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Step Inside a Fairy Tale at Inniswood Metro Gardens in Westerville, Ohio

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Inniswood Metro Gardens in Westerville, Ohio is a must visit destination in Central Ohio with magical gardens, hiking trails, and some of the best scenery no matter what the season!

boardwalk in Inniswood Metro Gardens, Westerville Ohio

Inniswood Metro Gardens is one of the most unique parks in Columbus! It is just a gem. One of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, this park is free to visit year round and will surprise and delight you during all four seasons. We LOVE this park. There is so much to see and there is quite a bit of the park geared towards kids as well!

Statue in Inniswood Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio

One of the “stricter” Metro Parks, Inniswood Gardens does not allow biking or active sports. Pets are not allowed, nor is picnicking. Picnicking might be the most challenging of the garden etiquette for families to follow, (kids and their snacks, am I right?!) but for your convenience, there is a picnic area called “The Patio” near the parking lot.

treehouse and boardwalk trail inside Inniswood Metro Gardens

So this park is focused on seeing and hearing more than touching and doing but there truly is so much to see. The gardens have become one of my favorite places to visit in the fall ever since we tried out the Boardwalk Trail during an extra warm November a couple years back. But more about that in a few minutes . . .

What is Inniswood Metro Gardens?

flowers and gardens surrounding the main entrance of Inniswood Metro Gardens in Columbus, Ohio

As mentioned above, Inniswood Metro Gardens are part of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks and was donated to the parks by two sisters (Grace and Mary) in 1972. The Gardens and the Innis House once belonged to the sisters and they desired to allow the public to enjoy (and preserve) their 37-acre estate.

The area is now 123 acres with 10 Feature Gardens, 6 trails, educational programs, and a non-lending library.

Feature Gardens at Inniswood Metro Gardens

There are 10 Feature Gardens inside the park. Each of them is unique in its own way. Some of the feature gardens are smaller with just a path to walk through and some are larger with multiple areas to explore.

1. Circle Garden

two benches in the Circle Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens

The Circle Garden is the area you will encounter as soon as you walk through the main entrance of the park. Consisting of a circle made of bricks, benches and beautifully landscaped flower gardens.

2. Rose Garden

the Rose Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks

The Rose Garden is a popular spot for weddings and family and/or senior photos. However you should know that this area is not reservable. There is no fee to have a wedding here, but it is on a first-come, first-served basis and wedding parties are limited to 50 people. See more details about weddings here.

3. Cutting Garden

sign and flowers in The Cutting Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Don’t be fooled by the name. “Cutting” does not mean you. 😉 This area has annual and perennial flowers that would look great in a vase!

4. Herb Garden

gazebo and flowers in The Herb Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens, Westerville Ohio

The herb garden contains herbs of all kinds, common and uncommon and has some picturesque structures and benches.

boys walking through multiple arches in the Herb Garden at Inniswood Metro Park

5. Fern Garden

The Fern Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens, Columbus, Ohio

The Fern Garden features hardy ferns and is a test site for the Hardy Fern Foundation.

6. Woodland Rock Garden

waterfall in the Woodland Rock Garden area at Inniswood Metro Park

This is one of my favorite areas in the park. The Woodland Rock Garden consists of layers of rock with waterfalls, plants and just beautiful landscaping.

7. Conifer Garden 

arches in the Conifer Garden at Inniswood

The Conifer Garden features various evergreen and deciduous conifers.

8. Brookwood Trail Garden

The path on the Brookwood Trail

The Brookwood Trail is a seasonal display with shade plantings.

9. Memorial Garden

sign, benches and blue trellises in The Memorial Garden area

The Memorial Garden has various garden beds and is home to the Inniswood Gate. This is a great area for sitting and reading (you know, if you visit without kids).

10. Sisters’ Garden

plant covered arches in The Sisters Garden at Inniswood

I’ve saved the biggest area for last. The Sisters’ Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens is made up of so many exquisite gardens and fun areas for kids. If you just look at the main map of the park, you will not know what you are missing!

Check out this map for all the details in the Sisters’ Garden. Wind your way through the 2.8 acre area that is bordered by the Sisters Garden Loop and discover so many hidden gems! The Sisters’ Garden is made up of these 9 areas:

Entry Garden

The Entry Garden features a statue of Grace and Mary Innis: The Sisters!

Statue of The Sisters in Inniswood Metro Gardens

Country Garden

two boys playing in the Water Mill in the Sisters Garden at Inniswood Metro Park

The Country Garden is home to Granny’s House and Bessie’s Barn. There is also a windmill pump which kids love to splash in!

Granny's House in The Sisters' Garden at Inniswood Metro Park

by inside Granny's House looking at brightly painted walls

Wetland Garden

The Wetland Garden inside the Sisters' Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Woodland Garden

The Woodland Garden area

Turtle Mound

Turtle Mound at Inniswood Metro Garden

Story Maze

Earth on Turtle's Back a Native American Story at Inniswood Metro Garden

The Story Maze features a Native American legend which you can read following the stones along the path.

The Story Maze at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Circle Maze

The Sky Woman is the focal point of the Circle Maze!

The Sky Woman at Inniswood Metro Gardens in Westerville, Ohio

Trellis Cave

Look for imprints of leaves and animals on the trail in the Trellis Cave built from Ohio limestone. 

The Trellis Cave at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Secret Garden

The Secret Garden is one of my favorite areas of the park featuring inspiring quotes, hidden treasures in the walls and a sense that you are alone in your own story book fairy tale!

