Ohio State-Michigan is the premier football rivalry in the Big 10. The perennial national powerhouses face off in late November each year in a game that often has title implications. The squads’ on-field battle is almost always close. But which city wins the honor of being the better place to visit – Columbus, Ohio or Ann Arbor, Michigan? Let’s start the clock on this hometown faceoff.

The bright city lights of downtown Columbus is mirrored in a body of water under flowing under a stone bridge; Columbus vs AnnArbor
The best thing about Columbus, the party doesn't stop once the sun sets © Matty Wolin / Getty Images

Architecture, attractions and history

Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan Museum of Art, which dates to 1856, features African art and inspiring outdoor sculptures. Downtown Ann Arbor boasts the famed independent bookstore Literati, which recently published the offbeat book Notes From a Public Typewriter. To view great architecture, visit Burton Memorial Tower on central campus, which houses one of the world’s few grand carillons in the belfry.


Traveling with kids? Take them to the Center of Science and Industry, where they can play on a replica of the space center. Those of all ages will appreciate OSU’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, covering everything from editorial to, yes, sports cartoons. Downtown’s LeVeque Tower, which houses Hotel LeVeque, Autograph Collection, once ranked as the world's fifth-tallest building, and it provides a stunning example of the area's Art Deco style.

Score: Ann Arbor 1, Columbus 0

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A neon sign with the words "Open, Zingerman's Delicatessen" glows in a store window; Columbus vs Ann Arbor
An Ann Arbor staple, Zingerman's Delicatessen, has been slinging sandwiches and fresh bread since 1982 © Susan Montgomery / Shutterstock

Food, drink and nightlife

Ann Arbor

Zingerman's Delicatessen remains the most popular restaurant for Ann Arbor visitors. Sample the ‘sandwich of the month’ on freshly baked bread. Wash it down with a spiked milkshake at Frita Batidos.


Land-Grant Brewing Company taps 24 beers down by Scioto River, and food trucks add to the fun atmosphere. Prefer a dive bar for postgame drinking? Johnnie’s Glenn Avenue Grill has cheap drinks and an old-school jukebox. 

Score: Ann Arbor 2, Columbus 0

A line of metal elaborately designed fountains shoot off water in a city park along the Scioto Mile in downtown Columbus
Enjoy the many green spaces downtown Columbus has to offer while traveling along the Scioto Mile © Ace Shot 1 / Shutterstock

Natural features

Ann Arbor

To canoe, bike ride or picnic, lovely Gallup Park is the place to go. Visitors love strolling the pedestrian bridges connecting small islands. West of the park, walk the Furstenberg Nature Area to experience local wetlands.


Walk or bike the Scioto Mile by the Scioto River, which winds past several parks. Finish up with a stop at Scioto Audubon Park, a onetime industrial zone turned gorgeous green space where many bird species flock.  

Score: Ann Arbor 2, Columbus 1

A pair of large metal archways sit in front of the Le Meridien Columbus, The Joseph Hotel. A blur of cars sped by as the sun sets; Columbus vs Ann Arbor
No matter what brings you to town, there's no shortage of lodgings in Columbus © Courtesy of Le Méridien Columbus, The Joseph

Lodging, cost & walkability

Ann Arbor

While many chains have a presence in Ann Arbor, locally owned B&Bs offer a quirky alternative at reasonable rates. Burnt Toast Inn has a big porch and sits within walking distance of the city center, as do other accommodations. Ann Arbor Bed and Breakfast serves a daily breakfast buffet and rents bikes for local exploration.


Columbus is a bigger city and less walkable than Ann Arbor. It has several gorgeous hotels, such as the Le Méridien Columbus, The Joseph, a Cubist-inspired destination that lends visitors bikes for free. Downtown also hosts the usual array of chain hotels.

Score: Ann Arbor 2, Columbus 2 

Celebrity chef Guy Fieri, dressed in a light blue paisley button-up shirt with light blue shades, throws up a hand signal to the camera; Columbus vs Ann Arbor
Chef Guy Fieri is Columbus' biggest celebrity © Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images


Biggest celebrity

Colombus: Born in Columbus Ohio, Guy Fieri is taking you to Flavortown  

Ann Arbor: Iggy Pop, though he was actually born in Muskegon (nearly three hours away), this musical legend is definitely an Ann Arbor boy. 

Final: Much like that double-overtime game in 2016, Columbus comes from behind to edge out Ann Arbor, 3-2 

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