Short North, a neighborhood just north of downtown Columbus, draws visitors with the Gallery Hop, a festival held the first Saturday of every month from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. The festival is a celebration of culture and arts, with an emphasis on local scene. During this time you will see street performers, gallery exhibitions, food and special events lining the street.
There is no cost of admission; however, most likely you will need to shell out few dollars for parking.
Consider showing up close to the 4 p.m. start if only for a chance to tour the North Market before it closes at 5 p.m. While the North Market is not actually part of the Gallery Hop, it is worth a quick visit. The building is filled with local vendors of all kinds, but they mostly sell different foods. I would recommend finding something to eat for dinner in the North Market because of how crowded or pricey most of the restaurants in Short North are during the Gallery Hop.
We failed to realize this, and eventually settled on a place called ZPizza. Our choice was partly influenced by a recommendation from a stranger as we were looking at the menu stuck to the front door. And frankly, I just enjoy good pizza. While not being a local business, ZPizza fit the culture by offering “fresh, organic, and delicious pizza.” You could customize your own pizza or choose one of the ZSpecials. All pizzas came with the option of white, wheat or gluten free crusts.
We ordered the ZBQ Chicken pizza on wheat crust. It was topped with BBQ chicken, corn, cilantro, BBQ sauce, tomatoes, roasted peppers, mozzarella and red onions. It was a little out of my comfort zone, but the ZBQ did not disappoint. I don’t know if I would order the same thing again, but I would recommend giving the place a shot.
The art galleries proved to be diverse and interesting, each having a unique atmosphere to it. We spent less than two minutes in the first gallery. Whoever the artist was had a passion for bizarre little creatures, the majority of whom seemed to be struggling with some kind of depression. It was eerily quiet too. The one painting in the gallery that stood out to me was called “Blind Traveler” and was a snapshot of one of the depressed little creatures blindfolded and wearing a backpack. I actually felt bad for it.
Despite the awkward first gallery, the others were all much more pleasant than the first, with interesting and engaging art and usually some sort of light background music. You could find anything from ceramics to oil, acrylic or watercolor paintings.
Most of the street performers were singers, but every once in a while we would come across something a little more interesting. One of them was a some kind of dance group doing flips and somersaults over a wooden box in the center of the circle they formed. My favorite was a guy called Mr. Awesome who was making giant bubbles along the street. You really can’t go wrong with bubbles.
The highlight of the evening though had to be Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
“Yeah! Definitely!” It was the same response to every request. From the time she welcomed us in to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, our server’s smile never faded.
“Can I try the Black Cat Espresso?”
She then told us how Jeni’s only used milk from grass-grazed cows in Ohio and the ice cream had no flavorings, stabilizers, pasteurized milk or off-the-shelf ice cream mix.
“Can I try the Brown Butter Almond Brittle?”
Everything from the website to the napkins at Jeni’s showed they were proud of the ice cream and how it was made. If you were curious enough, you could even venture onto their website to learn the history of each flavor:
“A few years ago the holidays were approaching. Jeni was talking with a friend from Norway, when she nearly teared up with joy as she told Jeni about her love of krokan, a Scandinavian dessert (and dessert ingredient) made with butter, almonds, and caramelized sugar.
Inspired by krokan and her friend’s vivid memories, Jeni created Brown Butter Almond Brittle and made it the anchor of our 2009 Scandinavian-themed holiday collection. The seasonal holiday ice cream proved so popular that we decided to make it a permanent menu fixture.
Made with rich, grass-grazed Ohio milk and layers of golden pockets of handmade, buttery almond brittle—the ice cream is a sweet, salty, almond-laden favorite sure to please anyone with a taste for ice cream with crunch.”
The price of the ice cream was more than you would usually spend, but it was one of the few times the ice cream was so good it was easily justified. If you find yourself in Short North, give Jeni’s a try.
The one downside to my visit was that it was the same night as the home opener for Ohio State football. The game seemed to overshadow the Gallery Hop, and I’m sure the event would have been much more lively on any other night. I would like to go back to the Gallery Hop on a night without a home football game. Overall, I would say Short North, particularly the Gallery Hop, is worth a visit.
Directions: From I-70 heading east: Take the I-670 east exit toward the airport. Take US-23 exit (exit 4) toward Fourth St/Third St/High St. Take the US-32 N exit toward Fourth St. Turn right onto E. Goodale Blvd. Proceed to N. High St.
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