There are a number of hotels in downtown Columbus that are within walking distance to the convention center. GAMA keeps a list of nearby ones on the Origins web site, along with the special rates.
These hotels will sell out. If you can, book as early as possible.
Some hotels offer free breakfast, some don't. Look into them before you book. This is a great way to save time and money.
Word of warning, the hotels connected directly to the center tend to sell out early. In fact, the Drury usually sells out before the previous Origins ends!
Don't be afraid of hotels that are a few blocks away. Origins offers a shuttle to all of the nearby hotels until late at night (2AM IIRC), so you won't necessarily have to walk.
What if you can't get into one of the hotels on the web site, or can't afford them? Columbus is a big town and there are hundreds of hotels in the area of varying prices (and quality). Most are within a 20 minute drive of the convention center.
Parking in downtown Columbus does cost money, except on Sundays when it is free to park on certain streets (if you can find a spot).
There are a number of lots in the area as well. Check out this map for a decent estimate for prices.
The convention center does have a parking deck connected directly to it. The prices tend to vary per year, but expect at least $10/day. However, this typically fills up quickly.
Can't I just park my car in a garage and sleep in my car?
Probably not. Most parking garages won't allow this and I'm sure the police would have something to say if they found you.
Technically, you could get away with this. However, by day 2, you'll smell. Trust me, you will. I've been around people who have tried this, and even though they've "cleaned up" in the con bathrooms, they still smell. Do us all a favor and just don't.
Yes, at some point you'll have to break from gaming to get food. The food within the convention center itself is horribly over-priced and really not that good. Plus, there are lots of options within a few minutes walking distance. Here is a map with some options.
Some recommendations based on personal experience:
- Food Court - The convention center is connected to a food court that has some decent offerings, some of which are open 24 hours. Some even run specials where you can get free refills throughout the weekend if you buy one of their special cups. This is the place to go if you want to get a quick bite at a decent cost.
Also, the convention center has coupons for the food court here. Print these off and save yourself some money. (They'll be lying around the center too.)
- North Market - No trip to Origins is complete without going to the North Market, which is located across North High Street and a block down Spruce St. North Market contains a number of excellent, hole-in-the-wall food merchants that are to die for. Make sure you make time to walk around it and see what it has to offer before you make your final decision. Word of warning: this is always crowded, but so worth it.
- Arena District - A block south and a few blocks west of the convention center is the Arena District, which is home to a number of great sit-down restaurants. These include BD'S Mongolian Grill and Buca di Beppo, as well as a Starbucks for those that need their fix. This is a great way to get away for an hour or two from the con, recharge, and get good food.
- North High Street - This road runs along the west side of the convention center, and has a number of excellent restaurants and food shops along it. I recommend checking out Barley's Brewing Company, Le Chocoholique, and The Happy Greek Restaurant (which my wife and I hit every year).
- Also, across the street from the convention center, next to the Crowne Plaza, is Max and Erma's. Great restaurant, and very gamer friendly.
Also, on North High Street, a board game cafe called Kingmakers just opened up too! Admittedly, I've never been there, but look forward to checking it out.
If you have a recommendation for a place to eat while at Origins, please let me know!
Did I miss anything? Shoot me a message or leave a comment.
Origins: What to Expect
Origins: Where to stay, Where to eat
Origins: What to do
Origins: Gaming Groups