Explore Columbus with one of these fun outdoor activities guaranteed to provide your daily dose of Vitamin D!
We look forward to warmer weather when we can get outside and enjoy Central Ohio’s parks, playgrounds and other outdoor activities! This list of outdoor activities in Columbus includes the educational, the relaxing and even ideas for those who aren’t the “outdoorsy type”.
Some of our favorite places to explore are the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks and you’ll see a few of those parks included on this list. Check out the other links within this post for more kid-friendly ideas within the Metro Parks! We also love to explore playgrounds around town and while I haven’t included many on this list, you can get more ideas in: 12 Columbus Parks to Try This Summer.
25 Fun Things to do Outside in Columbus, Ohio:
- 1375 OH-674, Canal Winchester, OH 43110
This Columbus and Franklin County Metro Park in Canal Winchester is home to a living farm where families can visit, ask questions and participate in chores on the farm! On Saturdays kids can feed the animals and participate in chores! Spend a beautiful day outdoors on the farm!
- 940 S Hempstead Rd, Westerville, OH 43081
Inniwsood Metro Gardens are one of the most beautiful outdoor displays of plants, trees and flowers your can find in the Columbus area! The trails are also beautiful to walk in all seasons! This park is in bloom in the spring and summer and the foliage is spectacular in the fall as well!
Don’t miss the tree house with its suspension bridges and wooden walking paths! Kids love this area to play in in the park! (Please note, no food or drink is allowed inside the park but there are picnic tables just outside if you’ve brought a packed lunch!)
3. Ninja Course at Glacier Ridge Metro Park
- 9801 Hyland-Croy Rd, Plain City, OH 43064
This fun outdoor activity in Glacier Ridge Metro Park is often called the Ninja Course by locals. It features ramps, ropes to climb and a small zip line. Lots of fun opportunities for climbing, swinging and jumping! This area is on the North side of the park.
On the South end of the park you can visit the Honda Wetland Education Area which features an outdoor viewing area and information about the wildlife in the park.
- 1777 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43203
The Scots Miracle Grow Foundation Children’s Garden at Franklin Park Conservatory is an incredible place for kids to play outside! Access to the garden is available only through the Franklin Park Conservatory so you must pay admission or have a membership. However, Franklin County residents can visit for free on the first Sunday of each month!
With bridges, a human-sized birds nest, fairy gardens, musical instruments, water features and so much more, this is one of the coolest outdoor activities in Columbus!
- 160 S High St, Columbus, OH 43215
Columbus Commons is the largest park in downtown Columbus. Throughout the spring, summer and fall the park is home to live concerts, outdoor exercise classes, a carousel, two food vendors, festivals and Commons for Kids in the summer! If you’re looking for a great outdoor green space downtown, this is it!
- 4326 Hayden Run Rd., Dublin, OH 43017
One might not think of Columbus, Ohio as a place that has many (or any) water falls, which is what makes Haden Falls such a hidden gem! This park is definitely off the beaten path and involves a short hike down wooded steps and walk ways. Once you come upon the falls you will be pleasantly surprised by what you find!
- 5172 Jackson Pike, Grove City, OH 43123
The climbing structure at Scioto Grove Metro Park is really unique – it’s made nearly entirely out of rope! This outdoor play area is best for older kids who are confident in rope climbing! This playground is in the Arrowhead Picnic Area. Parking and restrooms are close by.
8. Bison Watching at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park
- 1775 Darby Creek Dr, Galloway, OH 43119
Park at the Nature Center at Battelle Darby Metro Park and take a short walk to look for the bison that live in the park! There are a couple of different pasture areas so you may want to ask at the Nature Center where the bison are currently hanging out. There is a bison observation area about a 1/2 mile walk from the Nature Center.
- 1779 Home Rd, Delaware, OH 43015
Take a day to tour underground caverns once used by the Wyandotte Indians. There are guided and self guided tours available. While you are at Olentangy Indian Caverns, other outdoor activities include visiting a petting zoo where you can feed and, of course, pet animals, completing an outdoor maze, gem mining, yard games and more!
- Read more: 10 Things to do at Olentangy Indian Caverns
10. Park of Roses
- 3901 N High St, Columbus, OH 43214
If you’re looking for a peaceful outdoor walk with beautiful scenery, make sure to check out the Park of Roses in the Clintonville neighborhood a short drive behind the Whetstone Recreation Center. There are several distinct rose gardens, plus additional gardens displaying perennials, trees and herbs.
The roses are in peak bloom June through September and admission is free. While you’re there, make sure to explore the other fun parts of Whetstone Park!
- 6131 Cook Rd., Powell, Ohio 43065
Ohio Wildlife Center is home to animals who are being rehabilitated or not able to return to life in the wild. Plan this activity ahead of time because the Center is only open a few times a month. Make sure to check the website for dates. Story times are held as well as regular open houses and, during each event, guests can tour the outdoor grounds where the animals are housed.
- 3083 Liberty Rd, Delaware, OH 43015
Stratford Ecological Center is in Delaware, Ohio, about an hour outside of downtown Columbus. This farm is home to animals, gardens, hiking trails, a pond and more! Workshops and classes are held on a regular basis as well as a story time for kids. Enjoy visiting the animals up close, digging up dirt in the gardens and lots of other outdoor activities at your leisure on the farm.
