Whether it’s a rainy day or too cold to go out and play, these indoor activities in Columbus will keep your kids entertained! And the best thing is, they’re all free!
Here in Columbus we have a never ending list of parks and playgrounds to choose from when the weather is nice and we’re looking for a free activity! But when the weather changes and parks aren’t so pleasant, what is there to do in Columbus that won’t break the bank?
Over the years we have discovered some truly great indoor places where kids can play and explore around town! Try out one of these 10 fun and free indoor activities around Columbus!
1. Aquarium Adventure
- Address: 3649 Fishinger Blvd, Hilliard, OH 43026
Aquarium Adventure is an aquarium store in the Mill Run area of Hilliard. You can get pretty much anything you might need if you’re into aquariums, but even if you’re not, they’re totally welcoming of kids who want to come and look at the thousands of fish that are for sale!
There’s a koi pond, a tide pool where kids can reach in and touch and there are even stingrays!
2. The Naz Play Place
** Note the Naz Play Place is currently closed for cleaning and will reopen sometime in August, 2023.
- Address: 4770 Hoover Rd., Grove City, OH 43123
The Naz Play Place is a really great free indoor play area inside the Naz Commons at The Naz Church in Grove City. The Play Place has open hours every day except Sunday. Hours are subject to change, so please check the website listed above before visiting! There is also a cafe on site for purchasing snacks or lunch!
You can fill out the registration for the Play Place ahead of time on line! And don’t forget to bring socks!
3. The Ohio State University Airport
- Address: 2160 West Case Rd., Columbus, OH 43235
A trip to The Ohio State University Airport is a real treat for kids who love airplanes! They recently remodeled a couple of years ago and there is a great observation deck where you can watch planes take off and land. I’ve been told that the best time to visit to see planes is Fridays and Mondays.
The KOSU Terminal is full of interesting facts about the history of the airport and you can also take your picture with a life-sized Brutus statue!
4. Battelle Darby Nature Center
- Address: 1415 Darby Creek Dr., Galloway, OH 43119
One of our favorite Nature Centers is at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park! A highlight here is the living stream where kids are allowed to reach in and touch! They can even crawl through a tunnel underneath the stream and look up underneath!
There are a lot of educational and interactive displays here. Often they have animal pelts out for touching and other toys or puppets to play with.
There are bison in the park and during the winter they may be in the winter pasture which is behind the Nature Center so make sure to ask an employee where to see them!
5. Westerville Community Center
- Address: 350 N. Cleveland Ave., Westerville, OH 43082
The Westerville Community Center has a free, indoor treehouse-themed play area for kids! You can fill out a waiver at the front desk or online that is good for one year. This play area is free for kids to play on! Make sure to bring socks!
6. Ohio Statehouse
- Address: 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215
It’s free to tour the Ohio Statehouse! You can show up for a guided tour or pick up a map in the gift shop and do a self-guided tour (which I do recommend if you have younger kids)! The Statehouse has it’s own underground parking garage which is convenient to use.
A real highlight of visiting Ohio Statehouse is the Ohio Statehouse Museum. There are a lot of interactive exhibits and historical information about laws and elections in Ohio. Another highlight is the Map Room which features a large map of Ohio on the floor with all 88 counties represented!
7. Highbanks Nature Center
- Address: 9466 Columbus Pike (US Rt 23 N), Lewis Center, OH 43035
Highbanks Nature Center is another really fun Metro Parks Nature Center for kids to visit! There is an indoor stream that is covered with glass that you can walk over and peer into! You can’t miss the large tree inside that kids can crawl through or play inside!
In a side room they have an Adena dwelling where kids can explore and learn. They always have rotating displays of books, hands on activities and toys for kids to play with, too!
8. Orton Geological Museum
- Address: 155 S. Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210
Plan a visit to see the replica Cryolophosaurus skeleton that was discovered by an OSU professor and installed in September, 2018 at Orton Geological Museum on the campus of The Ohio State University! Visiting this museum is a fun way to visit the OSU campus with kids!
Also inside the museum, kids can discover a giant sloth skeleton, T. Rex skull, sparkling minerals, meteorites, mastodon teeth and more! They also have a DinOStore where you can pick up some dino-themed gifts!
The Museum Gallery is open to the public from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday and is free to visit!
9. Deer Haven Park Nature Center
- Address: 4183 Liberty Rd., Delaware, OH 43015
The Nature Center at Deer Haven Park in Delaware, Ohio is a real gem. It is surrounded by large windows with binoculars for bird watching!
There is also a separate room with aquariums housing turtles, frogs and other amphibians! There are several mounted animals and educational displays. They often have rotating displays so it’s always worth checking back to see what’s new!
Outside the Nature Center there is an aviary. I know this is an outdoor activity (gasp!) but it’s worth a quick visit!
10. Cultural Arts Center
- Address: 139 W. Main St., Columbus, OH 43215
If you’d like to introduce to art museums by starting small, check out the Cultural Arts Center in downtown Columbus!
There are two galleries, a Main Gallery on the first floor and the Loft Gallery, upstairs. Exhibitions rotate through both spaces and it is totally free to visit! Parking can be found on the street around Bicentennial Park or the Columbus Commons Garage is not too far away.
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