Summer is back! There are so many free things to do in Columbus, especially during the summer!
Summer is the best time to get out and experience lots of fun things with the kids! Luckily for us, there are lots of FREE things to do in Columbus this summer! If you need some inspiration, here are 35 things you can do for free around town!
Also, if you’re planning a Columbus Staycation this summer, make sure to check out The Ultimate Columbus Staycation for families!
This post was updated on April 27, 2023.
1. Climb aboard the train at Homestead Metro Park
Homestead Metro Park also has a great playground and a fun little Nature Center!
2. Check out a farmer’s market
See this list of farmer’s markets in Columbus listed by day of the week!
3. Watch an outdoor movie
Summer is time for outdoor movies and drive in movies! Most of them are free to attend!
4. Have fun at KidX at Polaris Fashion Place
The KidX program at Polaris features a theme, activities, special guests and more!
5. Play at Commons for Kids every Friday
Commons for Kids takes place on Friday mornings at Columbus Commons from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, June 9 – August 11, 2023. There are games, inflatables, face painting, and special visitors each week!
6. Climb into the tree house at Inniswood Metro Gardens
Exploring Inniswood Metro Gardens can feel like you are entering a fairy tale! There are so many beautiful gardens and the kids love the tree house!
7. Join a Summer Reading Club.
8. Try out one of Columbus’ many free festivals
Check out this list of festivals around Columbus happening this summer!
9. Try out a new park
The best place to start is with my Ultimate Guide to the Best Playgrounds in Columbus! Explore one of these 12 Columbus Parks or pick a Columbus Park that’s perfect for toddlers!
10. Follow the path of the Dublin Irish Fairy Door Trail
Visit 11 local businesses on the Dublin Irish Fairy Door Trail in Historic Dublin and the Bridge Park area to find the fairy doors at each location! Turn in your trail card at the end to win a t-shirt! While you’re in Dublin check out my list of things to do in Dublin, Ohio to round out your day!
11. Get wet at a local splash pad
See my list of Free Columbus and Central Ohio Splash Pads and Fountains! Most splash pads and fountains are free to visit including the amazing “Dinosaur Park” in Delaware!
12. Bowl for free with the Kids Bowl Free program
Kids Receive 2 free games of bowling each day of the Kids Bowl Free program all summer long! There are 4 locations in the Columbus area! (Disclaimer: I am a member of the Kids Bowl Free affiliate program.)
Check out the family pass option that allows adults, older siblings and babysitters to bowl along with the registered kids. The family pass is a one time payment.
13. Attend the Hilltop Bean Dinner
The annual Hilltop Bean Dinner commemorates the role the Hilltop played in the Civil War! Admission is free and there is a huge car show, food vendors, arts and crafts and more! 2023 Date is Saturday, June 24th from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM in Westgate Park.
14. Shop local vendors at the Powell Street Market
There will be two Powell Street Markets in 2023: May 7 and September 10! The markets take place in downtown Powell from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM.
15. Visit a Little Free Library to borrow or donate books
Little Free Libraries are a great place to drop off some of your gently used books for others to enjoy and to pick up a few new ones to keep kids interested in reading!
16. Tour the Ohio Statehouse
You can do a self-tour of the Ohio Statehouse any time it’s open! The Ohio Statehouse Museum on the ground floor is interesting AND educational! Read more about this in my list of free indoor activities for kids in Columbus!
17. Learn about nature at one of the Preschool Programs at Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks
Our Columbus Metro Parks have great programs for preschoolers! All ages, really! Plus you can visit any of their their Nature Centers for more free fun! Read more information about the Nature Centers:
- 2 Great Metro Park Nature Centers for Columbus Kids
- 2 MORE Great Metro Park Nature Centers for Columbus Kids
18. Do a scavenger hunt at the Outdoor Gallery at 934 Gallery
It’s free to visit the Outdoor Gallery at 934 Gallery! It’s a great spot for colorful murals! They have a scavenger hunt where kids can look for specific things in the murals! It’s a fun way to introduce kids to art!
