Looking for the best things to do in Columbus Ohio?
Though Columbus, the state capital of Ohio, may not be the first place people think of for a vacay, it’s one to keep tabs on since it’s the next up-and-coming city (now that Portland and Austin have become too mainstream for travelers).
Between the coffee, craft beer, and the art scene, it’s a cultural and fun-filled destination that shouldn’t be missed.
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Last Updated: December 13, 2022
15 Fun Things to Do in COlumbus Oh
1. Cosi – Center of Science and Industry
333 W. Broad St., map
You don’t have to be a kid to have fun at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI). This massive museum is full of interactive exhibits that will keep you captivated for hours.
There’s fun with dinosaurs, space exploration, the human body, progress, and science gadgets. If you need a break from walking around, check out the shows in their planetarium.
2. Columbus Ale Trail
333 W. Broad St., map
You may not be aware of the vibrant craft beer scene in Columbus and central Ohio. To make sure you get a good taste of what the region has on tap, follow the Columbus Ale Trail with over 50 craft breweries.
To get started, just pick up your free copy of the Columbus Ale Trail Book from any participating brewery. Collect stamps in the book along the way for free goodies. It’s a fun, enjoyable, and relaxing way to explore Columbus.
3. Columbus Museum of Art
480 E. Broad St., map
If you’re an art lover, you cannot miss the Columbus Museum of Art. Its comprehensive collection features works of art from American and European Art, Impressionism, Cubism, folk art, contemporary art, photography, and glass.
Highlights include paintings by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, and more.
4. Franklin Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
1777 E Broad St., map
Franklin Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is one of the best places to relax in Columbus, Ohio. The botanical gardens are impressive each season with vibrant, rotating plants on display.
The glasshouses are also beautifully lit up at night.
5. German Village
German Village is a quaint, historic neighborhood full of amazing buildings and brick sidewalks. It’s primarily a residential area filled with stories of the early immigrants who settled there.
After walking around and working up an appetite, there are plenty of delicious German restaurants and bakeries to help restore your energy. You can also find some great shops to visit, too.
6. Hayden Falls Park
4326 Hayden Falls Rd., Dublin, map
One thing you don’t expect to see in a major city is a waterfall, but Hayden Falls Park offers visitors a surprise. Not only do you feel miles away from the city in the enchanting gorge, but at the end of the short walk, you get rewarded with a waterfall.
Local Tip: Though you can visit any time of year, to see the waterfall full, visit during spring or after a rainstorm.
7. North Market
59 Spruce St., map
The downtown North Market has been in Columbus for over 145 years and is beloved by locals and tourists alike.
When you visit, come hungry. The market is home to 30 independent businesses, each offering local and authentic flavors. Trust us when we say it’s hard to not want sample food at every vendor.
See Related – 25 Best Markets in the World to Put on Your Bucket List
8. Columbus Zoo & Aquarium
4850 W Powell Rd. Powell, map
You can spend the entire day visiting the 600+ species at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Take a walk through the African Savanna to feed the giraffes or the habitat of North America and learn about a wide range of animals.
Also, the Adventure Cove recently opened complete with a water park and roller coaster.
Local Tip: In December, their Winter Lights festival turns the park into a colorful fantasyland.
5819 Chantry Drive, map
For a truly unique experience, you have to visit Otherworld. It’s a visual feast, unlike anything you’ve seen before. It’s a massive 32,000-square-foot immersive art installation with over 40 different scenes that combine art and technology.
10. Scioto Mile & Fountains
233 S. Civic Center Drive, map
The Scioto Mile is a paved path that links eight of the city’s parks stretching along the waterfront of the Scioto River. It’s the perfect outdoor oasis.
You get great views of the city skyline. Large fountains make for a fun playground for kids in the summer, while on the weekends, free concerts are held in the evening.
11. Short North Arts District
The Short North Arts District is the result of a major urban revitalization project and is the heart and energy of Columbus. Over 300 local businesses reside here, including art galleries, clothing boutiques, bistros, and restaurants.
You can spend hours window shopping while enjoying the chic and relaxed vibe of the district. It also makes for the perfect place to unwind at any of the bars, breweries, and eateries.
12. The Book Loft
631 S 3rd Street, map
The Book Loft is one of the largest independent booksellers in the US. With 32 rooms and over 750,000 books to browse, you never know what fantastic read you’ll find.
The pre-Civil War era building once housed general stores, saloons, and nickelodeon!
13. Topiary Garden Park
480 E Town St., map
For a bit of whimsy as well, head over to the Topiary Garden Park (officially called the Old Deaf School Park) where you can stroll around the 9.2-acre park.
The gem is a topiary representation of George Seurat’s famous painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, complete with a miniature of the Seine river, people, boats, and the monkey.
