Fun Free Things to Do in Columbus Ohio with Kids: A Comprehensive Guide
Columbus, Ohio is a great place to visit with kids, as there are plenty of fun and free activities to enjoy. Whether you’re a local or just passing through, there’s no shortage of things to do that won’t break the bank. From parks and playgrounds to museums and markets, there’s something for everyone.
One of the best things about Columbus is the abundance of parks and green spaces. Many of these parks offer free activities for kids, such as playgrounds, hiking trails, and nature centers. Homestead Metro Park is a great example, with a train ride, playground, and nature center all available for no cost. Families can also check out the Columbus Commons, which hosts free concerts, fitness classes, and family events throughout the year.
In addition to parks, Columbus also has a variety of free museums and attractions that are perfect for kids. The Columbus Museum of Art offers free admission on Sundays, and the Ohio History Center has free admission for kids under 5. COSI, the Center of Science and Industry, is another popular attraction that offers free admission for members and discounted rates for military families. With so many free options available, families can have a fun-filled day in Columbus without spending a dime.
Exploring Parks and Gardens
Columbus, Ohio is home to a variety of beautiful parks and gardens that are perfect for exploring with kids. From colorful flowers to lush greenery, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Here are a few of the top parks and gardens to check out:
Franklin Park Conservatory
The Franklin Park Conservatory is a must-visit destination for families in Columbus. This beautiful conservatory features a variety of indoor and outdoor gardens, including a stunning butterfly exhibit. Kids will love exploring the different gardens and learning about the different plants and flowers that call the conservatory home.
Columbus Park of Roses
The Columbus Park of Roses is a beautiful park that is home to over 12,000 roses. With over 400 varieties of roses to explore, this park is a great place to take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the beautiful scenery. In addition to the roses, the park also features a variety of other flowers and plants, as well as a gazebo and picnic area.
The Botanical Garden is another beautiful park that is perfect for exploring with kids. This 88-acre park features a variety of gardens, including a Japanese garden, a herb garden, and a children’s garden. Kids will love exploring the different gardens and learning about the different plants and flowers that call the park home.
The Topiary Park is a unique park that features life-sized topiary sculptures of people and animals. The sculptures are based on the famous painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat. In addition to the sculptures, the park also features a beautiful garden and a pond.
Schiller Park is a beautiful park that is perfect for a family picnic or a game of frisbee. This park features a variety of amenities, including a playground, a pond, and a gazebo. Kids will love exploring the different areas of the park and playing on the playground.
Overall, Columbus, Ohio is home to a variety of beautiful parks and gardens that are perfect for exploring with kids. Whether you’re looking for colorful flowers or lush greenery, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Columbus, Ohio has a variety of educational activities that are both fun and free for families with children. These activities are a great way to spend time together while also learning something new. Here are some of the best educational activities in Columbus:
Ohio Statehouse Museum
The Ohio Statehouse Museum is an excellent place to learn about the history of Ohio and its government. The museum provides visitors with a glimpse into the state’s past through interactive exhibits and displays. Families can take a guided tour of the Statehouse and see the House and Senate chambers, the Governor’s office, and the Rotunda. The museum also offers free educational programs for children, including scavenger hunts and guided tours.
Columbus Museum of Art
The Columbus Museum of Art is a wonderful place to explore art and culture with children. The museum offers free admission on Sundays and has a variety of exhibits and programs that are perfect for families. Children can participate in hands-on art activities in the Big Idea Gallery or explore the museum’s collection of American and European art. The museum also offers free family programs, including storytelling and art-making workshops.
Orton Geological Museum
The Orton Geological Museum is a hidden gem on the Ohio State University campus. The museum has an extensive collection of fossils, minerals, and rocks from around the world. Children can learn about geology and earth science through interactive exhibits and displays. The museum also offers free educational programs for families, including guided tours and hands-on activities.
Wexner Center for the Arts
The Wexner Center for the Arts is a contemporary art museum located on the Ohio State University campus. The museum offers free admission on Thursdays after 4 pm and has a variety of exhibits and programs that are perfect for families. Children can explore the museum’s collection of modern and contemporary art or participate in hands-on art activities in the Art Lab. The museum also offers free family programs, including art-making workshops and storytelling sessions.
Overall, these educational activities are a great way for families to spend time together while also learning something new. Whether exploring the history of Ohio, exploring art and culture, or learning about geology and earth science, there is something for everyone in Columbus.
