GETTING THERE: Southwest, Continental and United offer nonstop service from Washington to Columbus, with rates starting at $120 round trip. Amtrak also offers overnight service, with round-trip fares around $154. (Example, depart at 5:20 p.m., arrive at noon, with one stop.)
Columbus is at the intersection of I-70 and I-71, about 400 miles (or less than seven hours by car) from D.C. The German Village neighborhood is six blocks south of the Ohio State Capitol via Third Street. Its rough boundaries are South High Street to the west, Blackberry Alley to the east, Livingston Avenue to the north and Nursery Lane to the south, although some residents argue about this.
WHERE TO STAY: Among the plusses at the recently refurbished Best Western Clarmont Inn & Suites (650 S. High St., 800-528-1234, www.bestwestern.com) are the big, heavy mahogany doors and relatively fluffy towels. Downstairs is the Round Bar, which everyone in the village knows and is, well, definitely round. Jodie Foster filmed a scene from the movie "Little Man Tate" here. Rates: $79-$99.
Its promotional postcard says it's "historic," but the German Village Inn (920 S. High St., 614-443-6506) is really a simple and clean contemporary motel, not a plaque house. Still, you can walk to everything from here, and it's the best deal around. Rates: $48-$69.
As long as you don't mind a friendly dog on the premises, the Lansing Street Bed & Breakfast (180 Lansing St., 800-383-7839) is a pleasant, small-scale property in the heart of the village. Innkeeper Marcia Barck even tries her hand at a German accent to add to the ambiance. Rates: $80-$95.
WHERE TO EAT: There's no sauerbraten on the menu, but who cares. Despite its lack of German specialties, Lindey's (169 E. Beck St.) has some of the best cuisine in the village. Beef carpaccio with portobello mushrooms and arugula was maybe the leanest I've ever had. Plus, the dining room has a bustling, Paris brasserie air. Entrees start at $13.50.
Schmidt's Sausage Haus (240 E. Kossuth St.), carved out of a former livery stable, has been a German Village landmark since 1886. Its bratwurst and knockwurst are a big draw not just here but also at the Ohio State Fair and Ohio State football games. Plus, the wiener schnitzel looks and tastes like the real thing. Entrees start at $8.95.
Planks Bier Garten (888 S. High St.) is worth checking out if you've never been to a beer garden. There's outdoor picnic table service in the summer, and the inside is like a YMCA camp, with bare wooden rafters and folding chairs. The grilled bologna sandwich goes great with beer. Entrees start at $6.50.
WHAT TO DO:
* German Village Oktoberfest, Oct. 3-5, day-of admission $7. Barrels of beer, 32 bands on three stages, and all sorts of German crafts and snacks. (For village events, see contact information below.)
* Village Valuables, a giant, German-flavored sidewalk and yard sale, May 17.
* Annual Haus Und Garten Tour, June 29, day-of admission $15. Wander around 11 sites, including gardening demonstrations, a watercolor competition and a Marketplatz.
* Fudge-making demonstrations, Schmidt's Fudge Haus, 220 E. Kossuth, 614-444-2222, www.schmidtsfudgehaus.com.
* Stained-glass demonstration, Franklin Art Glass Studios, 222 E. Sycamore, 614-221-2972. See how stained glass is created and, if you like, order a custom window.
INFORMATION: German Village Society, 588 S. Third St., 614-221-8888,
-- Peter Mandel