One super-fun Labor Day weekend in Columbus, Ohio with friends

We had a great Labor Day weekend in Columbus, Ohio with our best friends.

It was another awesome weekend away for me, and it happened just one week after my girls’ weekend in Nashville, so I’ve had a good run lately. But I’m also happy to be in town for the next few weeks back to my routine.

We planned this Ohio trip about three weeks before we made it happen, and I’m so very glad we made it happen. We were due for a visit to Columbus, Ohio and hadn’t been since May 2021 (for the Memorial Golf Tournament).

Our best friends, Grant and Bre, and their three kiddos, live in Dublin, Ohio, just outside of Columbus, and we love visiting them there and have been a few times over the years since they moved there from Florida. In fact, the first time I ever experienced a Life Time gym and the reason I was hooked (and hoped to work at Life Time one day), is because I went to Bre’s class at Life Time in Dublin.

For this trip, we left mid-day on Thursday, drove all the way there, had all day Friday, all day Saturday, and then left mid-day Sunday, so I could be back to teach my class on Monday morning. Also, we wanted to get back and get organized for Brady’s first week of school starting up this week (more on that later this week). 

Before we talk about the trip, let’s talk about the drive. This is the longest road-trip we’ve ever taken (it’s supposed to be about 7.5 hours from door to door), and we were a little nervous to see how Brady did, because we’ve always flown for these types of trips before. Dave came up with a clever way to hang his phone behind the passenger seat so Brady could watch movies, and we put him in noise-canceling headphones too. This worked like a charm (except when cell reception was shoddy and his show would go off), and we got several hours out of him watching movies both ways. But, of course, he did get sick of being in his carseat at times, and at those times he complained that he wanted to get out quite loudly. (I felt the same way, so I understood!)

Overall, I was actually really impressed with how Brady (and Rudy, who sat in my lap in the front) did. It took us exactly 7.5 hours to get there on Thursday (Dave drove the whole time, and we had packed Publix subs for dinner), and it took us a full 8 hours to get home on Sunday (and I drove for a couple hours to pitch in, and we just snacked the whole time, but hit traffic and rain).

Brady on a roadtrip by A Lady Goes West

Fun fact: If you ever make this drive from Charlotte to Columbus and pass through West Virginia, make sure you bring cash or you have an EZ-Pass. The antiquated toll system on the turnpike in West Virginia doesn’t take credit cards, and if you don’t have cash, you supposedly have to pay an extra fee by mail after the fact — we may owe around $30 for the drive there through West Virginia, yet we only paid about $15 in cash on the way back. Yuck!

Other than that, the drive was pretty uneventful and very doable. We’d likely choose the driving option again to avoid flight delays and long lines at the airport moving forward. Also, it was nice to have our car and pillows and extra stuff while we were there.

Now, let’s get to the recap of when we were actually in Ohio …

One super-fun Labor Day weekend in Columbus, Ohio with friends

Once we arrived on Thursday evening, we were so excited to get out of the car, use the bathroom and hydrate. Once we did all those things, we got Brady to bed, and we sat in the family room with Grant and Bre catching up over wine and carrot cake.

Anticipating my arrival, Grant had gone to get nice bakery carrot cake for me, and it was much appreciated (and devoured by our group over the course of three nights). We called it a night just before midnight knowing we had a big weekend ahead.

Visiting the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

On Friday, we went to the Columbus Zoo, while Dave and Grant went golfing. Our friends are members of the zoo, because they live so close, so Brady and I were able to go as their guests.

Brady and I enjoyed our time at the zoo and saw some big animals, small animals, reptiles, seals and birds. Many of the zoo rides were closed, because it was a weekday, but we still filled our time there and spent about three hours exploring. My favorite animals we saw were the monkeys and the elephants. I can’t believe how big the baby elephants are. 

Flamingos at Columbus Zoo by A Lady Goes West

Elephants at Columbus Zoo by A Lady Goes West

Ashley and Brady at Columbus Zoo by A Lady Goes West

(My zoo outfit was perfectly comfy. Here’s my bag, my shorts, my shirt and my shoes.)

Funny thing about our zoo visit is that Brady was running around and having a blast, and then all of a sudden he was really tired and needed me to carry him — like he refused to walk and was rubbing his eyes and yawning. I probably carried him for about 45 minutes, and that boy is getting heavy.

