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 Travel Article Travel Article Archive  
January 2010 Email this to a friend

Columbus is one of the best places for gays to live in the US

By Staff reports

Tradewinds II, Columbus
Dancer at Tradewinds II

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NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded Columbus article click DailyXtraTravel

Skyscrapers rising from flat fertile fields recall the cover of a sixth-grade civics textbook. But this classic American city surprises with its modern attitudes. In fact, one gay magazine rated it as one of the best places in the country for gays and lesbians to live.

Columbus is home to Ohio State University, and its 60,000 students are like a small city within the larger one. The university helps engender the open acceptance of others that characterizes the city. No wonder Columbus has the third highest per-capita population of gays and lesbians in the United States.

Diversity is a way of life Columbus. The city is composed of many ethnic neighborhoods. One of these, German Village (the old gay neighborhood), has narrow brick paved streets shaded by vast spreading elms and lined by graceful houses that are more than a century old.

German Village's architectural treasures were threatened by the wrecking ball in the 1960s. It was saved with the help of outraged local gays and lesbians, and is now one of the city's crown jewels. It still has a sizable gay population, and lots of gay-friendly cafes and bars.

In recent years, gays and lesbians have spread out across the city, with many moving to the Short North neighborhood. They're creating something special there, as the traditions of Short North, such as an amazing farmers market, blend with more recent cultural offerings like galleries exhibiting cutting-edge art.


Brewmaster's House B&B (1083 S High; 614-449-8298) is a men's B&B in a grand German Village house. It's close to bars, restaurants, hiking, and riverside bike trails. All four rooms have cable and wifi; a few have fireplaces, too.

A local lodging option on the other side of downtown is a gay-friendly Short North B&B (50 E Lincoln St; 800-526-9664) seven guestroom alternative located between downtown and the Ohio State campus.

A good general-public option at the center of everything, the Courtyard Marriott Downtown (35 W Spring St) has perfectly situated rooms and they serve a hot buffet breakfast.

Bars & clubs: German Village
Bars in the neighborhood include:

Club Diversity (863 S High), a piano and martini bar with gay and mixed crowd. Tremont (708 S High) a men's bar, Blazer's Pub (1205 N High), a favorite with women; and Inn Rehab (627 Greenlawn Ave) is a new sports bar and grill on the west side of the river, with a mixed crowd.

Bars & clubs: Short North
The Short North is one of the gayest neighborhoods of Columbus, with shops,cafes, and plenty of bars on High Street between downtown and Ohio State University, each an easy walk from the next. Dance clubs are often 18-plus, depending on the venue, but most bars require you to be 21 and over to enter.

Axis (775 N High), a weekend dance club, has 18-plus college crowds, jocks in the showers, and sometimes erotic video stars.
Above Axis, Pump Lounge has all-male revues of Friday. Pumps Cabaret has female illusionists on Saturday.

Havana (862 N High) has good martinis, a pool table, and all-male revues on Sunday night.

Exile (893 N Fourth), a men's leather and cruise bar, has a new outdoor patio and smoking lounge. People pack the place for the acclaimed Sunday strip shows.

Union Bar & Food (782 N High) is known for its tasty food and Sunday evening show tunes.

Bars & clubs: Downtown
South of the train tracks that separate Short North from downtown you'll find more gay establishments.

Q Bar (205 N 5th), a small but energetic dance club and lounge, has Wednesday strippers and frequent parties.

Score Bar (145 N 5th) is a party-minded place that makes it easy for anyone into sports of any kind to catch the games with big plasma screens.

Slammers (202 E Long) a bar and restaurant popular with women, serves good food and welcomes everyone.

Tradewinds II (117 E Chestnut) is a relaxed downtown bar and dance club for men. There are bear and club nights, and no cover charge for men in leather.
Torso's Leather & Fetish is upstairs, and Tradewinds' adjoining Plugged Nickel Restaurant (250 N Third) has old-style window seating,videos and sports.

Women usually rule at Wall Street (144 N Wall), but the guys take over on Boys' Night every Wednesday.

Bars & clubs: Rest of Columbus

Other bars in the Columbus area include: A.W.O.L. (49 Parsons), a bar for men; Club 20 (20 E Duncan), with a mixed crowd; and South Bend (126 E Moler), mostly for men.


German Village has some fabulous local restaurants and delis, including:

The Banana Bean Cafe (340 Greenlawn Ave) serving favorites new combinations of food from the Florida Keys, Cuba, Jamaica and other Caribbean islands;

Barcelona (263 E Whittier) with Catalonian and Spanish Mediterranean cuisine;

G. Michael's (595 S 3rd St) for memorable evenings over fine meals from seasonal menus; and

Lindey's (169 E Beck St) serving fine American cuisine, lunch and dinner daily, in an Upper East Side New York bistro setting.

For German fare apropos to the settlers for whom the district is named, there are some others to try.

