Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (Columbus)

Around 2 miles east of downtown Columbus is 88 acres of park known as the Franklin Park Conservatory.  The Franklin County Agriculture Society purchased the land in 1852 to be used as the site for the first Franklin County Fair.  In 1874 it was designated the space for Ohio State Fair.  In 1886, the Fair moved to its current home- what is now known as the Ohio Expo Center.  The city of Columbus then built the Palm House on the property and opened it to the public in 1895 as Franklin Park Conservatory.  It was known just as Franklin Park from 1884-1895.  Columbus Parks and Recreation owned Franklin Park Conservatory up until 1989.

The John F. Wolfe Palm House at Franklin Park Conservatory not only showcases 43 species of palms from around the world and is a popular spot for wedding receptions or even weddings themselves.  Roughly 200 weddings are held at the Conservatory whether inside or outside on the grounds.
The John F. Wolfe Palm House at Franklin Park Conservatory not only showcases 43 species of palms from around the world and is a popular spot for wedding receptions or even weddings themselves. Roughly 200 weddings are held at the Conservatory whether inside or outside on the grounds.

Some 400 species of plants are housed inside the Conservatory’s green houses and each of its “rooms” are divided according to the natural environments in which the plants would be found: Himalayan Mountain Biome, Rainforest Biome, Desert Biome, and the Pacific Island Water Garden.

The koi pond in Franklin Park Conservatory's Pacific Island Water Garden.
The koi pond in Franklin Park Conservatory’s Pacific Island Water Garden.

The Conservatory is a popular rainy day activity and just as interesting in the winter as it is the same temperature indoors year round.  Fall 2015 will feature large pumpkin carvings by Villafane Studios .Over the Christmas holidays (November 21, 2015 – January 3, 2016), the Conservatory hosts Merry & Bright with Christmas lights and hundreds of poinsettias on display.

In 2003, the Conservatory hosted Chihuly at the Conservatory, a display of Dale Chihuly's glass artwork.  That exhibition proved so popular that the Conservatory set an attendance record.  The private, non-profit group Friends of the Conservatory raised funds to buy most of the glass artwork from the exhibition to make it a permanent part of Franklin Park Conservatory.
In 2003, the Conservatory hosted Chihuly at the Conservatory, a display of Dale Chihuly’s glass artwork. That exhibition proved so popular that the Conservatory set an attendance record. The private, non-profit group Friends of the Conservatory raised funds to buy most of the glass artwork from the exhibition to make it a permanent part of Franklin Park Conservatory.

Outside is the The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company Community Garden Campus- added in 2009- has 40 community plots as well as culinary, herb, and fragrance gardens.

The Desert Biome at Franklin Park Conservatory displays cacti and other plants that one would find in the desert.
The Desert Biome at Franklin Park Conservatory displays cacti and other plants that one would find in the desert and yes, it is as dry in here- in terms of moisture in the air- as it would be in the desert.
Outside the conservatory, along the Grand Mallway is the NavStar, created by artist Stephen Canneto, has become a landmark sculpture at the park.
Outside the conservatory, along the Grand Mallway is the NavStar, created by artist Stephen Canneto, has become a landmark sculpture at the park.

Franklin Park Conservatory
1777 East Broad St.
Columbus, OH  43203

Hours:  10 AM – 5 PM daily; open until 9 PM Wednesdays through August 26th.

Admission:  $13 – Adults; $10 – Seniors and Students with ID; $6 – Children ages 3-17; Children 2 and younger & members are free.

Parking:  Free

Distances from Ohio cities:

  • 3.1 miles East of Columbus City Hall
  • 127 miles Northeast of Cincinnati
  • 148 miles Southwest of Cleveland
  • 148 miles Southeast of Toledo
  • 140 miles Southwest of Akron
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Park of Roses (Columbus)

It’s not often that you could pick a park based on its smell.  The Park of Roses is such a place and I mean that in a good sense.  Located on a 13-acre section of Whetstone Park in Clintonville, the Park of Roses was named one of America’s Top Ten Public Rose Gardens by the All American Rose Society.  The park is home to 12,000 roses made up of 350 varieties of roses.  It’s also home to the first public Earth-Kind Rose Garden outside the Southern United States.  These roses do not need pesticides, fertilizers, dead-heading, or pruning.

The view of the Formal Rose Garden as seen from the observation tower.
The view of the Formal Rose Garden as seen from the observation tower.

In addition to rose gardens, is a herb garden added around 1976 and now has some 200 varieties of plants.  At the North end of the Formal Rose Garden is an observation tower.  The paths in the Park of Roses are paved for those who require a wheelchair or other assistance getting around.  The roses are in full bloom from mid-June to mid-September, although the park is open year round and is open Dawn to Dusk.

The roses are a part of Whetstone Park and so there are also tennis courts and baseball fields, picnic tables, and a playground as well.  There is also a multipurpose trail at the West end of the park that runs parallel to Ohio Route 315.

The fountain was added to the Park in 1957 but it wasn't much more than a garden hose aimed upwards.  In May 2013 the fountain was updated and repaired to look like this.
The fountain was added to the Park in 1957 but it wasn’t much more than a garden hose aimed upwards. In May 2013 the fountain was updated and repaired to look like this.

While the Columbus Parks & Recreation Department owns & maintains Whetstone Park- and, by extension, the Park of Roses- the Columbus Park of Roses Foundation provides financial support through dedications (engraved stones/pavers in the park) & (financial) donations as well as overseeing the volunteer program which helps to maintain the park.  The Foundation became a 501(c)(3)  corporation in 1973, making contributions to it tax deductible.

This is the East entrance to the Park of Roses and it opens to the Heritage Rose Garden.
This is the East entrance to the Park of Roses and it opens to the Heritage Rose Garden.

