Columbus, Ohio is full of family-friendly fun! There are so many attractions in Columbus Ohio for families that it’s easy to spend a weekend or an entire week enjoying all the city has to offer!
Thanks to Experience Columbus for sponsoring this post!
This guide will help you plan the Ultimate Columbus Staycation! Whether you’re traveling to Ohio or you live in Columbus and are looking for things to do, this list of things to do in Columbus, Ohio with kids will help you plan an itinerary the whole family will love!
In this guide you will find Indoor Activities, Outdoor Activities, Arts and Cultural Activities and, finally, suggestions for family friendly hotels and restaurants to help you plan your trip to Columbus, Ohio!
Indoor Activities in Columbus, Ohio:
There are plenty of options for indoor family fun in Columbus! If the forecast calls for rain, head to one of these super fun indoor attractions in Columbus that your kids will love!
1. Center of Science and Industry (COSI)
Address: 333 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
COSI has been named the #1 Science Museum in the country by the USA TODAY 10 Best Readers’ Choice Travel Award Contest for the past three years in a row! And for good reason! Things are always evolving at COSI and even if you’ve visited before, there is guaranteed to be something new to see or do!
Not only does COSI have it’s classic exhibits like Ocean, Life, Progress and Gadgets, it’s also home to the American Museum of History Dinosaur Gallery! If you have kids who are in 1st grade and under, they will enjoy Little Kidspace, one of the greatest indoor play areas in Columbus for toddlers!
This spring, plan on a visit to the Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes exhibit! If you are a Marvel fan, this is a must-see exhibit! There is an additional fee to visit this limited time exhibit of over 300 original artifacts including the first ever Marvel comic book!
Pro tip: COSI participates in two reciprocal admission programs. So, if you have a membership to a participating museum outside of a 90 mile radius from COSI, you may be eligible for free or reduced admission!
Address: 535 Lakeview Plaza Blvd., Worthington, OH 43085
There is something for all ages at PlayCbus! Adults and older kids can test their skills on ropes courses, rock climbing walls, zip line, a ninja course and more! There is also a kid-sized ropes course, smaller climbing walls and a soft play area!
PlayCbus also boasts a full service restaurant and bar so you don’t have to break up the fun to get a meal! Options include appetizers, sandwiches and local craft beers, wine and seasonal cocktails.
Pro tip: Admission is half price on Wednesdays!
3. Scene 75
Address: 5033 Tuttle Crossing Blvd., Dublin, OH 43016
Did you know Scene75 is the largest indoor entertainment center in the country? Yes, you can actually ride an indoor roller coaster in Columbus, Ohio!
Other attractions at Scene75 include indoor go-karts, laser tag, a Drop Tower, mini-golf, batting cages, a 4-D motion theater, bumper cars, and so much more! Younger kids will love the inflatable play area and kid-friendly arcade games. In fact, Scene75 is home to over 200 arcade games!
Scene 75 has its own Restaurant: Illusions. My son crowned their pizza one of the “best I’ve ever had!” There are also 3 bars and a Snack Zone for quick treats!
Pro tip: The Scene75 Gold Membership is $29 for an entire year and grants you $10 in FREE play every time you visit!
4. LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus
Address: 157 Easton Town Center, Columbus, OH 43219
My kids are major LEGO fans so we have spent countless hours at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus! There probably isn’t a week that goes by that one of my kids doesn’t ask when we can go to LEGOLAND!
The Columbus location of LEGOLAND is housed at Easton Town Center and is home to two indoor amusement rides, a soft play area, a DUPLO building area, a LEGO Friends play area, a 4D cinema, a Miniland replica of Columbus and much more!
Your admission includes unlimited rides, movies and access to attractions. When you visit you can also participate in LEGO builds in the Creative Workshop for $5.
Pro tip: Admission is limited so buy your ticket online in advance in order to guarantee admission!
5. Ohio History Center
Address: 800 E 17th Ave., Columbus, OH 43211
Ohio History Center is a great spot to learn all about Ohio! Some of my kids’ favorite exhibits include the Nature of Ohio, and Ohio Through Time!
