When I last visited Dublin, Ohio two years ago, I was already intrigued by the curvilinear pedestrian bridge then under construction over the Scioto River. I was eager to return for the grand opening of the Dublin Link, as it’s called, on St. Patrick’s Day — March 17 — of 2020. But that trip was not to be: The COVID-19 epidemic put a halt to those plans.
At the beginning of August this year, I finally got my wish to see the finished project, billed as the “longest single span, single-tower, S-shaped suspension bridge in the world.” While that’s quite a title, the actual in-person visual of the bridge is nothing short of splendid.
My initial vantage point was the top floor and outdoor patio of the nearby Ace Hotel. Sipping on a glass of wine at dusk from my lofty perch, I felt that the somewhat distant view didn’t quite do the bridge justice. It wasn’t until I left the hotel and walked the few blocks to the bridge did its fully illuminated glory come into its own.
Built at a cost of $22.6 million, the 760-foot-long bridge serves both pedestrians and bicyclists. I made my personal debut crossing at night and must say it was a dazzling experience. So much so, I returned the following morning for a sunlight stroll that introduced me to the park areas on either side of the bridge. Still under construction, the East Plaza, when finished, will feature green space, overlooks, water features, seating areas and more.
While the town may get its name from the capital of the Irish Republic, it reminds me a bit of Budapest in that it’s really two different cities with two different vibes. The west section is the historic area with 19th century architecture and tree-shaded, brick-lined sidewalks. The east section has a modern vibe with contemporary architecture that houses stylish condos and upscale residential living spaces and unique dining, shopping and entertainment opportunities.
If you’re wondering how Dublin got its name, the story goes that the original settler brought in an Irish surveyor, John Shields, to lay out lots for the village. He also gave him naming rights. Thinking the area reminded him of his birthplace in his mother country, Shields named it Dublin after the Emerald Isle’s major city.
Today, the city’s roughly 42,000 residents take its Irish sensibility to heart. Dublin, on the outskirts of Columbus, is ranked in the Top Ten Most Irish Places in America, and splashes of Irish cultural can be found all over town. Of course St. Patrick’s Day is big, with a parade, music and entertainment. Departures Magazine labeled it one of the top nine places to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day, but things get even bigger in August when the Dublin Irish Festival goes into gear.
Some years, close to 100,000 people converge on the town to experience the world’s largest 3-day Irish-themed festival with food, music, theater, Irish gift items and tankards of Guinness — the mammoth celebration in New York City is a mere one day event. Due to the lingering effects of the corona virus, the 2021 festival was scaled down a wee bit and titled Dublin Irish Days. Next year, the hope is to get things back to normal.
Year-round, visitors who enjoy Irish-themed alcoholic beverages can travel along the town’s Celtic Cocktail Trail and actually earn prizes by doing so. Eighteen different restaurants, pubs and bars feature inventive cocktails with names like the Belfast Hot Blooded, a blend of Jameson Irish Whiskey, blood orange, fresh jalapeno and agave nectar (Tucci’s restaurant); and The Dubliner, made with Jameson Irish Whiskey, Watershed Apple Brandy, honey and lemon (Market Bar).
Access to the trail is available free and online at website visitdublinohio.com. After registering, participants will be sent a passport via email or text which will identify the 18 different businesses Complete 6 stops and redeem the passport for a commemorative koozie. Complete 12 stops and score an exclusive Celtic Cocktail Trail T-shirt. No need to complete all 12 on a single visit.
To make things more convenient, Dublin has what’s called a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA), which allows patrons ages 21 and older to purchase an alcoholic beverage from an approved, liquor-permitted establishment, then sip, stroll, shop and explore outdoors within the designated boundaries.
Dublin City Council has approved two pilot DORAs for Downtown Dublin: one in Historic Dublin and one in Bridge Park. Maps are available that outline the boundaries.
For the young ones, and those young at heart, a stroll of the town’s shops offer tiny and magical Irish “fairy doors” waiting to be discovered. Grab a passport and write the names of all the fairies on the doors, then hand it in or mail it to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, 9 S. High Street, for a free Fairy Doors T-shirt.
To slate your sweet tooth with an Irish touch, stop at Graeter’s Ice Cream where you’ll be able to try a Shamrock Sundae, made with mint chocolate chip ice cream with mint whipped cream and chocolate jimmies. At Kilwins Chocolates, enjoy an Irish Creme Truffle or a Lucky Irish Dipped Oreo, topped with a little leprechaun or shamrock.
At Our CupCakery, design your own cupcake or cookie using green colored icing, jimmies, toppings and more. Or try an Irish Sundae, with mint chocolate chip ice cream, fudge, Oreos, whipped cream, and sprinkles with a cherry on top at Johnson’s Real ice Cream.
For dinner, the Dublin Village Tavern is one of the town’s oldest structures, built circa 1891, that once functioned as a residence, hardware store and post office. Today, the tavern serves up items like Irish egg rolls, hooley eggs (an Irish take on Scotch eggs), an Irish kettle dinner, braised shepherd’s pie, Irish sliders and more. Or, stop in at the Pint Room for a Dublin Irish Red, brewed specifically for this Irish Approved craft beer and burger destination.
Looking for an Irish gift item? You can find them at many places but Dublin wearables can be found at Bend Active, Rah Rah Gear and the Dublin Toy Emporium. One of my favorite shopping stops is Extravagifts, stocked with a wide range of interesting items, many Irish-themed and Dublin-inspired.
Dublin also has a slew of non Irish-themed sites and attractions. To discover more, go to www.visitdublinohio.com or phone 614-792-7666.