by Janie Blank
I have blogged about shopping in Chicago several times. No doubt it is one of the premier places to shop anywhere. But I thought I would acquaint you with one of the finest shopping locations in the Midwest, Easton Town Center. Easton is the brainchild of Les Wexner, founder of The Limited, Victoria Secret, Bath & Body Works and the like. As a matter of fact about one-third of most malls in America are populated by stores under the Limited banner, or those spun out like Abercrombie.
Wexner got the idea a number of years ago to create a different kind of shopping experience, the town center. Instead of building a mall, he built a town. At Easton, the first of these concepts, there is a town square with a wonderful computerized fountain for children to run through on a hot summer day. They even offer towels! The shops are located in small village style one after the other along streets surrounding the square. There is a large building with a glass roof reminiscent of a train station and houses a 30-screen multiplex theatre, Shadowbox Cabaret (shadowboxcabaret.com) which is live theatre, and a Funny Bone Comedy Club. There is a Max & Ermas, a Cup O Joe coffee shop and internet cafe, and Cheryls Cookies (all headquartered in Columbus). This main building has two parking garages underneath, one on each side for easy access. The parking is free. The streets have metered spaces but the fines go to charity. You can also valet park in front of the train station for $5. Additional valet parking is available at some of the better restaurants.
There are fine restaurants such as Bon Vie and the Ocean Club, restaurants unique to this location, and Brio, one that started at Easton and has since opened in other cities besides Columbus. There are also some fine chain representatives like The Cheesecake Factory, Smith & Wollensky, and McCormick & Schmick. There are twenty restaurants offering table service and numerous other fast food and delis. You will everything from seafood (Ocean Club) to steak (Smith & Wollensky), to Mexican (Abuelos) and Chinese (P.F. Chang) here, and a California Pizza Kitchen as well. There are three Starbucks in Easton Town Center! Easton is a preferred lunch destination in town for business and pleasure. Most take reservations even for lunch. Many of these also offer patio service. (www.eastontowncenter.com/maindirectories/restaurants/tableservice.cfm).
Shopping at Easton is some of the best anywhere. There are two anchor stores, Macys and Nordstrom. These are both free standing buildings that flank the town center. There is a fabulous two-story Barnes & Noble with a Starbucks cafe inside, a brand new Crate & Barrel, one of just a handful outside a major city, and a host of other fine specialty stores such as Smith & Hawken, Sur le Table, Williams-Sonoma, and The Container Store to barely scratch the surface.
For children there is Build-A-Bear, Pottery Barn Kids, an enormous McDonalds where you can sing karaoke and a Discovery Channel Store. Of course there is also just about every chain store catering to kids from Gap Kids to Limited Too.
Naturally there is one of every store under The Limited umbrella, and I beg you to find a major player without an Easton storefront. Why there are fourteen stores starting with an A and eighteen with a B! If you are looking for something special you can check out the list to see if it has a retail outlet at Easton. Chances are you will find it at Easton! (www.eastontowncenter.com/maindirectories/directory/stores.cfm)
If you want to take a look at the layout I suggest looking at the maps of Easton. (www.eastontowncenter.com/directionsmaps/eastonmaps.cfm). It is easy to get around in and, although parking can get crowded there are a number of free surface lots in addition to the main garages.
If you are considering Easton as a destination weekend there are three hotels right in the complex: A Hilton, a Marriott Courtyard and a Residence Inn. You can check this list for al area hotels. (www.eastontowncenter.com/hotels/index.cfm). Book early if you are thinking of coming on an Ohio state Football weekend in the Fall. Columbus also has some major conventions, so hotels fill quickly.
There are countless other things to do in Columbus and you might want to check them out while visiting the area but you can definitely make a trip of Easton Town Center alone. It is worth the trip!