But, once we sat down for lunch, he started chasing ducks with the other kids and all of a sudden his energy was back without an issue. In fact, he said his favorite part about his zoo visit was chasing the ducks. Go figure!

Fun at Columbus Zoo by A Lady Goes West

Brady at Columbus Zoo by A Lady Goes West

After the zoo, we went to meet Dave and Grant at their local country club, and I had a delicious salmon salad, and we hung out for a bit. I wasn’t super impressed with the zoo food so I decided to just snack there and hold out for something better. This salmon salad was definitely better.

Salmon salad at Dublin CC by A Lady Goes West

Here’s the only picture we took with our big group, below. We’re a great group, and I love that our kiddos love each other just as much as we love each other (and them). 🙂 

Family group at Dublin CC by A Lady Goes West

Cryotherapy at Restore Hyper Wellness in Dublin

Because the guys got out for golf earlier that day, Bre and I decided to have an outing to ourselves late Friday afternoon. We went to downtown Dublin bridge area for lattes and wellness — an excellent combination.

Latte at Sweetwaters by A Lady Goes West

After a delicious pumpkin latte from Sweetwaters, we walked to Restore Hyper Wellness. Bre had been to Restore before, and while we didn’t have appointments, we were able to walk in and get cryotherapy on the spot without a reservation.

I’ve done cryotherapy once before (also during a visit to Ohio a couple years ago with Bre), and I remember feeling so energized once it was done. Well, I repeated that feeling this time.

After a tour of the Restore facilities (they also have IV drips, red-light therapy, infrared saunas and much more), we each did our 2.5 minutes in the cryotherapy chamber. This was a really cool place to do cryo, because you get to choose a song to enjoy while you’re getting your treatment — a major bonus. I loved that part. For music, Bre chose Britney Spears “Circus,” and I chose Britney Spears “Make Me,” and the lady helping us said she had never seen someone choose their song as fast as Bre had. 

While yes, it’s super cold in the chamber (cooler than -160 degrees Fahrenheit), it’s not painful, and it feels really good. Cryotherapy promotes recovery, and as group fitness instructors who teach classes most days of the week, Bre and I are always in need of that. I felt super reinvigorated after just 2.5 minutes, and we felt great the rest of the day too. 

I found out that Restore Hyper Wellness is actually a chain, and there is a location near me in Charlotte, so I’m definitely going to check it out. I could use some regular cryotherapy in my life for enhanced recovery, and I could always use another way to treat myself regularly too.

Cryo at Restore by A Lady Goes West

Cryotherapy at Restore by A Lady Goes West

We had a really good time there at Restore, and I wish we had more time to do more treatments. It was just the pick-me-up we needed to get ready for the evening’s activities.

Dinner and drinks in downtown Dublin 

Our holiday weekend would not be complete without a nice adults-only evening out, and that’s just what we did on Friday night. 

Ashley and Dave at Coast House by A Lady Goes West

Drinks at Coast Wine by A Lady Goes West

(Here’s my dress. It’s new, and I’m wearing a medium. And here are my shoes I splurged on a few months ago.)

Grant, Bre, Dave and I, as well as two of Grant and Bre’s friends, went to a super-cute wine bar, called Coast Wine House, in a house in old Dublin to start out the night. The interior of this place was so incredibly well done, with perfect wallpaper, decor and vibe. We sat outside, but I enjoyed the decorations when I went into the bathroom and wanted to take pictures and stay — it was that good.

While at Coast Wine House, we had some wine, a lovely charcuterie and very good conversation with our friendly group of six. 

Group drinks at Coast House by A Lady Goes West

After an hour or so at Coast Wine House, we walked to The Pearl for a drink and more apps, and finally we ended up at dinner at The Avenue Steak Tavern. It was a full night with three stops, and by the time we got to dinner, our entire table ended up just getting a few sides and two steaks to share, because we were already pretty well fed. It worked out perfectly, because that’s how I like to eat when I go out anyhow.

Dinner at The Avenue Dublin by A Lady Goes West

We had a really nice time this night chatting about old stories, new stories and life in general. The hours flew by and many laughs were had, as usual. I love nights like this!

Taking Bre’s Xtreme class at Life Time 

From dinner and drinks on the town at night to a sweaty group fitness studio the next morning!

