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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Columbus, Ind.: The destination says design

Photo by Mike Dickbernd, courtesy Columbus CVB

Where is Columbus, Ind.?

Columbus, population 39,000, is in southern Indiana, 43 miles south of Indianapolis, 73 miles north of Louisville and 90 miles west of Cincinnati.

How would I get there?
Columbus is an hour from Indianapolis International Airport and two miles off Interstate 65.

What types of meetings best suit Columbus?

Meetings of 10 to 300 find a variety of meeting venues. The city is a major player for sports competitions, with the number of major amateur events held there doubling since 2003.

What’s new?

Courtesy Columbus CVB

• Next spring, the Commons, a former downtown mall, will return with retail space, as well as event space for 450 with professional sound and lighting.

• A La Quinta hotel will open near the interstate this year, and a Candlewood Suites will be built downtown.

Tell me about some sites worth seeing.
• See the architecture that made Columbus famous on two-hour guided bus tours of 60 world-renowned buildings and public art installations.

• In Columbus, world-class public art compliments modern architecture. The newest public art is Dale Chihuly’s bold Sun Garden Panels in Suspended Circle at the Columbus Learning Center.

• Step inside Zaharakos, a recently restored 1900s ice cream parlor. Listen to the full sound of the Welte orchestrion. Learn about soda fountains and mechanical music in its new museum.Zaharakos has banquet facilities; larger groups can book the entire business.

• Shop at the 85 stores at Edinburgh Premium Outlets then cross the street and visit  Exit 76 Antique Mall, the state’s largest antique mall.

• Anything people-powered is welcome on more than 19 miles of People Trails, paved paths in and around town.

Where can we meet?
• The area’s 1,400 guest rooms are in lodgings that range from bed and breakfast inns to conference hotels.

• The largest is the 253-room Holiday Inn Conference Center with 20,000 square feet of meeting space.

• The 125-room Hilton Garden Inn has 2,700 square feet of meeting space.

• The 76-room Comfort Inn and Suites and 86-room Hotel Indigo Columbus Architectural Center have limited meeting space.

Tell me about some off-beat spots for off-site events.
• Kidscommons, a children’s museum, is a natural for fun.

• Factory 12 event loft in downtown’s Roviar building has a 10,000-square-foot upper loft and a rooftop courtyard. The 8,000-square-foot lower loft has a staging kitchen and a bar.

• A 3,500-square-foot barn at the historic Henry Breeding Farm is used for everything from conferences and dances to auctions and family reunions.

For a true taste of Columbus…
A decade’s worth of Wine Spectator  awards and an array of entrees has made Smith’s Row Food and Spirits a destination. In a restored, multilevel building, it has an awning-topped balcony for small dinners and receptions and three private dining rooms. At Tre Bicchieri, a family-owned Italian restaurant, a rich entreCoffeee of Seafood Diablo can be followed with chocolate mousse cannolis and coffee roasted especially for the restaurant. There are two private rooms. Fork at 532 is a locally owned wine bar where portions are small on purpose so that diners can try a wider variety of creative dishes.

Tell me about some extra-special CVB services.
• For each of the 60 plus amateur sporting events Columbus hosts each year, the Columbus Area Visitors Center recruits, coordinates and trains more than 100 local volunteers to serve as ambassadors.

• The Columbus Area Visitor Center has developed architectural tours, landscape tours and tours of Camp Atterbury, a military training facility.