You won’t want to miss the Ohio – Champion of Sports exhibit to learn about famous Ohioans who have contributed to the sports world! The 1950’s Lustron House is another must-see exhibit! An entire pre-fabricated house is built inside the museum!
Ohio History Center is the hub for the Ohio History Connection and because of their preservation efforts, you can visit historical sites all around the state! If you visit between April and October, your admission includes entrance to Ohio Village, a historical town set in the 1800’s!
Pro tip: I am always impressed with the gift shop at Ohio History Center! Check it out for a unique Ohio souvenir!
Outdoor Activities in Columbus, Ohio:
There are so many outdoor activities in Columbus that your family will love to experience together! Whether it’s a scavenger hunt, a garden or adventure sports, there is something for everyone!
1. Franklin Park Conservatory Children’s Garden
Address: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43203
Franklin Park Conservatory offers a mix of indoor and outdoor gardens and you really must make time to see it all! But if you’re visiting Columbus with kids, you can’t miss The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden, one of the most popular attractions in Columbus for kids! Entrance to the garden is included in admission to Franklin Park Conservatory!
One of the most popular features in the garden is an area called My Ohio Woods which features a creek where kids can play and explore! My kids love the Wetland Explore area where you can walk along a floating boardwalk.
Kids will also enjoy the Nature Play Zone with a sand box, web climb and stump jump! Another highlight is a canopy walk with a larger than life-sized bird’s nest and a Hammock Lounge that can hold 7 elephants!
Pro tip: Bring water shoes and a change of clothes if your kids plan to play in the creek and/or sandbox!
2. Topiary Park
Address: 480 E. Town St., Columbus, OH 43215
One of the most unique parks in Columbus is certainly Topiary Park, hidden downtown behind the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Main Library. This hidden gem in Columbus is a topiary depiction of the painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat.
You can walk amidst the larger than life characters who are enjoying a day at the park. This area has been a park since the 1800’s. The topiary part of the park was sculpted by James and Elaine Mason, Columbus residents, in 1989.
The park is open from dawn to dusk and is in full bloom from April to November, but I have it on good report that it’s also pretty cool to visit when it’s covered in snow!
Pro tip: You can enter the park through the back doors of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, which is 100% worth a visit if you haven’t been!
3. Glacier Ridge Metro Park
Address: 9801 Hyland-Croy Rd., Plain City, OH 43064
In my opinion, Glacier Ridge Metro Park is one of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks that offers the most fun for kids! A visit to this park in the Plain City/Dublin area makes a great outing to fill a morning or afternoon!
One of the most popular things to do in the park is the Natural Play Area (affectionately called “The Ninja Course”). This unique play area has several climbing structures, a rope hammock, wall climbing, rope climbing, a small zip line and lots of opportunities to hide and seek!
Also within the park is a Challenge Course, playground, hiking trails, and the Honda Wetland Education Center, a barn-like structure that offers information about the inhabitants of wetland areas.
4. Outdoor Trails Pass
Address: multiple locations
If you want to experience as much of the outdoors as Columbus has to offer, download the Outdoor Trails Pass via email or text. Explore 25 trails, creeks and bike trails, checking in as you go to complete the trail!
This trail will give you the opportunity to see some of the most scenic spots in Columbus and beyond all while staying active and enjoying family time together!
Pro tip: If you’re already exploring downtown Columbus, check out either Scioto Trail #1 or Scioto Trail #2 which begin downtown!
5. Irish Fairy Door Trail
Address: Dublin Visitor & Information Center: 9 S. High St., Dublin, OH 43017
Maybe your vacation doesn’t include a trip to Ireland this year, but you can search for Irish Fairy Doors in Dublin, Ohio!
Pick up a Fairy Door Passport and visit 11 businesses in downtown Dublin to find a fairy door at each location! 10 of them are within walking distance and the 11th is optional. Along the way you will visit some great stores and find some tasty treats!
