After years of work, my debut book The Waygook Book: A Foreigner’s Guide to South Korea is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Yay! It’s a travelogue/memoir about my wife and I teaching English in Daegu, South Korea for two years. Readers visit different sites in the country and region (and New Zealand!), learn about Korean history and culture, and laugh at me making dumb mistakes as a fish out of water. A good deal of free time lately has been spent canvassing Central Ohio with poster advertisements for the book. I purposely set aside the nicest day of the winter to walk Columbus’ Short North neighborhood.
It’s becoming all the rage for a food or travel writer from the coast to visit Columbus and write an article describing their shock that we’re not all sitting around a 7-Eleven curb eating saltines for fun. Their shock typically comes from the Short North, a trendy neighborhood of galleries, coffee shops, and restaurants just north of downtown. This is the buzziest, hippiest part of town right now. I’m definitely not cool or rich enough to live there. Even if you’re not coming to spend money, though, it’s worth a stroll to window shop, people watch, or both.
I parked where I always do when I come to the Short North–off of Goodale Park. The elephant fountain is a playful nod to the Sells Brothers Circus (one of the brothers owned a house along the park and I definitely want to go in. There used to be circus animals inside). The sidewalks were slushy as an unusually warm sun melted off the snow from the polar vortex. One Line Coffee and Prologue Bookshop–both joyously busy on a Sunday afternoon–agreed to let me drop off some ads. Roaming Goat Coffee was no less bumping with people chatting at the bar or buried in their laptops looking busy. I bought my java for the day for one last stamp on my Columbus Coffee Trail passport and a free T-Shirt redeemable at the Experience Columbus Visitor Center. Killing two birds. The last two holiday seasons, Roaming Goat has displayed festive snowflakes on their windows made by my wife. You should see them.
The Short North is already quite dense, but it is getting denser as developers grab whatever surface parking lots remain. Apartments, office space, co-working spaces, brewpubs, hotels–it’s all going in. As such, the poor Short North folks have had to withstand an onslaught of construction. Never to miss an opportunity to make something not fun, fun, the Short North Alliance enlisted students at the Columbus College of Art and Design to decorate the construction blocks pervasive along High St. The art is so eye-catching and bright, one almost wishes the blocks would stick around after the construction.
Keeping to a budget, my only purchase in the Short North that day was my Roaming Goat coffee. Rest assured, if my pockets were fuller, I would have probably spent money at the following places:
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Their Brown Butter Almond Brittle is the best ice cream in America. There, I said it.
Kingmakers Board Game Parlour
A giant shelf of games and some good beer. That’s a night right there.
All the food
Brassica for Mediterranean. Marcella’s for Italian. Melt for grilled cheese. There are too many places to mention for good food.
Still not convinced? The New York Times listed Columbus as one of the top 52 places in the world to visit in 2019. The Short North plays a large part of that honor.
Have you been to the Short North? What did you think?