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9 Fun Things to do in and Around Newark, Ohio

Looking for an easy road trip idea? Plan a family-friendly trip to Newark, Ohio! I think you will be surprised at how many fun things there are to do in Newark!

Newark, Ohio offers several attractions for families to enjoy! It would be easy to do several of these things in one day! Plan your Newark, Ohio itinerary by choosing a couple of stops and have a fun day out with the kids!

Where is Newark, Ohio?

Downtown Newark is about 40 miles east of downtown Columbus. Newark is the county seat of Licking County and the city has a population of just under 50,000 people. It will take you about 40-45 minutes to drive to downtown Newark from Columbus.

Two boys standing in front of the courthouse in Newark, Ohio.

Related: Family Friendly Day Trips Within 1 Hour From Columbus, Ohio

What is there to do in Newark, Ohio?

Because my blog primarily features family-friendly outings, I’m going to focus on four main activities and attractions in Newark that are perfect for families!

1. The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art and Technology

Probably the #1 destination for families in Newark, Ohio is The Works! We visited for the first time in 2022 and I really wish we would have visited sooner! My boys were 7 and 10 and they had a blast! But, I know they would have loved the play area for younger kids when they were toddlers, too!

The Works has something for everyone! The first floor of The Works includes hands on science exhibits, an art gallery, gift shop, a glass blowing hot shop, and the SciDome Planetarium. Additionally, there is an outdoor courtyard with historical information and an Interurban Railway Car!

Go Lab area at The Works, a family friendly attraction in Newark, Ohio.

There are so many hands on activities where kids can learn about science, the body, inventing, electricity and more! This first floor area is divided up into labs with different themes. The driving simulation activity was the most popular station with my boys. And now I am terrified for them to become drivers! LOL!

Invent Lab area at The Works, a kid-friendly attraction in Newark, Ohio.

We enjoyed a show in the SciDome Planetarium! These shows last for 30 minutes and take place twice a day on weekdays and 5 times on Saturdays. The planetarium shows are included with admission! Make sure you are on time because they are first come first served and you will not be admitted after the show has started!

Mom and son inside the SciDome Planetarium at The Works in Newark, Ohio.

And no, I did not purposely wear a shirt with stars on it for this planetarium visit! 😉

The show we watched was called Solar Superstorms. My kids enjoyed it but got a little restless towards the end. Some families with smaller kids left early. Be prepared that toddlers might not be able to make it through the 30 minute show. However, their website does mention that Kids Editions are available so that might be something to look into if you have younger kids!

If your kids are too young to sit still for a planetarium show, they will definitely love the Tyke Lab! This play space is just for kids 6 and under! This is an area my kids would have LOVED when they were toddlers and preschoolers!

Tyke Lab play area for toddlers at The Works in Newark, Ohio. One of the fun things to do in Newark, Ohio.

The second floor of The Works focuses on the history of Newark and Licking County. On this floor, my kids favorite area was the Land of Legend Village, a city set in the times of the Great Depression. My kids loved to play make-believe in this area, especially at the bank!

Two boys playing in the historical town at The Works in Newark, Ohio.

There is an extensive area on the history of Newark and surrounding area including businesses started in the area and mastodon bones uncovered in a nearby bog!

Two boys looking at the historical exhibits at The Works in Newark, Ohio.

Another highlight on the second floor is the Jerrie Mock exhibit! Jerrie Mock is the first woman to fly solo around the world! She was born in Newark, Ohio and she began her around-the-world flight in Columbus! My kids also loved the flight simulator that is part of this exhibit!

boy looking at a globe at the Jerrie Mock exhibit at The Works museum in Newark, Ohio.

Know before you go:

  • COSI members can receive 50% off their admission to The Works!
  • No food or drink is allowed in the museum, but you can leave and return on the same day with your admission if you want to step out for lunch or a snack!

2. The Dawes Arboretum

We have enjoyed visiting the Dawes Arboretum several times over the past couple of years. No matter the season, there is something to see and enjoy within the gardens.

Boy on a wooden swing at Dawes Arboretum in Newark, Ohio.

When we visit we usually park at the Visitor’s Center and walk the paths to the Zane Education Center and Learning Garden. The Natural Play area for kids is within walking distance of this parking lot as well.

After that, we then drive to the other gardens within the arboretum. There is a driving trail that is well marked with signage along the way. Make sure to pick up a map of the arboretum as that will be helpful, too! Most gardens have their own small parking areas where you can stop and then explore the gardens on foot.

Boy walking a snowy path at the Dawes Arboretum in Newark, Ohio.

Kids will enjoy the Kids Corner – a Natural Play Area! They can play in stick teepees, run through tunnels made with tree branches and climb on logs and tree stumps!

Boy playing in the natural play area at Dawes Arboretum in Newark, Ohio.

When you visit the Dawes Arboretum, you absolutely want to climb the observation tower to look out over the grounds! With a couple of observation decks at different levels, you can take in the hedges that are shaped to spell DAWES ARBORETUM! The hedge lettering is 2,040 feet long and is best seen from above!

