Welcome to Columbus, Ohio! Ohio’s capital city has plenty of attractions, activities, and events to offer visitors year-round. Whether you’re a foodie, an art enthusiast, or an outdoor adventurer, there’s something for everyone in Columbus. From exploring the downtown area to enjoying the natural beauty of the city’s parks and gardens, there’s no shortage of things to do in Columbus. In this blog post, we’ll highlight some of the best things to do in Columbus, Ohio, so you can make the most of your time in this vibrant city.
Things to do in Columbus
Columbus is the 14th biggest city in America and has a plethora of attractions to choose from! Looking for something fun to do with your date? How about finding places that are perfect for family outings? Our list covers all possibilities – check it out now and find the best ideas for entertainment in Columbus.
So, let’s get started and discover the top attractions and experiences that Columbus has to offer!
1. Visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Located on the west side of downtown, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is one of Ohio’s most popular tourist attractions. Home to more than 10,000 animals from 600 species, this world-renowned zoo offers fun activities for visitors of all ages. You can meet rare and endangered species, explore interactive exhibits, or take a ride on the Wilds of Africa Monorail.
2. Explore the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Another must-see attraction in Columbus is the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Located on the city’s east side, this stunning conservatory is home to a variety of plants from around the world. You can explore beautiful gardens and greenhouses filled with exotic blooms, take part in fun events, or relax and enjoy the lush surroundings.
3. Visit the Columbus Museum of Art
For art lovers, the Columbus Museum of Art is a must-see destination. Located in downtown Columbus, this museum features an impressive collection of European and American artwork from the 19th century to the present and fun interactive exhibitions for visitors of all ages.
4. Take a stroll through the German Village neighborhood
For a unique experience, head over to the historic German Village in Columbus. This charming district is known for its picturesque streets, which are lined with cobblestone sidewalks and colorful 19th-century houses. Visitors can explore the many shops and restaurants in this vibrant neighborhood or follow one of their self-guided walking tours.
If you’re an aspiring German speaker, the charming atmosphere of the German Village in Columbus provides a perfect opportunity to hone your conversational skills. As America’s epitome of multiculturalism and diversity, this area allows visitors to immerse themselves into another culture while still celebrating their own heritage.
With iconic attractions such as Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Book Loft, there are much points of interest worth exploring on your visit! It promises an invaluable experience that celebrates both assimilation and identity – so come explore it today!
5. Enjoy the outdoors in Scioto Mile
Scioto Mile is a sprawling park located on the banks of the Scioto River. This green space features lush gardens, winding pathways, and plenty of recreational activities for visitors to enjoy. From fun festivals and outdoor movies to kayaking and paddle-boating, there’s something fun to do here year-round.
6. Go on a brewery tour
- BrewDog: Originally founded in Scotland, BrewDog opened its first US location in Columbus in 2017. The brewery offers a variety of craft beers, including IPAs, stouts, and sours, as well as a selection of food and snacks.
- Seventh Son Brewing: Located in the Italian Village neighborhood of Columbus, Seventh Son Brewing is known for its creative and unique beers and popular food truck offerings. Their flagship brew is the Humulus Nimbus Super Pale Ale, but they also offer a variety of other styles.
- Wolf’s Ridge Brewing: This brewery and taproom in downtown Columbus offers a variety of beers, including a range of sour beers and barrel-aged brews. They also offer a full-service restaurant with an extensive menu of locally sourced dishes.
- Land-Grant Brewing Company: Located in the Franklinton neighborhood of Columbus, Land-Grant Brewing Company offers a variety of beers, including their flagship 1862 Ale, as well as a selection of seasonal and limited-edition brews.
- North High Brewing: This brewery and taproom offers a variety of beers, including their popular Milk Stout and Hefeweizen, as well as a variety of other seasonal and limited-edition brews.
- Zaftig Brewing: This brewery specializes in high-gravity, barrel-aged beers, as well as a selection of IPAs, stouts, and sours. They also offer a food menu featuring pizza and other pub fares.
7. Visit the Topiary Park
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a beautiful 88-acre botanical garden and conservatory located in Columbus, Ohio. The conservatory first opened in 1895 and has since undergone many renovations and expansions, becoming a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
The conservatory is divided into several indoor and outdoor spaces, each showcasing a different theme and collection of plants. The John F. Wolfe Palm House is the largest indoor space and features a variety of tropical plants and palm trees, as well as a waterfall and koi pond. The Pacific Island Water Garden is another popular indoor space, featuring exotic plants and a large collection of orchids.
