Off the Beaten Path: 15 Unique Things to do in Columbus Ohio

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If you feel like you’ve seen all there is to see, check out this list of unique things to do off the beaten path in Columbus, Ohio!

The most popular things to do in Columbus get a lot of press! In fact my Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus Ohio is the most popular post on my blog, so if you haven’t been ON the beaten path in Columbus, that’s the first thing to check.

But if you’ve been there, done that, it’s time to venture off the beaten path!

boy going down steps to waterfall at Hayden Falls

Steps to Hayden Run Falls

What makes something “off the beaten path”? For this list there are two criteria:

1. It’s not downtown
2. It’s not on the “main drag” of a neighborhood or suburb

We’ll start of with some ideas for family-friendly fun and end with some unique eats and treats!

15 Unique Things to do in Columbus Off the Beaten Path:

1. Level 1 Bar and Arcade

  • 130 Hutchinson Ave. Columbus, OH 43235
arcade games at Level One Bar and Arcade

Level One Bar and Arcade

Level 1 Bar and Arcade is a throw back to the 80’s! It’s tons of fun because as long as you purchase a drink, you can play all of the video games for free! (There may be an additional (small) cost for skee ball and pinball games.)

On Saturdays and Sundays kids (or anyone under 21) are allowed in to play from 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM AND they offer party packages for kids and adults! “Mocktails” are available for kids or anyone not drinking alcohol!

2. KSM Sports and Fitness Facility 

  • 10336 Sawmill Rd., Powell, Ohio 43065
indoor area at KSM sports and fitness facility

KSM Sports and Fitness Facility

Sometimes you just need a really big place for kids to run around! Enter KSM Sports and Fitness Facility. KSM offers a Little Tykes Open Play Time on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 AM. They also offer other public events like Nerf Nights, Yoga, personal trainers, team training and more!

3. Aquarium Adventure

  • 3649 Fishinger Blvd. Hilliard, OH 43026 
boy at Aquarium Adventure in Hilliard Ohio

Aquarium Adventure

Don’t want to make the trip to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium? Scale it back a little bit and visit Aquarium Adventure – an aquarium superstore in Hilliard! Kids will love exploring each aquarium to see what they can find. There are often large sea creatures on display like sting rays! It’s also fun to explore the large Koi pond in the front of the store!

4. Rollhouse Entertainment

  • 500 Georgesville Rd., Columbus, OH 43228
boy bowling at Rollhouse in Columbus, Ohio

Rollhouse Entertainment

Rollhouse, just off of Georgesville Rd, is home to bowing, laser tag, arcade games and a full food menu! Lots of fun for kids and families, Rollhouse is also a participant in the Kids Bowl Free program that happens each summer! Sign up to get free bowling every day for kids!

5. Blacklick Woods Metro Park Nature Center 

  • 6975 East Livingston Ave., Reynoldsburg, OH 43068 
Blacklick Metro Park Nature Center

Nature Center at Blacklick Woods Metro Park

Blacklick Woods Metro Park is home to a gem of a Nature Center! The Nature Center has a lot of educational items on display and a great play area for the kids! There are live animals to see and large windows for bird watching. This is a great place to spend the morning with kids!

6. Anthony Thomas Candy Factory

  • 1777 Arlingate Lane, Columbus, OH 43228 
boy getting candy at Anthony Thomas Candy Factory in Columbus, Ohio

Anthony Thomas Candy Factory

You can tour the Anthony Thomas Candy Factory in about an hour, getting a glimpse of the candy making process from a “cat-walk” above the production lines.  Tours take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the winter and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in June, July and August.

You end the tour in the gift shop and you get to use your admission price ($2 for adults and $1 for kids) towards a purchase of candy in the gift shop!

7. Ohio State University Airport

  • 2160 West Case Rd. Columbus, OH 43235 
observation deck at OSU Airport

Observation Deck at The Ohio State University Airport

The Ohio State University Airport offers a unique activity for anyone who loves to watch planes take off and land. The observation tower has been fully remodeled and allows a great view of the runway. The best days to visit are Fridays and Mondays when the weather is good.