The 2015 list of roses and park map is available for download if you want to print a copy prior to visiting:  http://www.parkofroses.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Rose-List5.12.15.pdf

Distances from Ohio cities:

  • 9 miles north of Columbus City Hall
  • 122 miles northeast of Cincinnati
  • 151 miles southeast of Toledo
  • 139 miles south-southwest of Cleveland
  • 134 miles southwest of Akron

Columbus Park of Roses:  http://www.parkofroses.org/

Whetstone Park / Park of Roses
3923 High St.
Columbus, OH  43214

I wasn’t able to find a specific address for the Park of Roses on Hollenback Rd. but the High St. address gets you to the entrance to Whetstone Park and you just take Hollenback Rd about a half-mile and it ends at the Park of Roses parking lot.

For some homes in Clintonville, the Park of Roses really is in their backyards.
For some homes in Clintonville, the Park of Roses really is in their backyards.
As you might imagine, the Park of Roses is a popular place for spring/summer weddings.  This particular Summer 2015 wedding had to make it quick as the rain started to fall only minutes into the ceremony.
As you might imagine, the Park of Roses is a popular place for spring/summer weddings. This particular Summer 2015 wedding had to make it quick as the rain started to fall only minutes into the ceremony.

The Continent and French Market (Columbus)

Developer Bill Bonner passed away September 2, 2003 at age 68.  Long before there was an Easton Town Center, he developed the Continent and French Market which opened in 1974.

The Continent/French Market was a new concept when it opened 41 years ago:  a mixture of retail, offices, apartments, and restaurants all in one place, much like Easton is today.  Like any business that changes hands, the new owners never put the time or work into keeping it running and as the 1990s progressed, businesses moved out.  Businesses like The Toy Box at The Continent, the Candle Shoppe, Houlihan’s, and Rapallo’s.  The Post Office closed Friday, March 25, 2011, according to the sign still in the window.

The center was most recently acquired by Los Angeles based Axs Opportunity Fund in 2007, making it the 3rd owner in 11 years.  At that time, AXS President Shahram Afshani said as part of redeveloping the property, the movie theater would return to first-run movies.  So far that hasn’t happened and I wouldn’t bet on it happening.

Rob Click, managing director in Columbus for CB Richard Ellis Inc., thinks the complex needs to be demolished and development started from scratch.  “The problem is the buildings don’t function as they were developed,” he said in 2007. “It needs to be razed and it needs to be redeveloped.”

Columbus real estate consultant Robin Lorms said the days of the Continent as a specialty retail and entertainment destination have long passed.  “There’s too much going on at Easton and too much going on at Polaris,” said the Lorms & Belfrage Inc. principal. “The original concept isn’t working there today.”  That quote is from January 2000.

OSU’s Knowlton School of Architecture has some pictures of The Continent when it was still open:  https://ksamedia.osu.edu/work/57003

The Continent (16) (640x480)
That’s pretty much what the “streets” of The Continent look like most any day.
The Continent (7) (640x480)
While the movie theater is actually open, I’ve driven past it when movies are being shown and the parking lot really isn’t all that full but then I don’t think second-run theaters draw crowds on their own and there really isn’t much else out here on Busch Blvd to draw a crowd.

The Continent (6) (640x480)

If my memory is correct, this was the building that housed WNCI/97.9 on the first floor until they moved to (I think) Grandview Heights.
If my memory is correct, this was the building that housed WNCI/97.9 on the first floor until they moved to Grandview Heights.
The Continent (20) (640x480)
Despite what Sears’ sign says, they’re not hiring. This Product Rebuild call Center closed in November 2014.

 

Scioto Mile (Downtown Columbus)

Along the Columbus riverfront
Along the Scioto Mile on the Scioto Riverfront

145 acres of parkland make up the Scioto Mile in downtown Columbus, along the Scioto Mile.  It stretches along the riverfront from the Arena District south to the Whittier Peninsula.  One amenity that I can’t take a picture of- for obvious reasons- is the free Wi-Fi provided by Time Warner Cable is available along the Scioto Mile and at Bicentennial Park.  The fountains at Bicentennial Park are open 10 AM – 10:30 PM Sunday through Thursday and 10AM – 11PM on Fridays & Saturdays from late-April until mid-October.  There is no specific closing date in the fall as it really depends on the weather at the time.

Some of the new amenities to the Scioto Mile was the benches in groups of 3 and the middle one is actually a swing.
Some of the new amenities to the Scioto Mile was the benches in groups of 3 and the middle one is actually a swing.
The fountains at Bicentennial Park along the Scioto Mile.  New for 2015 is public viewing hours.  Visitors are free to get into the fountains from 10 AM - 7:30 PM.  After 7:30 PM are public viewing hours, meaning no running through the fountains at that time.
The fountains at Bicentennial Park along the Scioto Mile. New for 2015 is public viewing hours. Visitors are free to get into the fountains from 10 AM – 7:30 PM. After 7:30 PM are public viewing hours, meaning no running through the fountains at that time. The fountain holds 110,000 gallons of water in an underground reservoir. The fountains spray water 75 feet into the air from the center. There are also five rings that create a misty fog and 1,070 ground fountains that shoot water and “dance.”

And in December, Bicentennial Park gets all lit up for the holidays:

200,000 LED lights illuminate 150 trees for what is known as The Grand Illumination that lights up sometime in early December.
200,000 LED lights illuminate 150 trees for what is known as The Grand Illumination that lights up sometime in early December.

North Bank Park, along the northern end of the Scioto Mile:

North Bank Park, near Nationwide Arena, is at the north end of The Scioto Mile.
North Bank Park, near Nationwide Arena, is at the north end of The Scioto Mile.