Columbus, Ohio offers a plethora of free outdoor activities for families with kids. From hiking trails to splash pads, there is something for everyone. Here are some of the best outdoor adventures to enjoy with your kids:
Columbus boasts several hiking trails that offer scenic views and an opportunity to explore nature. Some of the best hiking trails in Columbus include:
|Trail Name||Location||Trail Length|
|Scioto Audubon Metro Park||400 W Whittier St, Columbus, OH 43215||2.5 miles|
|Highbanks Metro Park||9466 Columbus Pike, Lewis Center, OH 43035||10 miles|
|Alum Creek State Park||3615 S Old State Rd, Delaware, OH 43015||4 miles|
When the weather gets hot, splash pads are a great way to cool off and have fun with your kids. Here are some of the best splash pads in Columbus:
|Splash Pad Name||Location||Features|
|Bicentennial Park||233 S Civic Center Dr, Columbus, OH 43215||15 water jets|
|Hilliard’s Station Park||4021 Main St, Hilliard, OH 43026||24 ground geysers|
|Powell Splash Pad||47 Hall St, Powell, OH 43065||12 water features|
Walking paths are a great way to get some exercise while enjoying the outdoors with your kids. Columbus has several walking paths that are perfect for families. Here are some of the best walking paths in Columbus:
|Walking Path Name||Location||Length|
|Olentangy Trail||600 W Wilson Bridge Rd, Worthington, OH 43085||13.75 miles|
|Scioto Mile||233 S Civic Center Dr, Columbus, OH 43215||1.5 miles|
|Heritage Trail||6989 Walhalla Rd, Columbus, OH 43214||6.15 miles|
Whether you’re looking for a hike, a splash pad, or a leisurely walk, Columbus has plenty of free outdoor activities for families with kids to enjoy.
Exploring different neighborhoods in Columbus can be a fun and educational experience for kids and adults alike. Here are some neighborhoods to check out:
German Village is a historic neighborhood with brick streets, charming homes, and beautiful gardens. Take a stroll down the streets and admire the architecture and history. Stop by Schiller Park for a picnic or to play on the playground. The Book Loft is a must-visit for book lovers, with 32 rooms filled with books.
Short North Arts District
The Short North Arts District is a vibrant neighborhood with art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. Take a walk down High Street and check out the murals and street art. The Pizzuti Collection is a contemporary art museum that is free on Sundays. The Goodale Park Playground is a great place for kids to run around and play.
Dublin is a suburb of Columbus with plenty of parks and outdoor activities. Coffman Park has a large playground, splash pad, and walking trails. The Dublin Arts Council has free exhibitions and events throughout the year. The Indian Run Falls is a scenic spot for a hike and picnic.
Hilliard is a family-friendly suburb with plenty of parks and community events. Homestead Metro Park has a train ride, playground, and nature center. The Hilliard Ray Patch Family YMCA has a free indoor playground for kids. The Hilliard Station Splash Pad is a fun place to cool off in the summer.
Westerville is a charming suburb with a historic downtown area and plenty of parks. Inniswood Metro Gardens has beautiful gardens and nature trails. The Westerville Public Library has a children’s area with books, puzzles, and activities. Alum Creek Park North has a beach and playground.
Grove City is a suburb of Columbus with a small town feel and plenty of parks. Fryer Park has a large playground, splash pad, and walking trails. The Grove City Library has a children’s area with books and activities. The Gardens at Gantz Farm is a beautiful spot for a stroll and picnic.
Overall, exploring different neighborhoods in Columbus can be a fun and educational experience for families. Each neighborhood has its own unique charm and attractions.
Free Events and Festivals
Columbus, Ohio is home to many free events and festivals that families with kids can enjoy. Here are some of the most popular ones:
ComFest, short for Community Festival, is an annual three-day festival held in Goodale Park in June. The festival features live music, arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, and community organizations. ComFest is a unique event that celebrates community, diversity, and local culture.
Ohio State Fair is an annual event held in Columbus, Ohio. The fair is a celebration of Ohio’s agriculture, entertainment, and education. The fair features live music, food vendors, carnival rides, and games. The fair also has a variety of exhibits and competitions that showcase Ohio’s agriculture, livestock, and crafts.
Live Music Offerings
Columbus is a city with a vibrant music scene, and there are many free live music events throughout the year. Some of the most popular ones include the Rhythm on the River concert series, which takes place on the Bicentennial Park stage during the summer months, and the Concerts at the Creek series, which takes place at the Walnut Creek Amphitheater in Gahanna.
In addition to these events, there are many other free concerts and music festivals that take place throughout the year in Columbus. These events are a great way for families with kids to enjoy live music and experience the local culture.
