Short North--the ‘HeART and Soul’ of Columbus

Columbus Ohio Arts District Full of Galleries, Shopping, and Nightlife

a mural on a building in short north


Chenoa Baker


Jan 21, 2021

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When you find yourself in Columbus Ohio’s famed Art District there are many things to do. We’ve gathered the best fun activities to enjoy the area:

  • How to Navigate Short North
  • Murals and Galleries to Enjoy
  • Parks to Enjoy Nature
  • Fun and Innovative Eateries
  • Places to Shop

Where is it and What is it?

Are you looking for an artsy and trendy place to hang out? Short North in Columbus Ohio is a bustling arts district known as Columbus’ “Heart and Soul,” which appeals to locals and visitors. It’s conveniently located between Victorian Village and Italian Village, as well as accessible to downtown and Ohio State University. 

How do I get to Short North’s Art District?

This location is on the C-Bus line, parking is reasonable, and it is walkable once you get there. If you are looking to enjoy gallery crawl Saturdays, bar hop on weekends, or places to shop and eat during the week--this is the place for you!

One of the ways to navigate this area is through the Smart Columbus app, which connects you to transit and makes custom itineraries to help the visitor explore or you can book a private group tour given by Short North Alliance. Some of the tour options include an arts tour, a history tour, a shopping tour, and the ultimate tour experience which combines all of those areas. Also, feel free to go to Short North and choose your own adventure.

Short North Gallery Hop

Every first Saturday of the month, locals venture to see new exhibitions of Ohio-based artists, street performers, and special events. This artistic craze is known as the Gallery Hop. The Gallery Hop occurs from 4pm-10pm, but the galleries are open during the week for a casual walk through, as well. If looking at art is your thing or people gazing, this vibrant gathering of people is a fun weekend activity.

This Gallery Hop is a tradition that locals hold dear. They claim that this is what puts Columbus on the map, gives this Mid-Western town its “swagger,” and showcases the city’s development.

(Not) Sheep Gallery with residents looking at assemblage and painted artworks
Residents explore (Not) Sheep Gallery during Gallery Hop in Short North. Image courtesy of Experience Columbus.

Art Galleries:

  • District Art and Apparel
  • The Gallery at Stonewall Columbus
  • 29 W. 3rd Gallery and Studio
  • Sarah Gormley Galleries
  • Lindsay Gallery
  • Sean Christopher Gallery Ohio
  • Marcia Evans Gallery
  • Sharon Weiss Gallery
  • 24 Lincoln Street Art Studios at Found
  • Sherrie Gallerie
  • Studios on High Gallery
  • Pizzuti Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art
  • (Not) Sheep Gallery
  • Hammond Harkins Galleries
  • Brandt-Roberts Galleries
  • Greater Columbus Convention Center
  • Gallery Denmark
  • Hilton Columbus Downtown

Virtual Gallery Hop

In lieu of the in-person Gallery Hop because of COVID-19, the May 2020 Gallery Hop was virtual. The virtual Gallery Hop is still available on Instagram and aimed to carry on the tradition of supporting the arts in Columbus. The Gallery Hop’s virtual space is on the Short North Arts District Facebook page and under the Instagram account @ShortNorthArtsDistrict. Viewers enjoyed seeing the behind-the-scenes preparation of the gallery hop, artists, exhibitions, and works for sale. 

This is something that you do not want to miss in the future if COVID-19 progresses, especially if you would like to get a taste of the Gallery Hop before attending in person or are no longer in the Columbus area.

Text on a black background that says "These words aren't enough for us."
David Skeens, These Words Aren’t Enough for Us on High St. and Poplar St. Image courtesy of Short North.

Murals and Public Art

The other art forms that Short North Arts District is famous for is its array of murals and public art installations. On 13 buildings on High Street, there are printed vinyl art murals. These murals demonstrate the community’s commitment to the arts because of the collaboration of the galleries and the arts institutions in the city, as well as the artworks do a great job in beautifying the city.

If you are looking for an instagramable aesthetic and want to enjoy outside, this activity is for you. Perhaps, you have a background in the arts and art history, these murals travel through time stylistically, illustrate many types of media, and echo the famed works of antiquity. Regardless of the background, these murals are for the public enjoyment and have a variety of messages.