Anyone can visit the airport to watch and you might want to plan for breakfast or lunch at Jack and Benny’s Barnstormer Diner adjacent to the observation tower!

8. Hayden Falls Park

  • 4326 Hayden Run Rd., Dublin, OH 43017 
waterfall at Hayden Run Falls

Hayden Run Falls

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!

9. Clay Street Ceramics

  • 13 N. Westmoor Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43204
boy painting pottery at Clay Street Ceramics in West Columbus

Clay Street Ceramics

Clay Street Ceramics is a fun, family-owned paint your own pottery spot on the west side of Columbus! There are tons of pottery items available to paint and your finished product can be picked up within a week.

Clay Street holds special events, pop up shops and activities for kids on days off of school. Inside Clay Street Ceramics, there is also a small artisan market where you can find goods for sale by local artists!

10. Cambridge Tea House

  • 1885 W. 5th Ave. Columbus, Ohio 43212
inside Cambridge Tea House

Cambridge Tea House

Cambridge Tea House is the sweetest little spot on the edge of Grandview and Marble Cliff. This is a sit-down restaurant that offers full tea service including options for kids! You can take advantage of a full tea service or order from the menu for breakfast and lunch options, scones, and other baked goods!

11. Dulce Vida Ice Cream Factory

  • 4201 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43228
inside Dulce Vida Ice Cream Factory

Dulce Vida Ice Cream Factory – West

Dulce Vida Ice Cream Factory delights all of the senses with it’s brightly colored decor AND brightly colored ice cream and treats! This Mexican ice cream shop offers handmade ice cream (made in the store!), paletas (mexican popsicles), and other eats and treats. Though there are two more locations, the West Broad location is my favorite hidden gem in Columbus!

12. King Gyros Greek Restaurant

  • 400 S Hamilton Rd., Columbus, OH 43213 
piece of cheesecake at King Gyros in Whitehall

King Gyros

If you don’t have the time or budget for a trip to Greece, you can hop over to Whitehall for the next best thing! The murals painted in the restaurant (and the amazing patio) might make you feel like you’ve actually gone to Greece, but the food will keep you coming back!

The trio of dips is a can’t miss menu item and for a Greek surprise, try the meatballs! (And whatever you do, don’t skip dessert!) This restaurant off the beaten path is worth a trip!

13. Belle’s Bread

  • 1168 Kenny Centre Mall, Columbus, OH 43220 
ice cream cone at Belle's Bread

Belle’s Bread

Belle’s Bread on Henderson Rd. is a hidden gem featuring one of my favorite treats in the city: green tea ice cream! While you are there you can browse the beautiful selection of desserts and baked goods, but don’t leave without trying the green tea ice cream – I recommend it as a twist with vanilla!

14. Two Dollar Radio Headquarters

  • 1124 Parsons Ave., Columbus, OH 43206 
cup of coffee at two dollar radio headquarters in columbus, Ohio

Two Dollar Radio HQ

Two Dollar Radio is home to an independent book store, coffee shop and vegan cafe. There are special events, book readings, live music, open mic nights and more! The atmosphere is inspiring and fun! There is even a kid’s corner with games, books and toys!

This hidden gem on the south side of Columbus is a great place to get your caffeine fix and your creative wheels turning!

15. Dragon Donuts

  • 2806 London Groveport Rd., Grove City, OH 43123 
donut at Dragon Donuts in Grove City

Dragon Donuts – Grove City

If you like your donuts warm and gooey – visit Dragon Donuts where the donuts are made to order and you can watch the whole process take place right before your eyes!

Choose from a list of over 20 signature donuts like S’more Please or Fruity Tutti or choose from one of the classic glazed, sugar or dipped donuts. Or if you’re feeling brave you can make up your own combination!

Need more ideas? Try 100 Fun Things to do in Columbus, Ohio


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15 Unique Things to do in Columbus, Ohio Off the Beaten Path

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OSU Airport and Barnstormer Diner

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Watching planes take off and land at the Ohio State University Airport is a fun (and free) activity for kids in Columbus! While you’re there, plan to have breakfast or lunch at Jack and Benny’s Barnstormer Diner next door!