Whenever we go to Columbus, I always try to take Bre’s class at Life Time. As I said before, Bre introduced me to the Life Time gym world, and I’m forever thankful for that.

A week before our trip, I signed up for Bre’s Saturday morning Xtreme high-intensity interval class, and I had taken this same class with her before, so I knew what to expect. Yes, we have Xtreme at my Life Time in Charlotte, but I don’t take it or teach it.

Xtreme is very hard. There’s no break for an entire hour. It’s a super-intense workout, including jumps off the bench, full-body weights, cardio and everything in between. But dang, it feels good to finish it!

After Xtreme at Life Time by A Lady Goes West

(Still rocking this chunky Apple watch strap for my workouts and daily wear and loving it.)

Bre is an excellent energetic instructor who seamlessly tells jokes and funny stories, while coaching and doing extremely hard moves. And she always tells stories involving me during class when I’m there, and that’s super entertaining. I loved seeing her in action again, and she made the hour fly by, even as we challenged ourselves like crazy.

After class, Bre and I grabbed Einstein Bagels, coffee and some groceries for tailgating, and then went home to get ready for the last big activity of the weekend. Yes, we were very busy over the course of these two big days of fun, and the action was nonstop from the moment we arrived.

Tailgating at the Ohio State game with friends and family

And for the finale of the weekend …

This was Dave and my third time tailgating for an Ohio State game while visiting Grant and Bre in Columbus. We went to the actual game the last two times, but because this was such a big game (against Notre Dame), we weren’t able to find reasonable tickets and decided just tailgating on campus was totally fine. And it was.

Ohio State tailgate fun by A Lady Goes West
(Here’s my purse strap, my sunglasses, and here are my shoes.)

The cool thing about this activity is that my brother, Matthew, my sister-in-law, Stephanie, and two of their besties, Alex and Jess, (whom Dave and I are good friends with too) were also there!

Their group had separately planned to meet in Columbus for Labor Day weekend for this game, and so it was a big coincidence that we were going to be there too — which we found out three weeks before we made the trip. We hung out with them for a few hours at the tailgate catching up, and it was really great to have that time together. They ended up going into the game, because they had secured tickets months ahead of time, and so we wished them well.

Ohio State tailgate by A Lady Goes West

Tailgate food by A Lady Goes West

Unfortunately, the weather was a bit of a downer at the tailgate, and it was cloudy, foggy and rainy for most of our time there, but we made do! And I scored a delicious tailgate meal, shown above.

While Grant and I were still hopeful we’d somehow end up with tickets, once it was game time, we were ready to get out of the rain and head back to watch the game at home with all our kiddos. And that’s just what we did. I love college football games, so I’m sad we missed seeing it live, but the tailgating is definitely the best part! Good times with good friends!

That evening, we watched the game, had pizza and hung out, and then had a slow morning on Sunday before heading back to Charlotte around noon. 

And that was our Labor Day weekend in Columbus, Ohio with our friends! We had no doubts that it would be a blast for all of us, and it truly was. We’re lucky to have these folks in our lives, even if they are a 7.5-hour drive away.

We’re officially back in town and on a regular schedule until mid-October, when we head to a wedding in Florida. I’m looking forward to the return of school for Brady and more normal weeks (with some fun stuff thrown in, of course).

Tailgate by A Lady Goes West

Thanks for coming by to read today, my friend.

Have a great day and week, and I’ll see you back here soon for some faves on Friday!

P.S. By the way, I made a little video about our trip, and you can see that here. Enjoy!

Other posts you may like …

Questions of the day for YOU …

Have you ever been to Columbus, Ohio?

Did you do anything special over the weekend?

Have you ever tailgated before a sporting event?

, ,


  1. Glad you guys had a fun weekend with good friends! We’ve driven to Chicago from Charlotte and it’s an all day adventure lol. We haven’t taken the route through WV, we take the route through the mountains by Asheville (SO pretty), TN, KY, IN and then IL. They do get extra screen time but we do what we have to do to push through! We also watched the game, my hubby is an ND grad so it was fun to get back to college football!

    1. Hey Joanna! My brother and his wife were in Notre Dame gear at the tailgate! We actually thought that the drive through Virginia and some of West Virginia was mountainous and pretty too. But I don’t love being in the car that long. Happy to be home the next few weekends! I hope the start of school is going well for you and your fam! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.