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Home to more than 9,000 animals and hundreds of species, the Columbus Zoo welcomes more than 2.3 million visitors each year.  Last weekend I bumped that number to 2,300,001.
It wasn't my first visit to the zoo, but it was my first visit in a long time. It was also my first field day out with the new camera. Saturday morning I trekked across town, popped in my earbuds and took on Saturday through the scope of my lens. No Facebook. No texting. No Instagram, even. Just a girl and a camera traveling continent-to-continent, creature-to-creature on a grand afternoon adventure.
If you're looking for a reason to visit the zoo, they've got thousands. Here are 17 I discovered last weekend...
17 Reasons to Visit The Columbus Zoo
It's the perfect place for family bonding.
And nobody cares if you're having a bad hair day. Or a bad beard day.
While you're there, you'll probably want to plan a lunch date with this calorie-conscious, salad-loving gorilla.
Or schedule a hike with this shy guy.
Any way you look at them, elephants are incredible.
And you've got to know what these bears are whispering about.
You'll definitely want to welcome this bitty baby to the world.
And find out where this guy gets his nails done.
Mud runs are a daily thing at the Columbus Zoo. (But sometimes they're less of a "run" and more of a "flop.")
As well as demonstrations on the proper posture for "downward dog."
Really, The Columbus Zoo is the purrrrrfect way to spend an afternoon. (And these guys had a ™ on roar long before Katy Perry.)
While you're there, you can audit a class in confidence from this cocky little fellow. Or learn how to strike a pose courtesy of these judgmental flamingos.
You'll definitely want to give this guy a hug.
And check out the twittering and tweets going on in the aviary After a long day of walking around, you might be ready for a nap. (But that's okay, you'll fit right in.)
And you'll leave feeling loved, because when it's time to go home, this pouty bear will miss you big time. I
If you're new to the Instagram game -- or just looking for a few locals to follow -- I've put together a list of Columbus instagrammers worth a look and a like. Though their followings vary in size, this bunch is the best of the best when it comes to celebrating our community and all the reasons we're proud to call Cbus home. -Amy
Amanda Hamman | @girlaboutcolumbus Amanda's feed is pretty much perfection. A Columbus-focused dash of delicious and a sprinkle of lovely with the occasional pup shot peppered in. If you don't live here already, viewing our community through the GAC lens will make you wish you did.
Ewa and Jeromy | @Nom_LifeI have yet to cross paths with Ewa (or Jeromy for that matter) off Instagram, but I kind of feel like she is my sister from another mister at this point. From savories to sweets, the NL feed is a visual smorgasbord of the culinary greatness emanating from every nook and cranny in Columbus. The #foodporn alert is high on this one, friends, but never fear. NSFW just stands for "not safe for waistlines."
Dan Riesenberger | @danthebakerThere are two kinds of people in the world: people who love bread so much and people I have basically nothing in common with. If you love delicious carbs and pretty photos of delicious carbs, you've found your feed. Dan Riesenberger, owner and founder of Dan the Baker and Toast Bar, puts the "art" in artisanal. His images may leave you sniffing your screen in hopes of catching a whiff of that "just-out-of-the-oven" goodness. (And let's be honest, who can resist a man who bakes bunny bread? Not this girl.)
Kathy & Sophia | @kasuallifeLifestyle bloggers Kathy and Sophia have a special gift for showcasing the softer, gentler side of Columbus. Whenever I scroll their feed, I feel instantly transported to a sunny Saturday with nothing on my agenda but enjoying the ultimate Girl's Day with my closest lady friends.
Michael Noon | @noonerblast It's fair to say that you'll find good things around every corner in Columbus, but Michael Noon has taught me that sometimes the corners are the good thing. His feed is a visual feast of form, color and style that highlights architecture and urban pops everywhere from the soaring heights of our landmark skyscrapers to the subtler gems that often go overlooked.
Alicia | @alicia.wanders A new friend in my feed, Alicia's IG is a continual stream of local food and fun with the occasional cat thrown in for good measure. (You know how the internet loves cats.) Besides inducing some serious stomach growls, her shots are great inspiration to get out and explore Columbus.
Robert W. Tobin | @robertwtobinAs an antique photo collector, I have a soft spot for the beauty and mystery of the unfinished stories of people and places I'll never know. Robert's feed is the closest thing I've found to the living version of an antique photograph. He has a true gift for revealing sometimes-broken, always-beautiful stories one snippet at a time. And he captures the city around us in a way that leaves me constantly wondering, "Wow. Where is this?"
Amy | @amytellmewhereGreat name aside (I'm admittedly partial), Amy is basically the Columbus food whisperer. No matter where I am, one look at her IG is all it takes to leave me wishing I was where she is. Amy takes "I'll have what she's having" to a whole new level, because what she's having is always delicious.
