Top Things To Do In Columbus OH
Columbus Ohio Top 23 Things To Do
As Ohio’s capital city, Columbus has the expected lineup of great museums, a zoo and botanical gardens. We have put together the top things to do, and it does not even include all the awesome Columbus-OH events! Whatever you do, don't miss out on these Columbus favorites. Whether you're planning a weekend getaway, or looking for ways to entertain friends and family, we've got you covered. We've put together the top things you must see, must do in Columbus and must eat in Columbus, and this is just a start!
Scioto Mile - 253 acres of parkland in downtown Columbus features miles of multi-use trails stretching from Bicentennial Plaza in the south to North Bank Park in the North. This is a great spot to take a stroll and enjoy both the city and nature. Kids splash in a 200-foot-long series of fountains that shoot water 75 feet in the air. The riverside park also hosts free dance, music and theater performances at an outdoor pavilion.
If your visit to Columbus coincides with the first Saturday of the month then the Short North Gallery Hop should be on your agenda. The Gallery Hop is one of the most enjoyable free things to in Columbus. During "the hop," as locals refer to it, art galleries and boutique shops in the Short North arts district stay open late. It is a fun evening activity for friends or couples even if you are just window shopping. High Street comes alive with street musicians and some of the best people-watching in the city.
Location: High Street in the Short North, Columbus, Ohio
One of the top tourist attractions in the city is the highly acclaimed Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Kids and adults can get a full day of fun while exploring the six different regions of the zoo, from the Congo and Asia to North America and Africa. There are many public demonstrations throughout the day at the zoo and seasonal events that make visits extra exciting.
The annual winter Wildlights feature at the zoo around the holiday season is a highlight to see, when the entire zoo grounds are covered in millions of LED lights, and special exhibits are open to the public.
Address: 4850 Powell Road, Powell, Ohio
Official site: www.columbuszoo.org
Columbus is upping its game when it comes to sports, with two major professional teams and a minor-league baseball team that call the city home. Take in a Columbus Blue Jackets National Hockey League game at Nationwide Arena. For added fun, show up early to catch the pregame warm-up skate a half hour before the puck drops.
You can also sport black and gold attire to cheer on the Columbus Crew, the city's Major League Soccer Team, which has a huge fan following. You can round out your sports-themed visit to Huntington Park to catch a Columbus Clippers minor-league baseball game. Some of the best games to catch are during dime-a-dog night.
Summer evenings are meant to enjoy under the stars with an open-air concert at Picnic with the Pops in downtown Columbus. The Columbus Symphony Orchestra has regular seasonal evening concerts at the Columbus Commons. Pack a picnic dinner and find a lawn seat or buy a table ticket and grab food from the concession area on-site and relax as you listen to the music.
Each concert is themed, and the symphony generally teams up with a pop star or musician of another genre like rap or the OSU Marching Band. The musical collaborations make for a pleasant evening of music.
Address: 160 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio
Official site: www.columbussymphony.com
The thrill of tackling a zipline course during the day is exciting, but what about trying one at night? The ZipZone Outdoor Adventures is one of the best things to do near Columbus. It is located just north of the metro area at Camp Mary Orton, which has been transformed into an outdoor adventure park.
Adrenaline junkies and adventurers looking to try something new can take a guided moonlight zipline tour through the treetops during the full moon every month. There are several regular daytime tours available also. The company is conservation-minded, so all of the zipline courses are constructed to be mindful of the environment and the trees in the camp.
Address: 7925 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio
Official site: www.zipzonetours.com
There are few drive-in theaters left in the United States, and one of them is located in south Columbus. The South Drive-in Theatre is a nostalgic throwback and a fun evening doing something a little different. The old-school theater looks much the way it did in its heyday of the 1950s, with a tiny concession facility and metal speakers that clip onto your car windows.
The South Drive-in has double features of first-run movies on two different screens. Bring your own snacks or fire up a portable grill to cookout before the movie starts.
Address: 3050 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio
Official site: www.drive-inmovies.com
The newest museum in Columbus has a national designation and a stunning presence to go with it. The National Veterans Memorial and Museum is a unique museum in downtown Columbus that honors veterans from all branches of the military. The museum exhibits show war from a personal perspective by sharing letters, photos, and memorabilia from veterans and their families. It even takes visitors to the front line of combat in some of the exhibits.
Take a quiet stroll along the Memorial Grove outside, which honors service members and be sure to visit the rooftop sanctuary that memorializes those who died while serving.
Address: 300 West Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio
Official site: www.nationalvmm.org
If you want a comprehensive look at Columbus or want to experience a specific element of the city, like its ethnic food scene, then taking a tour may be the best way to experience multiple things at once. Columbus City Adventures is a tour company with several ways to experience Columbus.
You can take a city tour that covers some of the main attractions, like the Ohio Statehouse and the surrounding districts; a Past, Present, and Future tour that gives a historical perspective of the city; a Secret Columbus tour based on hidden finds in the city uncovered in the book Secret Columbus; or one of the Columbus Food Adventures tours, which explores the Short North, local food trucks, and ethnic restaurants around Columbus.
Official site: www.columbuscityadventures.com
Hidden in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Columbus is the Park of Roses, a treasure that is impressive to anyone who visits. The Park of Roses in Whetstone Park features more than 12,000 roses of every variety and color. The 13-acre park is the largest rose garden park in the world owned by a city. It is maintained by volunteers who tend to the sectioned areas featuring hybrid roses, herb gardens, and varieties grown without the use of fertilizer.
Take a seat on one of the many benches in the park to enjoy a spring wedding in progress or attend a summer concert in the park. The best time to see the roses in bloom is from mid-June through mid-September.
Address: 3901 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio
Official site: www.parkofroses.org
If you have ever thought about learning how to cook a dinner of French cuisine or the ultimate wood-fired pizza, then maybe you can take up those new skills during a visit to Columbus. The Flowers and Bread shop in Clintonville specializes in two things: flowers and bread. The shop is a small café, but the attached section of the building is where they hold regular cooking and flower arrangement classes. There are regular classes on things like baking and brunch dishes to multi-course meals. There are even "date night" classes available.
Address: 3870 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio
Official site: www.flowersandbread.com
Columbus has two major shopping complexes: Polaris Fashion Place to the north and Easton Town Center to the east. If you need retail therapy, these are the places to visit. Both malls encompass a multi-level indoor mall and an expansive complex of additional shopping, dining, and entertainment. The stores range from premier retailers like Tiffany & Co. and Apple to Ohio-made products.
Each mall has several hundred retailers with more stores located in outdoor shopping areas and additional shopping complexes around the malls. These are fun places to go even if there is nothing that you "need" to buy.
Though Columbus is a growing metropolitan city, it is nice to enjoy a respite in nature in one of the 19 Metro Parks that surround it. Metro Parks are located throughout Columbus and serve as small natural retreats from city life. Each park is unique, with activities that range from hiking and rock climbing to fishing.
Take part in one of the many free daily programs at a park close to where you are staying during your visit and enjoy the fresh air, or pack a frisbee and a picnic and enjoy an afternoon lying on a blanket in the grass.
Official site: www.metroparks.com
Columbus supports the arts and artists, from visual arts and music to the performing arts. Take an art appreciation day during your time in Columbus to visit the Columbus Museum of Art. The museum is a centerpiece of Columbus culture and features American and European works from the 19th and 20th centuries and various mediums, such as paintings, sculpture, textiles, and photography. It also houses collections of works from Elijah Pierce, George Bellows, and Aminah Robinson, who are all from Columbus.
Round out your art immersion with side visits to the Wexner Center for the Arts and the Pizzuti Collection in Columbus.
Address: 480 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio
Official site: www.columbusmuseum.org
Columbus is fortunate to have several restored historic theaters, including the grand Ohio Theatre, which attracts Broadway shows throughout the year. The 1928 Ohio Theatre is a Columbus treasure, with Spanish-Baroque architecture and crushed velvet seating.
