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Joe Blundo | Anietra Hamper finds 100 things to do in Columbus, and that's a low estimate

The Columbus Dispatch logo The Columbus Dispatch 4/23/2019 By Joe Blundo, The Columbus Dispatch

April 23--I've lived in Columbus since 1978, when, by my count, 58 of the "100 Things to Do in Columbus Before You Die" didn't exist.

The second edition of "100 Things," a paperback book by Anietra Hamper($16, Reedy Press, 160 pages), is intended as a local travel guide, but it also struck me as an indicator of how much Columbus has changed in 40 or so years.

My count of 58 is subjective: I consider, for example, farmers markets -- Hamper lists 14 of them -- as something new since '78 because, while a few might have existed then, they weren't the phenomenon they are now.

Get the news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our morning and afternoon newsletters Nor were many other things mentioned in the book.

In 1978, Columbus couldn't have offered diners a restaurant scene that included the cuisines of Somalia, El Salvador, Vietnam, Nepal and the Philippines, to name a few. So there was not yet a Columbus Food Adventures that organized tours for people eager to sample the fare at those places.

Nor did we have food trucks, gallery hops, zip lines, craft breweries or major-league hockey and soccer teams.

Hamper, a Columbus native and 1992 graduate of Centennial High School, was a news anchor and reporter at channels 4 and 10 before becoming a travel writer, photographer and author.

She will be a speaker at the annual Ohioana Book Festival on Saturday at the Columbus Metropolitan Library's Main Library, 96 S. Grant Ave.

Both Hamper and I often hear people complain that there is nothing to do in Columbus, a strange assertion given the arts, sports, culinary and cultural explosions that have occurred here in recent decades.

"There's a million things to do and a lot of them are free," she said. "Maybe people's expectations are too high."

In the realm of free, my favorites from the book are the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks (especially the bison at Battelle Darby Creek), the Scioto Mile (what a transformation) and Green Lawn Cemetery (abundant birds, big trees and elaborate mausoleums).

The book contains the expected -- the zoo, art museum and conservatory, for example -- and more-obscure venues, such as:

Krema Nut Company, which sells gourmet peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, at 1000 W. Goodale Blvd.

Light of Seven Matchsticks, which evokes a 1920s speakeasy in the basement of Natalie's Coal-Fired Pizza, 5601 N. High Street.

I want to say that locals should know about most of what's in the book, but I've learned to never assume that what's familiar to me is familiar to everyone. A high school teacher in Delaware County once told me that most of her students had never even been to Downtown Columbus.

Make a field trip, kids. Surprises await.

Joe Blundo is a Dispatch columnist.

jblundo@dispatch.com

@joeblundo

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