When you find the fairy door, write the name of the fairy who lives there on the card and turn it into the Dublin Visitor & Information center or email it to email@example.com to receive a free Fairy Door t-shirt!
Pro tip: Most participating businesses are guaranteed to be open Wednesday through Saturday from 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM.
Arts and Culture Outings in Columbus, Ohio:
The arts scene in Columbus never fails to surprise! Pick one or more of these cultural outings for your staycation in Columbus and introduce your family to the finer side of the city!
1. Columbus Museum of Art
Address: 480 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
If you’re looking for a great way to introduce your kids to fine arts, check out the Center for Creativity at the Columbus Museum of Art! In the hallway of the first floor there are several hands-on activities for kids! Recently, my kids enjoyed contributing to a group drawing and making sculptures out of twist-ties!
You’ll also want to visit the Wonder Room, a space dedicated to kids where they can create their own fashion pieces, make spiders out of textiles and weave on a giant loom!
Pro tip: The Columbus Museum of Art is free to visit on Sundays and children 3 and under are always free!
2. Columbus Children’s Theatre
Address: 177 E. Naghten St., Columbus, OH 43215
If you’re not quite ready to take your kids to a Broadway show, it’s easy to introduce young kids to the theater with shows at Columbus Children’s Theatre! These shows are designed with kids in mind and CCT is really good at letting you know what to expect when you attend a performance!
There are even shows geared toward toddlers and preschoolers aged 0-5 that are just 30 minutes in length and full of interactive fun!
Pro tip: If you have a budding actor in the family, Columbus Children’s Theatre also offers classes and camps!
3. CATCO is Kids
Address: multiple locations
CATCO has performances at 3 locations around Columbus and Central Ohio. If you’re looking for a show for the whole family, these performances are perfect for older kids and teens. Visit their calendar to see what’s coming up next!
CATCO also offers camps and classes for kids beginning at age 5!
Pro tip: Make sure to visit their website and click on “More Information” about each show for advice on appropriate ages for each show!
4. 934 Outdoor Gallery
Address: 934 Cleveland Ave., Columbus, OH 43201
Stop by the Outdoor Gallery at 934 Gallery to explore over 40 outdoor murals! These colorful murals change every year and they make some really fun backgrounds for family photos!
You can even participate in an online scavenger hunt that will help kids interact more deeply with the murals. Questions include things like “how many heads do you see?” or “what color paint is the tiger using?”.
Pro tip: Free parking is available on E. 3rd St. or in the 934 Gallery parking lot.
5. Short North Art Trail
Address: multiple locations
If the Hiking and Biking Trail isn’t your thing but public art and murals are, make time to stroll around the Short North neighborhood! The Short North Art Trail can be delivered directly to you via text or email! This art-focused trail is a great way to explore the galleries, public art and performance spaces in the Short North Arts District!
Several of the featured visits on the trail include public, outdoor murals! All of the public murals are visible from High Street, except one. But you don’t want to miss the famous “Mona Lisa Mural” in Italian Village just a few blocks east of High Street!
Pro tip: Combine your activity on this trail with a visit to the historic North Market for lunch! (See more info below.)
Family-Friendly Dining Experiences in Columbus, Ohio:
There are so many good places to eat in Columbus, Ohio! It’s really hard to narrow down the choices, but here are some family-friendly restaurants you must try when you visit Columbus!
1. North Market
Address: Downtown: 59 Spruce St., Columbus, OH 43215; Bridge Park: 6750 Longshore St., Dublin, Ohio 43017
The North Market is one of our favorite places to eat with our kids in Columbus! One of the best reasons for your family to eat there is that there’s something for everyone! The Downtown North Market is home to over 30 individual vendors so everyone in the family can take their pick depending on their preferences!
North Market now has two locations: Downtown and Bridge Park. Both are wonderful! Choose the Bridge Park location if you are doing the Fairy Door Trail or the historic downtown location when doing the Short North Arts Trail!
Pro tip: Make sure to get your parking ticket validated when you make a purchase at Downtown North Market for discounted parking!