19. View the Suspended Sculptures in Schiller Park
The suspended sculptures in Schiller Park were part of a temporary exhibit in the park by Polish painter and sculptor Jerzy Kedziora, but, in 2022, 5 sculptures were purchased from the artist to remain as a permanent exhibit in the park!
20. Enjoy a free concert at Celebration at the Station at Hilliard’s Station Park
These free concerts take place from 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM on Thursdays, June 1 – August 10, 2023 (except for June 29) in Hilliard’s Station Park.
21. See a painting depicted by trees at Topiary Park
Topiary Park features a plant-based recreation of the famous painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. Combine with a visit to Columbus Metropolitan Library Main Library! The park is accessible from the library!
22. Visit a waterfall in Columbus (or beyond)
The new Quarry Trails Metro Park features a stunning waterfall! Park off of Old Dublin Road and the waterfall overlook is just steps away from the parking lot! Or plan a road trip to one of these 10 waterfalls in Ohio!
23. Watch a free movie at Gateway Film Center
Admission to their Book to Film series is free with your Columbus Metropolitan Library library card! These movies based on books will take place every weekend throughout July, August, and September. All screenings are at 2:00pm.
This summer, each month has a theme. July movies are for all ages, August movies are for teens and September movies are “Unbanned Books to Film”.
24. Explore the Blendon Woods Natural Play Area
Kids can build forts, swing through the woods on a wooden swing, go creeking and more at this wonderful natural play area at Blendon Woods Metro Park!
25. Attend Gallery Hop in the Short North
Gallery Hop happens on the first Saturday night of each month. Enjoy street performers, special deals and treats and the shops stay open late! Hours at individual businesses may vary.
25. Explore the Free Activities at Olentangy Caverns
There is a lot to do at Olentangy Caverns but did you know that some of the activities are actually free? Your kids will love the real fire truck on the playground and you can take an easy hike on the Bigfoot Walking Trail for free! These free activities are available during business hours (9:30 AM – 5:00 PM).
27. Visit Franklin Park Conservatory on Community Day
Community Day takes place the first Sunday of each month. Admission is free for residents of Franklin County and the City of Columbus (with valid ID) during regular operating hours of 10am to 5pm.
28. Stop to smell the roses at Columbus Park of Roses
The Columbus Park of Roses is typically in peak bloom the second week of June, but you can see flowers throughout most of the summer! The Park of Roses is part of Whetstone Park and is free to visit anytime!
29. Explore Columbus Museum of Art when admission is free on Sundays
Columbus Museum of Art is free on Sundays from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Don’t miss the Center for Creativity and the Wonder Room, an area just for kids! (P.S. The museum is $5 on Thursday nights if you’re looking for another cheaper option!)
30. Explore an ancient burial mound
Shrum Mound is an ancient burial mound that is part of the Ohio Historical Connection! It’s a fun stop to show the kids something unique!
31. Walk across the rope bridge at Scioto Grove Metro Park
The rope bridge is a fun destination at Scioto Grove Metro Park! Park at the Grove Lodge and take the REI River Trail south.
32. See the giant praying mantis at Chadwick Arboretum
Find this huge praying mantis in the Lane Avenue Gardens of Chadwick Arboretum. The arboretum is on the campus of OSU and is free to visit! Want more ideas? Check out my list of arboretums in Ohio!
33. Beat the heat with a free indoor play area
Find a free indoor play area in Columbus where your kids can stay cool and entertained!
34. Take a ride on the carousel at Columbus Commons
All summer the carousel will be free to ride every day at Columbus Commons! Previously there was a cost to ride the carousel but in 2023, thanks to PNC, all rides on the carousel will be free!
Hours are 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM daily. Hours may vary during special events. The carousel will close on holidays and for inclement weather. 11 a.m. – 7 p.m (closed on holidays)
35. Listen to a family-friendly jazz concert at PBJ & Jazz
PBJ & Jazz offers kid-friendly jazz concerts each month and they during the summer they are held in Topiary Park behind the Main Library and they are free!
Need more ideas? Try 100 Fun Things to do in Columbus, Ohio
Feel free to share what kind of free activities your family likes to do around Columbus in the comments!
Share this post with your friends!
Save this post!