Traveling to the Columbus Arts Festival [classic article]

The Columbus Arts Festival has returned to the riverfront along the Scioto River, after several years of being outside of downtown. Downtown Columbus is easily navigated. Many destinations are on or right off High St., the main street running through town. There’s all a bus system and parking in the area. The setting, Bicentennial Park, is beautiful and spacious with the bridges, the city skyline and nearby luxury condo buildings serving as boundary markers. The bridges are blocked off for festival walkers, easily leading you to both sides of the Scioto. People are also encouraged to bike to the fest; they provide a secure corral for bicycles. You’ll find an equal distribution of artists’ booths and food vendor trucks/booths.

Artists — mostly from the Midwest — display a wide variety of art in many mediums. You’ll find paintings, photographs, art glass, textiles and other creations. In addition, there are several stages with music and modern dancers. The range of musical genres is diverse, including modern rock, singer-songwriter, jazz, punk and reggae. With the park setting, it’s easy to spread out a blanket to see the shows.

For $140, a couple can enjoy the VIP package. The VIP package includes a private, shaded tent open during all of the festivities, with its own bands, free water and private restrooms. Additionally, you can get golf cart transportation to the VIP tent and temporary storage of your festival purchases.

This is not a festival relegated to serving funnel cakes. At the Columbus Arts Fest, you can sample such local delicacies as Jeni’s Splendid ice cream’s salted caramel flavor, meant to resemble the burned sugar part of a crème brulee, German brats from historic restaurant Schmidt’s, DeepWood: an American Tavern and G. Michael’s Bistro and Bar. Eating is picnic-style on the grassy areas.

Where to stay: THE most convenient place to stay for the fest is the Westin Columbus. It started out life in 1897 as The Great Southern Hotel, the glamorous place to stay in the city. Located a block and a half from the entrance of the festival, it’s earned its 4-star status with such amenities as down comforters and cotton terry spa robes. The Westin is pet-friendly, too. Rates start under $200.

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