This post is written by Justin New, who recently won a Roar and Explore Adventure Getaway from Experience Columbus! Here's how he spent his trip:

Justin New 3Every month, the TourismOhio hosts a contest, and when you enter, you have a chance to win a "getaway" of some sort. Every month is something different. Luckily, I hit the jackpot and was honored to be the winner of a Roar & Explore Columbus Getaway Package from Experience Columbus for me and 3 other people. The package included 4 tickets to COSI, 4 tickets to the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, and a pass to Magic Mountain for 4 group activities, a large pizza, and 4 drinks. I picked 3 of my closest friends and we started vigorously planning. Columbus won me over last year when I visited for OhayoCon, but this time, I definitely fell in love all over again.

Justin New 2On July 24 at about 10 a.m., we picked up our rental car and started our journey. After we arrived in Columbus, we checked into our hotel, the Drury Inn connected to the Convention Center. We didn't spend much time there at first because we were anxious to explore the city. We went to Short North and visited some vintage stores and scoped out some restaurants that we might try. We ended up eating at Fabian's, which has great pizza, and returning to the hotel to get ready for the night. The hotel was beautiful! Very clean, very well kept. The staff was extremely friendly and the room was pretty big. After checking in, we learned that as guests at this hotel, we get free food & drinks (including 3 alcoholic beverages per person) every day between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., something they called the "Kickback." The food was great and the drinks were even better! None of us have ever had a hotel experience like this. It was great!

Justin New 4Our first day, we decided to do Magic Mountain. We chose on the Polaris location because they had a laser tag arena. We arrived at about 7:30pm and immediately felt like children all over again. We used to have a place like this where we live in Cincinnati called Family Fun Center, but it closed down almost 10 years ago, so this was an amazing rush of nostalgia. We did a round of mini golf, bumper boats, go karts, a round of laser tag, and a member of my group bought us all $10 worth of tokens, so we got to play some arcade games as well. We ended up giving our tickets that we won from the arcade games to a couple kids that were on our laser tag team. They were thrilled! After Magic Mountain, we headed back to the hotel to wind down and call it a night.

The second day was all about the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium and Zoombezi Bay. We arrived at about 10am and made our way inside. We made sure we went through every exhibit and saw every animal. Personally, the only other zoo I have been to is Cincinnati's, so I don't really have much to compare, but I was told that Columbus Zoo is one of the best zoos in the entire nation and I can definitely see why. It's HUGE, and they're still expanding! They have almost every animal you could imagine, and I love that the zoo is split up into different continents, and they are structured to where you can walk through exhibits and not have to backtrack or get lost. We spent about 6 hours in the zoo alone and never saw the same thing twice. There was so much to see! At about 4:30 p.m., we had seen everything and decided to make our way over to Zoombezi Bay, where we enjoyed Croctail Creek (the adult lazy river), the wave pool, and the all-ages lazy river. We had a blast! We left Zoombezi Bay and headed back to our hotel, where we dried off and drove to Hounddog's in the University District, which is a 24-hour dine-in restaurant. It was pretty awesome!

Justin New 5Our third and last day, we checked out of the hotel at 11 a.m. and went to COSI. As a child, COSI had come to my school and did some kind of show, and I remember being fascinated by it. I have wanting to go this place for years! As soon as you walk up to the building and see the sculpture of the tree, you can tell you're going to see some cool stuff. We chose a great time to visit because the Mythbusters exhibit was being shown and we are all fans of the show! It didn't come with our general admission, but it was only $8 with our tickets, so we decided to pay the extra. We just couldn't pass it up! After we entered the exhibit, we checked out props from the show & tried different experiments that they did, such as building a wind-resistant house or dodging a bullet. A member of our group was approached and asked if he would like to be part of the live show at the end of the exhibit, where he would try and dodge a paintball using a light & sound indicator, which he did! After we left that exhibit, we checked out all of the other different exhibits, which included space, ocean, progress (history), energy, life, and an outside exhibit with different activities. This place is very kid-oriented, but even as adults you can have tons of fun & learn new things, such as how to make your house more eco-friendly and even how to check yourself for certain kinds of cancer!

Overall, we had the time of our lives and we couldn't have done it without Experience Columbus, Drury Inn, Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, Magic Mountain, or COSI. We really enjoyed this trip, and I highly recommend the Roar & Explore Getaway Package to everyone. Its geared more towards families of 4, but even an adult group of 4 can have fun on this trip! I'm definitely looking forward to coming back to Columbus.