Contrary to what Alexander Hamilton might say, it’s no longer “quiet Uptown” in the heart of Westerville. Once known as the “Dry Capital of the World,” Westerville passed a measure in 2006 to allow the sale of alcohol within city limits. Now, I’m not trying to say that allowing the purchase of booze contributed to the growth of business, especially in Uptown, but it couldn’t have hurt, right? Driving through the city, it’s almost overwhelming to narrow down the choices of restaurants and shops. If you’re like me, and thrive on the feeling of truly experiencing a place with local stops and outdoor exploration, it’s helpful to have things planned ahead of time. Here’s how I would spend a day in Westerville, Ohio.
20 S State St, Suite B
Start your day of exploration off with coffee from Java Central, roasted on site. They offer their own proprietary blends, so you’re able to order something you just can’t get anywhere else. It’s a cozy location, with mismatched furniture and a few separate rooms, so you’ll feel right at home. If you happen to visit on a warm day, the patio is a great place to people watch.
940 S Hempstead Rd
Though part of the metro parks system, Inniswood stands out due to the beautiful gardens and smaller footprint, which allows you to walk the whole park and see everything in one visit. But, let me add, one visit isn’t enough. Seek out the Sister’s garden, and follow the path to the secret garden. Alternatively, stop by Innis House to learn about some of the creatures that call the park home, and watch the birds flock to the feeders outside.
59 S State St
Time for brunch! Westerville Grill offers classic diner fare, and a super casual atmosphere. There are usually just a few people working, but service is friendly and attentive. While I’m sure you could find a healthy breakfast here, if you’re going to visit a greasy spoon, you’ve got to take advantage of their specialties: Philly Cheesesteak Omelet, or my favorite, the “Uptown Walking Sandwich.”
18 N State St
A fun shop to wander around, whether you’re looking for something specific or not; though you’ll probably end up buying something either way. Full of wares from local artists, and handmade goods, the owners are frequently in the shop and happy to tell you more about each piece. Often, you’ll find live music as well, so it’s a good place to spend an hour or so. Plus, honestly, it just smells really really good in here.
13 E College Ave
Even if there’s not one single, tiny, adorable child in your life, it’s still worth it for you to stop here. The ever-changing window displays are like works of art, and who wouldn’t want a plush narwhal stuffie? The book selection here is fabulous, and there are quite a few great STEM toys as well. But what keeps me coming back? Free. Gift. Wrap.
290 W Main St
The City of Westerville developed this park one year after the Challenger explosion in 1986. It’s just two acres, but it’s a really beautiful park. There are 10 commemorative stars, one for each Challenger astronaut and three for the men who died in the Apollo 1 endeavor. Alum Creek abuts the park, and there are plenty of benches for quiet reflection. When you’re finished enjoying the view and green space, you can follow the walking path to larger Alum Creek Park.
14 N State St
Ready for an early dinner? It’s charming. It’s quirky. There are floor to ceiling bookshelves. The food is tasty and the drink menu is expansive, but the atmosphere is what sells the place. It’s totally a hipster vibe, but in a good way, if that’s a thing. Lots of character and a fun place to meet up with friends. I know it’s eye-roll inducing to recommend a salad, but I have had dreams about their pear salad. If that’s not your jam (is that a pun?), try the “5 hour smoked pork sandwich.” With a “Jalisco Heat” to drink, because when isn’t tequila and jalapeno a good combination?
48 N State St
Excellent wines at many different price points. You can stop in and try a few varieties of flights (with a cheese board!) or buy a couple bottles to take home. The staff is helpful and knowledgable about wine, but they’ll help you out in an unpretentious way. It’s a bonus that in addition to Ohio wines, they also carry other local items for purchase, like pasta and jarred sauces.
79 S State St
Rolled ice cream is definitely one of those things that can be more about the experience than the end result, but not at Rollies. It’s fun, instagram-worthy, and delicious. You can choose your own flavors to customize the experience, but I recommend choosing one of their signature rolls. Probably the “Fruity Bam Bam,” which is taro, fruity pebbles and berries. They also offer boba teas and mocktails if you want to try something more adventurous.
For other cool places to check out in Westerville, like the Anti-Saloon League Museum and Miller Gallery at Otterbein, check out the visitors bureau here: Visit Westerville
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