Things to do in Columbus, Georgia: Our Uptown Staycation
INSIDE: explore our favorite THINGS TO DO IN COLUMBUS, GEORGIA — where to eat, what to do, what to see, and where to stay in Uptown!
Though we’ve both called Columbus home for quite some time, it’s grown quickly over the past several years and gets better by the day. Rather than jet off for a weekend getaway, we decided to grab our husbands and stay in Uptown Columbus for a “Staycation.” We partnered with local businesses and restaurants to show you the best of what Uptown has to offer!
WHERE TO STAY
When we first began to plan our Columbus staycation, we went straight to our friend Haley Lyman, the queen of local Airbnbs. We usually opt to rent a house or an apartment when we travel, and find that the cost is comparable, and that the extra space and privacy is always an added bonus.
Our Airbnb was in the heart of Uptown, and was walking distance to all of our weekend activities. The two bedroom apartment was beautifully decorated with charming art, comfortable furniture, and all the amenities of home- except for whining children, and we were just fine with that!
We highly suggest that you check out all of Haley's Airbnb listings here.
WHAT TO SEE
There are several fun murals in Uptown, that make the perfect place to snap a picture. #instaworthy
This pop-up shop and event space is a welcome recent addition to Uptown. Pass the new Yoyo Ferro mural on your way in to check out an event, show, or pop-up collection by local artists and creators who can rent the space by the hour. To learn more, visit Pop UPtown.
FREE CONCERT SERIES
Every Spring, Uptown hosts free concerts most Friday nights on Broadway. Concerts are open to all ages, and space is available for a blanket or lawn chair if you choose to bring one from home.
SPRINGER OPERA HOUSE
It's nor your typical Opera House-- The Springer is actually the state theatre of Georgia, and produces 11 (amazing) shows a year, bringing in talent from all over the country. Besides the shows, the staff is always friendly and the building, which opened in 1871, is worthy of a visit on its own. To learn more, visit Springer Opera House.
Hankering for a broadway show or an orchestra concert? The RiverCenter is your destination. Home to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and the Columbus Ballet, the theatre also brings in Broadway shows, concerts, dance performances, lectures and conferences. To learn more, visit Rivercenter.
WHAT TO DO
Most Saturdays, you can find the street of Broadway lined with over 200 local vendors selling everything from local produce to folk art. The atmosphere is fun and relaxed, making it the perfect place for a Saturday morning stroll (and epic people watching.)
SHOPPING AT COUNCIL STUDIO
This brick and mortar boutique does an excellent job of sourcing both local and international pieces that stun. Clare, the owner and stylist, was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable-- helping us find exactly what we needed, while encouraging us to take a step away from our normal fashion choices. We both left with pieces we would have never thought to try on before, but ended up loving. We especially loved her selection of unique jewelry and accessories. Check out new arrivals and shop online on their their website.
BIKE THE RIVERWALK
Ride on Bikes is the perfect spot for both experts and novices alike. Their staff (and staff pup!) are super friendly, and their owner, Jason, has a passion for biking that's made known the second you walk in the door. We opted to rent bikes for the day and take them along the Riverwalk, which offers scenic views and stretches all the way down to Ft. Benning. We opted for a tandem bike for the two of us (it was just as hilarious as it sounds) and single bikes for our husbands.
RENT THE CONFERENCE BIKE
We'd spotted this giant round bicycle (with 6 seats!) outside of Ride On a time or two before, but we knew that our Staycation was the perfect time to take it for a spin. The bike has 6 seats, but since we were two short, we invited a sweet couple who we met walking to dinner. We love that Columbus is the kind of place where you can make instant friends and invite them on a ride around the block. It really was fun! We received lots of looks and waves on our big yellow bike, and we felt like celebrities as we twisted and turned through the surroundings streets. We will definitely be doing this again! To learn more about Ride On Bikes and their rental options, visit their here.
- VISIT RUSHSOUTH WHITEWATER PARK
RushSouth isn't your typical water park-- it's made up of whitewater rafting, kayaking, ziplining, treetop adventures, and a riverside park space.
