Columbus is full of hidden gems that offer a variety of different learning experiences. Whether you’re looking to pick up a new hobby, take a current one to the next level skills-wise, or are just in the mood to learn something new, you can find it all within the confines of the city. From knitting to glass blowing to coding to axe throwing, here are some of the places around town that can kickstart your creativity.
Cultural Arts Center
139 W Main St.
“Hidden in plain sight” is just one of many ways to describe the Cultural Arts Center downtown. The large but unassuming building just across the street from Milestone 229 is home to a variety of beginner-friendly arts classes, from the typical painting, ceramics, and jewelry making, to the slightly more unusual printmaking, bronze casting, copper enameling, and more.
Woodcraft of Columbus
1077 Bethel Rd.
You love the look of woodgrain home accessories, and you want to make long-lasting gifts for your friends and family, but you have no idea how to use any of the power tools in the hardware store. Don’t risk life and literal limb by going it alone. Head to Woodcraft of Columbus, where you can buy wood, tools, and books to support you on your new journey across the grain. (Or with it, we don’t know how these things work.) Woodcraft offers classes to beginners and beyond.
610 W Town St.
Who can resist a place whose motto is “Play with Fire?” At Glass Axis, even the novice can create a unique glass blown piece that will dazzle friends and family into thinking they’re a professional gaffer. “First Experience” classes are geared toward newbies, and the small class sizes ensure safety, individual attention, and a chance to get familiar with all the tools and lingo before unleashing your inner firebug to come out and play.
Yarn It and Haberdashery
1093 W First Ave.
Knitting is one of those things nearly everyone has picked up to some point—only to quickly put it back down, in frustration. With plenty of beginner classes in knit, crochet, and even drop spindle spinning (plus materials you can purchase on site), Yarn It and Haberdashery will help you turn your abandoned needles and string into an entire project you’ll be proud to have made yourself! We’re not just talking scarves here either; get your skills up, and you can make yourself a pair of gloves, a chunky knit cardigan, and even a sweet amigurumi owl by the name of Owlbert.
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden
1777 E Broad St.
You already knew you could ogle at botanicals and marvel at butterflies there, but did you know you could level up on your cooking skills at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden? Sharpen your knife handling skills, learn to make your own chocolate espresso profiteroles, can your own jams, and even learn to prepare classic Indian dishes with a fresh and exciting twist.
West Egg Mixology
909 W Fifth Ave.
Slowly fading are the days where you had to rely on your favorite swanky watering hole to bring you the fanciest drinks in town. Twin sisters Jess and Cole are here to make you the star mixologist of your life—or at least fancy enough to impress your friends at your next get together. Past cocktail classes have touched on seasonal themes such as whiskey-based fall drinks and spiked holiday punch, as well as putting new twists on old classics like the Manhattan. You can also purchase syrups, shaker sets, and other supplies to keep practicing your new skills at home.
Ohio Herb Education Center
110 Mill St. Gahanna
Being the herb capital of Ohio, you know Gahanna’s got some good tricks up its sleeve when it comes to sharing the goodness of herbal living. Classes run the gamut from Herbal Tea Blending 101 to Intro to Medicinal Herbs, and the center even offers various longer intensive class series that explore herbal studies more in-depth than what a one-off workshop or class will provide. Pick up an herb book and some tea from the gift shop to continue your herbal learning experience at home.
421 W State St.
The Columbus Idea Foundry exists as a space “where anyone can explore their urge to make things,” but making things isn’t limited to their craftier classes like woodshop or upcycled jewelry. Tech lovers and aspiring tech folks also have a place here. With offerings such as Tech Tribe Meetup, a weekly BYOB group that features a particular tech topic for discussion paired with a drink. There’s also a meetup for game developers, programmers, designers, and anyone else interested in game creation. Whether novice or experienced, all are welcome to come talk tech and learn from each other.
Girl Develop It(GDI)
Columbus contains just one of 57 chapters of Girl Develop It, an organization originally founded in New York City to empower women to learn coding and build websites and mobile apps. Meetups include “Code and Coffee,” where even beginners who don’t know what they don’t know can grab a drink and link up with others willing to learn, and connect with those in the know.
Columbus Urban Axe Throwing
6124 Busch Blvd.
Remember that thing your mom used to tell you about never throwing sharp objects around? Yeah, forget about it. There’s a whole place dedicated to teaching you how to throw 1.5-pound axes through the air, so grab a group of friends and get to chucking at Columbus Urban Axe Throwing. If you then decide hurling sharp things is your new favorite thing, you can join an eight-week league and compete for a trophy and bragging rights.
2250 N High St.
Dust off those old poem journals or pick up the pen to create some new pieces to share at Kafe Kerouac’s weekly open mic. Wednesday evenings for just a $5 cover charge, you can practice wordsmithing for someone other than your cat in your living room. You can even grab a drink or two at the bar to take the edge off those nerves before you hit the mic.
Flowers and Bread
3870 N High St.
What’s in a name? In this case, everything. The bakery and café named for two of life’s simplest pleasures, Flowers and Bread, are here to teach you how to create with both. You can channel your inner Martha Stewart with wreath making, floral centerpieces, and fruit and floral arrangement classes inspired by blooms of the season. When you’re done with the florals, try your hand at making your own bread bowls or sourdough.
200 Crestview Rd.
Flux and Flow differentiates itself from other dance studios with its heavy emphasis on the belief that all forms of dance and movement can be accessible to every body, regardless of experience level or body type. With several unique Flux and Flow classes, such as Dance Karaoke and multigenerational family dance, the studio truly commits to its philosophy of bringing movement to any individual with a desire to express themselves through dance.
35 Oakland Park Ave.
Members of the Columbus Threshold Choir sing songs of comfort at the bedsides of people in hospitals, hospice care, extended care facilities, and private residences. While not a religious organization, the Columbus chapter does meet at the Columbus Mennonite Church weekly for rehearsals. Don’t worry if you’re not a professional singer; the only requirements for interested new members are the ability to carry a tune and the desire to bring comfort to families during difficult times of transition through the gift of song.
769 E. Long St.
In the heart of the King-Lincoln District lives the Thiossane Institute, which offers dance classes to the community as just one means of “introducing the richness of West African culture…to create a space of learning and growth in traditional African culture.” Classes offered have no expectation that you have any prior knowledge or experience with African dance; only a willingness to learn and an openness to exploring new movements with your heart and body. •