When my wife and I moved to Columbus two years ago, we were excited to be back in the Midwest, to be close to family again, and to reconnect with friends. Moving back in May, we were also excited to be approaching festival season in Columbus, which basically runs from May to mid-October and features a variety of outdoor festivals with excellent food (my personal favorites are the Jazz and Ribs Festival in the Arena District in July and the Greek Festival downtown on Labor Day weekend). In fact, there were only two things we weren’t excited about on our return to Columbus: January and February. For all of the amazing things that can be said about Columbus, our weather isn’t winning us any awards or attracting any new visitors.
There are few ways to escape the snow and ice, but one excellent way to get some fresh air is to visit the Franklin Park Conservatory (http://www.fpconservatory.org/). Located just east of downtown, the conservatory and adjoining botanical gardens are situated in the middle of Franklin Park. The conservatory offers visitors a collection of tropical and desert biomes from across the globe, such as the Pacific Island water garden (my favorite), Himalayan highlands, and American desert. Each of the rooms is held at about 70 degrees and is full of plants from the respective biomes. The building’s walls and ceilings are made of plexi-glass, so you get the full effect of being outside (fresh air and vitamin-D), plus the much needed warmth of being indoors. Throughout the winter I stop by at least once a week, and frequently I bring a book or class readings and work there in lieu of a coffee shop. With annual student passes for $30, it is a small price to pay for a weekly getaway.