See Related – Your Guide to the World’s Smallest Park
14. Wexner Center for the Arts
1871 N High Street, map
Ohio State University’s contemporary art center is one of the premier art institutions in Columbus. The Wexner Center for the Arts features changing exhibitions, performing arts, and films. There’s something different to experience each time you go.
15. Zipzone Outdoor Adventures
7925 N High Street, map
Adrenaline-pumping outdoor activities at the ZipZone Outdoor Adventures provide unforgettable experiences. You can choose between soaring above the forest canopy on a series of zip lines or have fun while tackling a treetop challenge course.
There’s even a kid-friendly ground-level park, too.
Map of the best Things to Do in Columbus Oh
More THings to DO in Columbus Oh
- American Whistle Corp. (6540 Huntley Rd., map)
- Anthony Thomas Candy Factory Tour (1777 Arlingate Lane, map)
- Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum (1813 N High Street, map)
- Central Ohio Fire Museum (260 N. 4th St., map)
- Cultural Arts Center (139 W Main St., map)
- Early Television Museum (5396 Franklin St., Hillard, map)
- Franklin Art Glass Studio (222 E Sycamore St., map)
- Glass Axis (610 W Town St., map)
- Jack Nicklaus Museum (2355 Olentangy River Rd, map)
- Kelton House Museum & Garden (586 E Town St., map)
- LEGOLAND Discovery Center (157 Easton Town Center, map)
- National Veterans Memorial & Museum (300 W Broad St, map)
- Ohio Craft Museum (1665 W 5th Ave., map)
- Ohio History Center (800 E 17th Ave., map)
- Park of Roses (3901 N High St., map)
- The Wilds (14000 International Rd., Cumberland, map)
- Thurber House (77 Jefferson Ave., map)
Free Things to Do in COlumbus Ohio
- Blendon Woods Metro Park (map)
- Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Garden (152 Howlett Hall, Fyffe Rd., map)
- Columbus Art Walk
- Franklin Park Conservatory Farmer’s Market
- High Banks Metro Park (9466 Columbus Pike, Lewis Center, map)
- King Arts Complex (867 Mt Vernon Ave., map)
- Ohio Statehouse Tour (1 Capitol Square, map)
- Orton Geological Museum (155 Oval Drive S, map)
- Pearl Market (19 N Pearl St., map)
- Riffe Gallery (77 S High St., map)
Seasonal Things to Do in COlumbus Ohio
- Asian Festival (May)
- Columbus Arts Festival (June)
- Jazz & Rib Fest (July)
- Ohio State Fair (July/August)
- Columbus Food Truck Festival (August)
- Dublin Irish Festival (August)
- Columbus Oktoberfest (September)
- Columbus Italian Festival (October)
- Wildlight at Columbus Zoo (December)
Where to Eat in COlumbus Oh
- Harvest Bar + Kitchen – If there’s one place you’ll hear about often when in Columbus, it’s Harvest Bar. Their pizzas never fail to hit the spot. Their burgers and buffalo cauliflower are out-of-this-world, too.
- Northstar Café – The locals love the laid-back atmosphere and delectable food served at Northstar Café. Their breakfast burritos are massive and give you plenty of energy for walking around town all day.
- Schmidt’s Sausage Haus – Dating back to the late 1800s, Schmidt’s is an icon of Columbus. Their sausage is known throughout the city, especially their original sausage, the Bahama Mama. If you aren’t a fan of sausage, their menu features other German meals. Portions are generous with very reasonable prices. It’s also nearly impossible to leave without having one of their jumbo cream puffs – all half a pound of it!
- Veritas – If you’re looking for a nice, but not too upscale place to eat in Columbus, head over to Veritas. Flavorful and refined foods are served plate after plate with dishes inspired by France and Italy. If you can’t decide on a dish, try their tasting menu.
- Brassica – If you’re looking for healthy food that packs a lot of bold flavors, then you have to head to Brassica. Their menu features locally grown ingredients that are nutritious and extremely delicious. Featuring a Middle Eastern flair, meals feature their signature freshly baked whole wheat pita bread.
- Fox in the Snow Café – The perfect breakfast spot or for a break in a day of sightseeing, Fox in the Snow serves up made-from-scratch pastries, sweets, and sandwiches. Start your day sipping on their delicious brews while savoring their souffle egg sandwich (a must) or their very generous portioned cinnamon roll.
- Hot Chicken Takeover – Chicken done right. The Nashville Hot Chicken is a local favorite.
Other Spots to Check Out
Best Places to Stay
Can you think of any more can’t-miss things to do in Columbus Ohio? If you’ve been, what are your favorites?
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
Esther + Jacob
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.
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