Columbus a top destination

Staff Report

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

A recently-released J.D. Power Destination Experience Satisfaction Study reports that Columbus ranks highest in the Midwest for visitors satisfaction, with a score of 799, followed by Kansas City with 791 and Indianapolis at 789.

According to the first-of-its-kind study, Columbus visitors gave high marks for the city’s food and beverage scene, affordability and infrastructure. Rankings in other regions include: Las Vegas in the West Region, Austin in the Southwest Region, Orlando in the South and New York in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic.

The 2016 Destination Experience Satisfaction Study measures overall satisfaction among visitors to the top 50 U.S. travel destinations for business or leisure. It assesses the customer experience based on six factors: activities; cost and fees; food and beverage; infrastructure; lodging; and travel/arrival. Results are based on responses gathered between February and July 2016 from more than 26,000 travelers who visited a U.S. metropolitan area between December 2015 and July 2016.

In a recent news release, Experience Columbus lists the following holiday happenings:

Grand Illumination: The holiday season kicks off on Friday, Dec. 2 with the Grand Illumination of downtown Columbus. More than 200,000 lights and 150 trees gleam along the Scioto Mile, reflecting thousands of points of light on Columbus’ beautiful Scioto River.

German Village: This delightful Old-World neighborhood offers shops packed with one-of-a-kind gifts and local treasures. The historic neighborhood wows visitors with its annual holiday tree lighting and welcomes travelers with a host of seasonal events, such as Village Lights on Dec. 6.

Holiday Hop: Columbus’ Short North Arts District will celebrate the holidays on Dec. 3 with Holiday Hop. Unexpected holiday-themed surprises, visits from Santa and spirited art exhibitions draw thousands of visitors to High Street for an evening of art, food, shopping and holiday cheer.

Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus: Travelers are invited to ring in the holidays with CGMC as they present their ever-popular holiday celebration, Joy! Set the Earth Aglow. The sights, sounds and songs of this annual concert have become a much-anticipated Columbus holiday tradition.

State Auto’s Christmas Corner: Since 1931, downtown Columbus’ State Auto Insurance Company has illuminated the corner of East Broad Street with twinkling lights and an awe-inspiring life-sized Nativity scene. The display will be lit on Dec. 2, and travelers are invited to witness the spectacle and weekend-night choir performances through Dec. 19.

The Topiary Park: Georges Seurat’s masterpiece “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” comes to life in Downtown Columbus’ signature Topiary Park. During the holiday season, this larger-than-life recreation is bathed in hundreds of glowing holiday lights.

Fantasy of Lights: Visitors are invited to drive through Alum Creek State Park’s stunning display for its annual Fantasy of Lights show Nov. 18 through Jan. 1, 2017. Afterward, travelers can warm up with free hot chocolate, cookies and a visit from Kris Kringle in the Santa House.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Wildlights: The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Wildlights display dazzles with more than three million twinkling lights. Taking place Nov. 20 through Jan. 3, 2017, this spectacular celebration of winter provides activities for all ages, including visits with Santa Claus.

Merry & Bright: Visitors can explore the beautiful gardens of Franklin Park Conservatory, decorated for the season with thousands of colorful poinsettias, wildly creative gingerbread houses and a Paul Busse model garden railway. Merry & Bright debuts Nov. 19 and runs through Jan. 1, 2017.

BalletMet’s “The Nutcracker”: Taking place at Columbus’ Ohio Theatre December 9-24, BalletMet’s “The Nutcracker” is a grand holiday tradition. The show is an annual family highlight with its unforgettable characters, enchanting choreography by ballet legend Gerard Charles, and elaborate staging and costumes accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s beloved score performed live by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

Easton Town Center: Santa Claus and a special guest will illuminate Easton’s 50-foot Christmas tree at Easton’s 17th Annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony on Friday, Nov. 18. After the lights fire up, children are invited to Easton Station for photos with Santa. Often called the Rodeo Drive of the Midwest, Easton offers incredible holiday shopping with the world’s top fashion and retail purveyors offering every imaginable experience, from American Girl to Tiffany and Co. and from Anthropologie to Louis Vuitton.

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Staff Report

Information for this story was provided by Experience Columbus. Free travel guides, maps, online booking and detailed information are available at or 866-397-2657 (866-EXP-COLS). Visitor information is also available on Facebook:,, Twitter: @ExpCols and Pinterest.

Information for this story was provided by Experience Columbus. Free travel guides, maps, online booking and detailed information are available at or 866-397-2657 (866-EXP-COLS). Visitor information is also available on Facebook:,, Twitter: @ExpCols and Pinterest.