13. Ohio Village
- 800 E 17th Ave, Columbus, OH 43211
Ohio Village is the outdoor portion of Ohio History Center. This area is open during the summer and features what every day life was like in the 1880’s! Special events are held here throughout the year such as Dickens of a Christmas and All Hallow’s Eve but during the summer months, you can visit Ohio Village any day of the week!
During the summer, the Ohio Village Muffins play 1880’s style Base Ball and you can watch the games for free with your admission or membership to Ohio History Connection!
- Related: Ohio History Center
14. Rock Climbing at Scioto Audubon Metro Park
- 400 W Whittier St., Columbus, OH 43215
There are three outdoor climbing towers that are free to climb in the playground area of Scioto Audubon Metro Park in downtown Columbus. These reach a height of 35 feet. Climbers have to bring their own harnesses and must be 13 or older. There are a few 10-foot boulders that kids are able to climb regardless of their age.
- 3400 Lewis Center Rd, Lewis Center, OH 43035
If you’re wanting a beach vacation but don’t have the time or money, don’t overlook Alum Creek Beach for a day at the beach! It might not be the ocean, but you might just be pleasantly surprised!
- 1500 Polaris Pkwy, Columbus, OH 43240
The Yard is an outdoor area at Polaris Fashion Place (near Cheesecake Factory) where there are larger than life sized games like chess, Connect Four, LEGO building blocks, ping pong and more! Nearby is also a fountain where kids can splash around on Summer days!
- 4850 W Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065
Walking the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to see all of the animals is a great outdoor activity (and great exercise!) for all ages! Highlights include The Heart of Africa, the Polar Frontier, and special seasonal events throughout the year like Wildlights and Boo at the Zoo!
18. Topiary Park
- 480 E Town St, Columbus, OH 43215
The highlight of this park, just outside of Columbus Metropolitan Library Main Library, is a plant-based recreation of Georges Seurat’s painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LaGrande Jatte. With larger than life size plant sculptures created from yew trees, it’s a sight to behold!
The garden consists of 54 people, boat sculptures and animal sculptures and you can walk the paths of the park enjoying the scenery and getting up close to the sculptures!
- 233 S Civic Center Dr, Columbus, OH 43215
Take a walk outdoors on a beautiful stretch of the Scioto Mile with views of the Columbus skyline, swinging benches, bridges and more! Along the Scioto Mile are parks such as Bicentennial Park and Genoa Park where outdoor festivals and concerts are often held during the summer months.
20. Natural Play Area at Blendon Woods Metro Park
- 4265 E. Dublin Granville Rd., Columbus, OH 43081
Get up close with nature at the outdoor play area at Blendon Woods Metro Park. There is a wooden zip line, forts made of sticks, bridges and climbing areas, a tire swing and lots of area for creeking. (Bring a change of clothes if you know what’s good for you!) Blendon Woods also has a great Nature Center and birdwatching area.
- Read more: Exploring Blendon Woods Metro Park
21. Veteran’s Spray and Play (Dinosaur Park)
- 1121 S Houk Rd, Delaware, OH 43015
What is affectionately known as the “Dinosaur Park” is the super fun Spray and Play at Veteran’s Park near the YMCA in Delaware, Ohio, about an hour outside of downtown Columbus. The splash pad and several play fixtures have a dinosaur theme. This is a really amazing playground and splash pad combo that’s worth the trip!
- Related: Exploring Delaware with Your Kids
- See a list of Free Columbus Area Splash Pads and Fountains for more ideas for outdoor fun during the summer months!
22. Canoeing and Kayaking at Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks
Canoeing and kayaking are available at 7 of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks! At last check those parks include: Battelle Darby Creek, Highbanks, Prairie Oaks, Scioto Audubon, Three Creeks, Scioto Grove and Walnut Woods.
23. Outdoor Shopping and More at Easton Town Center
- 160 Easton Town Center, Columbus, Ohio 43219
Not the “outdoorsy type” but still want to be outside? Spend the day shopping, dining and playing at Easton Town Center. The mall features an outdoor format with several distinct shopping areas. Outdoor activities for kids include splashing in the fountains at Town Square and watching the nearby model train display!
Grab an ice cream cone from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and sit out on the patio area. There’s also bocce ball, outdoor concerts during the summer and at least two other fountains to visit.
24. Dorrian Green at COSI
- 50 South Belle St, Columbus, OH 43215
Dorrian Green is a downtown greenspace just outside of COSI that includes a playground, splash pad, picnic area, metal “porch swings,” lawn chairs and more! You can use the public parking area or find a nearby meter. If you’re looking to expand your outing, include this park in your visit to COSI!
25. OSU Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens
- 152 Howlett Hall 2021, Fyffe Rd, Columbus, OH 43210
The Chadwick Arboretum on the campus of OSU just off of 315 is filled with Learning Gardens including a Bamboo Garden, Rose Garden, Wildflower Garden and more! The Arboretum North area has a lake, prairie plants and butterfly way station.
The gardens are open year round and are free to visit. Visit their website for a walking tour app and parking information!
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