The Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks offer Central Ohio residents amazing opportunities to get outside, get in touch with nature and escape city life. We live in the city of Columbus and it always amazes me that we can go from urban life to the middle of a forest in under 30 minutes!
For the past several years, the Columbus Metro Parks have given my family (and countless others) not just the opportunity to get out in nature, but also story times, amazing playgrounds, educational programs and special events. We’ve walked through holiday light displays, built forts in the trees, made rain shakers, played in a treehouse, swung from zip lines, waded in creeks and watched bison roam.
All this to say, we are so lucky to have access to the free activities, programs, sights and sounds of our Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks!
Personally we have visited most of the Columbus Metro Parks, with just one or two left to explore. But writing a guide to each park definitely requires more than just one visit! Some of the larger parks we have visited again and again to explore different areas each time! As we continue to explore and re-explore, I will be adding parks to this guide.
Before we get to each individual park, let’s explore what makes the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks so great as a whole!
Metro Park Nature Centers
Many of the Columbus area Metro Parks have really great Nature Centers! These centers have indoor play areas, special programing, educational displays, and more! Some highlights include the living stream at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, the indoor play area at Scioto Grove Metro Park and the stream built into the floor at Highbanks Metro Park!
These Nature Centers offer great opportunities to learn more about plants, wildlife and our interdependence with the natural world. They are free to visit and make the perfect outing for families!
Outdoor Adventures at the Metro Parks
The Columbus Metro Parks offer some pretty incredible activities for kids! Rock climbing, natural play areas, a ninja course and bison viewing are just some of the unique outdoor activities within our local Metro Parks!
Playgrounds at the Metro Parks
Speaking of kids, there are some pretty great playgrounds within the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks! If you have really young kids, they might not be as interested in hiking or rock climbing, but they will love some of these fun playground areas within the metro parks!
Playgrounds are a great way to get kids interested in going to the metro parks! If I can promise my kids there will be a playground involved, they will be more likely to agree to a mile long hike or an educational visit to the Nature Center!
Some of our favorite playgrounds are at Walnut Woods, Glacier Ridge and Scioto Grove Metro Parks!
Metro Park Hiking Trails
Now that the kids have been promised a playground, plan it in conjunction with one of these kid friendly hikes within the Columbus Metro Parks! My kids have grown to enjoy a walk in the woods all thanks to the easier trails within the parks that we have done over the past couple of years.
Also, you never know what you are going to find when you go for a hike in one of the metro parks! Herons, egrets, eagles, wild turkeys and much more can be found! Being surrounded by nature without a tall building in sight can be very therapeutic!
Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks
Each of these guides to the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks tells you what to expect when you visit, family-friendly things to do in the Metro Parks and where to find playgrounds, hiking trails and spectacular views!
Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park is the largest of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks and features hiking, canoeing, fishing, a great Nature Center and bison who roam within the park!
Blendon Woods Metro Park in Westerville, Ohio has a fun Nature Center, trails for hiking, a Natural Play Area and great birdwatching opportunities! This Columbus Metro Park also has a newly remodeled playground that is lots of fun for kids!
Glacier Ridge Metro Park is one of the most unique of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks and offers lots of fun for kids and families!
Glacier Ridge Metro Park is in the Plain City/Dublin/Jerome area of Central Ohio and is named after the glaciers that shaped the park many years ago! The park is full of little gems that make it extra fun for kids!
Homestead Metro Park, located in Hilliard, Ohio, offers many enjoyable activities for families. Spanning 44 acres, the park boasts a fishing pond, multiple playground areas, paved trails, and even a kid-friendly Nature Center.
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!
One of the Columbus 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!
Pickerington Ponds Metro Park is a haven for bird watchers. This Franklin County Metro Park in Canal Winchester offers a breath of fresh air, beautiful scenery and lots of opportunities for bird watching!
Pickerington Ponds Metro Park, southeast of Columbus, Ohio, is one of Franklin County’s largest natural wetlands. Part of Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, this park is perfect for bird watchers and viewing wildlife.
With a beautiful waterfall, a floating boardwalk, a zip line and a mountain bike trail, Quarry Trails Metro Park will keep your whole family entertained!
Quarry Trails Metro Park was created out of an abandoned quarry (Marble Cliff Quarry) on the west side of Columbus. The park is the 20th park in the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks system.
The Scioto Audubon Metro Park in downtown Columbus offers a lot of fun for kids! There’s an indoor play area, an outside playground, bird watching, story times and much, much more!
This Metro Park in downtown Columbus is also home to the largest free outdoor climbing wall in the country!
Scioto Grove Metro Park in Grove City is known for it’s picturesque rope bridge, scenic overlooks and unique playground!
One of the newer of the Columbus Metro Parks, Scioto Grove has some unique features! Possibly the most famous is the Rope Bridge on the REI Trail.
Slate Run Metro Park in Canal Winchester, Ohio offers visitors the opportunity to step back into the 1880’s on a working farm!
Slate Run Metro Park and Historical Farm is such a great place to visit! The Slate Run Living Historical Farm is a destination in itself, but it is part of a the larger Metro Park which has a lot to offer in itself including a great playground and a boardwalk trail on Buzzard's Roost Lake.
You won’t regret exploring each of the Columbus area Metro Parks! There is something unique about each one of them! Visiting these parks is an amazing and convenient way to connect with nature just outside of the city of Columbus! Check out this map of the Metro Parks to find the one nearest to you!
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