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5 Summer Adventures for Kids in Columbus

These fun summer activities in Columbus will get your family out of the house and exploring this summer!

This summer we have also been on the search for new, outdoor activities to keep our cabin fever at bay! Whether it’s wading in a creek, taking carousel rides or watching a super cool model train weave in and out of a city made of natural materials, there’s an outdoor activity for the whole family to enjoy!

Scroll through this list of fun adventures you can take with your kids in Columbus this summer to plan your next outing!

This post was updated on May 2, 2024

1. The Paul Busse Garden Railway at Franklin Park Conservatory

  • 1777 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43203
model train at the Paul Busse Garden Railway at Franklin Park Conservatory

The Paul Busse Garden Railway will be on display at Franklin Park Conservatory June 1, 2024 – January 5, 2025. This is an outdoor display that takes up a large portion of the Grand Mallway.

The Garden Railway is made of all-natural plant materials and features 4 botanical themes: Fairytale Land, Wild West Town and an animal themed “Who Lives Here” and a European Travels section! Each theme has its own section of the display and there is a sign listing what each building is and what to look for! It was fun for the kids to find all of the different displays!

boy looking at the model railway at Franklin Park Conservatory

Read more about the railway and see more photos here: The Paul Busse Garden Railway at Franklin Park Conservatory is Now on Display and it is Magical!

2. Commons For Kids and Free Carousel Rides at Columbus Commons

  • 160 S High St, Columbus, OH 43215

Summer is full of fun at Columbus Commons in downtown Columbus! And this year carousel rides will be FREE all summer!

Generally speaking, the carousel is open every day from 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM. There may be a change to this schedule due to weather or special events. Columbus Commons suggests checking their homepage or calling 614-227-3788 to confirm the carousel is open before visiting!

Also, mark your calendar for Commons For Kids which takes place on Friday mornings in the park from June 7 to August 9th. Hours are 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM and there will be new themes and activities each week!

There are tons of free events happening this Summer at Columbus Commons including fitness classes, concerts and more! Check out my list of 12 Fun Things to do at Columbus Commons this Summer! When you visit Columbus Commons, it’s easiest to park in the Columbus Commons Main Garage. The address is 55 E. Rich Street.

3. See the Bison at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

  • 1775 Darby Creek Dr, Galloway, OH 43119

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park has become our go-to metro park since moving to the west side of Columbus! Seeing the bison in the park and visiting the Nature Center are two of the best things you can do in the park!

To find the bison, enter at the Cedar Ridge Area, walk the Darby Creek Greenway Trail towards the Nature Center and you will come upon the Bison Viewing Area. During the warm months, this area is where the park’s bison hang out.

4. Whetstone Prairie

  • 3923 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43214
deer peeking his head out of the grass at Whetstone Prairie in Whetstone Park, Columbus

My husband and I stumbled upon the Whetstone Prairie while visiting the Columbus Park of Roses in June! We were shocked to find that this area existed after years of visiting the park and having no idea! The prairie is in the western part of the park along the Olentangy Trail. (Park in or near the Park of Roses parking lot.)

The prairie area is a peaceful place to walk, look for butterflies and other wildlife! I did not expect to come upon a deer in the middle of Whetstone Park! There are large clear paths for walking and enjoying solace in the middle of the city!

path at Whetstone Prairie in Columbus, Ohio

In addition to The Park of Roses and the Prairie, Whetstone Park is home to a library, rec center, pond and playground!

5. Rope Bridge at Scioto Grove Metro Park

  • 5172 Jackson Pike, Grove City, OH 43123
two boys walking the rope bridge in Scioto Grove Metro Park

Let this be another lesson to us all about the value of exploring new parts of the Metro Parks! Again at Scioto Grove Metro Park, I have been guilty of only driving to one area within the park: the playground (which is more of a large climbing structure)!

There are a lot of good hiking areas around the playground, so don’t discount that if you haven’t done it, but this summer we were on a mission to find the Rope Bridge! We kept driving on past the playground to the Grove Lodge (where we parked) and then headed south on the REI River Trail. The Rope Bridge can be found where the REI River Trail meets the Mingo Trail (and it’s marked on the official Metro Parks map.)

view of the creek from the rope bridge in Scioto Grove Metro Park

The path to the Rope Bridge is very shady which is great, but I will caution you that it can be muddy and there were a lot of mosquitos. Read my list of fun things to do in Grove City to round out your trip!

Exploring Columbus with Your Kids

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