Columbus draws visitors who are eager to experience, explore and taste all this city has to offer.  From taking food lover’s on a tour of the local taco trucks to examining the inner workings of a ballet troupe, guests will find plenty to interest, entertain and enjoy.

There are many reasons why you might choose to book a group travel experience to Columbus.  Set in the middle of the state of Ohio, it’s easy to travel to.  There’s plenty of things to do, with opportunities for sports fans, crafters, foodies and science buffs, to name just a few.  But did you know there are rules for visiting Columbus?

That’s right.  To plan a successful group outing in this major Midwestern city, you need to make sure your group does four things, according to the Columbus CVB:

  • Have an Experience
  • Meet an Expert
  • Explore the City and its Environs
  • Come back – because there’s more to do than one quick trip can fit

Let’s take these steps one at a time.

Have an Experience

BalletMet; Photo Credit: Randall L. Schieber

BalletMet; Photo Credit: Randall L. Schieber

The first rule for planning group travel to Columbus might be “have an experience,” but it could also be “have an adventure.”  Columbus is one of America’s leaders in experiential tourism. Guests can choose from more than 70 tours, including behind-the-scenes access to attractions as diverse as BalletMet (Columbus’ ballet company, one of the largest in the country) and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

The Columbus Zoo alone offers several extended-access tours, featuring giraffes, manatees. A visitor favorite is the Heart of Africa at the Zoo, which is a unique, immersive experience that brings visitors up-close to feed a giraffe a snack, take a camel ride and be surrounded by the view of the savanna while animals gather around a watering hole.

For the culturally-minded, it is possible for a group of 10 to 20 individuals to go behind the scenes at a BalletMet production.  After viewing a performance, visitors can get an exclusive backstage tour, see scenery and props, listen to an interactive question-and-answer session, meet company dancers and have photos taken.

Meet an Expert

Meet Jack Hanna at The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium; Photo Credit: Mike & Kim Photography

Meet Jack Hanna at The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium; Photo Credit: Mike & Kim Photography

Columbus has a diverse background, both artistically and professionally.  Do have you a group that wants to meet a local winemaker or distiller, find out how baseball bats are made, or learn the history and geology of the regions’ underground caves?  By going on a tour of local wineries and distilleries, chatting with area mixologists, visiting Phoenix Bat Factory or exploring the Olentangy Indian Caverns in nearby Delaware, groups can do that.

Arguably, Columbus’s best-known expert is Jack Hanna, the Columbus Zoo’s director emeritus and host of PBS’s educational program “Jack Hanna’s Into The Wild”.  At certain points during the year, visitors to the Columbus Zoo can meet “America’s favorite zookeeper” as part of a package deal. In addition to the meet-and-greet, they will be able to spend the day at the zoo, attend a special show and have their picture taken with Jack.

Go Exploring

Inside the city or beyond its borders, there are many unique destinations in the Columbus area.  For foodies, exploring Columbus may well start with food tours.  These can be arranged to please almost every palate and culinary interest level. A tour of the hip Short North Art District neighborhood includes a culinary and historical perspective of the area. A sampling of the area’s ethnic cuisines would highlight Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese, Somali and Nigerian eateries. Tours can be arranged around coffee shops, food trucks (one of the hottest trends in today’s culinary scene) or even taco trucks.

Outside of the city, exploring can be as tranquil as a sunset tour of Buckeye Lake. Or it can be as thrilling as a zipline canopy tour at Hocking Hills, where participants spend well over two and half hours zinging along cables and sky bridges for a bird’s-eye view of caves, cliffs, rivers and area wildlife.


This is pretty self-explanatory. Even the most dedicated tour group provider can’t hit all the highlights in one trip. Your guests are cordially invited to come back and experience more of what Columbus has to offer.

Getting Here: Travel Details

Columbus is located almost exactly in the center of the state of Ohio. By car, the city is about six hours from St. Louis, and eight hours from either Atlanta or New York City. It’s ringed by Interstate 270, with access to and from US-23, I-70 and I-71.

Port Columbus International Airport offers multiple nonstop flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, New York City and Washington DC, among many other destinations. US Airways, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines,  Air Canada and American Airlines all fly into Columbus. The airport can be reached either by I-670 or I-270.

So there you have it: the rules for planning successful group travel to Ohio’s capital city. Have an experience (or several).  Meet an expert or two, or three.  Explore everything from caves to culinary hotspots.  And plan on a repeat trip, to do all the things your group didn’t have time to enjoy the first time around.


Have you visited Columbus recently? Send a tour group there or did some travel planning for the area? Tell us about it!  Share your story by submitting a comment below.