Dublin is one of central Ohio’s go-to destinations for fantastic food, plenty of things to do, and is the perfect place to lay your head after a day of exploration. When you arrive in Dublin, you might be surprised to see all the Irish charm sprinkled throughout the town. John Sells, an Irish immigrant, was given the honor of naming the area, and it is said when he saw the sunshine reflecting off the hills of the land, it reminded him of home in Dublin, Ireland. The name and the luck of the Irish have stuck around since around 1810, and that Irish attitude continues to permeate the entire locale.
Dublin is a short, 30-minute drive from downtown Columbus and only 2 hours from Cincinnati or Cleveland. Its central location in the state makes it a desirable destination. I can spend days enjoying the entertainment venues, exploring the natural outdoor spaces, and having a meal at one of the spectacular restaurants that are dotted throughout the town.
Dublin is laid out for easy access to everything; however, you will want to plan your day after 9 a.m. and head to dinner by 5 p.m. Traffic can pick up in the morning and evening hours.
Pro Tip: Dublin has embraced its European roots and has roundabouts peppered throughout town. There is a large one just outside of the historic downtown that can be confusing for first-time visitors. Prepare for these and know how to use them before you visit.
Things To Do In Dublin
Columbus Zoo And Aquarium
Known as one of the top zoos in America, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a sight that should not be missed when coming to Dublin. I love this zoo and have taken my family here many times over the years. It is a place you can go to 100 times and still not see everything or all the animals because there is so much to experience.
The Columbus Zoo is continually expanding and improving. In 2021, it opened Adventure Cove, where California sea lions and harbor seals splash and play above you as you walk through the see-through tunnels. I always want to stay and watch these guys, but a quick reminder to myself of all the other things I want to see gets me moving on.
Pro Tip: Check hours in advance, times change with the seasons.
Outdoor Escapes In Dublin
Dublin is known for its spectacular beauty and outdoor spaces, as well as waterfalls. Yes, you read that correctly — waterfalls are hidden within this delightful urban oasis!
Hayden Run Falls is tucked in off a busy street secluded in the woods. When you arrive, you’ll find a decently sized parking lot where you access the trail. It is important to note that you have to take stairs down to the wooden boardwalk. However, once you are at the bottom of the stairs, it is a short delightful walk to the falls. I am always amazed at the natural beauty of the falls and the stunning rock formations around it. The best time to visit is when the water is frozen in the winter, creating a magical ice-like grotto.
Indian Run Falls is one of my favorites! You’ll find this natural sanctuary hidden off of one of the main roads within the city. Just steps from the parking lot, you’ll begin to hear the water running over the falls. There is easy access to the wooden bridge where you can see down onto the falls. If you want to explore more, you’ll need to be able to climb stairs and walk the dirt path.
I can’t come to Historic Dublin without shopping at some of the kitschy and unique boutique shops along High Street. Strolling the old downtown brings nostalgic feelings as you peek into grab some locally made items and visit with the friendly shopkeepers. A few stops I make sure to visit are Dublin Toy Emporium (got to take a treat home for the grandkids), BOHO 72, and North Market at Bridge Park.
Pro Tip: Fairy doors are sprinkled throughout the shops in town; grab a passport and start your hunt. Once you finish your quest, you can get a free T-shirt at the visitor center located at 9 South High Street. Recommended hours are Wednesday–Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., to ensure all the stores are open and you have time to get your T-shirt at the visitor center.
Surprisingly, Dublin is one of Ohio’s most prestigious places to golf. The rolling links-style courses and breathtaking greens bring golfers from all over the world. Dublin hosts the Jack Nicklaus Memorial Tournament every year, so its golf game is strong. A few of the local favorite tracts are Safari Golf Club and Foxfire Golf Club.
Field Of Corn Art
When this art installation of 109 white concrete ears of corn was placed in a field in 1994, it was a nod to the rich agricultural history of farming. With the continued growth of Dublin and the surrounding areas, the fields that were once used for agriculture have now become urban neighborhoods. You’ll want to grab a picture of these 6-foot-3-inch high human-sized corn ears before leaving town.
Best Restaurants In Dublin
Dublin has my heart when it comes to food, and you’ll find fare from casual eats to high-end dining. You will discover Dublin is home to almost any kind of food you can imagine. I can’t visit without stopping in at some of my favorites: La Chatelaine, Cap City Diner, Dublin Village Tavern, and Vaso.
La Chatelaine offers a little bit of France to all its customers. I enjoy coming in to grab a baguette, delightful fruit tarts, or a Croque Monsieur whenever I drive by! Who would have thought that within this Irish-themed town, I would find such authentic French cuisine? Don’t miss the outdoor dining space, and make sure to come early for brunch because the hours at La Chatelaine are 8 a.m.–3 p.m.
Cap City Diner
Some places are just meant to be patronized over and over, and Cap City Diner is just one of those places. The diner takes old-school recipes and puts a modern, delicious spin on them. I love coming to see what the blue plate specials will be; such as how it endeavors to make scrumptious entrees like chicken pot pie or liver and onion, just to name a few.
Believe me, I could come here just for an appetizer of the bleu cheese potato chips and skip dinner. The house-made potato chips, covered in freshly made alfredo sauce and topped with crumbles of bleu cheese served piping hot to your table, make my knees weak and my mouth water. Pair it with a classic vanilla milkshake, and you’ll be set for the rest of your day in Dublin.
Dublin Village Tavern
In the late 1800s, historic High Street in Dublin was filled with pubs. In fact, local legend claims that practically every building in old Dublin housed a tavern or bar at one time. So you’ll not want to come to Dublin without visiting Dublin Village Tavern. This is where the locals gather, and visitors are welcome. If you have never tried an Irish kettle dinner, don’t leave town without trying it. Filled with corned beef, Irish rashers and bangers, cabbage, and potatoes, this hearty meal will rejuvenate you for more adventure.
Have I saved the best for last? Quite possibly, If you are looking to relax and unwind, the rooftop of Vaso is the place to be. There is something about taking the glass express elevator up to the top floor and stepping off into a decadently outfitted rooftop bar. If the main indoor space isn’t what you are looking for, the open rooftop patio will astound you. The views of the winding Scioto River, sleek Bridge Park Link, and the skyline of Dublin will captivate you.
Experience an evening drinking hand-crafted drinks, enjoying Spanish-style tapas, and sitting by one of the open fire pits as you listen to live music on the terrace. Sit back and relax as you lose track of time and reconnect with yourself after a day on the town.
Best Hotels In Dublin
Once you have a few signature cocktails at Vaso, take an elevator down to check into the AC Hotel Dublin. If you have not gotten enough of the captivating views from the rooftop lounge, you can book a room with scenic overlooks. I love the sleek European style and clean lines that make this hotel stand out among its peers.
Traveling with more than two? Embassy Suites is an all-suite hotel that can accommodate your group with ease. The newly remodeled hotel is perfect after a day of enjoying everything Dublin has to offer.
Pro Tip: You can plan your trip around any of the four seasons because there is never an “off-season” in Dublin, Ohio. In the spring, you can encounter the beauty of nature as it reawakens along the Scioto River; summer offers the perfect weather for strolling the historic downtown, August brings the Dublin Irish Festival, and winter hosts Christmas festivities throughout the town.
Not surprisingly, Ohio has a wealth of small towns and cities that offer exceptional experiences: