Top Things to Do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Herb gardens, a canopy walk, play structures and a Hocking Hills-inspired splash area—waterfall and all—cover the 2-acre Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children's Garden. Another kid favorite: the Paul Busse Model Garden Railway, which winds through a storybook village among conifers, vines and shrubs.
At this 175-acre green space, kids race to Bicentennial Park's Scioto Mile Fountain, the city's splash pad that shoots more than 1,000 jets of water. Along the Scioto Mile, you'll also find a pedestrian trail, an amphitheater and the city's Cultural Arts Center, where you can take classes on painting, ceramics and more.
Related: Top Things to Do in Columbus, Ohio
ZipZone Outdoor Adventures
For an adrenaline boost and family adventure outside, head to ZipZone Outdoor Adventures. Soar through treetops, explore the Adventure Park or take your little one to the Kids Park for tightropes, moving platforms, rope climbs and even a zip line created for kids ages 4-7.
Located just outside of Columbus in Worthington, Play: CBUS is the world's largest indoor ropes course. Let your kids exhaust their energy climbing the two-story ropes course, ninja courses and climbing walls.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
This world-class zoo in Powell is home to more than 10,000 animals. The Heart of Africa exhibit houses perennial favorites like lions, zebras, cheetahs and wildebeests in an expansive savanna setting. Feeling wild? Stick around to feed the giraffes or ride a camel. On summer days, cool off at Zoombezi Bay. Kids will love the wave pool, Baboon Lagoon play area and lazy river.
Kids can play, run, climb and learn at 20 Metro Parks throughout Columbus and Franklin County. Take a family hike to see a 25-foot waterfall at the new Quarry Trails Metro Park or try to spot bison at Batelle Darby Creek.
Center of Science and Industry
With interactive exhibits covering themes like space, energy and the oceans, there's a world of activity for the family at COSI. Ride inside a Mars rover simulator or on a high-wire unicycle that lets even the most unbalanced rider pedal across an 84-foot-long cable. Little Kidspace includes a tree house and a light-and-shadow workshop.
Legoland Discovery Center
Lego lovers won't want to miss Legoland Discovery Center, at Easton Town Center. The 6,000 square-foot attraction features two rides, a 4D Cinema, themed LEGO play areas, MINILAND Ohio and more.
Columbus Museum of Art
Crafty kids will love the Columbus Museum of Art's Big Idea Gallery featuring hands-on activities. The museum offers free admission for children ages 3 and under.
Does family night mean a sports game with your brood? In addition to Ohio State University sports, Columbus fields three professional sports teams: the NHL Columbus Blue Jackets, the MiLB Columbus Clippers and the MLS Columbus Crew. Game on!
Even the pickiest eaters find culinary satisfaction in the wide variety of baked goods and prepared foods sold at North Market (two locations). Unique offerings include hotdogs with Reuben toppings and banana nut soft pretzels. Even ice cream flavors seem inspired: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams scoops wildberry lavender and salted peanut butter at the spot that started her on the road to fame.
Slate Run Historical Farm
Get in touch with your inner Laura Ingalls Wilder at Slate Run Historical Farm, 20 miles southeast of Columbus. Tours and demos immerse visitors in what life was like at a late-1800s house and barn. Kids love the up-close encounters with pigs, turkeys, and horses—and may even get the chance to herd some sheep.
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. Bring along a sketchpad to Topiary Garden Park and see if you can get the kids to create some of their own art!
Olentangy Indian Caverns
A few miles from the Columbus Zoo, you can journey into underground caverns believed to have been used by the Wyandotte Indians as refuge from inclement weather. Venture back aboveground to explore the on-site country store, gem mining area, playground and minigolf course.
Experience what life was like in a 19th-century small town at Ohio Village (4 miles north of downtown). Watch the Muffins, the village's baseball team, play according to 1860s rules in their dapper uniforms of white shirts, bow ties and striped pillbox hats. You can also explore the community's general store, pharmacy and toy shop.