Caitlin Essig / Arts editor
Columbus is brimming with interesting neighborhoods beyond the borders of Ohio State. Each week, The Lantern will spotlight an area in or around Columbus.
As the season soon turns to spring and students begin seeking a distraction from projects and exams, a calming refuge can be found in the quiet comfort of Columbus’ German Village.
Just south of downtown, Victorian-era buildings and brick-paved roads transport visitors to a simpler, less-industrialized time reminiscent of a small European town. The area was settled by German immigrants in the 1800s and made its way onto the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Since then, German Village has remained an area with quiet charm and rich cultural heritage, and it’s just a short ride from campus on the No. 8 COTA bus line.
For shopping that comes with great prices and an unbeatable atmosphere, visitors should look no further than The Book Loft. The No. 8 bus will drop visitors almost directly in front of the shop, which is located at 631 S. Third St. With 32 rooms packed with bargain books, it’s easy to spend hours inside the store simply browsing the shelves.
The Book Loft is a treasure trove for avid readers with a room for just about every genre, ranging from military history to best-sellers and new releases. For shoppers not so keen on reading, an array of CDs, DVDs, magazines, calendars, posters, greeting cards and puzzles can also be found in the store. The independent shop celebrated its 35th anniversary last spring and is certainly one of the must-visits of German Village.
Arguably the toughest part about visiting German Village is figuring out where to eat. The area boasts an extensive list of independent restaurants with unique menus to match. Skillet, located at 410 E. Whittier St., is one such establishment.
The restaurant serves up intriguing comfort food combinations, such as the stone-ground white cheddar grits with braised brisket for $5, and it’s all made from seasonal, local ingredients. Barcelona is another restaurant worth checking out – just a few steps away from Skillet at 263 E. Whittier St., diners can find a variety of tapas and other Spanish-inspired dishes, as well as a lengthy list of creative cocktails.
On March 23, German Village is scheduled to host a food tasting tour through a program called “A La Carte Food Tours.” The three-hour event will offer samples from three of the area’s most talked-about eateries. The first is Katzinger’s Delicatessen, a colorfully decorated sandwich spot with more than 60 creatively named options to choose from. The next destination on the tour is the original location of Max & Erma’s, a Midwest burger joint based out of Columbus. The third and final stop is Schmidt’s Restaurant und Sausage Haus, an authentic establishment still managed by the German family that opened it in 1967. The tour also takes tasters next door to Schmidt’s Fudge Haus, where those with a sweet tooth can delight in handcrafted treats made from smooth Belgian chocolate.
On days when the weather warrants an adventure outdoors, Schiller Park provides a sprawling sanctuary for relaxation in the heart of German Village. In walking distance from most of the area’s restaurants, the park is a great place to stroll after a filling meal. The 23-acre park is named after a German poet, Friedrich von Schiller, for whom a bronze statue was erected on the grounds in 1891. There’s plenty to do at Schiller Park with a fishing pond, a recreation center and an amphitheater where Actors’ Theatre of Columbus performs Shakespearean plays in the summer months.