The Palace Theatre is another theater to consider if you want to take in a performance. It was a vaudeville house in the city in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, with elegant French décor. The Southern Theatre and the Lincoln Theatre are two smaller restored theaters that feature entertainment and performances almost every night of the week.
The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a top destination in Columbus for their impressive greenhouses and more than 400 species of plants and flowers, but why not get more out of your visit by taking a class? Classes at the conservatory are offered on a regular basis and cover skills like building a terrarium for your home, glass blowing, creating an herb garden, and even yoga and Zumba instruction.
Your backdrop is the 88-acre conservatory complex, with an inspiring environment. If you do not have time for a class, you can visit the conservatory on a regular day to explore the environments of the desert, tropical rain forest, and Pacific Islands.
Address: 1777 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio
Official site: www.fpconservatory.org
Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum The impressive collection of Ohio State-owned materials includes rare and historical comic strips, graphic novels and editorial cartoons.
Columbus Food Adventures Hungry explorers go on a progressive meal at several restaurants. Themes include taco trucks, desserts, or an Alt Eats tour of the cuisines of Somalia or Vietnam.
German Village A few blocks south of downtown, bakeries, bookshops, delis and gift stores line the narrow brick streets of this charming enclave of 19th-century European-style brick buildings.
Huntington Park Home of the Triple-A team the Clippers, this Minor League Baseball park sells hot dogs for 10 cents during select games. Enjoy drinks and skyline views from the Hall of Fame Bar.
Topiary Garden Park Sculpted evergreens re-create the scene from Georges Seurat’s pointillist painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte.
Short North Arts District The district has morphed into a 20-block mosaic of fashion boutiques, restaurants, bars, murals and new faces. Last summer, $500 million of investment added more storefronts and lofts.
Top 12 Must Eat Columbus Ohio
Brassica Hop in the cafeteria-style line at this popular Mediterranean spot in Short North to assemble a bowl or pita wrap with your choice of rice, lentils, creamy hummus, vegetables and proteins.
Columbus Coffee Trail
Columbus Coffee Trail This string of coffee destinations was charted to educate. At One Line, learn how brewing style affects flavor. Fox in the Snow forgoes Wi-Fi—and a business phone—to promote interaction in its sunny garage-turned-cafe
Denmark on High
Denmark on High Try seasonal cocktails and savory apps in the bar and lounge over High Street.
Michael's Bistro and Bar
Michael's Bistro and Bar White tablecloths add a formal touch to this historical stable. Low-country dishes (shrimp and grits with ham) impress guests.
The Happy Greek
The Happy Greek Guests eat Greek favorites (tzatziki, gyros, kabobs, desserts and, yes, flaming cheese) in Short North.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams -Creative flavors like Boston Cream, Gooey Butter Cake and Brambleberry Crisp join more typical (but equally tasty) choices like The Milkiest Chocolate.
Little Eater Cara Mangini, author of the award-winning cookbook The Vegetable Butcher, stays true to her veggie-centric roots at the North Market spot. Try the four-scoop flight of seasonal vegetable creations.
Northstar Cafe Staff serve items containing sustainably sourced ingredients, such as the beets and squash in the roasted root salad.
The Refectory Restaurant and Bistro
The Refectory Restaurant and Bistro Upscale American and French cuisine shines in a 19th-century building that used to serve as a church. Music nights with live jazz, opera or chamber music performances make a visit even more special.
Schmidt's Restaurant und Sausage Haus
Schmidt's Restaurant und Sausage Haus Americanized German foods star at the German Village spot. Try the Autobahn buffet.
The Thurman Cafe
The Thurman Cafe The ¾-pound Thurman Burger—with ham, cheese, sauteed onions and ’shrooms, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, pickles, and mayo—warrants the sometimes two-hour wait.
Watershed Kitchen and Bar
Watershed Kitchen and Bar A four-course tasting menu lets you sample a variety of chef Jack Moore’s creations, such as beet salad with feta and fried chicken with whipped pig butter. Also on the menu: spirits from Watershed Distillery.