Juergen's (525 S 4th St) a bakery, restaurant/cafe and import store landmark of 40 years, offers the finest of German food. Holidays are celebrated here with time-honored style and enthusiasm.

Katzinger's Delicatessen (475 S Third St) has a big menu that begins in German, and ventures far and world-wide with "crazy good food." They like chocolate here and wine selections are good, with frequent tasting sessions.

Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant (240 E Kossuth St) is a good bet for bratwurst, spatzel, sauerkraut, pretzels, chicken noodle soup, strudels and other traditional meals of Bavaria.

The Short North has a good array of restaurants from which to choose. A sampling follows, but click HERE for many more places to eat in the downtown Columbus neighborhoods.

Deep Wood (511 N High St) is named among the ten best by the Columbus Dispatch, with New American food worth going out of your way for - lunch or dinner. Desserts are good too, and their good wine list is reasonably priced.

Dragonfly (247 King Ave) a unique and quirky vegetarian gem with seasonal local fare to luxury imported goodies. Saturday brunch buffets (until 3pm) feature organic Mimosas and Bloody Marys.

Northstar (951 N High St) makes a good start with a healthy and hearty breakfast from 9am and weekend brunch (served until 3pm). From muffins to full plates of meat and eggs or pancakes you'll be happy here. Lunch and dinner salads, burritos, and sandwiches are either with meat or veggies.

Rigsby's Kitchen (698 N. High St) serves the Italian way with primi, secondi and contorni courses: pastas, gnocci, risottos, fresh fish and meat, then vegetable side plates. With old favorites or new creations the chef here is a master, and their remarkable deserts are made in-house too.

Union Bar & Food (782 N High), a very gay crowd favorite serves eclectic fare for lunch, dinner, and late nights snacks.

Between downtown and the Short North, the North Market (59 Spruce St) is a cornucopia of fresh food stands, bakeries, cheese shops and prepared food stands of many ethnicities. Eat here, or take out to the park, home or the hotel. Open daily until 5pm (7pm on Tuesdays).

Downtown, the food at Slammers (202 E Long) restaurant and bar comes recommended with great pizza, appetizer nibbles, salads, subs and wraps. The ambience here is very gay and always friendly for women, men and everyone else.

Saunas & playgrounds

For a night at the tubs or a good workout, Columbus has two choices, each from a legendary bathhouse chain. Both include steam rooms and dry saunas, gyms, video lounges, and rooms and lockers galore. They are 18-plus and always open.

The gym at Club Columbus (795 W Fifth) in Short North is top-notch, as is the whirlpool and outdoor heated lap-pool. Complimentary Sunday buffets, porn star appearances and online hook-ups at the "Locker Room" are some of the extras.

Besides all the steamy amenities, Flex Columbus (1567 E Livingston) has play spaces like a glory-hole room anda dungeon equipped with sling, St Andrews cross, cage, chain web, and spanking bench. Friday is leather night.

Shopping in Short North

At Torso (772 N High), a dapper storefront heralds gifts and the latest styles for working out, cruising, or clubbing, with gay designer wear and all accessories at good prices.

Above Tradewinds II, Torso Leather & Fetish (117 E Chestnut) has fetish and casual wear,accessories, toys, cock rings, and lubes.

Piercology (190 W 2nd) has professional, safe, creative and nationally recognized body-piercing, with a big selection of embellishments.

Stripper capital

Strip shows are big in Columbus, especially on Sunday night, a tradition of many years and many bars. With so many college guys needing tuition money,you'll find that lots of venues have at least one night featuring male strippers. You might be surprised by the sauciness of the dancers.

On Sunday, look for shows like Extreme Strippers at Score Bar and Church at Havana. There are guys you'll see nowhere else performing at Exile on Sunday and Wednesday. Tradewinds II has 'em Sunday and Thursday.

At Q the boys strip on Wednesday, and Axis has Friday rotations that range from male revues to college jocks in showers and porn star appearances.

Pride is each June.

A record-breaking 180,000 people marched last year for Stonewall Columbus Pride in a parade June 20 in front of the Ohio Statehouse. After the march, the festivities continued at Goodale Park.

On stage

The Stonewall Columbus Pride performs concerts on a regular basis. See their website for upcoming events and dates.

The Center Stage Players appear at Axis bar in Short North from time to time. Spelling Bee (April 30-May 9) and The Rocky Horror Show (October 22-31), are two upcoming productions.

Explore Short North

Gallery Hop takes place the first Saturday of every month. Over 40 galleries typically spotlight both new and established artists, musicians, dance troupes and other entertainers. Along with the galleries, thousands of people visit the many stores, restaurants, cafes and bars of the district. See details on this and other events and places to explore at Shortnorth.org.

Local media
Keep an eye out for OutLook Weekly for gay news, events and local listings.
For general news and listings see the Columbus Dispatch, and the Other Paper.

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