Located just 15 minutes northwest of Columbus, Ohio lies Dublin—a uniquely “Irish” destination in the heart of the Midwest. Dublin is home to one of the nation’s largest Irish festivals, world-class golf, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Zoombezi Bay Water Park, 14 hotels, 100+ restaurants and 1,000+ acres of parkland. It is a city that embraces its “Irishness” in everything from the names of the high school athletic teams to the green fire hydrants. Dublin is the city where Irish is an attitude. (When you’re here, you’re Irish.) To make the most of your visit to Ohio’s emerald city, here are some insider tips:
1. Don’t miss the Dublin Irish Festival-named one of the “Top 100 Events in North America” by the American Bus Association. This unforgettable event is held during the first weekend in August. It features seven stages of performances by internationally acclaimed Irish musicians and dancers. It is three full days of fun for all ages, packed with cultural activities, a 10th century Irish village, genealogy workshops, a Wee Folk area, an Irish Feis (dance competition), Celtic Canines, sporting events, a marketplace with imported goods and plenty of Irish food and drink. www.DublinIrishFestival.org
2. Watch the stars come out to play each May/June during the highly acclaimed PGA Memorial Golf Tournament. Some of the world’s best golfers compete in this annual event, hosted at Muirfield Village Golf Club-the course that Jack (Nicklaus) built. Practice rounds are held Monday-Wednesday; Tournament Play Thursday-Sunday. www.TheMemorialTournament.com
3. St. Patrick may have chased the snakes from Ireland, but the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has Fluffy, the largest snake in captivity. The Columbus Zoo was made famous by director emeritus “Jungle Jack” Hanna’s memorable appearances on the David Letterman Show. The Zoo has hundreds of acres of naturalistic wildlife habitats. Don’t miss Manatee Coast (one of only three facilities outside of Florida to exhibit the endangered West Indian manatee), the Australia region (with walk-through kangaroo yard) and Asia Quest-(with Amur Tigers and a Pheasant Aviary). Dublin offers the closest hotels to central Ohio’s most popular attraction.
4. One of Dublin’s hidden gems is Indian Run Falls Park. Walk the bridge over the waterfalls for breathtaking views and some great photo opportunities.
5. Make time for a meal of traditional American favorites served with an Irish flare at local favorite, Mary Kelley’s Restaurant.
6. The newest addition to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium family is Zoombezi Bay Water Park, a 22.7 acre water park. The park features 15 water slides, a wave pool, both lazy and action rivers, and a children’s play pool. Explore Barracuda Bay, the Roaring Rapids or the popular Cyclone!
7. To save on your travel costs, check out the Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau’s online getaway packages (www.IrishisanAttitude.com). The “Wild and Wet Summer Getaway Package” (for example) includes special hotel rates, discounted Columbus Zoo and Zoombezi Bay tickets and more … helping to make the most of your travel dollars in a tough economy.
8. Shop for “green” (and Irish) souvenirs in Historic Dublin. Experience quaint shops, tearooms, Irish pubs and restaurants while wandering the brick-lined sidewalks. Set along the banks of the Scioto River, most of the buildings date back to the early 1800s and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
9. Dublin is conveniently located just off the I-270 Columbus outer belt-at Exit 17A. (Easy to remember when you think of St. Patrick’s Day … March 17th!)
10. Dublin is known as “Ohio’s Most Prestigious Golf Address.” Experience a Dublin Golf/Hotel Getaway and enjoy a choice of play at 12 courses and seven hotels, as well as breakfast, greens fees, guaranteed tee times, tax and a shared cart – all for one price. For a free quote, visit www.IrishisanAttitude.com.
11. The Morgan House Gift Shop & Restaurant is an expanded historic log cabin entices visitors with three floors of seasonal décor, country gifts, Americana furniture and gourmet foods. The charming restaurant offers homemade lunches served near a roaring fire. www.morganhse.com
12. The City of Dublin, Ohio’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration is traditionally held on Saturday nearest March 17. It features a miles-long parade with plenty of Irish bands, floats and green (starts at 11 a.m.) Then Historic Dublin comes alive with shopping, live bands and celebrating. (Some businesses even offer a discount to those wearing green!)