Fun for Families at Ohio State University Airport and Jack and Benny’s Barnstormer Diner:

The Ohio State University Airport was one of our favorite places to visit! The observation deck was a great place to watch planes take off and land! The Airport recently went under a major renovation and the tower was closed for several months in 2018.

We recently revisited the OSU Airport to see what was new! I’ve updated this post with details about the newly remodeled observation deck so you know what to expect when you visit with your kids!


Ohio State University Airport


Ohio State University Airport

The remodel is stunning! The observation tower is now an entire floor in the building and it’s beautiful! 


observation deck at OSU airport


NetJets Observation Deck at OSU Airport

Here are a few highlights:

Snap a pic with Brutus!

boy standing next to Brutus Buckeye at OSU Airport

Shop for unique airplane related gifts!

gifts at OSU airport

Pick up a free coloring book!

free coloring book at OSU airport

Watch for planes, of course:

boys watching for planes at OSU airport


boys watching for planes at OSU airport

planes at Ohio state university airport

Identify planes using the pictures posted along the windows!

observation deck at OSU airport

Hang out in the lobby and enjoy some free popcorn!

lobby at OSU airport

lobby at OSU airport

free popcorn at OSU airport

Visit the timeline of the Ohio State University Airport to learn some fun facts about the history of the airport:

info wall at OSU airport

A few fun facts: the Columbus Zoo has used the airport when transporting manatees and panda bears and Barbara Bush landed at the airport in Air Force Two while President George H.W. Bush was in office.

Jack and Benny’s Barnstormer Diner

We love the breakfast at Jack and Benny’s Barnstormer Diner, the diner at the OSU Airport.  This is a really fun outing for kids AND adults!  The diner is adjacent to the terminal of the Ohio State University Airport and is filled with airport and airplane memorabilia.  The walls are covered with pictures and awards.

Jack and Benny's Barnstormer Diner

A door in the diner opens to a garage full of small planes:

planes at OSU airport

All kinds of breakfast (and lunch) options are available and reasonably priced.  Our meals were excellent!  The kids meals came with drinks and they gave us adults coffees to go!  Needless to say we were all happy!

Jack and Benny's Barnstormer Diner

What kid could resist pancakes cut out like airplanes?!  That was a fun surprise:

pancakes at Jack and Benny's Barnstormer Diner

boy eating pancakes at Jack and Benny's Barnstormer Diner


Know Before You Go:

Jack and Benny’s Barnstormer Diner
2160 W. Case Rd, Columbus, OH 43235
Monday-Friday 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Saturday-Sunday 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Ohio State University Airport
2160 W. Case Road, Columbus, OH 43235
Observation Tower Hours: 7:00 AM – 11:00 PM


  • The best times to see planes landing and taking off are Monday and Friday mornings when the weather is clear!
  • There are no restrooms in the restaurant, they are on the first floor of the the airport terminal.
  • There is ample parking right in front of the restaurant and terminal.


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boys watching for planes at OSU Airport

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6 Easy Tips for a Stress Free Thanksgiving Featuring the Bob Evans Farmhouse Feast

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Make this Thanksgiving the easiest Thanksgiving ever by taking a few short cuts along the way! With the help of the Bob Evans Farmhouse Feast, this Thanksgiving can be stress free and enjoyable!

Thank you to Bob Evans Restaurants for sponsoring this post.

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner is no small task! If you are the one providing a full meal for 10 or more people, it can become overwhelming to figure out just exactly how much food you need, how long it will take to prepare and how to keep it all hot by the time your guests arrive!

Bob Evans Farmhouse Feast

Bob Evans Restaurants recently released the findings of a survey they conducted about Thanksgiving Dinner. Those who have hosted a Thanksgiving dinner reported that they spend 7 hours shopping, cooking and cleaning up during the holiday but only 1.5 hours actually sitting and eating at the table. Two thirds of the survey respondents reported that the idea of hosting a thanksgiving meal “causes me to feel stressed or overwhelmed”.