Overall, Columbus, Ohio has many free events and festivals that families with kids can enjoy. From ComFest to state fairs to live music offerings, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city.
When it comes to dining with kids in Columbus, there are plenty of options that will satisfy both parents and children. Here are some of the best family-friendly dining options in the city.
Kids Eat Free Options
Many restaurants in Columbus offer “Kids Eat Free” deals on certain days of the week. This is a great way to save money while enjoying a meal out with the family. Here are some of the best options:
|Restaurant||Day of the Week||Details|
|Rusty Bucket||Mondays||Kids eat free with the purchase of an adult entree|
|Max & Erma’s||Tuesdays||Kids eat free with the purchase of an adult entree|
|City Barbeque||Sundays||Kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal|
For parents who need a caffeine fix while out and about with the kids, there are plenty of coffee shops in Columbus that offer a welcoming atmosphere for families. Here are some of the best options:
- Stauf’s Coffee Roasters: This local chain has several locations throughout the city and offers a variety of coffee drinks and baked goods. Many locations have outdoor seating, which is perfect for families with young children.
- Fox in the Snow: This trendy coffee shop in the Italian Village neighborhood is known for its delicious pastries and artisanal coffee drinks. The spacious indoor seating area is perfect for families.
- Mission Coffee Co.: This coffee shop in the Short North neighborhood offers a cozy atmosphere and a variety of coffee drinks and teas. There is also a small selection of pastries and sandwiches.
Whether you’re looking for a restaurant with “Kids Eat Free” deals or a coffee shop where you can relax with your little ones, Columbus has plenty of family-friendly dining options to choose from.
Indoor Fun and Creativity
Columbus has plenty of indoor activities for kids that are both fun and free. Here are a few options to consider:
Kidx at Polaris Fashion Place
Located inside the Polaris Fashion Place mall, Kidx is an indoor play area that offers a variety of activities for kids. The play area includes a large play structure, a soft play area for toddlers, and a variety of interactive games. Parents can relax in the seating area while their kids play.
Columbus has several arcades that offer free games for kids. One option is Old North Arcade, which features classic arcade games as well as pinball machines. Another option is Level One Bar + Arcade, which offers a variety of arcade games, including skee-ball and air hockey.
In addition to these options, many libraries and community centers offer free indoor activities for kids, such as story times, crafts, and games. Check your local listings for more information.
Historic Sites and Museums
Columbus, Ohio is home to several historic sites and museums that offer free admission for visitors. These sites provide an opportunity to learn about the city’s rich history and culture. Here are two must-visit historic sites and museums:
Ohio State University Airport
The Ohio State University Airport is a historic airport that was established in 1942. The airport played a crucial role in training pilots during World War II. Today, the airport serves as a hub for aviation education and research. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the airport and learn about its history and current operations. The airport also hosts events and activities for visitors of all ages.
Wagner-Hagans Auto Museum
The Wagner-Hagans Auto Museum is a hidden gem in Columbus, Ohio. The museum features a collection of over 30 antique cars, including a 1914 Ford Model T and a 1929 Cadillac. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the museum and learn about the history of automobiles. The museum also hosts special events and exhibits throughout the year.
Both of these historic sites and museums offer a unique and educational experience for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re interested in aviation or automobiles, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Sports and Entertainment
Columbus, Ohio is a city with a thriving sports and entertainment scene, and there are plenty of free options to enjoy with kids. Here are a few highlights:
Nationwide Arena is the home of the Columbus Blue Jackets, the city’s NHL hockey team. While tickets to games can be pricey, the arena offers free public skating events throughout the year. Skate rentals are available for a fee, but families can bring their own skates to save money. Check the arena’s website for upcoming public skating dates and times.
Ohio Stadium is the iconic home of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team. While tickets to games can be expensive, families can still enjoy the stadium for free by taking a self-guided tour. Visitors can explore the stadium’s history and facilities, including the press box, locker rooms, and field. Tours are available on select days throughout the year, so be sure to check the stadium’s website for more information.
The Columbus Clippers are the city’s minor league baseball team, and they play their home games at Huntington Park. While tickets to games can be affordable, families can also enjoy the park for free by visiting during select events. The park hosts movie nights, concerts, and other events throughout the year that are free and open to the public. Check the park’s website for upcoming events and dates.
Overall, Columbus offers a variety of free sports and entertainment options for families with kids. Whether it’s skating at Nationwide Arena, touring Ohio Stadium, or enjoying Huntington Park, there’s something for everyone to enjoy without breaking the bank.