Experience Columbus | @experiencecolumbusWith a mix of org-generated and fan-generated photos, the Experience Columbus IG feed is kind of like a visual version of the daily news. Spoiler alert: the headline always reads the same: "BREAKING NEWS: WELCOME TO COLUMBUS. AWESOME THINGS ARE HAPPENING HERE." (Tip: tag your IG photos with #expcols and #cbusfoodscene to give EC permission to repost.)
Death to the Stock Photo | @deathtostock With a mission to change the way the world (literally) views stock photography, it should come as no surprise that the Columbus-based DTS Instagram serves up a steady stream of swoon-worthy eye candy. The lovelies you find on IG are just a small sampling of the full DTS archive. Sign up on the website to receive free monthly collections or go premium for access to the whole shebang. (And follow founder @alliepal while you're at it!)
Candis Jones | @thejonesmarketWhenever my sister and I look back through old family photos, we often find ourselves commenting on the necklaces that have accompanied us throughout our lives. From the plastic classics of childhood to cherished family heirlooms, they've accessorized our story. Candis Jones, founder of The Jones Market, has created what I consider the modern heirloom necklace. Simple and simply beautiful, this fashion-forward, Columbus-based brand offers up beaded lovelies that are both mama- and baby-friendly.
Jonathan + Sandra | @therusticlifeYou'll find @therusticlife sitting squarely at the intersection of rustic-inspired lifestyle blog and home decor shop. This sweet Columbus couple has mastered the art of merging old and new to create modern-meets-vintage magic. Their IG feed regularly leaves me debating ditching my current digs, buying a country cottage and starting over from scratch. Forget the bigger boat. We're gonna need a bigger farm table.
Jolie Ankrom | @brimpaperyArguably the most darling and classy human alive, Jolie Ankrom is the creative sauce behind Columbus' Brim Papery. Her feed invites you to fall in love with a world of words. I'm not talking pixels on a screen. I'm talking real, paper-to-pen, swoon-at-the-curves-of-your-y words -- one print and sassy coffee mug at a time. (Girl crush alert!)
Fox in the Snow Cafe | @foxinthesnowcafeLots of people claim coffee is an art, but Fox in the Snow Cafe proves it. Scrolling the mishmash of savories, pastries and frothy foam on their IG feed leaves me feeling like I've just cuddled up under a cozy blanket with a favorite book. (A sentiment that is immediately followed by the realization I need to put on real pants and go get me summa that.)
Edible Columbus | @ediblecolumbusIf there were such a thing as a bucket list for food, Edible Columbus would be the equivalent of leaving the firehose of inspiration running. From chocolates to crostatas, tacos to tapas, this spotlight on the Columbus food scene may leave you drooling as you scroll. (No judgment shall be passed.)
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams | @jenisicecreams Jeni's tends to make all of my Best-of-Columbus lists. Why? Because they're just so darn good at being good. From the way they do business to the ingredients they source to the instashots that remind me it has been far too long since I last spooned with Goat Cheese and Red Cherries, they're setting the bar high. Their Instagram is a vibrant celebration of the way #TeamJenis does things from start to scoop to smile.
Pistacia Vera | @pistaciaveraMeet the local masters of the macaron. PV's crave-inducing Instagram feed proves you don't have to go all the way to Paris to indulge in a sweet treat and the perfect of pastry. You'll find it right in the heart of German Village.
Curio at Harvest | @curioatharvestI cringe a little when I hear people say that Curio has the best drinks in town. It's true, of course. They do. They really, really do. But it seems almost flippant to refer to the cocktails Curio mixes up as "drinks." They're more like sippable stories told by a clan of artists and historians who pull pages from the past and serve them up in the appropriate glass. Forget the pudding. The proof is in the pour.
Kittie's Cakes | @kittiescakesYou know how whenever your mom or grandmother makes a recipe it always tastes so much better than when you do, like they've got some magical ingredient secretly stashed up their sleeve? That's the Kittie's Cakes experience. (And I'm pretty sure the magical ingredient is love.) Some of nicest sweets slingers you'll ever meet, Kittie's feed tempts the tastebuds with snaps of their daily offering (with the occasional cameo from @linus_the_golden_retriever). If you see something you like, don't delay. They sell out regularly, and longingly staring at Instagram shots pales in comparison to chowing down on the real thing.
Amy Taylor | @ohiogoodDo you know what time it is? Shameless self plug o'clock! I recently launched @ohiogood as a home for my regular adventures throughout Columbus and occasional journeys throughout Ohio. If you read this post all the way to the bottom, kudos to you! Tag me and say hello! I'd love to connect with you.
So, who did I miss? We've got way too much local talent for one list. Which Columbus instagrammers would you nominate for Part Two of this Cbus local Instagram series? Name drop in a comment below or tag me on Twitter @NoMeatballs or on Instagram @OhioGood.