2. Dirty Franks Hot Dog Palace
Address: 248 S 4th St., Columbus, OH 43215
If you’re looking for a kid-friendly restaurant in downtown, Columbus, look no further than Dirty Franks Hot Dog Palace! Not only can you get a great hot dog, it’s also home pretty inventive side dishes! How about a hot dog octopus over Mac & Cheese (The Octodog) or tater tots with coney sauce and cheese sauce on top!
Don’t worry, If your kids are as risk averse as mine, rest assured you can get your hot dog plain or with two toppings of your choice!
Pro tip: Check out 16-Bit Bar + Arcade right next door where all video games are free to play with a food or drink purchase! (21+ after 8:00 PM.)
3. Schmidt’s Sausage Haus
Address: 240 E. Kossuth St., Columbus, OH 43206
Schmidt’s Sausage Haus opened in 1967 and has been a Columbus destination ever since! Plan to dine here for traditional German food, live German music throughout the week and, of course, their famous cream puffs!
Eating at Schmidt’s will be a cultural experience for your family and afterwards, you can walk around historic German Village enjoying the quaint brick streets, unique houses and local businesses.
Pro tip: After your meal, head to Schiller Park in the heart of German Village where the kids can run off all their excess energy!
4. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Address: multiple locations
A visit to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is a must when you’re spending time in Columbus! Jeni’s is a Columbus institution. This amazing homemade ice cream shoppe started here and has expanded across the country!
You’ll find some of the most unique and intense ice cream flavors you have ever tasted! My personal favorite of combination of Salty Caramel and Darkest Chocolate seems rather boring next to Goat Cheese and Red Cherries or Lemon and Blueberries Parfait but I guarantee you cannot go wrong with whatever you pick!
Luckily, you can find a Jeni’s location near you no matter where you are on this itinerary! Check out locations in the Short North, North Market, Dublin and Easton Town Center!
Pro tip: You can get a free ice cream at Jeni’s on your birthday! Just visit on your birthday and show your ID!
5. Mitchell’s Ocean Club
Address: 4002 Easton Station, Columbus, OH 43219
If you are looking for an extra-special meal to enjoy on your trip to Columbus or you have a special occasion to celebrate, head to Mitchell’s Ocean Club at Easton Town Center! The menu features fresh seafood, which is flown in daily, and prime cuts of steak.
You can’t go wrong with any of the Cameron Mitchell restaurants in Columbus, Ohio! If you choose to stay in the Easton Town Center area you could also have a great family-friendly meal at Rusty Bucket! Either way, you family will have more than just a meal, they will have a memorable dining experience!
Pro tip: Reservations are recommended at Mitchell’s Ocean Club!
Family Friendly Hotels in Columbus, Ohio:
If you’re planning a getaway to Columbus or you’re local and are looking for a family-friendly staycation option, try one of these kid-friendly hotel options in Columbus!
1. Courtyard Columbus Easton
Address: 3900 Morse Crossing, Columbus, OH 43219
My family stayed here for a recent Columbus staycation and we LOVED being able to step outside and walk to all of the attractions at Easton Town Center! There is a great pool and a bistro on site for an easy breakfast option.
2. Drury Inn & Suites Columbus Convention Center
Address: 88 E. Nationwide Blvd., Columbus, OH 43215
This hotel has a convenient downtown location, is an affordable option for families and includes a great breakfast and an indoor pool.
3. The Graduate
Address: 750 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43215
Give your family an unforgettable experience in the Short North at this hotel that has fun and playful decor and rooms with an Ohio theme!
4. Hotel LeVeque
Address: 50 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
Families will enjoy top notch service at the historic Hotel LeVeque where they can reserve adjoining rooms for and take advantage of available pack-n-plays!
5. Spring Hill Suites by Marriott Columbus Dublin
Address: 4475 Bridge Park Ave., Dublin, OH 43017
Enjoy a stay in the heart of the Bridge Park District near the North Market Bridge Park and convenient to the Irish Fairy Door Trail!
I hope this guide of things to do in Columbus, Ohio with kids will help you make memories that your family remembers for years to come!
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