Ohio’s Multicultural Capital: The Most Unique Things To Do in Columbus

Foreign-born residents make up nearly 10% of Columbus, Ohios population
Foreign-born residents make up nearly 10% of Columbus, Ohio's population | © Michelle Himes Studio / Alamy Stock Photo
Kristi Eaton

Ohio has one of the highest rates of refugee resettlement in the United States, according to the Pew Center for Research. Below are some ways to experience the multicultural and diverse city through its people, food and unique sites.

Columbus, Ohio, has a diverse range of restaurants, festivals and sites thanks to its foreign-born population. The state’s capital city boasts that foreign-born residents make up nearly 10% of the city’s population, according to data published from the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau in 2018. Below are the most unique things to do in Columbus to feel and experience its multicultural community.

Somali Culture Festival

Columbus is home to approximately 60,000 Somalis, making it the second-largest concentration of Somali immigrants in the United States. To help showcase the culture, an annual festival was created to highlight the food, art and history of Somalia. The event features historical artifacts, traditional Dhaanto folk dances inspired by the movements of camels, contemporary Goobile music which most closely sounds like modern rap, dramatic Riwaayad skits and a fashion show. The festival occurs in late fall.

Community Mural

The mural’s subject, Hodan Mohammed, is an integral part of Columbus’s multicultural community. A Somali refugee who came to the US as a teen, it was Mohammed who was one of the founders of the Somali Cultural Fest. After becoming an advocate for local immigrant community members and a go-to person for helping prepare newcomers for their lives in Columbus, Hodan Mohammed founded Our Helpers in 2012. Since its founding, Mohammed and others have helped 4,000 individuals in Columbus overcome social and economic obstacles through advocacy, job placement and connection to community resources.

Hoyo’s Kitchen

Meaning “mom’s” in the Somali language, Hoyo’s Kitchen is family owned and operated, and serves some of Columbus’s best Somali cuisine. With two locations, visitors and residents alike can indulge in tasty dishes that include wraps, bowls and meats as well as sabayad (Somali flatbread.) Somali cuisine features a variety of influences – from spices to techniques from different locations like the Arabian Peninsula and India. The restaurant serves the food through an easy-to-understand menu, making it a go-to spot for those trying Somali cuisine for the first time.

Abubakar Assidiq Islamic Center

With approximately 600 people praying each Friday and 250 children attending weekend classes, the Abubakar Assidiq Islamic Center is one of the largest mosques in the region. Although it welcomes visitors all year round, in recent years, the Center has been one of several Islamic centers that have taken part in “Ohio Open Mosque Day,” which encourages community members to ask questions and learn more about mosques and Islam. Visitors coming at any time of the year can schedule individual tours of Abubakar Assidiq Islamic Center to learn a bit more about its history and admire its architecture.

Saraga International

Saraga International Grocery Store was started by two brothers in a small town in Indiana but has since expanded to Columbus. Saraga means “living” in Korean, and its founders have made it their mission to provide foods and goods that are necessary to people trying to continue their home country’s culinary traditions or to those who simply want to try a new recipe. The store carries food from a variety of cuisines, including Korean, Japanese, Chinese, South Asian, Indian, European, Mexican and Middle Eastern. The brothers plan to expand to other locations in the future to meet growing interest.

Momo Ghar

Columbus is also home to a large Nepalese community, and the restaurant Momo Ghar showcases the food of Nepal. The original location is in the Saraga International Grocery, but a second location is now open in North Market. Although founder Phuntso Lama didn’t really have visions of opening up a restaurant, Momo Ghar – which translates to Dumpling House – has quickly become one of the go-to spots for food lovers in Columbus. Guests can watch as cooks prepare homemade Himalayan dumplings, filled with meat or vegetables, right before their eyes. Lama’s concoctions have even gotten national attention – Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives took notice and filmed a segment at the popular restaurant.

Global Mall

For those visiting Columbus and looking for a couple of unique souvenirs, head to the Global Mall. Here, shoppers can find various housewares, traditional Somali clothing and other one-of-a-kind cultural gifts from Somalia. Around the mall, there are several restaurants highlighting foods from Somalia as well.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Edit article