Car Rental at Columbus Airport
Port Columbus International Airport in central Ohio is the second busiest in the state after Cleveland's Hopkins International Airport. It is located about 10 kilometers east of downtown, and is well-serviced by car rentals in Columbus Airport which you will later find highly convenient as Columbus is largely car-centric.
The city is also centrally located as it sprawls right in the conjunction of the Rust Belt, the Corn Belt, the Appalachia and the Plains. Quite fittingly, Columbus is gateway to major cities of outlying states: Rent a car in Columbus Airport and take Interstate 270 which roughly marks the outer bounds of the metropolitan area. I-270 is the most natural corridor to get to Indianapolis in Indiana, Detroit in Michigan, Louisville in Kentucky, and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. You can arrange for one way Columbus Airport car hire to be dropped off at in-city or airport locations.
Rust Belt with Lake Michigan Circle Tour
Columbus sits right in the middle of the Rust Belt as the entire state of Ohio is within the confines of this postindustrial region that grew around the Great Lakes. This once steel-clad region spreads out as far west as Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and as far east as Utica, New York. Given Columbus’ location, you can map out an itinerary that will easily combine the western route of the Rust Belt and the entire circuit around Lake Michigan. The drive by car hire in Columbus Airport will take you through Dayton, OH, Gary, IN, Chicago, IL and Milwaukee, WI.
These are highly urbanized cities with international airports where you can leave behind your car hire from Columbus Airport should you choose not to press farther up and around the lake. But if you do, from Green Bay about two hours north of Milwaukee, you can follow designated state highways that make up the Lake Michigan circuit and meet up with the Rust Belt again in Saginaw and finally in Detroit. You can then drop off one way rental cars from Columbus Airport at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (locally referred to as the Detroit Metro).
Rust Belt with Great Lakes Seaway Trail
Or you can cover the eastern route of the Rust Belt with car rental from Columbus Airport via historically manufacturing giants Pittsburgh, PA and Cleveland, OH. Continue on to the Ohio-Pennsylvania border just 130 kilometers to the east, and follow the Great Lakes Seaway Trail that skirts the southern shore of Lake Erie, the New York side of the Niagara escarpment, and the southern shore of Lake Ontario.
The trail ends in Rooseveltown, New York, about four hours north of Utica, the eastern boundary of the Rust Belt. Your closest drop off points for one way car hire at Columbus Airport is at Ontario International Airport about two hours north of Rooseveltown across the US-Canada border, or Syracuse Hancock International Airport an hour before you reach Utica.
Alternatively, your car rental at Columbus Airport puts you within close driving distance of the Corn Belt whose eastern boundary starts in western Ohio and spans the Midwest as far west as eastern Nebraska and eastern Kansas (although some maps include parts of both North and South Dakota). This region is precursor to the Great Plains which starts from North Dakota to the north and Texas to the south including Kansas and Nebraska in the middle. Hiring a car in Columbus Airport is highly advised as the Corn Belt is not well-serviced by public transport.
The region has few touristic highlights – the large rock formations of Scotts Bluff National Monument and 500-foot stone pillar of the Chimney Rock National Historic Site are literally a standout – but this flat farmland and sparsely populated ‘heartland of America’ is worth going out of the way if you desire solitude. If departing for international destination, the most convenient drop off location for Columbus Airport car rental is at Kansas City International Airport. Otherwise, Nebraska has Lincoln Airport and Eppley Airfield while Kansas has Topeka Regional Airport for domestic connections.