Spend a day in Columbus' Short North

Get to know one of Ohio’s most diverse neighborhoods.

Get to know one of Ohio’s most diverse neighborhoods.

By Kelly Pickerel

Just north of downtown Columbus along High Street, you’ll find the city’s arts district — full of trendy bars, eateries, art galleries and shops. This small section of High Street and its diversity has drawn in the LGBT community. Although all bars and restaurants aren’t all-out “gay,” they show their support in some way — be it through equality happy hours or offering the latest gay literature on their tables. There’s never a night in the Short North when you can’t find something to do. Wednesday night offers drink specials during the latest “American Idol” or “Glee” episode watch party. But the first Saturday of each month is the district’s Gallery Hop, during which more than 40 new art exhibits and nontraditional art venues are spotlighted, and performances fill the street.

Skully’s Music Diner

Skully’s offers live music and good food in a rock ‘n’ roll-themed diner. The leopard-print bar has $1.50 happy hour from 4 to 9 p.m. every day except Sunday, and two stories of eating areas provide a unique view of those bands just starting out or that have been around awhile. The menu is decently priced: a pizza for $7 and many sandwiches for $6. Thursdays are Ladies Eighties nights, when ladies get in free, and you hear all the ’80s music you can stand. 1151 N. High St., 614.291.8856, www.skullys.org.

Union Bar + Food

Union has a classy vibe that isn’t shoved in your face. Service manager Joe Donaltone says the café/bar is one of the most vibrant and exciting gay bars in Columbus. Offering entertainment and “budget-friendly” drink specials every night of the week, Union promises a packed house where you’re bound to meet someone new. The video bar provides an atmosphere for Ohio State football games, “American Idol” and “Glee” watch parties and Sundays Showtunes, when only Broadway’s best are featured on the big screens. 782 N. High St.,614.421.2233, www.unioncafe.com.

Level Dining Lounge

If you want something classy — like, make sure you dress up but forget the satin gloves and boa — then Level Dining Lounge is the place for you. But even then, happy hour drinks are between $2 and $4, so it might just be imitation-classy you’re looking for. Chicken and pizza, shrimp and steak — most dishes cost less than $10. 700 N. High St., 614.754.7111, www.levelcolumbus.com.


Sit outside and sip an espresso and nibble on a sandwich, or come back after dark and have one of the 50 beers on draft at Bodega, a bar and eatery. Happy hour is half off, and you can snack on feel-good foods like grilled cheese or be exquisite with salmon and caramelized pears. 1044 N. High St., 614.299.9399.

Piece of Cake

A cute little shop with wide bay windows tucked in a back corner of a building is where you’ll find Piece of Cake, a pastry shop that also offers light lunches. The cakes are works of art, looking too good to eat. For $3, you can get orange juice and a cinnamon roll bigger than your head. The paninis and chicken salad sandwiches are a nice substitute to the hamburger and steak houses surrounding the bakery. 772 N. High St., 614.421.0399, www.shortnorthpieceofcake.com.

{milk bar}

Somewhat pricey but definitely trendy, {milk bar} is a youth clothing store concentrating on worldly cultures but also classic Americana. The store aims to please to both sexes but mostly caters to for petite women. 1203 N. High St., 614.754.8802, www.milkbarboutique.com.

Monkeys Retreat

Monkeys Retreat specializes in art, healing and erotica. Not only are tai chi classes taught, but there’s a clothing boutique and bookstore for those 18 and older. Adult books ranging from comics to photo spreads and healing herbs to mind alteration subjects are for sale. 1202 N. High St., 614.294.9511, www.monkeysretreat.com.

(This article originally appeared in the Winter 2009-10 print edition.)

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