Get a taste of the city’s food scene on a one-and-a-half-mile walking tour ($50) of the Short North, led by Columbus Food Adventures. Along the way, you’ll hit the North Market, an indoor collective of small businesses and artisan producers that’s been around since 1876; get a whiff of the 25-year-old sourdough starter at the Eleni Christina Bakery (641 N. High St.; 614-461-0021); and sample the gnocchi Bolognese at Rigsby’s Kitchen, the restaurant that put this once-gritty neighborhood on the map.
Take a self-guided tour of the regional microbrew scene, now experiencing a second coming thanks to a handful of new entrants, including Hoof Hearted (outside the city, in Marengo), which uses a peddle-powered grain mill to make its silky, chocolaty porter, and Seventh Son, scheduled to open in November in a converted auto-body shop in Italian Village. Among the more established newcomers is Zauber, which introduced growler hours—with free tastings and a rotating roster of food trucks—for its German-style alts and kölsches in May and has plans to open a brewpub in early 2013. For a short day trip, pack picnic fare—meats and cheeses from Katzinger’s Delicatessan and cannelès and macarons from Pistacia Vera—then drive 30 miles south to Rockmill Brewery, where former L.A. talent agent Matthew Barbee makes Belgian-style beers on a horse farm in Lancaster. Pair the Trippel with a marbled blue and the Dubbel with dark chocolate, then work off your buzz with a walk around the grounds.
Take a break from beer at Middle West Spirits, a two-year-old micro-distillery on the edge of the Short North with a hyperlocal ethos. Weekly tours (Fridays at 6 p.m. and by appointment; $10) run about 90 minutes and include a sampling of the outfit’s craft vodkas and whiskey, all made from Ohio red winter wheat. Across town, test the wares at Watershed (tours every Thursday and some Sundays; $10), which makes its hooch from Ohio corn and is best known for its citrus-forward Four Peels Gin.