Summer Nights in Columbus: Concerts, Movies and More for Every Night of the Week

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With over 40 recurring nightly events going on around Columbus there will always be something to do all summer!

Who’s up for enjoying warm summer nights when it stays light until 9:00 or later? Here’s a list of things going on in the evenings around Columbus! Just a note: A lot of these do not happen every single week, so make sure to check the link for all the details!

Know something I should add? Leave a comment! Don’t forget to also check out 35 Free Things to Do With Your Kids This Summer in Columbus!

Monday

Columbus Skyline

Tuesday

photo of the frog fountain at Easton Town Center, Columbus, Ohio

Wednesday

carousel at Columbus Commons, Columbus, Ohio

Thursday

ART Sign in the Discovery District, Columbus, Ohio

Friday

photo of the columbus skyline, ohio

Saturday

Topiary Park in Columbus, Ohio

Sunday

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picture of the Columbus Skyline

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35 Free things to do in Columbus this summer.

ICYMI: 35 Free Things to Do With Your Kids This Summer in Columbus

*Please be aware,  information is gathered from multiple community sources.  Times, dates and locations are subject to change and events may be cancelled due to inclement weather. There may be a fee to participate in a featured activity.  Please call ahead or check links to confirm activities.  Enjoy what you do today!*


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Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio

Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus Ohio

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These are the top 10 family-friendly things to do in Columbus Ohio!

Columbus has so much to offer families! It’s a great place to live, work, play and visit! Every day it seems I run across something new going on or a special event to check out! My family moved here 10 years ago and we have fallen in love!

If you’re new to Columbus, planning a trip to Columbus or a new parent in Columbus, these are the top 10, can’t miss family-friendly things to do in this amazing city!

1. Center of Science and Industry

One of the top science museums in the country, the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) has something for kids (and adults) of all ages! There are 2 full floors of hands-on science exhibits with different themes from Oceans to Gadgets to Energy, a cafe, a little kidspace that’s perfect for the 6 and under crowd, a permanent American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery and seasonal, traveling exhibits.

2. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Another gem in Columbus is the Zoo and Aquarium! Highlights include the Heart of Africa, the Polar Frontier and the new Shores Play Park! The Zoo is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Don’t miss the special shows, programs for kids and holiday events like Boo at the Zoo and Wildlights! During the summer you can combine your visit with water play at Zoombezi Bay (additional tickets required)!

3. Columbus Metropolitan Library, Main Library and Topiary Park

The Main Library in downtown Columbus was remodeled in 2016 and offers a large children’s area, reading rooms, a coffee shop and cafe, gift shop with unique items, and outdoor patio and access to the internet. It’s worth stopping here even if just to check out the unique Topiary Park just East of the library. There is access to the park from the library. The park is a sculptural interpretation of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte. There are 54 people made of plants and bushes as well as boats, dogs and other animals, standing up to 12 feet tall!

4. Columbus Commons

Looking for a green space in the middle of the city to put your feet up and let the kids run around? Look no further than Columbus Commons. Not only is there a huge green space for kids to run around in, during the warmer months there is access to art supplies and books on most days and a carousel! There are two permanent cafes in the park, Tortilla – Mexican street food and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – some of the best ice cream in Columbus! Throughout the season the park hosts many events, concerts and festivals including Commons for Kids on Friday mornings during the summer.

5. Columbus Museum of Art

Believe it or not, there is a lot for kids to do at the Columbus Museum of Art! Check out the Wonder Room, a space completely dedicated to kids where they can explore various textiles and activities to inspire the artist inside. Throughout the museum there are rotating activities for kids to make connections to the art on the walls. Each year the museum is home to Think Outside the Brick, a huge LEGO display and opportunities for free building. Look for opportunities to take a Family Adventures Tour or drop in on a Young Child Studio. Bonus: the museum is FREE on Sundays!

6. Inniswood Metro Gardens

Many of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks offer amazing play and learning opportunities for kids, indoors and outdoors, but Inniswood Metro Gardens is especially magical for children. The park includes a Sister’s Garden with places for kids to play, look for frogs and hide in the Secret Garden. Kids can walk amongst the trees on suspension bridges and climb into a treehouse. The park also offers programs for children throughout the year.

7. Franklin Park Conservatory

Franklin Park Conservatory offers the opportunity to step into another climate, be it the desert or the rain forest! Amazing botanical displays are a guarantee and exhibits rotate throughout the seasons. In the spring Blooms & Butterflies opens and your family can watch newly emerged butterflies be released into the habitat. There is a small children’s play area, preschool programs and family friendly activities on Saturdays. The conservatory itself has indoor and outdoor components and new in 2018, they have added an amazing Children’s Garden which is included in admission and offers a full experience in itself! (Read all about it here.) The public grounds around the Conservatory are beautiful in themselves and also include a playground!

8. Scioto Audubon Metro Park

The only Metro Park in downtown Columbus is the Scioto Audubon Metro Park. Within it is the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. The best views of downtown Columbus can be seen from the Center and inside there is a children’s play area, live animals on display and lots of opportunities for bird watching! Walk through the park, over the boardwalk to the climbing wall and playground area for extra exercise! Outside the Audubon Center there is a sand box for kids to play in, a chalk board and overlook decks to spot wildlife! See 9 Things to do with Your Kids at Scioto Audubon for more ideas!

