Step Inside a Fairy Tale at Inniswood Metro Gardens in Westerville, Ohio

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Inniswood Metro Gardens in Westerville, Ohio is a must visit destination in Central Ohio with magical gardens, hiking trails, and some of the best scenery no matter what the season!

boardwalk in Inniswood Metro Gardens, Westerville Ohio

Inniswood Metro Gardens is one of the most unique parks in Columbus! It is just a gem. One of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, this park is free to visit year round and will surprise and delight you during all four seasons. We LOVE this park. There is so much to see and there is quite a bit of the park geared towards kids as well!

Statue in Inniswood Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio

One of the “stricter” Metro Parks, Inniswood Gardens does not allow biking or active sports. Pets are not allowed, nor is picnicking. Picnicking might be the most challenging of the garden etiquette for families to follow, (kids and their snacks, am I right?!) but for your convenience, there is a picnic area called “The Patio” near the parking lot.

treehouse and boardwalk trail inside Inniswood Metro Gardens

So this park is focused on seeing and hearing more than touching and doing but there truly is so much to see. The gardens have become one of my favorite places to visit in the fall ever since we tried out the Boardwalk Trail during an extra warm November a couple years back. But more about that in a few minutes . . .

What is Inniswood Metro Gardens?

flowers and gardens surrounding the main entrance of Inniswood Metro Gardens in Columbus, Ohio

As mentioned above, Inniswood Metro Gardens are part of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks and was donated to the parks by two sisters (Grace and Mary) in 1972. The Gardens and the Innis House once belonged to the sisters and they desired to allow the public to enjoy (and preserve) their 37-acre estate.

The area is now 123 acres with 10 Feature Gardens, 6 trails, educational programs, and a non-lending library.

Feature Gardens at Inniswood Metro Gardens

There are 10 Feature Gardens inside the park. Each of them is unique in its own way. Some of the feature gardens are smaller with just a path to walk through and some are larger with multiple areas to explore.

1. Circle Garden

two benches in the Circle Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens

The Circle Garden is the area you will encounter as soon as you walk through the main entrance of the park. Consisting of a circle made of bricks, benches and beautifully landscaped flower gardens.

2. Rose Garden

the Rose Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks

The Rose Garden is a popular spot for weddings and family and/or senior photos. However you should know that this area is not reservable. There is no fee to have a wedding here, but it is on a first-come, first-served basis and wedding parties are limited to 50 people. See more details about weddings here.

3. Cutting Garden

sign and flowers in The Cutting Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Don’t be fooled by the name. “Cutting” does not mean you. 😉 This area has annual and perennial flowers that would look great in a vase!

4. Herb Garden

gazebo and flowers in The Herb Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens, Westerville Ohio

The herb garden contains herbs of all kinds, common and uncommon and has some picturesque structures and benches.

boys walking through multiple arches in the Herb Garden at Inniswood Metro Park

5. Fern Garden

The Fern Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens, Columbus, Ohio

The Fern Garden features hardy ferns and is a test site for the Hardy Fern Foundation.

6. Woodland Rock Garden

waterfall in the Woodland Rock Garden area at Inniswood Metro Park

This is one of my favorite areas in the park. The Woodland Rock Garden consists of layers of rock with waterfalls, plants and just beautiful landscaping.

7. Conifer Garden 

arches in the Conifer Garden at Inniswood

The Conifer Garden features various evergreen and deciduous conifers.

8. Brookwood Trail Garden

The path on the Brookwood Trail

The Brookwood Trail is a seasonal display with shade plantings.

9. Memorial Garden

sign, benches and blue trellises in The Memorial Garden area

The Memorial Garden has various garden beds and is home to the Inniswood Gate. This is a great area for sitting and reading (you know, if you visit without kids).

10. Sisters’ Garden

plant covered arches in The Sisters Garden at Inniswood

I’ve saved the biggest area for last. The Sisters’ Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens is made up of so many exquisite gardens and fun areas for kids. If you just look at the main map of the park, you will not know what you are missing!

Check out this map for all the details in the Sisters’ Garden. Wind your way through the 2.8 acre area that is bordered by the Sisters Garden Loop and discover so many hidden gems! The Sisters’ Garden is made up of these 9 areas:

Entry Garden

The Entry Garden features a statue of Grace and Mary Innis: The Sisters!