ABOUT THE AUTHORAmy Taylor is a Columbus, Ohio-based Marketing Strategist + Copywriter. She likes lunch for breakfast, wine, social media and dogs. (But not necessarily in that order.) Tweet her @NoMeatballs.
Thanksgiving is arguably my favorite week of the year. It’s short. It’s festive. It’s a three-day parade into the official holiday season. (Though, if I’m being perfectly honest, I’ve been excited about “the holidays” since roughly September 1.) In the spirit of week in which the working world is scrambling to cram five days worth of work into three while visions of food comas dance in our heads, I thought it would be nice to keep today’s blog fun and food-focused (with a generous side of what-the-hell?)
Not too long ago, Buzzfeed posted a list of 50 Completely Unexplainable Stock Photos No One Will Ever Use. Apparently Totino’s pizza took this as a challenge. (A really, really weird challenge.)
In the off chance you’re actually looking for beautiful stock images that are completely usable, here are a few free favorites. An early holiday gift from me to you.
I'll preface this post by saying I'm a huge Instagram fan. Of all the social networks, it's the one I'd miss the most if it were to disappear tomorrow. I suspect this love is rooted in a favorite childhood pastime: thumbing through old family albums. Many an hour was spent perusing the pages of family history, scrutinizing not only the photo subjects, but anything in the background, trying to absorb all the accidental life stories captured within. While Instagram lacks the tangible delight of heavy photo books and page flips, it has become the modern version of the family album of yore. What once required the foresight to capture photos, the patience to develop and a sizable chunk of time to lay everything out in a photo book, can now be accomplished with the literal click of a button.
But along with the good, comes a side of hostility. Critics berate Instagram (and its users) for the rise of the "Envy Effect," claiming the majority of photos shared on Instagram portray a perfect and unrealistic life. “When you’re waiting for your coffee to brew, the majority of your friends probably aren’t doing anything any more special. But it only takes one friend at the Eiffel Tower to make you feel like a loser.”
As one author says in his rebuttal to the post, "I wouldn’t be the first person to point out that if you’re jealous of your friend’s life as it looks on Instagram or Facebook, the problem is not social media — it’s you."
I tend to agree.
Nobody ever said Instagram was a non-fiction storytelling tool. If anything, it's a medium for telling the story of our lives based on a series of true events. It's art, not forensics.
I like experiencing the world through the eyes of those who find beauty in unexpected places. I like that people are taking the time to experience the magic of life on a micro-level. I like people who challenge themselves to find a softer world -- and share that with others. That doesn't take away from my life experience, it reminds me to keep my eyes, mind and heart open to everything around me.
Sunday night a friend shared a great post on Facebook: What I Instagrammed Vs. What Was Really Happening, Or My Entire Life is a Life. In the spirit of the true story, I'm taking a page from Olivia's playbook. Here are Instatruths of my own...
THE AUTUMNAL GLORY PHOTO
What it looks like... BEHOLD! Life in Ohio is a blissful state of autumnal glory – and it’s only early September. Must be going now. It’s time to don a thick scarf and a cozy cowl neck sweater for the hayride that takes us to pick apples and sing songs around a Pinterest-worthy bonfire.
The real story... Two minutes before I took this photo, my 2-year-old "nephin" chucked one of these pumpkins at the ground. Hard. As a result, we went home the proud, new owners of a bruised and battered pumpkin.
THE GALAVANTING AROUND THE GLOBE VACATION PHOTO
What it looks like... Clad in practical shoes, I hiked to the top of this mountain to be at one with nature and revel in the splendor of Mother Earth.
The real story... I was essentially tricked into climbing this hill by a much more outdoorsy, fit and nature-friendly friend. Number of asthma attacks experienced climbing hill: 1. Hits off asthma inhaler: 2. Number of complaints about climbing steep terrain only to arrive in front of a beautiful waterfall drenched in sweat on a 90-degree August day: countless.
THE HAPPIEST HOUR PHOTO
What it looks like... Just another Saturday night sipping on a fabulous drink at a fabulous bar living a fabulous life.
The real story... The bartenders at this place are so hipster I was afraid they would judge me if I asked if that was a pineapple top. So I just took a picture of it instead.
What it looks like... Just a quick photo to say hello!
The real story... This is the first time I’ve had my hair out of a messy bun in over a week. It only happened because I had a guest in town. If you run into me any place else under any other circumstances, neither I, nor my hair, will look anything like this.
THE PERFECT POOCH PHOTO
What it looks like... My dog is an adorable, quirky creature.
The real story... My dog is an adorable, quirky creature with a penchant for getting into trouble. This is his “I did something really terrible #SorryNotSorry” face. I see it all the time.
CHIME IN: Do you think the Instagram is a positive or a negative thing?