If you are looking for fun in Ohio, don’t sleep on Columbus. While Cincinnati and Sandusky have all the big amusement parks and seem to get all the love, Columbus can easily be overlooked. Columbus has lots to offer families and is pretty centrally located in Ohio, so can be a great stop if you are travelling through.
Columbus is the capital of Ohio, and a visit to the Ohio Statehouse may be a great way to kick off your trip and get acquainted with Columbus. After you’ve toured the Statehouse and Museum, check out these other Columbus gems.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Rated the 5th Best Zoo in North America by USAToday, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has it all. With several different zones dedicated to native species, an aquarium with interactive exhibits and a variety of rides and other attractions, it is easy to see how the Zoo got its rating. Adventure Cove is the newest zone within the Zoo and includes a stingray touch tank. I would highly recommend purchasing a “Zoo More” wristband if you plan on playing during your stay. The wristband will get you rides in Adventure Cove, the 4-D theatre, Dinosaur Island, the carousel, train, and camel and pony rides. We definitely took advantage of this option and it was worth the money.
Located next to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Zoombezi Bay is a waterpark adventure. Containing slides galore and an action river, this is the perfect way to cool off and relax after a day at the Zoo. You can purchase one-day general admission tickets or two-day combo tickets that include admission to the Columbus Zoo.
Sure, they tell you you are in an urban city, but you certainly won’t feel that way. The Wilds is a conservation area partly run in conjunction with the Columbus Zoo. Book an open-air safari tour and see a multitude of animals in a natural setting. Seeing animals from an open-air vehicle while cruising a gravel pathway will make you feel like you are traversing the savanna, not the middle of Ohio. Zipline tours are also available, and there is also lodging on the property. Grab a cabin by the lake and wake up to the sounds of nature.
COSI (Center of Science and Industry)
If our kids could, they would spend days at the COSI. Dedicated to all forms of science and engineering, the COSI has hands-on exhibits for every subject. You can check out dinosaurs and dig for fossils, pilot a space shuttle, explore the ocean depths, test the limits and power of the human body, and power a city. There is also an infant/toddler zone and an outdoor science park. Try to catch a planetarium or live science show while you are there and, if you are feeling brave, ride the high-wire unicycle!
Located right in the middle of downtown Columbus, the Scioto Mile comprises eight separate parks. Bicentennial Park contains a stunning fountain that features light and fog effects. The Promenade is the perfect walk along the Scioto River, with plenty of seating and gardens along the way. Many of the parks have monuments dedicated to the men and women who have served Columbus and the United States in some capacity. Art and nature are integral parts of the Scioto Mile, and you will see many gardens and sculptures scattered throughout the acres of parkland.
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a great place to explore. Stroll through the Botanical Gardens of the park or visit the greenhouses of the Conservatory. The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden marries the joy of childhood with the beauty of nature. Offering hands-on programming and plenty of play areas to enjoy, this is the perfect spot to sit back and watch the kids be kids. Also be on the lookout for glass artwork by Dale Chihuly, a world-renowned glass blower.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center
LEGO is a brand every kid (and adult) knows. Those tiny plastic bricks and minifigures have sparked many an imagination. The LEGOLAND Discovery Center, located in the Easton Town Center, is sure to make any kid’s day. Displaying a MiniLand area and a 4-D Cinema, along with two rides and a play area, there is no way to get bored at the Discovery Center. Check out the LEGO factory tour and the Creative Workshop. Young builders will enjoy the Duplo Farm and Duplo Village. There is so much to do, see, and build at the Discovery Center!
Honoring Columbus’ German heritage, the German Village is steeped in history. With brick sidewalks and unique shops and gardens, a stroll through the German Village is something to experience. Make a dinner stop at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and indulge in some authentic German cuisine. If you happen to dine on a weekend, prepare to have a polka party with live entertainment. After dinner, stop by the Book Loft. Thirty-two rooms of books and gifts at bargain prices will make any bibliophile drool. You are guaranteed to find something!
Columbus may not have all the bells and whistles of its more popular counterparts, but it has a charm all of its own. What it may lack in thrills and spills, it makes up for in beauty and history. Visit Columbus and see what you’ve been missing.
Have you visited Columbus? Did we miss any need-to-see spots?