Statue of The Sisters in Inniswood Metro Gardens

Country Garden

two boys playing in the Water Mill in the Sisters Garden at Inniswood Metro Park

The Country Garden is home to Granny’s House and Bessie’s Barn. There is also a windmill pump which kids love to splash in!

Granny's House in The Sisters' Garden at Inniswood Metro Park

by inside Granny's House looking at brightly painted walls

Wetland Garden

The Wetland Garden inside the Sisters' Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Woodland Garden

The Woodland Garden area

Turtle Mound

Turtle Mound at Inniswood Metro Garden

Story Maze

Earth on Turtle's Back a Native American Story at Inniswood Metro Garden

The Story Maze features a Native American legend which you can read following the stones along the path.

The Story Maze at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Circle Maze

The Sky Woman is the focal point of the Circle Maze!

The Sky Woman at Inniswood Metro Gardens in Westerville, Ohio

Trellis Cave

Look for imprints of leaves and animals on the trail in the Trellis Cave built from Ohio limestone. 

The Trellis Cave at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Secret Garden

The Secret Garden is one of my favorite areas of the park featuring inspiring quotes, hidden treasures in the walls and a sense that you are alone in your own story book fairy tale!

The Secret Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Hiking Trails Within Inniswood Metro Gardens

There are 6 short trails within the Inniswood Metro Gardens, ranging from .1 miles (Frog Talk Walk) to the longest at .6 miles (Chipmunk Chatter Trail). I have mentioned that pets are not allowed in the garden, however there is one exception and that’s the Chipmunk Chatter Trail. This trail is technically on the outside of the garden and pets are allowed on this one!

These are two of my favorite trails within the park:

Boardwalk Trail (Preserve Trail)

a boy on the Boardwalk Trail in Inniswood Metro Park

I first happened upon this trail during an unseasonably warm November and I was stopped in my tracks. (See photo above.) It was slightly foggy and the trees were in full color. It was just magical. I felt like I was in a fairy tale. I made a point to go back in the fall of 2020 and I was not disappointed! (See photo below.)

Two boys on the Boardwalk Trail

Sisters’ Garden Loop

wooden treehouse within The Sisters' Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens

For those of us with kids, the Sisters’ Garden Loop is a must. Not only does it surround the most kid-friendly area of the park, but hidden along the path is a wooden bridge and tree house that you just might miss if you don’t know to look for it!

boy in the wooden treehouse at Inniswood

the swinging bridge near the treehouse at Inniswood

Other Things to See and Do at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Innis House

The Innis House front view

The Innis House is home to offices, educational programs and a non-lending horticulture and natural history library. You can also visit the Main Room to see local artwork. 

Behind The Innis House there is a scenic overlook and a wooden train track which is fun for kids to see.

The Innis House backyard view with train track at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Education Pavilion

people in the Education Pavilion at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Outdoor classes and activities for all ages are held throughout the year at the Education Pavilion. We attended a class for preschoolers there a couple of years ago and the kids got to make musical instruments and do other crafts and activities!

The Patio

Across the parking lot, directly opposite of the main entrance to Inniswood Metro Gardens is a picnic area called The Patio. If you need a place to sit and/or have a picnic, this is it!

metal sunflowers at the entrance to The Sisters' Garden at Inniswood Metro Park

Tips for Visiting Inniswood Metro Gardens

1. Remember that food is not allowed in the Gardens so plan your visit in between meal times or have a snack in the car on the way to the park. If you pack a lunch, plan to eat it at one of the picnic tables surrounding the parking lot.

2. There is only one vehicle entrance to Inniswood and parking is abundant and adjacent to the entrance.

3. There is a lot to see in the park, but if you are visiting with kids you may want to focus on the the Sisters’ Garden and Sisters’ Garden Loop for the most kid-friendly attractions.

4. With the exception of the Chipmunk Chatter Trail outside the park, pets are not allowed at Inniswood Metro Gardens.

Know Before You Go:

Address: 940 S. Hempstead Rd., Westerville, OH 43081

Hours: Open Daily from 7:00 AM – dark

Metro Parks Info Line: 614-508-8000

Innis House Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM; Saturday and Sunday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Closed Mondays and Holidays

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Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks: Inniswood Metro Gardens


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5 Super Fun Playgrounds in Westerville

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These parks and playgrounds in Westerville, Ohio are super fun for Central Ohio kids! 

Westerville has some of the best parks, if you ask me! It’s kind of a hike for us, but one day we ended up visiting 3 of them in one morning because they are so close to each other! These five parks all have some really unique features that make them extra fun and special!

If you’re looking to make an outing out of your visit to Westerville, make sure to check out Uptown Westerville where you can find the cutest toy store: Naturally Curious Kids, some classic donut choices at Schneider’s Bakery or get your coffee fix at Java Central. You can read about Naturally Curious Kids in my list of Over 20 Free Indoor Play Areas in Columbus and the restaurants in Playdate in Uptown Westerville.

5 Super Fun Playgrounds for Kids in Westerville, Ohio: 

1. Hoover Reservoir Park

  • 7701 Sunbury Rd, Westerville, OH 43081

playground at Hoover Reservoir

dock at Hoover Reservoir

This is a small playground in comparison to the others, but I’ve included it because it’s right by the water and in my book, anytime you can do anything near water when you’re in Central Ohio, it’s a bonus! After playing, we enjoyed walking to the dock to see the boats and ducks and throw rocks into the water. 

playground at Hoover Reservoir, Westerville Ohio

The playground was a lot of fun for my 5 year old who enjoyed climbing and the tall slide!

2.. Spring Grove North

  • 1201 E. County Line Rd., Westerville, OH 43081

Playground at Spring Grove North Park, Westerville, Ohio

What makes this playground so cool is that one of the play structures is shaped like a ship! With two tall masts, a telescope and other ship-like features, kids can use their imagination to play sailors or pirates! There is also a smaller sized structure for toddlers and swings available! 

playground at Spring Grove Park North, Westerville

There is also the constant buzzing noise overhead from the electric wires, so be forewarned! Restrooms are available in the adjacent picnic pavilion.

ship playground at Spring Grove Park, Westerville Ohio

3. Alum Creek North Park

  • 221 W Main St, Westerville, OH 43081

train at Alum Creek North Park, Westerville, Ohio

This park has a lot to offer, especially if you have kids of varying ages! Besides the usual play equipment, there’s a sand pit, a large rope climbing structure and a train that’s perfect for toddlers! A lot of free concerts happen here at the amphitheater throughout the summer, and if you’re up for the trek uphill, it’s within walking distance of Uptown.

boys in sandbox at Alum Creek Park North, Westerville, Ohio

boy on train at playground at Alum Creek North Park, Westerville, Ohio

4. Millstone Creek Park

  • 745 N Spring Rd, Westerville, OH 43082

playground at Millstone Creek Park, Westerville

This park is super cool because it’s an accessible park, meaning it offers play areas for kids of all abilities. The play structure is huge, but there is also an area with a small house and items for toddlers. There are rocks to climb on and the option of playing in the creek area or on one of the basketball courts.

park in Westerville Ohio

creek at Millstone Creek Park, Westerville, Ohio

5. Towers Park

  • 657 County Line Rd; Westerville, Ohio 43081

playground at Towers Park, Westerville, Ohio

Towers Park has an adorable playground area for toddlers! The play houses are so cute and really fun! They have a lot of little details to keep kids entertained! Older kids will enjoy the ropes/climbing course. It’s a great obstacle course for preschoolers and younger elementary kids.

playground area at Towers Park, Westerville, Ohio

While you’re there, you can’t miss the amazing stained glass pavilion, but also take note of the smaller details on the pavilion like a butterfly and grasshopper! If you use the address listed for the park, it will take you to the baseball fields. To find the playground, turn on N. Spring Rd.. There is a parking lot for the playground area on N. Spring.

climbing area at Towers Park, Westerville Ohio

playground at Towers Park, Westerville, Ohio near Columbus

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5 Super Fun Parks and Playgrounds in Westerville, Ohio


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fryer park, grove city

6 Columbus Area Parks for Toddlers

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These 6 Columbus area parks are great for toddlers and younger kids!

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes taking young kids to the park can be a frightening experience.  You look away for 5 seconds and all of a sudden your toddler is standing at the top of a climbing wall looking over a 10 foot drop off to the pavement below.  I like to take my toddlers to parks where they can roam freely without a lot of worry that their lack of impulse control (or balance) is going to send us on a trip to the ER.  But that’s just me.

I suppose I should make a disclaimer that most (all?) of the younger kids’ areas in the parks I’ve been to have signs saying the equipment is designed for ages 2-5.  I don’t know anyone who has waited until their kid was 2 to take them to a park, so that being said, I have chosen 6 parks with particularly toddler-friendly play areas!

6 Columbus Parks that are Perfect for Toddlers: 

1. Funk-ee-Town, Harrison Park, Harrison West

995 Harrison Park Pl., Columbus, OH 43201
No Restrooms Available

Harrison Park

Harrison Park

GREAT toddler area here!  No crazy heights, the small slide is enclosed at the top, and lots of opportunities for imaginative play – on the ground!  My kids love the snack shack and the house with the blue roof has drums and a xylophone to play on inside, as well as a steering wheel. While you’re in the area, check out some of these kid-friendly options in the Short North!

2.  Jeffrey Mansion and Park, Bexley

165 N. Parkview Ave, Bexley, OH 43209
Seasonal Restrooms Available

Jeffrey Mansion Park, Bexley

Jefferey Mansion Park, Bexley, Ohio

The toddler area here is fenced in, making it a perfect little play area just for the younger crowd!  There is tunnel to crawl through, a dinosaur slide and a play house.  As a bonus, the grounds here are beautiful and if you follow the path into the woods behind the park, you will encounter a boardwalk along Alum Creek! If you’re in Bexley, add a stop at Kittie’s or Gramercy Books to complete the morning!

3.  Schiller Park, German Village

1069 Jaeger St., Columbus, OH 43206
Restrooms Available

Train at Schiller Park, German Village

Slide at Schiller Park, German Village

This side of the playground at Schiller park is very toddler friendly.  Kids love these trains, and the play area behind it, seen in the picture, is specifically made for the toddler set.  It’s completely closed in, there’s a ramp and the slides are so slow my 4 year old got stuck.  😉 There are several baby/toddler swings here as well. Nearby, check out Winans for great coffee and chocolate!

4. Pingree Park, Worthington

374 Pingree Dr., Worthington, OH 43085
No Restrooms Available

Pingree Park, Worthington, OH

Pingree Park, Worthington, Ohio

Pingree Park, Worthington, Ohio

My kids had a lot of fun at this park!  There’s a toddler play set, infant/toddler swings and a small path around the park that does not cross a road or parking lot.  There are a couple of picnic tables and benches here that are convenient for snacking or eating a packed lunch.

Both of my kids, including my toddler, actually really had fun on the tunnel slide, though it specifically says for ages 5 and up.  They specifically enjoyed yelling “Paw Patrol!” from the top and then pretending to slide down into their respective vehicles.  So yes, I did basically yell out jobs for them for at least 20 minutes: “Marshall, I need you and your firetruck to go rescue a kitty from a tree . . .” and so on . . . It was fun. (Sarcasm font.)

5.  Discovery Frontier, Fryer Park, Grove City

3899 Orders Rd., Grove City, OH 43123
Restrooms Available

space themed park in Grove City, Ohio

Fryer Park, Grove City, Ohio

This park is toddler friendly because it is more about space than height.  And yes, I mean that literally and figuratively.  This space-themed park has a lot of area to run, hills to climb and also sand to play in.  My kids love running through the tunnel and up the hill that is the moon. While you’re in Grove City, check out their awesome library!

There are several toddler-sized structures to play on.  It’s hard to say exactly what space-themed things they are supposed to be, but none of them are very high off the ground, and that’s what matters.  At this park, there is also a pond with a path to walk. There are several toddler swings here and they are under umbrella cover for shade – another bonus!

6. Alum Creek Park North, Westerville

221 W. Main St., Westerville, OH 43081
Restrooms Available

Train Park, Westerville Ohio

Alum Creek Park North

Most of this park is geared toward older kids, but there are two things in particular make this park toddler-friendly and worth a visit.  One is the train, which is mainly at ground level with a tunnel to crawl through, benches to sit on inside and a small slide.  The second thing is the large sand pit.  I said it was toddler friendly, I didn’t promise your kids would stay clean.  😉 This park was one stop during our Playdate in Uptown Westerville – make sure to read to find out where we got donuts before hand! 😉

I have personally tried all of these parks with a toddler and lived to see another day!  I hope you and your little ones enjoy exploring a new park!  If you’re planning to pick up coffee on the way to the park, I featured two of these parks in my post Coffee+Park: 3 Parks Within Walking Distance of a Coffee Shop!

Need more ideas? Check out Over 100 Fun Things to do in Columbus, Ohio

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ICYMI: 6 Free or Cheap Indoor Places for Kids to Run Wild in Columbus

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6 Parks for Toddlers in Columbus, Ohio

 

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