13. Discover the Dublin Arts Council’s Art in Public Places. Start with Field of Corn (with Osage Orange Trees) by Ohio artist Malcolm Cochran. This field of 109 human-size ears of concrete corn (each 5-6 ft. tall) commemorates Dublin’s history as a farming community.
14. Stay and play. Overnight at one of Dublin’s 14 hotels and you’ll enjoy free parking, competitive rates and a location that is close to many nearby attractions-as well as being just 15 minutes from downtown Columbus.
15. Savor a breakfast of Irish blend tea and warm chocolate chip scones at TehKu Tea Company in Historic Dublin’s BriHi District. The Tea café has more than 50 premium loose leaf teas, bubble teas, freshly made salads, soups, sandwiches and desserts.
16. Traditionally held in June, the Dublin Kiwanis Annual Frog Jump is Dublin’s oldest event. This annual array of amphibious athleticism draws more than 1,000 young “frog jockeys” to participate in several age divisions, as thousands of spectators cheering on their favorite frog. Competition includes multiple playoff rounds, followed by a championship. Loads of prizes to enhance the competition.
17. Savor a pint (or some Shepherd’s Pie) at Digger & Finch Fine Scottish Grille & Pub. Seasonal outdoor dining available.
18. Sample a “Shamrock Snack,” chocolate covered fruitcake or Buckeye Crunch (a local fav) at Sisters Sweetshop in Historic Dublin.
19. Explore the new Shoppes at River Ridge and you’ll find treasures galore at Audacious!, Bliss, Learning Express Toys and more.
20. Enjoy a unique close encounter with wildlife at the Ohio Wildlife Center. See live songbirds and birds of prey, reptiles, amphibians and native mammals. OWC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of Ohio’s native wildlife.www.ohiowildlifecenter.org
21. You can’t leave Dublin, Ohio without shopping for Celtic collectibles at Ha’penny Bridge Imports of Ireland in the Historic District.
22. Savor homemade soups, delicate desserts and tea in a Victorian setting at Biddie’s Coach House in Historic Dublin’s BriHi District.
23. Dublin’s parks offer 1,500 acres of green recreation plus 88 miles of bike paths that connect like an emerald necklace around the city.
24. Enjoy a famous Graeter’s Shamrock Sundae, created just for Dublin visitors.
25. Lunch at the popular Dublin Village Tavern. Try the famous Irish egg roll.
26. Practice your miniature golf game at SportsOhio, a 110-acre sports complex with Go Karts, a driving range and athletic fun for all ages.
27. Visit Historic Dublin during the summer months on Sláinte Thursdays! This third Thursday celebration (4-9 pm.) is a multi-sensory grazing event with live music, arts, casual shopping and upscale dining.
28. Fall in love with Dublin during a dinner at Trattoria La Tavola. There’s no better place to enjoy the autumn color than sitting on the patio overlooking the trees along the Scioto River. Enjoy upscale Italian and American cuisine featuring wood-fired oven pizza, pasta, risotto, seafood and desserts.
29. Play 18 holes at the Golf Club of Dublin, a links style course with sod wall bunkers, hand-stacked stone walls and other golf features inspired by the British Isles.
30. Visiting during December? Discover Wildlights! Millions of tiny lights set the Columbus Zoo aglow. The event comes complete with holiday traditions like roasted chestnuts, ice skating, hot chocolate, as well as fantastic light displays and exotic animal exhibits.
31. Inspired by the oldest pub in Ireland, Dublin Ohio’s Brazenhead Pub features a custom-designed interior installed by a group of Ireland’s finest Carpenters. Nestled in the heart of the Historic District, this authentic Irish pub features fare including appetizers, Guinness beer-battered fish and chips, wings and an Irish Rueben. Take in the live music during city events.
32. The beautiful “castle-like” Dublin Arts Center, home of the Dublin Arts Council, is a beautiful facility offering captivating exhibits, a variety of classes and a unique gift shop. Built in 1941, this historic French-eclectic style home sits on six acres of grounds, overlooking the Scioto River. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the center is well worth a visit.