The conservatory also has several outdoor gardens, including the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden, a whimsical space designed for children to explore and learn about plants and nature. The outdoor gardens also include a collection of bonsai trees, a herb garden, a butterfly garden, and a collection of glass sculptures by renowned artist Dale Chihuly.
In addition to its gardens and exhibits, the conservatory offers a variety of educational programs and events for all ages, including gardening workshops, cooking classes, and art exhibits. The conservatory also hosts several annual events, including the Blooms and Butterflies exhibit, featuring hundreds of butterflies in a special exhibit, and the Merry and Bright holiday light show.
8. Tour the Ohio Statehouse
The Ohio Statehouse is the historic state capitol building in Columbus and a top destination for history buffs. This beautiful Greek Revival structure was completed in 1861 and has since served as the home of the Ohio General Assembly. Touring the statehouse allows you to explore its rich history, architecture, and art collections.
9. See a musical at the Ohio Theatre
Ready to discover a night of captivating entertainment in Columbus? Look no further than the stunning Ohio Theatre! This grand venue, founded nearly 100 years ago, seats an impressive 2,700 guests and serves up a variety of thrilling live performances.
From their Broadway Series to classic films, ballets, and symphony orchestra concerts, you’ll be dazzled by all this theater offers. So make your way over today for what promises to be an unforgettable evening out on the town!
10. Explore the Columbus Commons
Columbus Commons is a 6-acre park located in downtown Columbus, Ohio. It was created in 2011 as a public-private partnership between the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation (CDDC) and the City of Columbus. The park is designed to be a gathering place for residents and visitors, providing a variety of activities and events throughout the year.
The park features a large lawn area that can accommodate up to 10,000 people, making it an ideal venue for concerts, festivals, and other outdoor events. The lawn area is surrounded by trees and gardens, providing a beautiful and serene setting in the heart of the city.
Columbus Commons also has a state-of-the-art performance pavilion that hosts a variety of events, including music concerts, theater performances, and movie screenings. The pavilion is equipped with top-of-the-line sound and lighting equipment, providing a high-quality experience for event-goers.
In addition to the lawn and performance pavilion, Columbus Commons has a variety of other amenities, including a carousel, a reading room, a bocce court, and a food and beverage pavilion. The food and beverage pavilion features several local restaurants and vendors, offering diverse cuisine and refreshments.
Columbus Commons is also home to several annual events, including the Columbus Arts Festival, the Downtown Live concert series, and the Columbus Food Truck Festival. These events attract thousands of visitors to the park each year, making it a hub of activity and entertainment in the downtown area.
11. Columbus Park of Roses
Columbus Park of Roses is a beautiful 13-acre park located in Clintonville, a neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio. The park is dedicated to roses and features more than 11,000 roses of 400 different varieties, making it one of the largest public rose gardens in the United States.
The park is divided into several gardens, each showcasing different types of roses and arrangements. The Main Rose Garden is the largest and most prominent, featuring a central fountain and several walkways lined with roses of different colors and varieties. The park also has a Heritage Rose Garden, which features a collection of historic and antique rose varieties, as well as a Perennial Garden and a Shakespeare Garden, which features roses named after characters from Shakespeare’s plays.
In addition to its beautiful gardens, Columbus Park of Roses also has several other amenities, including a shelter house that can be rented for events and gatherings, a walking path, and a playground for children.
The park hosts several events throughout the year, including the annual Rose Festival, which features live music, food vendors, and guided tours of the gardens. The park also offers educational programs and workshops for visitors of all ages, including rose care and gardening classes.
12. Eat the best ice cream ever
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is a beloved ice cream shop chain that originated in Columbus, Ohio. The first shop opened in the Short North neighborhood of Columbus in 2002 and has since expanded to over 40 locations across the United States.
Jeni’s is known for its creative and unique flavors, which are made with high-quality, locally sourced ingredients. Some of their most popular flavors include Brambleberry Crisp, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, and Salty Caramel.
In addition to their ice cream, Jeni’s also offers a variety of other frozen treats, including sorbets, frozen yogurts, and dairy-free options. They also offer a selection of ice cream cakes and pints for take-home enjoyment.
13. Visit the North Market
A public market with roots that extend back to 1876, the North Market is one of the cool places in Columbus to sample some amazing food.