9. Ohio History Center

The Ohio History Center is the hub of the Ohio History Connection, which includes 58 historic sites around Ohio. The Ohio History Center features exhibits highlighting the history of Ohio including a life in the 1950’s, pioneer Ohio, Ohio animals, including a large Mastodon on display, a children’s play area, vehicles and airplanes on display and much more. During the summer months, Ohio Village, an outdoor village that recreates life in the 1800’s is open for exploring and special events.

10. Easton Town Center

Easton Town Center is your one stop destination for shopping, eating, playing and more! This open air mall offers just about any store you can imagine, fountains for splashing, a model train and kid-friendly stores like Build-A-Bear, American Girl, The LEGO Store and coming in the fall of 2018, LEGOLAND® Discovery Center! Beyond shopping, Easton offers tons of stand-alone restaurants to choose from as well as a food court.

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ICYMI: The Complete List of Columbus Play Cafes

Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio


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6 Ways to Enjoy Columbus Commons this Summer

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My family has enjoyed many events at the Columbus Commons over the past few years! Many of the events have become traditions, especially the Downtown Live Concerts and Commons for Kids! My son still routinely asks when they are having the Harvest Festival because he remembers “making bread” there a few years ago!

Get out your calendars because this summer is packed full of free fun at Columbus Commons. In fact, the Commons has developed a 2017 Summer Checklist to make sure you don’t miss a thing! This year, I am a Columbus Commons Ambassador, so you will definitely see us checking off many of the items on this list!

Download the CHECKLIST here!

Here are 6 ways you can enjoy Columbus Commons with your kids this summer:

1. Food Truck Food Court

Now through October 26 (with the exception of September 14) from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM, head down to the Commons for a fun lunch date! There will be 8 regular trucks and 2 rotating trucks each week!

2. Commons for Kids

Beginning June 2 through August 18 (with the exception of June 30) from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, the Commons hosts a fun Friday morning for kids! The carousel and bounce-houses are FREE during this time and there are other activities like arts and crafts, ball play, Imagination Playground, Art Box and a life-sized chess board! There are different visitors each week and we have seen Ronald McDonald, Columbus Zoo, Daniel Tiger from Visit Pittsburgh, and others!

Other visitors this year include The Great Randini Magic Show, Aha! Children’s Museum, Franklin Park Conservatory and more! If the temperature is 80 degrees or higher there will also be a water slide!

3. Downtown Live Concert Series

For the past few summers we have hit at least a few of these FREE concerts on Thursday nights! We like to pack a picnic dinner and then get ice cream at Jeni’s while we enjoy live music in the background! My kids love watching live bands and this is a relaxed and family-friendly way to do it!

Downtown Live Concerts happen on Thursdays in July from 5:30 PM – 10:30 PM. There are food trucks and an artisan market as well! The bands this year are as follows:

  • July 6: Mojo Flo / Nick D & the Believers
  • July13: Popgun / Forest & the Evergreens
  • July 20: Conspiracy / Reaganomics
  • July 27: Floorwalkers / Spikedrivers

There are other FREE concerts happening at Columbus Commons throughout the summer! See the list here.

4. Free Movie Nights

There are 2 more Free Movie Nights throughout the summer! You can bring your own picnic or purchase food at the park. Each Movie Night has a different time and set of events going on that day. You can see all the details here.

The dates and movies are as follows:

  • July 21: The LEGO Batman Moive
  • September 2: The Jungle Book

5. Family Fundays

Family Fundays are FREE events on select Saturdays with activities for families! There are two more this summer! There will be free carousel rides, arts and crafts, a planting station with Lowe’s and more! A $5 wristband will get your child unlimited access to activities like laster tag, inflatables, face painting and Putt-Putt.

If your child has a sensory sensitivity, you can come one hour early for a low-key atmosphere, thanks to Autism Speaks.

Upcoming Family Fundays this summer include:

  • September 2
  • September 30: Harvest Fair

In addition to the regular activities, the Harvest Fair also includes a pumpkin patch, pumpkin painting, and carving!

6. Open Play

You don’t have to wait for a special event to play at Columbus Commons! Activities like Art Box (a cabinet full of free art supplies), Bocce Ball, the NEOS electronic playground, and the carousel ($1/ride) are open throughout the week! Open Play hours begin May 31 and end on October 2 and are Wednesday through Sunday from 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM, weather permitting.

The carousel is open through October 2 and the hours are as follows:

  • Monday – Friday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Saturday: 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Sunday: 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM

In addition to Open Play, there are two permanent cafes at the Commons, Jeni’s and Tortilla.

For convenient parking, use the Main Garage at 55 E. Rich St. Parking is usually $5 for special events, but this may vary. That garage is directly across the street from Columbus Commons and takes the stress out of parking. Or you can be me and circle around the one way streets, trying to find a meter in the area. (I recommend arriving very early if you plan to do this!) 😉  There is also an underground parking garage. You can see all the parking info here.

Which Columbus Commons event is your family’s favorite?

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ICYMI: IKEA Columbus Sneak Peek!


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