Mural of Black Women with baskets and various color outfits. This represents kinship and the Great Migration to the North.
Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, Passing Through Logtown, Georgia on the intersection of High St. and Russell St. Image courtesy of Medium.

For instance, the two permanent murals that showcase the diversity within the types of art and message are These Words Aren’t Enough for Us by David Skeens and Passing Through Logtown, Georgia by Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson. Skeens displays a conceptual idea that demonstrates the struggle of language to reflect intimacy. Robinson’s work illustrates a story of the African Diaspora through the lens of her family that built roots in Ohio after the Great Migration.

Goodale Park pond, fountain, and gazebo
Goodale Park that has over 13 gardens, a gazebo, and many acres to enjoy. Image courtesy of Columbus Underground.

Park it Here

If all the activities start to overwhelm you, take a relaxing stroll in one of the three parks in Short North--Goodale Park, Italian Village Park, and Poplar park. These parks have playgrounds for the kids (or adults for that matter, who enjoy swinging and enjoying nature), picnic tables, gazebos, performers, and paths to walk. There are many acres to enjoy and places to park when a break is needed.

Restaurants and Nightlife

There are tons of delicious options in Short North. It is a culinary destination with the ambience of art to support the trendy atmosphere. Everything from a sit down formal dinner to ice cream on a hot summer day is available. Short North attracts all types of eaters with its selection of cafes, dive bars, formal dining, and breweries.

There really is a place for everyone in Short North!

An array of donuts that you can find in Short North. There are three of the famous Fruity Pebbles donuts.
Festive donuts that locals crave from Happy Little Treats Bakery. Image courtesy of Happy Cow.

Happy Little Treats

Imagine waking up in the morning and taking the C-bus to work, but you forgot your breakfast. No need to panic. Check out the vegan donut coated in one of your favorite breakfast cereals as a kid--fruity pebbles from Happy Little Treats Bakery. There are many options to choose from.

Two Native Cold Pressed organic juices with the logo in the background
Feel free to grab a morning pick-me-up organic juice from Native Cold Pressed. Image courtesy of Yelp.

Native Cold Pressed

If you are more of a light breakfast and more of a cold pressed juice person to give you that extra morning boost, Native Cold Pressed is for you. Yay, it’s locally sourced!

A line up of three Bareburger burgers with fries and milkshakes
Try one of the local favorites: Bareburger. Image courtesy of Bareburger.

Hello We’re Bareburger

Around lunch time the favorites are Hello We’re Bareburger (they have wild boar and duck patties as well as a gourmet traditional burger). These sophisticated twists on American classics will be sure to satisfy for tastebuds. 

Two transparent tea pots steeping and two glasses of tea behind them at ZenCha Tea Salon
Revel in teas from around the world at ZenCha Tea Salon. Image Courtesy of Postmates.

ZenCha Tea

When afternoon tea time is calling, there are many options to explore. If tea time is something that you do on a regular or would like to try, Short North has it all. ZenCha Tea, as well as local cafes have tea delights. ZenCha Tea Salon observes tea arts by creating a Zen atmosphere and allowing patrons to engage in cultural festivities.

Rooh Winebar interior with a blue and gold motif. On the back wall is a mural of an Indian Woman portrait and floral design.
Rooh is a Modern Indian Restaurant that evokes a calm atmosphere paired with innovative food. Image courtesy of Columbus Navigator.

Rooh Fine Dining 

For a wine-drinking crowd, there are several places to enjoy. One of the most beautiful restaurants in Short North is Rooh. Rooh is a contemporary take on traditional Indian food and is known for their creative cocktails and bottles of wine for sale. Their cocktails blend the ‘old world’ taste with new techniques. For instance, some of the favorites are Kerala which contains a blend of rum, pineapple, aloe and hibiscus, Kashmiri Kahwa which contains scotch, a red wine reduction, lime, and honey, and Pink City which contains tequila, guava, chilli, and Rooh masala.  The drinks on a sweet to astringent index. This upscale restaurant excites the culinary palate in its array of drinks and food.