The Bob Evans Farmhouse Feast Can Help You Have A Stress Free Thanksgiving: 

When Bob Evans Restaurants reached out to partner with me to host a “Stress Free Thanksgiving,” I had only previously hosted Thanksgiving once! I wasn’t exactly sure how stressed I was going to feel when the day arrived. I arranged to pick up the heat and serve meal at 4:30 PM on a Saturday evening and by 6:30 PM my guests were sitting down to a full Thanksgiving spread!

picking up Farmhouse Feast at Bob Evans

Bob Evans Farmhouse Feast in Box

Thanks to the pre-cooked Farmhouse Feast I spent a total of just 1.5 hours of active cooking time. And the bulk of that time was spent standing around talking to our friends as the food baked in the oven!

Everyone at the table raved about the food. The food was delicious! It tasted homemade – maybe even better, to be honest. I have never made stuffing that didn’t come from a box and my own mashed potatoes have never tasted that good! And even though I like to cook, I don’t think I could have matched the taste in my own kitchen!

Friends and Family at Thanksgiving meal

My guests guessed that the meal cost $200-$300 and were amazed to find out the largest Farmhouse Feast only costs $114.99 here in Columbus! The average Thanksgiving meal costs $20-$30/per person so my guests weren’t that far off. We all considered the price of the Farmhouse Feast to be quite the deal, especially if you add in the time saved in preparation. The Farmhouse Feast for 4 starts at just $49.99!

Here are my tips for hosting a Stress Free Thanksgiving featuring the Bob Evans Farmhouse Feast:

1. Set out your serving dishes in advance

Table Set for Thanksgiving Meal

When you bring home your Farmhouse Feast, you will be transferring most of it from the containers it comes in to containers that can be baked in the oven or microwaved. Think ahead before picking up the food to how many dishes you will need and have them ready to go when you get home with the food instead of spending your precious cooking time looking for the appropriate dishes.

2. Read the instructions carefully

Bob Evans Farmhouse Feast Instructions

Your Farmhouse Feast will come with a set of instructions and allergen information. The instructions were very easy to follow and I would check things off as I went. Start with the items that take the longest to cook: the turkey and the ham. Everything is cooked at the same temperature (325 degrees) so I used a the timer on the stove and the timer on my phone to keep track of the cook time of the various side dishes.

3. Employ a combination of oven, stovetop and microwave

thanksgiving turkey from Bob Evans

By using a combination of cooking methods, you can cook more things at once. I had the turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and stuffing in the oven all at the same time while cooking the corn and green beans on the stove top. At Bob Evans’ recommendation, I used the microwave for the gravy, mac and cheese and rolls.

3. Use a mix of disposable tableware items

Thanksgiving food on table

Of course you don’t have to use disposable items, but when it comes to cleaning up, you can spend more time with your family and less time standing over the sink if you substitute even a few disposable items! Consider doing disposable dessert plates and coffee cups or disposable cups for the kids. Adding in a few disposable items will save time and space in your dishwasher.

4. Provide table top entertainment for the kids

thanksgiving place mat

Let’s face it, kids don’t usually stick around the dinner table for as long as the adults. You can increase the time spent with family by using some table top entertainment for the kids. I recommend a coloring sheet placemat and crayons! Or have a game table or craft table in the same room where kids can be entertained nearby when they’ve finished eating.

kids coloring

5. Decorate with reusable decor

letter board that says Happy Thanksgiving

Another way to keep costs and stress levels low is to use multi season decor. Don’t spend a ton of time and money shopping for the perfect Thanksgiving decor. Instead, use things that can be reused no matter what the holiday such as a letter board, string lights and candles. A letter board is perfect because it can be customized for every holiday!

Are you ready to create your own Stress Free Thanksgiving? You can place orders for the Thanksgiving Farmhouse Feast at Bob Evans Restaurants by calling, ordering online or in restaurant at any Bob Evans location now through Thanksgiving. Click here for all the details on the Farmhouse Feast.

Thanksgiving food on a plate

Not up for any of this? Bob Evans Restaurants will be open until 8:00 PM on Thanksgiving Day and offer delicious, holiday-inspired entrees. You can have the full Thanksgiving meal in the restaurant without any of the cooking or the clean up! Find the closest Bob Evans Restaurant.

Thanksgiving Food


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Bob Evans Farmhouse Feast





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