Top 12 in Downtown Dublin, Ohio
Find shopping, dining, nightlife and more in Historic Dublin and Bridge Park
By Danny Lee
No visit to Dublin, Ohio, is complete without a thorough exploration of the city’s downtown. Historic Dublin and Bridge Park are laid out on both banks of the winding Scioto River, and a pedestrian bridge will soon connect the two areas into one unified downtown. Set aside at least a couple of days to experience all that Dublin has to offer with these 12 great destinations on both sides of the river.
VASO Rooftop Lounge at AC Hotel by Marriott
Small plates mean anything but small flavor at this top choice, the AC Hotel by Marriott’s rooftop retreat overlooking the Scioto River. Artful bartenders mix drinks tableside as diners await VASO Restaurant’s Spanish-style tapas. Views include historic downtown Dublin juxtaposed with the sleek and modern aesthetic of Bridge Park, a tension-banishing recipe for inner calm, especially during a warm summer sunset. VASO lets you choose your own experience to make the moment memorable, offering seating in private cabanas, on the patio or fireside.
Celtic Cocktail Trail
It’s easy to find fun on the Celtic Cocktail Trail through downtown Dublin, where “Irish is an attitude.” The watering holes come quickly as you make your way from barstool to tabletop in some of the friendliest establishments in the pub-crawling world. Try the Devil’s Apple Manhattan at J. Liu Restaurant & Bar, the Irish Attitude Mule at Mezzo, a draft of Dublin Irish Red at The Pint Room and more at 11 comfortable retreats along the trail. Get your “passport” stamped at each stop along the way, which can be redeemed for a commemorative T-shirt.
Ha’penny Bridge Imports of Ireland
Comfortably settled in an ornate, gingerbread-ornamented building from the 1830s that was once a family home, Ha’penny Bridge Imports of Ireland, founded in 1983, is a one-stop-shop for fascinating knick-knacks and delightful home decorations, jewelry, wall art and much more—all in the flavor of Ireland. Making regular visits to the Emerald Isle, the owners have made it their mission to maintain a bridge between Dublin, Ohio, and Dublin, Ireland, in the form of an ever-expanding selection of eye-catching products. Galway crystal, Avoca woolens, Pipka collectibles and Belleek keepsakes fill the shelves and the shopping baskets of happy visitors, all eager to return for another taste of old Ireland.
PINS Mechanical Company
Anyone who hasn’t played the mini-bowling game of duckpin is in for a treat, and PINS is the fast lane for this kind of fun. But duckpin bowling—played with small, light balls and similar pins—isn’t the only game of skill here. Try out foosball, pinball, ping-pong, shuffleboard and bocce ball to test the full panoply of your bar-game abilities. In the process, remember to stay hydrated with the many delicious libations at PINS, including artisanal draft beers, wine, expertly mixed cocktails and fruity alcoholic confections like Royal Palms Punch and the Pinball Wizard.
To hit everyone’s sweet spot, Dublin offers Kilwins in Bridge Park, with a selection of chocolate and ice cream to satisfy the hungriest sweet tooth. Free samples, confections dipped in chocolate and caramel, gift baskets and enough candy novelties to power Christmas year-round make Kilwins a can’t-miss destination for any trip to Dublin, especially for families with kids—or adults in touch with their inner youngster. Every visit to Kilwins is an exercise in great taste and will be a long cherished memory for the whole clan.
RAM Restaurant and Brewery
Craft beer, delicious food and artisanal hospitality are the keys to the kingdom for RAM Restaurant and Brewery. Family-friendly dining and the best in craft beer keep fans of the finer things coming back and the medals and awards coming in (RAM has won more than 100). Seasonal beers satisfy the discriminating beer drinker who wants more from a draft than a glass of fizz and foam, and the rest of the family will rave over menu items like the savory street tacos, BBQ meatloaf sandwich and lump-crab-and-artichoke melt—all just the right combination of unique and scrumptious to send the whole family home happy.
Johnson’s Real Ice Cream
Four generations in, there’s no question that the Johnson family knows how to make ice cream. With an owner nicknamed The Big Dipper and a mascot called Scoops, Johnson’s offers more than great ice cream; they’re clearly in the business of fun, too. Visitors to the latest shop in Dublin can dig into traditional banana splits complete with strawberry, pineapple and chocolate syrup, capped off with whipped cream and the obligatory cherry. For the more adventurous, there is the Irish Sundae—exclusive to the Dublin location—which is a concoction of mint chocolate chip ice cream and hot fudge topped with Oreo pieces, whipped cream and gold sprinkles. Other options include the pecan ball, turtle sundae and fudge split on a menu that is as long and deep as an old-fashioned sundae glass.
Irish Fairy Door Trail
What would a city named Dublin be without a population of woodland sprites and fairies? Visitors to Dublin can seek them out on the Irish Fairy Door Trail. Seven businesses around Downtown Dublin are the hideaways of the wee folk, and a passport from the Visitor Center will be your map to finding them. Once located, collect each fairy’s name, add it to the trail guide and then return it to the Visitor Center for a free Fairy Doors of Dublin T-shirt. The trail leads to fantastic fun for kids and parents, and the fairies get a kick out of it, too.
Woodhouse Day Spa
No day exploring the delights of historic Dublin is complete without an interval of respite at the Woodhouse Day Spa. Who knew there were this many massage options? Visitors can decompress with a Woodhouse Signature Four-Handed Massage, a Balancing Yoga Massage, a Mello Mamma (prenatal) Massage or one of several others. The Woodhouse Escape is a 110-minute deep dive into relaxation that will unknot the knottiest sinews. The two-story, 22-room spa’s vast mahogany doors open to a world of relaxation and give clients the Woodhouse welcome.
For fine dining in the heart of Dublin’s historic district, the patio of Tucci’s is a prime choice. Achieving that perfect balance between locally sourced, wholesome foods and a wide and diverse menu, Tucci’s prides itself on offering an intimate but open-hearted atmosphere of good food and fun. Diners love the patio for its al fresco dining, enjoying the wine, steak and fish that anchor the restaurant’s chef-driven menu as the happy bustle of downtown Dublin goes on around them. Known for its expansive selection of fine wine, Tucci’s defines gracious dining for visitors and locals alike.
Cap City Fine Diner
Double-fisted sandwiches are just a part of the tantalizing and filling fare offered at the Dublin Cap City Fine Diner. This restaurant hits all the menu high points with its appetite-satisfying entrees. Shiny leather booths reminiscent of the bench seat of a ’63 Buick, a jukebox and what must be the world’s biggest gumball machine make a stop in here memorable for more than just the food—though dishes like the meatloaf, pecan-crusted pork chops and ponzu-glazed salmon take this diner high above the usual blue-plate-special eatery.
Dublin Village Tavern
Stepping into High Street’s Dublin Village Tavern is like walking back in time. Still supported by the original, hand-cut oak beams erected in the 19th century, the tavern is like a time capsule of an earlier era of happy—and sometimes wild—carousing befitting Dublin’s riverfront location. And the food is not to be overlooked—appetizers like Irish eggrolls lead to filling entrees like pan-roasted salmon, shepherd’s pie and the Irish kettle dinner: a combination of simmered corned beef, veggies and pot liquor that leaves guests sitting back in their chairs in stunned satisfaction. It’s the very best way to get a real taste of Dublin.