Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Here's how I spent one day in the Ohio capital:

MORNING-EARLY AFTERNOON: On Tuesdays and Fridays through Oct. 31, the Lynn Alley Market sets up shop along the alleyways between Broad, High, Gay and Third streets. For a more substantial meal, the North Market (59 Spruce St., 614-463-9664, http://www.northmarket.com) offers food for every palate, including Indian, Japanese and Jeni's ice cream.

I spent hours communing with the critters at the Columbus Zoo (9990 Riverside Dr., Powell, 614-645-3550, http://www.columbuszoo.org; $10). Be sure to visit Fluffy, the world's longest snake in captivity (on display through Nov. 1), and take a $1 boat ride.

LATE AFTERNOON: The Topiary Garden (Old Deaf School Park, East Town Street and Washington Avenue, 614-645-0197, http://www.topiarygarden.org; free) features artful greenery. The hip Short North neighborhood (High Street around Goodale Street and Fifth Avenue, http://www.shortnorth.org) has everything you need to survive -- and look good doing it.

EVENING: The Surly Girl Saloon (1126 High St., 614-294-4900) holds free punk aerobics classes Tuesday nights.

Columbus has no end of places to eat. I dined at Dragonfly Neo-V (247 King St., 614-298-9986), an upscale vegan restaurant where I was fooled by the flavors. During my visit, entrees included gazpacho with cucumber melon sorbet ($9) and pizza with pickled onions, olives and almond ricotta ($18).

LATE NIGHT: For last call, I said goodbye to Columbus at the Blue Danube (2439 N. High St., 614-261-9308), a dimly lit college hangout with a long list of beers.

With a 6:30 a.m. departure on Skybus, you'll want to stay close to the airport. I booked a room at the Holiday Inn (750 Steltzer Dr., 614-237-6360, http://www.ichotelsgroup.com), a five-minute drive to the terminal. Rates from $75 a night.

INFO: Greater Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau, 866-397-2657, http://www.experiencecolumbus.com.

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