With a flat roof, walls of glass and marble, and gridded skylights, the house features a clean, classic look.
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF INDIANAPOLIS MUSEUM OF ART, (COUPLE) BOB STEFKO
The Indianapolis Museum of Art owns and maintains the Miller House & Garden, with tours arranged through the Columbus Area Visitors Center. Reserve tour tickets at COLUMBUS.IN.US
MILLER HOUSE Built for J. Irwin Miller and his wife, Xenia, the 6,800-square-foot home is the epitome of American modern style and a must-visit for design and architecture enthusiasts. The gallery-like white interiors are anything but ordinary, thanks to global collections, vibrant textiles, and pops of color. Case in point: the sunken conversation pit and its layered, patterned pillows in fuchsia and red. Outside, the geometric gardens extend the interior look before making way to 10 acres of pristine lawn.
DID YOU KNOW?
Miller House earned its National Historic Landmark designation while one of its designers, Dan Kiley, was still alive, and while it was still occupied by its original ownersâ€”a first.
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Everywhere FIND ART
Look between and beyond buildings for eclectic forms and vibrant colors that will make you stop, stare, and think.
Eos, Fifth Street
Friendship Way, Washington Street
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Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans, Washington Street
Crack the Whip, Second Street,
PHOTOGRAPHS: (FRIENDSHIP) CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON, (VETERANS) BOB STEFKO, (CRACK THE WHIP) LARRY BRACKNEY, (FALLS) GARY SCROGGINS, (SUN GARDEN) DON NISSEN, (ANCESTRAL) COURTESY OF COLUMBUS AREA VISITORS CENTER, (EOS) RHONDA BOLNER
PICKS FOR Sun Garden, Central Avenue
Cruise the city on a bike. Rent a bike from kiosks throughout the city and hit the 25-plus miles of trails.
Float the Driftwood River.
Canoe, kayak, or raft the Driftwood River. Blueâ€™s Canoe Livery rents boats, provides shuttle services, and offers a two-day paddle for adventurers.
Get your game on at CERAland Park.
Shoot hoops, fish the lake, race go-karts, or stay in the campground. Ancestral Way, Third Street
Hike Anderson Falls.
See the 100-foot-wide falls and hike the 44-acre nature preserve.
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PHOTOGRAPHS: (ZAHARAKOS) BOB STEFKO, (ZAHARAKOS STAINED GLASS, UPLAND) DON NISSEN, (ALEXA) STACEY ABLE
Preserving SERVING AND
Two beloved establishments treat patrons to handmade flavors in restored historic digs.
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ZAHARAKOS Behinds its stained-glass doors, Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor serves Green River sodas and banana splits in a delightful retro setting. A century after the shopâ€™s 1900 opening, owner Tony Moravec restored the delicate wrought iron, hardwood decor, marble soda fountains, and mirror-back bar etched with wild roses.
UPLAND COLUMBUS PUMP HOUSE The historic pump house on the river once kept city water taps flowing. Now renovated and home to Upland Brewing Company, the place keeps taps flowing with beers. The stately brick and limestone building retains its architectural character.
6 great local FINDS
Garb2Art Cosmetics Discover handmade cosmetic products among displays crafted from upcycled items. Powerhouse Brewing Company
Pair tenderloins slathered with housemade condiments with a pint of Diesel Oil Stout or Ceraline Creme Ale.
Popportunity Check out Buffalo blue cheese, dill pickle, maple bacon, and colorful Roy-G-Biv popcorn flavors.
Zwanzigz Pizza Order beer flights (Beauregard’s Blueberry, Cucumber Lime Kolsch, and Libido Scotch Ale are among the samplings) with the Ultimate pizza, which requires a fork. Simmons Winery and 450 North Brewing Company Try the
120-year-old farm’s top varietals: Vidal Blanc, Catawba, and Indiana’s signature Traminette. Fill up on brick-oven pizza and brews next door.
Owner of 240sweet, known for gourmet marshmallows and other tasty treats WHAT MAKES THE CITY UNIQUE? My hometown combines the best of Indiana with a global mix. Hoosier hospitality creates a welcoming community that brings the flavor to our city. I love how cultures collide with awesome architecture and cornfields. Unexpected and unforgettable is a totally legit way to describe Columbus.
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Stay Here After sight-seeing, relax at a historic inn or modern hotel, then wake refreshed for a day trip.
Hotel Indigo Columbus Architectural Center
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PHOTOGRAPHS: BOB STEFKO (HILTON) COURTESY OF COLUMBUS AREA VISITORS CENTER
GO THERE AND
DID YOU KNOW?
The Inn at Irwin Gardens is located right in downtown.
shop & stay Exit 76 Antique Mall
Named for the nearby I-65 interchange, this antiquer’s paradise boasts 72,000 square feet of vintage barn-wood tables, furniture awaiting a big break on Antiques Roadshow, and oldfashioned pedal cars.
Edinburgh Premium Outlets
THE INN AT IRWIN GARDENS Enjoy 1880s Edwardian style: English oak wood, period furniture, timber beams, library shelves, big windows, and a formal garden.
Also at the exit: an outlet mall with the likes of Coach, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, and J. Crew Factory plus a HarleyDavidson dealership located next door.
The Hilton Garden Inn offers special “Shop and Stay” packages.
HOTEL INDIGO COLUMBUS ARCHITECTURAL CENTER TRENDSETTER Quirky wall art and reimagined rooms with hardwood floors and spacious bathrooms tell you this is no ordinary hotel.
RUDDICK-NUGENT HOUSE Settle into cultured comfort at an 1884 mansion with working fireplaces and doting owners who decorate with African art from Peace Corps trips.
Hilton Garden Inn
OTHER LODGING OPTIONS Top hotel chains also call Columbus home. Options include: Best Western, Charwood Suites, Clarion Hotel, Comfort Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, Days Inn, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Suites, La Quinta, Motel 6, Red Roof Inn, Residence Inn, Sleep Inn, and Super 8.
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FIND OUT MORE
PHOTOGRAPHS: DON NISSEN (GIFT SHOP) COURTESY OF COLUMBUS AREA VISITORS CENTER
Visit columbus.in.us for more information about the area.
Columbus Area Visitors Center
Starts Here IT ALL
Begin your trip with a stop at the Columbus Area Visitors Center for tour info, city guides, a top-notch gift shop, plus stunning artwork.
Columbus Area Visitors Center
Dale Chihuly glass display
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COLUMBUS AREA VISITORS CENTER Located at 506 Fifth St., the visitor center, gift shop and glass exhibit are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday–Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. (You can even buy Chihuly glass while you’re here!)
World-class architecture and small-town charm. Columbus, Indiana, where art is a way of life and history colors the present.