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Follow the Trail: Columbus, Dublin offer unique look at cities

Columbus, Dublin offer unique look at cities

As themed-trails become a more important part of a travel destination, from cocktails to donuts, many cities are using these to tout what their local businesses have to offer.

The city of Columbus has not one, but three trails to showcase what makes them special.

“This is a really great way to get a feel for our city,” said Lexi Sweet, public relations manager for Experience Columbus. “Instead of just sending you out, you get to explore what is unique in the city. You get to take home a souvenir and get an experience.”

The three trails include the Made in Cbus trail: a shopping themed-trail that showcases all of the local small businesses that carry items made in the area; the Columbus Coffee Experience trail: which explores the 17 local coffee shops; and the Columbus Ale Trail, which has more than 40 stops.

Visitors are encouraged to stop and make purchases along the trails to get special rewards, redeemed through the passports they can pick up at the Experience Columbus centers in Easton, the Convention Center and in the Arena District, as well as online. For example, if someone gets 4 Coffee trail stamps, they will receive a free shirt. For making a purchase at all 17 stops, they receive a travel mug. The Made in Cbus trail can redeem four stamps for a free tote bag. The Ale trail has a prize for four stops of pint glass, 23, a bottle opener, and at 46, a limited edition art print by Nick Nocera.

Sweet said the trails are meant to be completed on multiple visits. “We are wanting people to keep coming back to visit, but the four stops is there so you can do it on a weekend visit,” she said. “The majority of the people who finish the Ale trail are locals.”

While in the area, visitors can take part in any of the many street festivals and events that are happening in the downtown area. “There is a festival every weekend from Memorial Day through Labor Day,” Sweet said. “A lot are along the downtown riverfront, so there’s no way to miss it if you are downtown doing the trails.”

While downtown doing the trails, visitors will want to find a parking garage and walk the whole way, as parking is extremely limited.

Information about the trails can be found at experiencecolumbus.com.

The city of Dublin in the Columbus area has its own themed-trail to showcase itself — the Fairy Door Trail.

“In Dublin, our brand is Irish is an Attitude, so we have Irish-themed activities all year round, shops and restaurants with the theme,” said Sara Blatnik of the Dublin Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“The Irish Fairy Door Company approached us with the idea, it is similar to Elf on the Shelf, where you can buy a kit with a fairy door and key, put it up in your house and when the key is gone, the fairy is there,” she said. “It had launched in Europe and was popular and they wanted to launch in the United States and thought this would be a good place to launch the product.”

The company gave the city the doors and they were hidden in different shops in the downtown area.

“Since we started, we expanded a couple of times,” said Blatnik. “We have 10 stops, and each one has a tiny fairy door with a name.”

Families of all ages have participated in the trail, and they can pick up the trail guide at the first stop, the Dublin Convention and Visitors Bureau, or visit their website to download a copy. For those that visit all of the spots and find the name of the fairy on each door, they can redeem the trail guide for a free t-shirt.

“It’s a good way to discover the retail in the area,” Blatnik said. “You do not have to make a purchase, you just have to have the name of the fairy. It is open year-round as long as the businesses are, rain or shine.”

Before starting the trail, visitors may want to check store hours — many of the businesses open after 11 a.m. or have days of the week they are closed.

She said the trail takes about an hour to complete, and the shops are all smaller, some one of a kind and establishments unique to the area.

While in the area, visitors can check out the Dublin Market — a farmer’s market that is held every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. “They are beyond farmer’s market products, they also have craftmakers, local florists and live music,” she said.

The Dublin Irish Festival, a 3-day event, will be held the first weekend in August and will feature live music, entertainment, cultural activities and food. “100,000 people attend over the weekend of all things Irish,” Blatnik said.

More information about Dublin and the Fairy Door trail can be found at visitdublinohio.com.

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Amy Phelps can be reached at aphelps@newsandsentinel.com