Whether you’re visiting Columbus for the first time, or you’re a long-time resident looking for something new to try, there’s always something fun to do in this bustling city.
Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or just looking for a cool place to hang out with friends, this city will have plenty of options for you. I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite things to do here, so keep reading to find out how you can make the most of your time in Columbus.
1. Check out the Ohio Statehouse
One of the best things to do in Columbus explores the beautiful Ohio Statehouse building. Completed in 1861, it is one of the few American statehouses that doesn’t have a dome. The building was designed to be built in stages and was not intended to feature a dome at all initially.
The Ohio Statehouse features interesting architecture and has a lot of history behind it including some famous people who have visited the building such as Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ulysses S Grant, and Rutherford B Hayes.
Free 45-minute guided tours are available every day of the week except Sundays. You can also just stop by on your own and admire the architecture or take photos inside or outside of the building. There is also a gift shop where you can find some great souvenirs for friends and family back home.
2. Go to a Columbus Clippers Game
One of the best things to do in Columbus is going to a Columbus Clippers game. The Columbus Clippers are an AAA baseball team that is affiliated with the Cleveland Indians. The Clippers play at Huntington Park which is located downtown, and they play home games during the summer (70 games a year). Going to a game is an affordable and fun family activity that you should absolutely take part of if you are in town!
3. Go shopping at Easton Town Center
The Easton Town Center, located northeast of downtown Columbus, has been voted one of the best shopping destinations by several prestigious publications. With upscale shops and restaurants, it’s a great place to go for some retail therapy and grab a bite to eat with friends or go on a date. In addition to the shopping and dining options, you can catch a show at The Marcus Easton Cinema or spend the night at one of the center’s many hotels.
4. Get moving at Top Golf
Top Golf is a fun way to spend the day with friends and family in Columbus. Located at 3950 Stelzer Rd, Top Golf features bars and restaurants as well as fun games such as mini-golf, shuffleboard, cornhole, and more. All are welcome at Top Golf so you can bring your kids or go on a date with your significant other without any issue.
There are several games that you can play at Top Golf including multi-target golf, darts, arcade games, ping pong tables, giant jenga sets and more. You can also play traditional golfing in the bays where you hit balls at targets. There are over 200 bays spread out across three floors so there’s plenty of room for everyone to have fun!
5. Explore the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a beautiful indoor-outdoor garden space in the heart of Columbus. The conservatory features three acres of incredible botanical exhibits that showcase exotic plant species from around the world, special exhibitions, seasonal displays, and a hands-on children’s garden. Located just minutes from downtown Columbus in Franklin Park, the conservatory is one of the city’s most popular attractions and offers something for everyone to enjoy all year round. Here are some things you should know before you go:
- Hours: Open daily 10am – 5pm, except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day (closed on these days).
- Location: 1777 E Broad Street
- Admission: Ticket prices range depending on age; children ages 2 years and younger are free; tickets range from $10 to $15 per person; additional fees apply for special exhibitions.
6. See a show at the Palace Theatre, which hosts Broadway performances
Just because Columbus isn’t known for having a thriving theater scene doesn’t mean you won’t see an amazing show at The Palace Theatre. In fact, the theater hosts Broadway performances! Because the shows are only on weekends, the cost of tickets can be expensive, so I recommend purchasing in advance if you know what show you want to see.
The only downside to attending The Palace Theatre is that parking can be difficult during peak hours along with the surrounding restaurants and bars being busy as well. But once you find parking and check out a restaurant or bar, you’ll realize that it’s all part of the experience! After all, The Palace Theater is located in the Short North area, where most of Columbus’ artsy events take place.
7. Visit the Center of Science and Industry (COSI)
The Center of Science and Industry (COSI) is one of the most popular attractions in Columbus, Ohio. This dynamic science museum features more than 300 interactive exhibits that engage, educate, and entertain visitors of all ages.
Originally founded in 1964, COSI moved to its current location along the Scioto River downtown in 1999. The center was renovated again in 2011 with a highly energy-efficient building addition that provides much-needed additional space for exhibitions and public programming. Today, categories of exhibits at COSI include Energy, Health Sciences, Space Exploration, Oceanography / Marine Biology / Life Sciences; Technology; Physical Science; Earth Sciences; Engineering and Design; Transportation; Weather & Climate; Mathematics & Patterns; and Human Behavior & Cognition.