The downtown Columbus market features more than 30 independently owned vendors selling produce, meats, specialty foods and prepared meals.
With a range of options – like Pho at Lan Viet, pierogies at Hubert’s Polish Kitchen and Nashville-style fried chicken at Hot Chicken Takeover – there is something for everyone.
On Saturday mornings in the summer and autumn, the North Market Farmers Market takes place outside of the market, featuring more vendors, live music and events.
In fact, it’s become so popular that a second North Market location is now open in the Bridge Park entertainment district in Dublin, OH.
14. Go on a food tour with Columbus Food Adventures
Columbus Food Adventures is a popular food tour company that offers guided tours of Columbus, Ohio’s vibrant and diverse culinary scene. The company was founded in 2010 by local food blogger and writer Bethia Woolf and has since become a beloved destination for foodies and visitors to the city.
Columbus Food Adventures offers a variety of tours that showcase different aspects of Columbus’s food culture. Some of the most popular tours include the Short North Food Tour, which explores the trendy and eclectic Short North neighborhood, and the German Village Food Tour, which focuses on the German and Austrian culinary traditions that are still alive and well in the historic German Village neighborhood.
Other tours offered by Columbus Food Adventures include a breakfast tour, a taco truck tour, and a dessert tour. Each tour is led by an experienced guide who is passionate about food and knowledgeable about the local culinary scene.
One of the great things about Columbus Food Adventures is that the tours offer an opportunity to sample a wide variety of local cuisine, including dishes from traditional Ohio restaurants, ethnic eateries, and trendy new hotspots. It’s a fun and delicious way to explore the city and learn more about its unique food culture.
15. Eat the famous Thurmanator burger at the Thurman Cafe
Feast your eyes upon the monstrously delicious Thurmanator burger- a sandwich of colossal proportions! This culinary colossus consists of two 12-ounce succulent hamburger patties, bacon and cheddar cheese sandwiched between layers of lettuce, tomatoes, provolone and American cheese. Topping off this gastronomical marvel are sautéed onions, mushrooms and hot peppers nestled in a golden bun. Served with plump house-made kettle chips and an accompanying pickle spear; this delectable meal will tantalize taste buds everywhere!
16. Short North Arts District
The Short North Arts District is a vibrant and eclectic neighborhood located in the heart of Columbus, Ohio. The Short North is a hub of creativity and culture, known for its lively art galleries, unique boutiques, and diverse restaurants and bars.
The neighborhood stretches along North High Street between downtown Columbus and The Ohio State University, and is home to a thriving arts community that includes painters, sculptors, musicians, and performers. You can explore a variety of galleries and studios showcasing everything from contemporary art to traditional crafts.
In addition to the arts, the Short North is also known for its trendy shops and boutiques, offering everything from handmade jewelry to vintage clothing. Foodies will appreciate the district’s diverse culinary scene, which includes everything from upscale restaurants to casual cafes and food trucks.
17. Watch the Buckeyes play at the Ohio Stadium
Do you get excited about football? Then Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio is the place for you! People have so much love for this stadium that it’s been nicknamed “The House that Harley built” and “The Horseshoe.” It offers a tremendous experience with its capacity of over 100,000 people – making it one of the three biggest stadiums nationwide.
Whenever Buckeyes play at home on weekend games, their fans radiate enthusiasm that can’t be replicated elsewhere. So if you want to immerse yourself in amazing football atmosphere, come visit us at Ohio State University!
18. Goodale Park
Goodale Park is a historic urban park located in the heart of the Short North neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio. The park, which covers 32 acres, was established in 1851 and is one of the oldest parks in the city.
Goodale Park is known for its beautiful landscaping, winding paths, dog park, and picturesque pond. It features many recreational facilities, including basketball and tennis courts, a playground, and a large grassy area for picnics and other outdoor activities.
One of the most popular features of Goodale Park is the Goodale Park Music Series, a free concert series that takes place every summer. The series features a variety of local and national musical acts, and draws thousands of visitors from all over the city.
Goodale Park is also home to several historic landmarks, including the Goodale Park Shelter House, a beautiful stone structure that was built in 1928 and serves as a popular venue for weddings and other special events.
19. Center of Science and Industry (COSI)
The Center of Science and Industry (COSI) is a world-class science museum located in downtown Columbus, Ohio. With over 320,000 square feet of exhibits, interactive displays, and hands-on activities, COSI is a must-visit destination for families, science enthusiasts, and anyone who loves to learn.
