Named one of the top 10 domestic destinations to visit by the Travel Channel and one of the 52 places to visit by The New York Times, Columbus, is a city founded on bold innovation. Ohio’s capital is home to the largest and most acclaimed maker space, the Idea Foundry, making the city a smart choice for meeting planners looking to connect, collaborate and create. Thanks to its central location, it’s just a one-day’s drive or a one-hour flight from nearly half of the nation’s population. Plus, its downtown core’s compact layout allows for groups to easily take in all it has to offer on foot or free public transportation.
Columbus’ 1.8 million-square-foot Greater Columbus Convention Center—which was renovated in 2017—offers 373,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, including 75 meeting rooms and three ballrooms. It also includes the unique and innovative Smart Farm, where 5,000 pounds of fresh produce is grown and harvested each year for catering and other dining options in the center. What is not used is donated to local charities.
The convention center is connected via a stunning glass skyway to Hilton Columbus Downtown, which is currently undergoing a makeover, including the construction of a 28-story tower with 468 rooms. When the expansion is completed in 2022, the hotel will offer 1,000 rooms and 75,000 square feet of meeting space, including a rooftop event venue. With the new block of rooms, the convention center will connect to 2,700 of downtown’s 5,000 hotel rooms.
“When the convention center was renovated, we added 100,000 more square feet of meeting space. With the addition of the new tower, the convention center is a natural choice for meeting planners and city-wide events. Not only are you assured that you will have access to 21st century innovation, your guests will also have the convenience of being able to access the convention center directly from their hotels,” says Dan Williams, vice president of sales for Experience Columbus.
Groups can also choose to meet or gather in the brand new, world-class stadium, Lower.com Field, home of the 2020 MLS Cup Champion, Columbus Crew. Located in the Arena District, the stadium includes a continuous, wrap-around roof, 360-degree concourse, event space and a 5,000-square-foot brew hall that will be open on both match and non-match days.
Your group can also take an outing to—or host an event at—one of Columbus’ top-ranked attractions. Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens offers a floral-framed backdrop and event spaces that can accommodate up to 500 people, such as the Grand Atrium (and its rooftop Zen Terrace), the John F. Wolfe Palm House, the Wells Barn and the Worthington Industries Veridian. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium can help your group connect to their wild side and also has space for events of up to 5,000 guests. And the Center of Science and Industry (or COSI as it’s more commonly known), offers space for up to 2,000 guests, as well as unique and inspiring hands-on activities or private tours of the new American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery.
Post meeting, attendees can explore Columbus’ arts and cultural scene, including the Columbus Museum of Art, which also has event spaces to gather alongside international masterpieces. Columbus’ Franklinton neighborhood is arts central, and home to local artists, studios and galleries. The neighborhood hosts a two-day summer festival during which local artists create larger-than-life paintings that are sold to benefit the city’s arts programs. Galleries and murals can also be found in the Short North Arts District, where a monthly art walk, Gallery Hop, showcases new exhibitions and performances.
Does your group collaborate better on a full stomach? Columbus is a foodie’s dream destination, with top-ranked chefs and a thriving farm-to-table restaurant scene. In fact, Food & Wine magazine, named Columbus one of the 32 places to go and eat. Just steps from the convention center, you’ll discover North Market, a historic public market dating back to 1876. The market features a seasonal Saturday outdoor farmers market, while year-round you can find indoor merchants offering fresh produce, specialty foods, authentic international cuisine, flowers, wine and beer, and unique gifts.
Or how about a little friendly competition? Team-building activities can include games at Dueling Axes—where teams of six can see who among them are the top Paul Bunyan. Or get into the swing of things with a game at one of Topgolf’s 100-plus climate-controlled hitting bays. You can even see which of your colleagues can successfully work together to solve the puzzle and break free of one of the immersive worlds found at one of Columbus’ escape rooms.
“Everything you need to plan a one-of-a-kind convention, meeting and event is here for you in Columbus,” says Williams. “Reach out to us and we can help you create a memorable experience for your group.”