33. Miss the old T-birds? 1,500 street rods and classic cars take to the streets of Dublin each July during the Annual Arthritis Foundation Classic Auto Show and Cruise-In.
34. Ballantrae Park is a hidden gem, inspired by the Irish countryside. Kids love the splash pad and climbing the Dancing Bunnies sculptures.
35. Don’t miss the buttery almond croissants and breakfast quiches at La Chatelaine French Bakery.
36. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Fletcher-Coffman Homestead was constructed in the early 1860s. The Dublin Historical Society has restored the house to its original period and improved the barn (which houses early farm machinery) and grounds. Heritage Gardens bloom with heirloom plantings of the late 1800s.
37. The Mall at Tuttle Crossing Enjoy Central Ohio’s premier lifestyle shopping experience! 125 fine stores, including Macy’s, Sears, JC Penney, Pottery Barn and many other fine specialty stores. Space-themed children’s play place, restaurants and food court.
38. Check out The Wine Loft, Dublin’s newest wine and tapas bar specializing in wine flights.
39. Dublin Community Recreation Center This state-of-the-art facility includes 200-seat theater, 300-seat community hall, meeting rooms, gymnasium, aerobic studios, leisure pool, lap pool, spa/hot tub, babysitting room and jogging/walking track. Open to the public – daily use fee.
40. Fore! Play Safari Golf Club, a recently renovated course that is owned and operated by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
41. Sample some of the great signature dishes at Dublin’s own J. Lui Restaurant, featuring Asian, Italian and American cuisine. Enjoy seafood, pasta and fresh cut meats or a summer Sunday brunch on the patio overlooking Historic Dublin.
42. Taste “Salty caramel” or one of the unique flavors of Dublin’s new Jeni’s Ice Cream shop in Historic Dublin. (Opening spring, 2009)
43. Catch a soccer or baseball game! Dublin loves sports. This is reflected by our many state-of-the-art fields and tournaments. Check the online calendar of events for upcoming competitions: www.IrishisanAttitude.com
44. Surprise your sweetheart with a romantic dinner at Tucci’s Wood-Fired Bistro, featuring wood-fired pizzas, gourmet pastas, steak, seafood, homemade desserts and an extensive wine list. An intimate setting and divine cuisine make for a memorable evening.
45. While visiting the Columbus Zoo, don’t miss the cheap thrills at Jungle Jack’s Landing. Unlimited ride wristbands for just $6 after 2 p.m. (April-October)
46. What could be better than summer music under the stars? The Dublin Arts Council’s Sundays at Scioto concerts are FREE! (June-July) Enjoy great local bands, impromptu dancing and a fun family atmosphere.
47. MJ’s Candies in Historic Dublin offers old fashioned favorites, ice cream and even Irish potato candies!
48. Ever been treasure hunting, letterboxing or geocaching? Clues to finding the Dublin Arts Council’s beautiful Riverboxes (set in Dublin’s riverside parks) can be found online at www.dublinarts.org. Riverboxes-feature artwork as vessels containing a unique artist-made stamp, journal and information.
49. Just north of Dublin, visitors will find an afternoon of fun exploring the Olentangy Indian Caverns. Historic cavern tours leave the Indian Museum and go more than 100 feet underground. Discover passageways used by the Wyandot Indians. Learn about frontier life, go gem mining, scale a climbing wall, or play miniature golf.
50. Dublin’s Jacquemin Farms is a local hot spot for pick-your-own strawberries in June and family fun during “Fall Field Days” in October. Autumn brings visits to the great pumpkin patch, a straw maze, grain boxes and more.
51. Dublin’s Abbey Theatre (in the Community Recreation Center) offers year-round family theatrical events: plays, concerts, puppet shows and dance performances … all for a nominal per person fee.
52. Include a meal (or a happy hour) at the upscale Matt the Miller’s Tavern in your Dublin itinerary. Enjoy homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, flatbreads, gourmet pasta, fresh seafood, quality steaks and comfort food.
For more information, visit www.IrishisanAttitude.
Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.