COSI features a wide range of exhibits and programs covering topics such as space exploration, the human body, energy, and more. Some of the most popular exhibits include the Dinosaur Gallery, which features life-sized dinosaur skeletons and interactive displays, and the Big Science Show, a high-energy live science demonstration that takes place several times a day.
Other popular exhibits at COSI include the Planetarium, which offers a variety of astronomy shows and presentations, and the Gadgets exhibit, which features a variety of hands-on experiments and activities related to engineering and physics.
20. Spend a day at Easton Town Center
Easton Town Center is a premier shopping and entertainment destination located in Columbus, Ohio. With more than 240 retailers and restaurants, the center is one of the largest and most popular shopping destinations in the region.
Easton Town Center features a mix of high-end luxury brands and more affordable options, making it a popular destination for shoppers of all budgets. Visitors can explore a variety of stores selling everything from clothing and accessories to home goods and electronics.
In addition to shopping, Easton Town Center also offers a wide range of dining options, from casual cafes and fast-food chains to upscale restaurants and gourmet food markets. The center also features a movie theater, a comedy club, and a variety of other entertainment options, making it a popular destination for families and groups of friends.
21. Get lost in Otherworld
Otherworld is an immersive art installation that is such a unique experience! The space is a 32,000-square-foot interactive art exhibit that transports visitors to another world, filled with surreal and fantastical environments.
Upon entering Otherworld, visitors are greeted by a maze of rooms and corridors filled with interactive exhibits, such as a room filled with glowing jellyfish, a forest made of neon trees, and an infinity mirror room. The space is designed to be explored, with hidden rooms and interactive elements throughout.
One of the most impressive features of Otherworld is its use of technology. Many of the exhibits incorporate digital projections, interactive soundscapes, and other high-tech elements to create an immersive and otherworldly experience.
22. Hayden Falls Park
Hayden Falls Park is a beautiful nature preserve located in Columbus. The park is home to the stunning Hayden Falls, a 35-foot waterfall that drops into a scenic gorge. The waterfall is a popular destination for nature lovers and photographers, as it provides a picturesque backdrop for photos and a serene environment for relaxation.
The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including birds, deer, and other animals that can often be seen wandering through the woods. You can enjoy hiking along the trails that wind through the park, which provide beautiful views of the waterfall and the surrounding natural scenery.
23. Columbus Clippers
The Columbus Clippers are a minor league baseball team based in Columbus. The team is part of the International League and is the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. The Clippers play their home games at Huntington Park, a state-of-the-art stadium in downtown Columbus’s Arena District.
The Clippers have a rich history in Columbus, dating back to 1902. The team has won multiple league championships and has been the starting point for many notable major league players, including Hall of Famers Stan Coveleski, Earle Combs, and Earle Averill.
Attending a Clippers game is a fun and affordable way to experience America’s favorite pastime. Huntington Park is a beautiful venue with great sightlines and plenty of amenities, including multiple restaurants and bars, a kids’ play area, and plenty of concessions options.
24. Zoombezi Bay
Zoombezi Bay is a water park located in Powell, Ohio, just north of Columbus. The park is a part of the larger Columbus Zoo and Aquarium complex, and features a variety of water attractions and activities for visitors of all ages.
One of the main attractions at Zoombezi Bay is the Roaring Twisters, a thrilling water slide that drops riders from a height of 55 feet and sends them swirling down a series of twists and turns. Other popular rides include the Baboon Lagoon, a kid-friendly play area with fountains, waterfalls, and spray zones, and the Cyclone, a high-speed tube ride that drops riders into a giant funnel.
Zoombezi Bay also features a lazy river, wave pool, and a variety of other water slides and attractions, including a surf simulator and a zip line that sends riders flying over the park.
25. Sunbathe at a Columbus Beach
If you’re looking for a place to beat the heat and have fun in Columbus this summer, head north to Alum Creek State Park beach! This 3000-foot stretch of sandy shoreline is ideal for swimming or lounging on the sand (don’t forget your sunscreen!).
But that’s not all – you can also go fishing, boating, or explore miles of trails perfect for hiking. Start planning now, so you don’t miss out on one second of sun-soaked summer days at Alum Creek Beach!
These are just some of the many fun and exciting things to do in Columbus, Ohio. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, there’s always something new and interesting to explore in this vibrant and lively city!
Go out and explore all that Columbus has to offer, and have fun!