Setting it apart from many Midwest metros, Ohio’s capital and largest city is one of America’s fastest-growing, a forward-thinking economic powerhouse that’s also home to one of the largest college campuses, Ohio State University.
And Buckeye football isn’t the university’s only contribution to local culture: with more OSU graduates deciding to stay in town, Columbus is an emerging tech mecca with a thriving arts scene.
Ohio’s largest city earned a decent #25 ranking for Prosperity, thanks to low unemployment and a well-rounded economy buoyed by a growing number of startups, as well as top employer Ohio State and Fortune 500s like Nationwide Insurance and L Brands (formerly Limited Brands, it’s the parent of Victoria’s Secret and other mall stalwarts).
So what do locals do when they’re not working? The first Saturday of the month means Gallery Hop, when galleries are open late and performers and artists hit the streets of Columbus’s Short North neighborhood, the city’s official arts district (and home to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, a Columbus original with pints now available at high-end groceries nationwide).
For a less traditional take on the arts, Otherworld—a 32,000-square-foot warehouse packed with immersive installations created by more than 40 artists—opens this year. All of it adds up to a respectable #22 ranking for Attractions
Self-driving shuttles are only the most visible element in an ambitious scheme to reimagine how residents will get around. As the winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s first-ever Smart City Challenge in 2016, Columbus is spending its $50 million grant on electric car infrastructure and transit improvements.
One popular destination will be the recently-expanded Scioto Mile, a waterfront park system anchored by a showpiece fountain and spray park that draws families outside on nice days, which are frequent—Columbus earns a surprising #17 ranking for Weather.