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9 Things to Do with Your Kids at Scioto Audubon

The Scioto Audubon Metro Park in downtown Columbus offers a lot of fun for kids! There’s rock climbing, a playground, bird watching, story times and much, much more!

The Scioto Audubon is a really awesome Metro Park as far as kids are concerned – you should definitely take your kids there! I had been there a few times for work events in my past life, but I had never explored the park with kids until this past spring! I was missing out!

boy in front of the Nature Center

Here are 9 things you can do there with your kids! (I don’t necessarily recommend doing them all in one day, we did a lot of them and were pretty worn out!) We’ve since been back a few times just to play in the sandbox and have a much more relaxed morning, and that’s just as great, too!

9 Things for Kids to do at the Scioto Audubon Metro Park:

1. Attend a Story Time

library area Scioto Audubon

The Library Inside the Nature Center

boys in a tee pee at the Nature Center

boy reading a book in the Nature Center

We arrived in time for the Pre-K Storytime on a Thursday morning. These story times take place at 10:00 AM on Thursdays and Saturdays in the Grange Insurance Audubon Center.

The library area was full of children’s books and there was a tee pee to play in, as well as scientific equipment to investigate. The story time was laid back and fun for small kids. There was a wide age range of kids there and I felt that the volunteer was very understanding of their varying levels of concentration!

2. Visit with Live Animals

animals in the Nature Center

Animals on Display Inside the Nature Center

frog inside the Nature Center at Scioto Audubon

inside lobby area of the Scioto Audubon

After the story time, a volunteer took us down the hall to visit with frogs, turtles and other water creatures. I wouldn’t have known about this room if it wasn’t for our friendly story time leader!

3. Check Out the Play Room

indoor play area at the Scioto Audubon Metro Park Nature Center

Indoor Play Area for Kids

boy inside the play area inside the Nature Center

inside the kid's play area at scioto audubon nature center

boy check out animal pelts at Scioto Audubon

Animal Pelts and Skeletons to Check out!

I had no idea that there was a play area inside the Center. I would have been coming here during the winter, that’s for sure! There are puppets in a cave-like play area and a climbing structure! There were also really cute animal costumes for dressing up. Inside the same room were animal pelts and skulls the kids could touch.

4. Play in the Sand Box

boys playing in sand box at scioto audubon park

Sandbox Area Outside of the Nature Center

boy playing in sandbox

chalkboard outside scioto audubon nature center

colorful walking path outside the nature center

Update: in the spring of 2020 the sandbox was filled in with rocks. I will keep you posted on if/when that changes!

Just outside the Audubon Center, there is a sand box to play in. My kids could have stayed here all day! There were already sand toys in the area, so we did not have to bring our own. There’s a chalkboard for drawing on and several paths for the kids to walk on in the area.

5. Walk the Boardwalk

view of downtown Columbus from the Scioto Audubon Metro Park

boy on the boardwalk at scioto audubon

Boardwalk from the Nature Center to the Playground and Rock Climbing Area

boy on the boardwalk looking into the water

We took a walk out the back of the Audubon Center, down the path that leads to the rock climbing wall and playground. It’s a good hike, but still doable with small children. We didn’t actually see any animals, but we heard frogs croaking!

This spot was a little scary for me with an almost 2 year old peering over the boardwalk. If you can trust your kids not to dive in, it’s worth doing! I wished I could enjoy it a little more but I was trying not to have a heart attack every time they walked close to the edge. 😉

6. Check out the River Overlook

boys looking at the scioto river

River Viewing Area

The Scioto River

boys walking up the steps to the Nature Center

The park has a river overlook, out over the Scioto River. There are binoculars available for long distance viewing!

7. Play on the Playground

two boys on the playground at Scioto Audubon Metro Park

Playground Area

You can walk down the boardwalk to the playground, or park in the parking lot right next to it. We walked down after already having a full morning playing, so the walk back up was a bit tiring. I might recommend driving down so you can leave from the park.

kids on the Scioto Audubon Metro Park playground

playground and picnic area within the park

Playground and Picnic Area

rock climbing wall at Scioto Audubon Park

Rock Climbing Wall

There is a play area for older and younger kids and a mister for really hot days! There are several picnic tables with umbrellas overhead. For older kids, there is a rock climbing wall and an obstacle course nearby. I love the gorgeous views of downtown from the park!

8. Go Bird Watching

bird feeders in the park

Well, this should be obvious at an audubon center, I guess, but there are a lot of bird watching opportunities. 😉 If you can get your kids to stay still enough (definitely a challenge for me!) the birds will congregate at the feeders around the building.

chairs along the deck of the Nature Center

We saw quite a few from the windows in the library, and we were able to walk by the feeders on the outside decks (which are also on my list of places to come WITHOUT kids)! There are lots of opportunities to learn about birds inside the center, too!

9. Climb the Water Tower

water tower at Scioto Audubon Park

Scioto Audubon Metro Park Water Tower

stairs to the water tower observation deck

Or more accurately, climb two stories of the water tower! 😉 And this is a bonus tip because we didn’t actually do it! If I thought it wasn’t going to mean carrying a toddler up and down the steps, I would have totally done this for the awesome view, but I was pushing the limit as it was! I imagine it would be fun to eat a packed lunch up there!

Know Before You Go:

Scioto Audubon Metro Park, 400 W. Whittier St., Columbus, OH 43215, 614-202-5197
Park Hours:
6:30 AM to 10:00 PM April through September
6:30 AM to 8:00 PM October through March

Grange Insurance Audubon Center, 505 W. Whittier St., Columbus OH 43215, 614-545-5475
Spring/Summer Hours:
Closed Monday
Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Sunday 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM

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9 Things to do with Kids at Scioto Audubon Metro Park


ICYMI: Over 100 Fun Things to do in Columbus, Ohio

What Should We Do This Weekend? Columbus, Ohio, January 19-21, 2024

Wednesday 17th of January 2024

[…] any trail at the Scioto Audubon Metro Park and enjoy refreshments between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM on Saturday. Get your Winter Hike card stamped […]

What Should We Do This Weekend? Columbus, Ohio, December 8-10, 2023

Thursday 7th of December 2023

[…] crafts, activities, a raffle, presents and professional photos! The event takes place at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. Proceeds from this event will go to the Ronald McDonald House of Central […]

What Should We Do This Weekend? Columbus, Ohio, September 15-17, 2023

Wednesday 13th of September 2023

[…] Fest takes place at Scioto Audubon Metro Park beginning on Friday at 5:00 PM and continues through Saturday. There will be food trucks, a Yappy […]

Sarah Campbell

Friday 9th of April 2021

There are also free guided bird watching walks every Saturday morning!! You have to register but I've very much enjoyed it and they provide binoculars if you don't have them!

Julie Miller

Monday 12th of April 2021

Ooh good to know! Thank you! :)

20 Free Indoor Play Areas in Columbus | What Should We Do Today?

Monday 19th of September 2016

[…] Tips: The play area also includes a “cave” to play in and there are also weekly story times for the preschool age! See more to do at the Audubon Center here. […]