8. Discover the best brewery in Columbus: Land-Grant Brewing Company
Looking for some good beer? Try Land-Grant Brewing Company, which specializes in traditional, German-inspired beers. The beers change regularly based on the seasonal availability of ingredients and so you’ll be able to try something new each time you visit. In addition to their wide range of beers, they also have a full bar, so you can try a wide range of craft cocktails and wine. Their tap list includes IPAs, lagers, sours, and other styles that are sure to please everyone in your group!
Not sure what type of beer you’re looking for? Try the Tasting Flight and ask one of the friendly staff members about their favorite brews. If you get hungry during your visit there is food available from local vendors (such as Hot Chicken Takeover) or feel free to bring your own food on site.
9. Visit Columbus Museum of Art – Discover Art, History, and Science
One of the most important cultural institutions in the city, the Columbus Museum of Art makes its home in a stunning contemporary building downtown. The museum contains an impressive collection with more than 30,000 works of art from throughout history, including pieces by Renoir, Monet, Picasso, and Warhol. It also has an extensive collection of photography as well as rotating exhibitions throughout the year.
The museum is located at 480 E Broad St. Admission costs $14 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. Children 5 years old and under are free.
10. Enjoy a chocolate-tasting tour at Anthony-Thomas Candy Company
If you’re a chocolate lover, make sure to visit Anthony-Thomas Candy Company. This family-owned business has been making chocolates since 1962, and the company’s factory is right in Columbus. Visitors can take guided tours of the factory, watch the production process and explore some of its machinery, and sample the delicious confections. The company also sells gift baskets that would be perfect for any chocoholic on your list!
11. Enjoy the beautiful gardens and art at Topiary Park
Located downtown, Topiary Park is a beautiful place to take a break from the city. It’s open daily from dawn until dusk and admission are free. The park is best known for its topiaries, which are sculptures created by shaping shrubbery into recognizable figures. You can spot many of your favorite characters from the famous painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat in this park—including children playing with hoops, ladies in bonnets pushing baby carriages, and dogs weaving in between their legs.
Other noteworthy attractions nearby include Columbus Park of Roses, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Schiller Park, and Thurber House.
12. Feed giraffes at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is home to the largest collection of exotic animals in the Midwest, including polar bears, cheetahs, rhinos, and elephants. However, many visitors to the zoo start their day by feeding giraffes from an elevated platform. Wandering around on foot in their habitat below you and other visitors, these towering animals seek out your snack for an up-close-and-personal visit. If you’re wondering where to find the giraffes at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium or what to feed them during your visit, here are some tips for visiting these magnificent creatures.
13. Learn about Native American culture at the Short North Gallery Hop
The Short North Gallery Hop is a monthly celebration of the arts, taking place on the first Saturday of every month. It is free and open to the public, during which time you can stroll along High Street and enjoy live music, street performers, and local artists as they display their works in galleries, restaurants, and coffee shops. Many galleries have receptions for new exhibits on that night, so it’s a great opportunity to see the latest in contemporary art in Columbus.
14. Take off your shoes and enjoy playing in Grasshopper Grove at Children’s Garden
Located inside the Franklin Park Conservatory, this is a favorite place to play. Grasshopper Grove is an interactive garden filled with unique floral and fauna sculptures. From tunnels to slides and even a grassy hill, there are endless opportunities for fun. Visitors are encouraged to take off their shoes and enjoy playing in the garden.
It’s easy to forget that you’re in the city when you enter this whimsical world of discovery. The whole family can spend hours discovering new things in each direction they look! Be sure to bring your camera so you can capture all of your findings! This is definitely one of the best things to do in Columbus with kids or those who are young at heart.
15. Visit German Village for Columbus Food Adventures
You’ll not only get to sample both neighborhoods in one trip, but you’ll also learn about the history of the area and what makes it so special. Each tour is led by a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide who will show you how to eat like a local. You’ll get to sample food from restaurants that would otherwise be very hard for a visitor to find or even know about. Your guide will tell you about the best places for your specific tastes and then some, whether it’s Italian food, German food, Mexican food, or just good old American fare, there’s something for everyone!