Skull's Bar filled with people dancing with their hands in the air as the DJ in the left corner plays he music
Enjoy the party at Skully’s. Image courtesy of Short North Arts District

Skully’s Dinner Time Dive

During dinner, there are many selections to choose from and activities that accompany dinner, such as karaoke singing, bar crawls, live music, and tastings at local breweries. If you want to dance, eat, and hear live music Skully’s is for you. Skully’s is the quintessential American diner and club. It was voted the number one best dance club. It is famous for rock n roll and hip hop live music, DJs, and a party atmosphere.

For a formal dinner with visiting friends, Fireproof on 1026 N. High St. is the place for you.

Fireproof restaurant sign outside its renovates warehouse location overlooking Short North at night
Engage in this historic eatery and fine dining experience. Image courtesy of Experience Columbus.

Fireproof Restaurant and Fine Dining

According to the Columbus Navigator, it will feel like a home away from home for friends from big cities, such as NYC and LA. Fireproof is a Tapas bar and lounge that has classic American favorites with a gourmet twist--Wagyu dumplings, crispy cod and potatoes, fried chicken, and pork belly.

SeeSaw dining area with high tables and people sitting at the open bar. Behind the bar is a lush green backdrop.
Enjoy the fun modern American cuisine restaurant and its whimsical attention to detail in its interior. .Image courtesy of Columbus Navigator.

Entice your Playful Side at SeeSaw

There are upwards of 60 bars for every type of bar-goer. There are breweries, dive bars, and wine bars. The famous SeeSaw bar definitely has a play on words. SeeSaw combines creative drinks and an ode to everyone’s childhood by having an actual seesaw to enjoy. SeeSaw has delicious menu items as well, such as cold brews, wings, burgers, and cocktails.

Rooftop seesaw for diners to play on at SeeSaw restaurant in Short North
SeeSaw restaurant rooftop on 906 N High St that is equipped with an actual seesaw for diners. Image courtesy of Columbus Navigator.

This bar and food destination allows diners to bring up feelings of a great picnic--amazing food and a trip to the playground. The playground feeling is met with a chic vibe on the rooftop for the fun and adventurous.

A double-stacked vanilla and chocolate two scoop ice cream in a cone in front of Jeni's Ice Creams
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream provides homemade guilty pleasures that will make you not feel guilty when you hear about their commitment to sustainability.Image courtesy of Charlotte’s Agenda.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream

To satiate that sweet tooth one of the local favorites is a twenty-year establishment--Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. This is the literal manifestation of “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.” People cannot get enough of it. Join the fan club by trying the special edition ice creams, supporting its zero waste model, and tasting the favorites like brambleberry crisp, brown butter almond brittle, and skillet cinnamon roll. 

An array of clothing carefully folded and the Parisian-like decor of Thread Boutique
Enjoy a curated shopping experience at Thread Boutique on 930 N. High St.

Services and Shopping


 One of the local boutiques that makes the shopping experience fun is Thread Boutique. Thread evokes a Parisian and London small clothing store experience. This store that showcases the latest fashion of local Ohio vendors in their Movers & Shakers series. You can enjoy the store individually or enjoy a Sip & Shop experience with friends, in which, Thread makes it possible for private parties to savor the ambience and indulge in the retail experience. The store is giving back is by providing fashionable masks during the pandemic at a reasonable price. Lift your spirits during this time is by buying a snakeskin, leopard, or camouflage print mask that will go with many ensembles. 

There are many boutiques, toy stores, antique shops, and other retail gems. Another aspect of the arts district to fall in love with is its fashion scene, which “ is quickly being recognized as fashion forward, due in part to the discerning taste of Short North Arts District fashion retailers.” Not only is the Short North fashion eye-catching, but you can find any item of clothing to endure the varying temperatures of Central Ohio.

This is one of the few shopping places that the variety is astounding. High Street curates a unique shopping experience that values giving back. It is possible in a stroll down High Street to purchase gifts for your furry friends in order to support animal shelters, buy vinyl and guitars, and pay it forward by buying thrifted items that supports the greater good by providing funding for HIV/AIDS testing. You can do it all!

Learn More About Vibrant Short North

Short North is a wonderful place for all ages. Its chic artistic aura is inviting and inclusive. It includes art walking tours, murals, festivals, gallery hops, live music, a booming night life, and shopping all in one location. Short North is a vibrant community. What’s your favorite thing to do in Short North? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Hero image courtesy of Franklin County, Ohio.

May 15, 2020
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