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Please help me find a central location for a hotel

Cleveland, Ohio
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Please help me find a central location for a hotel

Although I'm a native to Ohio I've never been to Columbus before. I'm excited for a 2 night stay in late July-early August with my son to the Columbus Zoo and the Ohio State Fair. I'm not sure what area in Columbus to look for a hotel in. I know those attractions are in different areas and I don't mind a 20 min drive but I'd prefer to be near restaurants, some shopping, and preferably under $100 a night. I'd appreciate any suggestions on what part of Columbus to narrow my hotel search in or even any decent hotels. I've read a lot of the hotel reviews on TripAdvisor already but need to hone in on a suburb or area first. Thanks so much!

Toronto, Canada
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1. Re: Please help me find a central location for a hotel

The zoo is a bit of a hike from the downtown core...I'd stay downtown myself, but your budget might make that tough...

Columbus, Ohio
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2. Re: Please help me find a central location for a hotel

I would recommend The Polaris area(near Polaris Mall). It would be the closest to both, and definitely safer than staying near the fairgrounds or downtown. Polaris is about 20 min from Zoo and about 20 min from fairgrounds, mostly because of traffic. The Polaris area has a huge mall and tons of restaurants and quick, easy access to I-71. It will be impossible to be under $100/night, but try Hampton, Comfort Inn North, Holiday Inn Express all in Polaris area for under $150. I think they all also have free breakfast. You could try Dublin area too-lots of hotels(Hampton, Holiday Inn Express, La Quinta Red Roof Plus), a mall and restaurants and closer to the Zoo.

Cleveland, Ohio
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3. Re: Please help me find a central location for a hotel

Exactly what I needed, thank you both! Yes, I may have to up my budget a bit but I'm willing to do that for a safe area and even free breakfast will help a bit.

@Ohiomom449-would Westerville be the correct spot for the Polaris area?

Columbus, Ohio
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4. Re: Please help me find a central location for a hotel

Westerville is not it's more east of Polaris, based on what you requested I think the Polaris, Easton or downtown area would be best for you. Two other areas to look at would be Dublin/Hilliard area or Grandview. If your more focused on being within a 20 minute drive either way plus a main mall and several drivable restaurants then you'll want to look in Polaris, Lewis center area. If you want destination/boutique shopping and more non chain restaurants then you'll want to look downtown. The downtown option will also put you by public transportation that will take you to the zoo and the fair if interested in that mode of transportation. The Easton area option will put you within walking distance to shopping and food plus a 10 to 25 minute drive to the fair and zoo either way. If you have any specific questions about areas or hotels you've narrowed it down to, feel free to pm me with any additional questions

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Columbus, Ohio
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5. Re: Please help me find a central location for a hotel

Westerville is not it's more east of Polaris, based on what you requested I think the Polaris, Easton or downtown area would be best for you. In regards to safety all these areas are fine including downtown. Some might say that anything close to the fairgrounds might not be preferable but even that area works for some, you would definitely find options substantially under your budget but lacking your other requests. I'm sure reviews and forum posts on these motels are available by doing keyword search Ohio fairgrounds, rock range motels options search if any was interested in those available options.

Other areas to look at would be Dublin/Hilliard area or Grandview. If your more focused on being within a 20 minute drive either way plus a main mall and several drivable restaurants then you'll want to look in Polaris, Lewis center area. If you want destination/boutique shopping and more non chain restaurants then you'll want to look downtown. The downtown option will also put you by public transportation that will take you to the zoo and the fair if interested in that mode of transportation. The Easton area option will put you within walking distance to shopping and food plus a 10 to 25 minute drive to the fair and zoo either way. If you have any specific questions about areas or hotels you've narrowed it down to, feel free to pm me with any additional questions

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Cleveland, Ohio
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6. Re: Please help me find a central location for a hotel

Thank you for all of your detailed info DoleJOriginal, it was very helpful! After taking your suggestions and researching a bit more online I think I probably will stick to the Polaris area. It's a convenient location (I'll be traveling down 71 from the NE), it's close to some other activities I was looking at doing with my son, and it seems to be an easy route to both the zoo and the fair. Right now I'm looking at either Cambria Suites (they have a zoo package which seems to be a good value) or Candlewood Suites, but I'll continue looking to see if I come across anything else that fits what I need.

I really do appreciate all the help, I've always had great suggestions on the TA forums!!

Edited: 9:47 pm, June 14, 2015
Columbus, Ohio
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7. Re: Please help me find a central location for a hotel

"I think I probably will stick to the Polaris area."

That's a good choice, plenty of stores, restaurants, etc. in the area, and a fairly easy drive to the zoo or the fair.

If you go to the zoo by Polaris Parkway (which becomes Powell Rd) -- which is a pretty direct route -- be aware that it can get very congested during rush hour.

Columbus, Ohio
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8. Re: Please help me find a central location for a hotel

Westerville would put you too far from I-71 and the Mall, although part of Polaris Parkway is considered Westerville. All the hotels in the Polaris area would be a good bet- clean and safe and convenient. Cambria Suites is a little off the beaten path--about 1.5 miles off Polaris Parkway-behind the mall by Cabela"s. FYI: The Zoo will nickel and dime you-charges for parking, admission, extra for rides, camel rides, to feed the giraffes, to see the stingrays ,mine for gems, etc. We have a membership and still drop about $30 per trip with two kids. Food and drink at the Zoo is expensive and not that great so I suggest bring your own or eat before you go. Same with the Fair-admission and then extra $ to park, ride rides, etc At least bring bottled water to both to save $. Polaris Parkway is a restaurant mecca, practically every chain available. Jason's Deli is one of our favorites- reasonable, fresh and healthy. Avoid Polaris/I-71 at rush hour 4:45pm-6pm Mon-Fri, if possible..

Cleveland, Ohio
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9. Re: Please help me find a central location for a hotel

Thank you MikeR_Ohio! It looks like a busy area just from seeing all of the restaurants and stores so I can definitely imagine it being congested pretty frequently so I will keep that in mind!

Ohiomom449-I did take a closer look at the map since I posted and I see that Westerville is a little further out. so I am going to focus just on Polaris. All of the hotels around that area look to be close to everything so I don't think I can go wrong location wise with any of them.

I appreciate the tips on the extra charges at the zoo and the fair. Luckily my son is 13 so I can get away without buying all the extras (souvenirs, mining for gems,etc). Food will be the biggest expense I can see so we will definitely eat our main meals before and after the zoo and plan to take water. For the fair we will try some of the food and neither my son or I are really into the rides so we won't need to buy tickets for those. Cambria Suites is one hotel I'm considering because they do have a zoo package for $20 more which includes the admission for 2 (which I think the zoo is about $17-$18 a person), a free zoo parking pass (I think parking is $8) and 2 breakfast buffets at the hotel, so that would be a good deal for that aspect. I'll add Jason's Deli to the list to try too.

Again,I so appreciate everyone's help and tips! Traveling somewhere new it is so nice to get some honest feedback and know what to expect and help make my trips much less stressful and more enjoyable!! 😀

Columbus, Ohio
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10. Re: Please help me find a central location for a hotel

"Thank you MikeR_Ohio! It looks like a busy area.."

Not only the Polaris area, but other stretches of Powell Rd (on the way to the zoo) can get pretty congested at rush hour, especially where it crosses the Olentangy River and there's a traffic light. There have been accidents where people weren't paying attention and ran into backed-up traffic.

Be sure to check the zoo hours, I think they close at 7:00. It's a large place and I'd allow plenty of time to see everything. There are many places to eat there, but there's a food court in the gorilla area which is air conditioned.

Have a good time at the zoo and fair!