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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What Should We Do This Weekend? July 8-10, 2016

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1. Family Fun Night at Blacklick Woods

When: Friday, July 8, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Location: Ash Grove Picnic Area, 6975 E. Livingston Ave., Reynoldsburg, OH 43068
Phone: 614-508-8111

This fun (and free) evening features nature crafts, games and a campfire!

2. LuLu’s 1st Anniversary Party at LuLu’s Sweet Shop

When: Friday & Saturday, July 8 & 9, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM on Friday and Saturday until 5:00 PM
Location: 14 W. College Ave., Westerville, OH 43081

Celebrate the 1st Anniversary of LuLu’s Sweet Shop with live music, free samples, crafts for kids and lawn games!

3. Through the Eyes of a Child at Glass Axis

When: Friday, July 8, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Location: 610 W. Town St., Columbus, OH 43215

Children from Columbus area schools drew pictures of and wrote stories about an imaginary creature and nine of them were chosen to be brought to life by the artists at Glass Axis. You’re invited to watch the glass-making demonstrations for each piece! The CD102.5 Ice Cream Truck will be on location to pass out free Velvet Ice Cream and you can play the Piada Plinko Board!

4. Parade of Lights at the Ohio Truck Show and Benefit Auction

When: Friday, July 8, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Kidron, OH
Phone: 330-465-4587

I’m throwing this one out there for someone who is up for a road trip to Amish Country and whose kids might love seeing a parade of 200 trucks!!   The parade of vehicles starts in the daylight and as it gets dark, the trucks turn on their lights (hence the name “Parade of Lights”). The truck parade starts at 7:00 PM on Friday night, but is just one part of a weekend of bluegrass music, kids activities, a pancake breakfast, homemade ice cream and more! See more info here.

5. Finding Dory at Barnes and Noble

When: Friday, July 8, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: your local Barnes and Noble

This event will include a scavenger hunt, crafts and coloring and free giveaways like posters, stickers and bookmarks!

6. Westerville Music and Arts Festival

When: Friday – Sunday, July 8-10, 2016
Time: Time varies each day, see link for details.
Location: Uptown Westerville and Heritage Park, 60 N. Cleveland Ave., Westerville, OH 43081
Phone: 614-882-8917

This festival is packed full of live music acts, food trucks and an art show. There is also a youth art and craft exhibit. Kids 16 and under get in free, all others are $1.

7. Pirate Weekend at the Columbus Zoo

When: Saturday, July 9, 2016
Time: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Location: 4850 Powell Rd., Powell, OH 43065
Phone: 614-645-3400

Pirate Island is back at the Columbus Zoo and this weekend kids can play pirate games, celebrate with the gang of pirates AND if they come dressed as a pirate (with a paying adult) they will get in free!

8. Family Storytime: The Little Red Hen at Slate Farm

When: Saturday, July 9, 2016
Time: 10:30 AM
Location: Farmhouse, 1375 State Route 674 N., Canal Winchester, OH 43110
Phone: 614-508-8111

Hear the story of the Little Red Hen and enjoy activities that show how bread is made! Can’t make it on Saturday? This event happens Friday, too!

9. Special Needs Screening: The BFG at Studio Movie Grill

When: Saturday, July 9, 2016
Time: 11:00 AM
Location:175 W. Nationwide Blvd., Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614-456-1298

Children with special needs and their families can watch The BFG with the lights up and volume down. Kids can move around and talk as needed.  Kids are free and adult tickets are available at the “before-noon” price. Tickets available at the box office only.

10. Continent Fun Fest at the French Quarter

When: Saturday, July 9, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Location: 6200 Busch Blvd, Columbus, Ohio 43229

This family festival includes carnival rides, bounce houses, food trucks, face painting, live music and a meet and greet with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

11. PBJ&Jazz at Topiary Park

When: Saturday, July 9, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
Location: 480 E. Town St., Columbus, OH 43215

This jazz concert in the park takes place after a story time at Main Library. Story time starts at 11:00 AM. Following the concert, from 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM, there will be an art activity. In case of rain, the concert will take place at the Main Library.

12. Critter Clues: Nature’s “Who Done It” at Emily Traphagen Park

When: Sunday, July 10, 2016
Time: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: 5094 Seldom Seen Road, Powell OH 43065
Phone: 740-524-8600, ext. 6.

During this program, kids age 6-9 can join a park ranger to investigate a “crime scene,” look for clues and solve a mystery in the park!

13. Preschool Plus: Finding Dory at Sharon Woods

When: Sunday, July 10, 2016
Time: 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Location: Schrock Lake West Bulletin Board, 6911 Cleveland Ave., Westerville, OH 43081
Phone: 614-508-8111

This activity, for kids aged 3-8, includes decorating a t-shirt and fishing in Schrock Lake. Kids ages 15 and under can fish without a license in the lake and adults may assist. Limited bait and poles will be provided.

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ICYMI: 5Things to do with Your Kids this Summer in Columbus PART 2

*Please be aware,  information is gathered from multiple community sources.  Times, dates and locations are subject to change. 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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