The Hockey Fan’s Guide to Columbus


If you were picking a city to see a Red Wings’ away game, you could do a whole lot worse than Columbus (We’ll get to you later Pittsburgh). You may have jokes about the relatively young Blue Jackets franchise, but there aren’t many negative things to say about the city, and for good reason. The trip to central Ohio has a lot to offer and it’s only about three and a half hours from Detroit. (The way I drive it is at least). While you’re in town, you’ll definitely want to see some of the more unique places  Columbus has to offer for food and drink. Or maybe you don’t, I don’t know. If you want something quick and predictable there’s a Jimmy John’s right across the street from the arena, by all means have at it. But if you have some time on your hands, or a bit of an adventurous spirit, this is your guide to what you want to see in town.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you want to be out and about town wearing the Winged Wheel, you won’t be alone. Columbus has plenty of transplants from ‘that state up North‘ and there’s a lot of natives that grew up rooting for the Red Wings and never changed allegiances. Don’t be surprised to see 30-50% of the arena decked out in red, although the Jackets have been much more popular as of late. Although there may be an individual or two that has to vocalize their opinion on your team, the fans in general have been pretty welcoming in my experience. They don’t seem to care too much for octopi though.

Just keep in mind who you represent when you’re visiting is all I ask. Some of us live here you know! And if you MUST throw an octopus, learn from a pro.

The North Market

59 Spruce St, Columbus, OH 43215

For unique food opportunities and convenience before a game, you can’t go wrong at the North Market. This cool public market has 30 different merchants and vendors operating different stalls and is open until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays. It’s also just two blocks north of the Arena, so you can’t beat that. Inside you’ll find a variety of different selections to satisfy  your hunger or thirst, and I suggest you check them out because the arena food, like any other arena, isn’t anything to write home about. Beligian Waffles? Sushi? Indian? Baked Goods? BBQ? Pasta? If you can think of it, you’ll probably find it at the North Market. A bit pricey, but worth it every single time, and very organic/environmentally conscious.

Brothers Bar & Grill

477 Park St, Columbus, OH 43215

Right across the street from the North Market is Brothers, a bar that’s been known to have events for the CBJ foundation and serve as a pretty nice place for pre or post game booze, especially when they have the fire pit up and running.  Prices are comparable to most of the surrounding area and they have a dance floor you can utilize to your heart’s content. Be sure and check out the beer pong machine while you’re there too. I’ve had experiences at brothers where service was fantastic. I’ve also had experiences at brothers where I was ignored for 20 minutes and decided to go elsewhere. I encourage you to check it out and form your own opinion.

R Bar

413 N Front St, Columbus, OH 43215

So you’d like to urinate on a NHL logo while you’re in town? Well have I got the place for you! A hockey bar unlike anything else I’ve ever seen (and especially impressive for a non-traditional market) R Bar is decked from wall to wall in hockey memorabilia. And we’re not talking exclusively Blue Jackets things, though it does have its fair share, I mean these guys know hockey. You’ll find autographed pictures of Gordie Howe on the wall as well as a Maurice Richard mural. Theres a booth built like a penalty box, and the urinals do have divisional rivals logos on them so you can get out a little aggression before the game (They didn’t have the Red Wings there last time I visited, though I’m sure they used to). Try the Stinger Bomb while you’re there. It’s guaranteed to be packed pre-game, and likely to have a decent crowd post-game as well.

Dirty Frank’s

248 S 4th St, Columbus, OH 43215

Look at me. No reader, I’m not kidding. Look. At. Me. Go to Dirty Franks. Just go, my description can’t even do it justice, you need to see it to believe it. A small place tucked away about a mile and a half from the arena, Dirty Franks HAS to be experienced by anyone that visits the Arch City (I don’t know why they call it that, St. Louis kinda owns arches). Absolutely superb hotdogs with every topping you can imagine. They won’t give Lafayette a run for their money of course, but they come close with their chilli dogs (Yes, Lafayette Coney is better than American Coney, accept it and move on with your life). But they also have dogs wrapped in bacon with Sriacha Cream Cheese. And where else can you order a hot dog with black olives? Or Fritos? Or almost anything else you can think of. Their tater tots are to die for, as is their root beer which they serve on tap (even better with some liquor, or ‘poisoned’ as they call it) and with an appetizer called the Octodog, it may be reasonable to suspect some Red Wings allegiance. Absolutely dirty cheap prices as well, I’ve loved Dirty Franks every time I’ve gone and you will too.

16-Bit Bar + Arcade

254 South Fourth Street Columbus, OH 43215 (Right next to Dirty Franks)

So you’ve had a great time at the game, you stuffed your face and Dirty Franks, and you want to get some drink in you while continuing a unique Columbus experience. Well head on over next door to 16-Bit. A great bar with fantastic service and nightly specials. And did I mention the just under 50 different arcade games and pinball machines from the 80s and 90s? It’s almost always filled with cool and interesting people as well. For a trip down memory lane and a great story to tell upon your return to Michigan (or wherever you’re coming from) be sure and check out 16-Bit, and get me one of those cool t-shirts while you’re there.

Did we leave out your favorite Columbus hotspot? Any other great tips for visiting Columbus for a hockey game? Be sure and leave them in the comments below!