- White Water Rafting
Columbus boasts the longest urban whitewater course in the world, and was named one of the "Top 12 Man-Made Adventures in the World" by USA Today. That's pretty cool! Since the stretch of river is dam-controlled, you're able to choose your "challenge level" based on the time of day you raft. Earlier in the day, the course is milder, with class 1-3 rapids (which are good for family trips or for those of us who may be a little nervous about the idea of rafting.) In the afternoon, the water cranks up and produces class 3-5 rapids (which are some of the biggest rapids found on the East Coast!)
Whichever challenge you choose, we'd recommend booking your trip in advance, as the shop was quite busy during our visit.
To book your trip, contact Whitewater Express.
RushSouth also boasts the only dual zipline that connects two states! On their Blue Heron Adventure, you can cross from Georgia to Alabama and back again. There is also an optional treetop experience after the first zipline with 10 obstacles. To Learn more, visit their webpage.
WHERE TO EAT
FOR COFFEE - IRON BANK COFFEE
Located in an old Iron Bank building, Iron Bank Coffee is an ideal place to grab a coffee and a treat. The space is decorated with pieces from local artists and hosts live music on various nights. If you need some time to unwind, we recommend grabbing a table at one of the two original bank vaults that are now converted into a cozy seating area. Visit Iron Bank Coffee to see menu and restaurant information.
FOR COCKTAILS AND APPETIZERS - EPIC
EPIC is, in a word: epic. Having won many prestigious awards, this riverfront restaurant provides a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Chef Jamie Keating and his wife, Melissa, have have poured so much heart and passion in creating a beautiful atmosphere (featuring art by Teil Duncan) and a creative menu-- and it makes it a hometown favorite of ours.
Though we've eaten dinner here before (we highly recommend the Chef's Table for a special occasion!), we opted for cocktails and appetizers at the bar. We were met by their super friendly bartender and enthusiastic staff, who got us excited about trying new things. The staff is great about explaining each dish, its ingredients, and presenting it perfectly-- it's definitely a "culinary experience!"
Our Menu Picks:
- "Old Fashioned Girl"-- with pineapple, thyme, cedar, and torched citrus and herbs. The drink is served smoking (literally) and the visual appear and the smell of the smoked cedar is as dramatic and delicious as the drink itself.
- "Lychee Mojito" with rum, mint, lime, crushed lychee. Have you ever tried a lychee? Reviews on the actual fruit were mixed among the four of us, but the flavor in the drink was a unanimous win. This new take on a classic drink is refreshing and light making it perfect for a Summer day, or even a steamy Winter day- the South doesn’t really follow seasons.
And the winner of Epic cocktails (Drumroll please….)
- "The Momstrosity" with Capri Sun, cherry vodka, St Jermaine, and muddled cherries all mixed together and then syringed and served in a Capri Sun pouch. Did we just have a drink named after us? Why yes, we did! It took some mild convincing, but the process isn’t really relevant here. This drink is DELICIOUS and fun to drink. Jamie and the EPIC bartenders fulfilled all of our mom dreams by letting us sip a world-class cocktail out of Capri Sun pouch.
- Fried Tofu Steamed Bun Kaviyaki-- with quick pickled cucumber, scallions, salt-cured egg yolk, and cured carrots. (This was also offered with pork) - Listen, we weren’t sure what some of these ingredients were, and would have never normally ordered this, but that’s the magic of this restaurant- it pushes you out of your comfort zone and pleasantly surprises you. These steamed buns were amazing!
- Compressed Watermelon with feta, hibiscus syrup, mint and balsamic reduction-- this light but flavorful appetizer is a delectable pre-dinner treat.
- Tuna Tacos with seaweed in a crispy wonton shell - Eliza has never met a taco that she didn't like, and these were AMAZE. That's what the kids these days are saying, right?
- Smoked Gouda and Grape Tempura with hibiscus syrup. Served on the tip of a syringe filled with hibiscus syrup, this happens to me Stephanie’s favorite food of all time.
We reccomend Epic for a truly special dining experience. They are, in our opinion, the nicest and most unique restaurant in town. Visit EPIC to see menu and restaurant information.
FOR DINNER - SALTCELLAR
SaltCellar is new on the scene in Columbus, and we knew we had to give it a try. Its sister resaurants, The Loft and Mabella's, are big fan favorites, so we knew this one would be a hit.
Saltcellar delivers a variety of fresh, clean, and bold flavors with a menu specializing in seafood, steaks, and amazing desserts. The atmosphere is bright and airy with beautiful pieces from local artists, Bo Bartlett, Betsy Eby, and Shelly Helms.
Despite being a newer restaurant, Saltcellar runs like a well-oiled machine with a welcoming staff who know the menu well. We had excellent service from the hostess, the servers, and the chef who came out to ensure that we had a great experience. We recommend making reservations or coming early in the evening, since this restaurant is extremely popular.
Our Menu Picks:
- Spicy Mamacita - A spicy (but not too spicy) margarita with Don Julio Blanco Tequila, Combier liqueur, lime juice, simple syrup. The house-made Mamacita mix includes jalepeño, cilantro, spinach, cucumber, and green apple juice.
- Guavarita - A fruity take on a margarita with Don Julio Silver, Combier, fresh guava purée, simple syrup and fresh lime juice.
- Saltcellar Fashion -A take on the Old Fashion with Woodford Reserve bourbon, Almost Rum syrup, muddled oranges, orange and angostura bitters, and an Amarena cherry.
- Muscogee 75 - Modeled after a French 75, this is a perfect and refreshing cocktail .Made with Farmer’s Gin, rosemary syrup, and Korbel champagne.
- Warm Popovers with sundried tomato honey butter. So warm and flaky, we could (and perhaps did) eat our weight in these.
- Goat Cheese Stuffed Piquillo Peppers with balsamic glaze served on crostini. These are not too spicy, but very flavourful.
- Wood Grilled Flatbreads - Flatbread options change regularly, but often include a sliced steak flatbread with caramelized onions, remini mushrooms, monterey jack cheese, spinach, and balsamic glaze. Or, opt for a vegetarian flatbread like the brie cheese flatbread with sliced grapes or the Grilled Vegetable Flatbread with spicy hummus, zucchini, red peppers, green onion, eggplant, basil oil, and feta cheese.
The Special- A Trio of Protein with Argentenian shrimp, grilled day boat grouper, and grilled pork tenderloin topped with fried zucchini and a port wine sauce and served with truffle parmesan potatoes and a vegetable medley. Heaven on Earth!
Bacon-Wrapped Sea Scallops with Moroccan Chermoula sauce (plus two sides!) We highly recommend the Sinful Potatoes, unless you are on a diet- actually even then, still get these.
- Meyer Ranch Natural Angus 14oz Ribeye topped with port wine sauce, a blue cheese butter and served with two sides. One of the best steaks in the area!
This is where we need you to listen very carefully. You're going to be full, but you have to ORDER DESSERT. Saltcellar has amazing desserts, but the clear winner is their cheesecake. Selections change nightly, but we opted for:
- Coca-Cola and Peanut Cheesecake
- Orange Creamsicle Cake
PRO TIP: The area behind Saltcellar is beautiful and perfect for walking around after dinner or snapping a few pictures. Visit Saltcellar. to see menu and restaurant information.
FOR BRUNCH - BARE ROOTS FARMACY
Bare Roots is a farm-to-table restaurant that focuses on familiar cuisine using fresh, local ingredients whenever possible. It's open for lunch and dinner as well, but we're partial to Sunday brunch on the beautiful outdoor patio complete with live music.
Our Menu Picks:
- Table-Poured Mimosas
- Kombucha (home made, on tap!)
- Charcuterie and Cheese Plate
- Farm Fresh Salad Bar
- Bagel and Lox (Eliza's favorite)
- French Toast stuffed with a cream cheese (topped with mixed berries and cream)
- Grass-Fed Burger with a fried egg, nitrate free bacon, avocado, and pickled onions. Possibly the best burger in town!
The food was awesome, but the atmostphere is what really drove it over the edge for us. Management was also super nice -- we enjoyed chattingw ith the manager about his passion for Bare Roots the events and local initiatives they're working on. We'll definitely be back! Visit Bare Roots Farmacy
There you have it! We had a fantastic time in our own city, as we were reminded how much Columbus truly has to offer.
We would love to hear from you! What did we miss? What are your favorite parts of Columbus, and what would you like to see us explore next?