Boy standing on the Observation Tower at Dawes Arboretum in Newark, Ohio.

My absolute favorite garden is the Japanese Garden! It is an area of serenity and beauty that really took my breath away when we saw it for the first time!

Boys walking across stones in the Japanese Garden at The Dawes Arboretum in Newark, Ohio.

Know before you go:

  • Plan on spending at least two hours at the Dawes Arboretum.
  • A family membership is only $60 so it may be worth buying a membership if your whole family plans to visit more than once in a year!

3. Canal Market District

Downtown Newark has a great market district with a permanent pavilion that allows for cover in all kinds of weather! The district is home to twice-weekly farmers market and Art & Craft Markets as well as special events like a Food Truck Festival, Treat Fest for kids in October and a Home, Decor and Garden Show!

Canal Market District Farmers Market in Newark, Ohio.

The Farmer’s Market takes place May through October from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM on Tuesdays and 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM on Fridays. Art & Craft Markets take place May through October on select Saturdays.

Canal Market District attraction in Newark, Ohio.

Related: Farmers Markets in Columbus and Central Ohio

4. Explore the Murals and Statues of Downtown Newark

Address: 1 Courthouse Square, Newark, OH 43055 (heart of downtown)

When you are in downtown Newark, you can’t help but notice the murals and unique statues. We haven’t even begun to see the half of them! I found this PDF of public art in Licking County to be helpful at finding more for future adventures!

Statue in downtown Newark, Ohio.

Don’t miss the murals near the Canal Market District! The picture below is taken from the market side, facing the courthouse.

Murals in downtown Newark near the Canal Market District.
Mural in downtown Newark, Ohio.

The statues will definitely make for some fun photo ops! I am looking forward to finding more!

Mark Twain statue on a bench in downtown Newark, Ohio.

Know before you go:

  • Free public parking is available in downtown Newark. You can look for a lot or park along the square.

Where should we eat in Newark, Ohio?

Admittedly, my kids wanted to eat at Wendy’s the last time we visited Newark and I did oblige them. But if your family can be persuaded away from fast food, these are some enjoyable restaurant options in Newark that I have personally tried!

This is by no means an exhaustive list of dining options in Newark, only ones that I have personally visited! I look forward to adding more to the list as we return!

5. Market Street Soda Works

If you are in Newark, Ohio, this is a must visit destination! A soda shop that specializes in root beer! Sign me up!

There are a few things you should know before visiting! First of all, you should know that Market Street Soda Works is a seasonal restaurant. Secondly, the shop is only open May through October and, thirdly, it is only open on Friday nights and Saturdays! So plan accordingly!

Rootbeer float at Market Street Soda Works in Newark, Ohio.

Basically, if you plan to visit when there is market happening at Canal Market District, Market Street Soda Works will most likely be open! They are also likely to be hosting a food truck outside!

The shop is filled with all kinds of unique root beers sold by the bottle. You can also get root beer on draft and turn in into a root beer float. Yes, please!

6. River Road Coffeehouse – On the Square

The square in Newark centers around the courthouse with roundabouts at each corner. It is a very unique set up. There are many shops and restaurants around the square. You could easily spend an hour or so here exploring them!

Things to do with kids in Newark, Ohio. Eat a cookie at River Road Coffeehouse.

River Road Coffeehouse has multiple locations in Newark, Ohio. We visited the downtown location, located right on the square. Baked good were enjoyed by all and I got my caffeine fix before making the drive back home to Columbus!

7. Skorpios Gyros

Located in downtown Newark, Skorpios Gyros has a great menu of appetizers, dips, vegetarian options and gyros! If that’s too risky for your kids, they do have kids meals that offer chicken nuggets or strips!

Gyro and Fries from Skorpios Gyros in downtown Newark, Ohio.

I enjoyed my gyro and thought the menu options were reasonably priced! Great fries, too!

What else is there to do near Newark, Ohio?

Got a little more time to spend in Newark and the surrounding Licking County? Here are a couple of ideas that are about a 20 minute drive from downtown Newark.

8. Buckeye Lake

Address: 69 Mill St., Buckeye Lake, OH 43008 (location pictured below)

Boys walking along Buckeye Lake, 20 minutes from Newark, Ohio in Licking County.

I’ve taken my kids for a quick trip to Buckeye Lake after visiting the Dawes Arboretum more than once! We even went in the winter to see the lake frozen over! Quite a sight!

Buckeye Lake State Park is small, however you can walk along the waterfront which is nice. In warmer weather, we had lunch on the patio at Island House!

9. Ye Olde Mill – Velvet Ice Cream Factory

Boys watching the water mill at Ye Olde Mill in LIcking County. Things to do near Newark.

A visit to Velvet Ice Cream is just a 20 minute drive north of Newark, Ohio! Its fun to watch ice cream being made, tour the grounds (which include a playground)) and, of course, eat ice cream! Ye Old Mill is seasonal, opening in May for the summer season.


This post will help you plan your family-friendly trip to Newark, Ohio! I hope you enjoy exploring this area with your kids!

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9 Fun things to do in Newark Ohio.