The Secret Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Hiking Trails Within Inniswood Metro Gardens

There are 6 short trails within the Inniswood Metro Gardens, ranging from .1 miles (Frog Talk Walk) to the longest at .6 miles (Chipmunk Chatter Trail). I have mentioned that pets are not allowed in the garden, however there is one exception and that’s the Chipmunk Chatter Trail. This trail is technically on the outside of the garden and pets are allowed on this one!

These are two of my favorite trails within the park:

Boardwalk Trail (Preserve Trail)

a boy on the Boardwalk Trail in Inniswood Metro Park

I first happened upon this trail during an unseasonably warm November and I was stopped in my tracks. (See photo above.) It was slightly foggy and the trees were in full color. It was just magical. I felt like I was in a fairy tale. I made a point to go back in the fall of 2020 and I was not disappointed! (See photo below.)

Two boys on the Boardwalk Trail

Sisters’ Garden Loop

wooden treehouse within The Sisters' Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens

For those of us with kids, the Sisters’ Garden Loop is a must. Not only does it surround the most kid-friendly area of the park, but hidden along the path is a wooden bridge and tree house that you just might miss if you don’t know to look for it!

boy in the wooden treehouse at Inniswood

the swinging bridge near the treehouse at Inniswood

Other Things to See and Do at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Innis House

The Innis House front view

The Innis House is home to offices, educational programs and a non-lending horticulture and natural history library. You can also visit the Main Room to see local artwork. 

Behind The Innis House there is a scenic overlook and a wooden train track which is fun for kids to see.

The Innis House backyard view with train track at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Education Pavilion

people in the Education Pavilion at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Outdoor classes and activities for all ages are held throughout the year at the Education Pavilion. We attended a class for preschoolers there a couple of years ago and the kids got to make musical instruments and do other crafts and activities!

The Patio

Across the parking lot, directly opposite of the main entrance to Inniswood Metro Gardens is a picnic area called The Patio. If you need a place to sit and/or have a picnic, this is it!

metal sunflowers at the entrance to The Sisters' Garden at Inniswood Metro Park

Tips for Visiting Inniswood Metro Gardens

1. Remember that food is not allowed in the Gardens so plan your visit in between meal times or have a snack in the car on the way to the park. If you pack a lunch, plan to eat it at one of the picnic tables surrounding the parking lot.

2. There is only one vehicle entrance to Inniswood and parking is abundant and adjacent to the entrance.

3. There is a lot to see in the park, but if you are visiting with kids you may want to focus on the the Sisters’ Garden and Sisters’ Garden Loop for the most kid-friendly attractions.

4. With the exception of the Chipmunk Chatter Trail outside the park, pets are not allowed at Inniswood Metro Gardens.

Know Before You Go:

Address: 940 S. Hempstead Rd., Westerville, OH 43081

Hours: Open Daily from 7:00 AM – dark

Metro Parks Info Line: 614-508-8000

Innis House Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM; Saturday and Sunday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Closed Mondays and Holidays

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Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks: Inniswood Metro Gardens


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What Should We Do This Weekend? November 18-20, 2016

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1. Model Railroad Days at COSI

When: Wednesday – Saturday, November 16-20, 2016
Time: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Location: 333 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614-228-2674

See model railroad displays from local model railroad clubs and play with trains, color trains and more! (There’s a lot of construction around COSI (including the demolishing of the closest parking lots) but there is still a parking lot available, just allow a little extra time for walking to and from! See more info and a map on their website!)

2. The Bake Sale at Ronald McDonald House

When: Friday, November 18, 2016
Time: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Location: 711 E. Livingston Ave., Columbus, OH 43205
Phone: 614-227-3735
This bake sale is the longest-running fundraiser at RMHC of Central Ohio! There will be baked goods as well as chili, sandwiches, soup, hot dogs and hamburgers! There will also be craft vendors and other holiday gifts available for purchase to support RMHC!

3. Annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony at Easton Town Center

When: Friday, November 18, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: Town Square, 160 Easton Town Center, Columbus, OH 43219
Phone: 614-416-7000

Celebrate the lighting of the Easton Christmas Tree! Santa will arrive and be available for pictures and many stores will have special offers!

4. Wildlights Stuff the Truck at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

When: Friday, November 18, 2016
Time: 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Location: 4850 Powell Rd., Powell, OH 43065

You can get one free admission ticket to Wildlights for every 5 non-perishable food items you bring on Friday night from 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM. Parking is free too, when you show one item at the parking booth! Large Mid-Ohio Foodbank trucks will be located in the main parking lot where you can leave your donations!

5. B-Well Food Drive at Bibibop, Henderson Rd.

When: Friday, November 18, 2016
Time: 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Location: 1836 W. Henderson Rd., Columbus, OH 43220
Phone: 614-459-2991

Bibibop is collecting canned and boxed foods for Mid-Ohio Foodbank from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM. If you bring three items (per person), your meal is free!

6. Deck the District Tree Lighting in the Short North

When: Friday, November 18, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Location: Short North

Come to the Short North for live holiday music, pictures with Santa and the official tree lighting at 6:30 PM!

7. Christmas Tree Lighting Holiday Experience at Tanger Outlets, Columbus

When: Friday, November 18, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Location: 400 South Wilson Road, Sunbury, Ohio 43074

Tanger Outlets Columbus kicks off the holidays with live music, hot chocolate, cookies and Santa and Mrs. Claus arriving to light the tree!

8. Brio Train Play Day at Naturally Curious Kids

When: Saturday, November 19, 2016
Time: 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Location: 13 E. College Ave., Westerville, OH 43081

There will be trains, tracks and accessories all available for lots of free play!

9. Christmas on the Farm at The Olde Hayfield

When: Saturday, November 19, 2016
Time: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Location: 4515 Grove City Rd., Grove City, OH 43123

This local vendor event also features food, live music and pictures with Santa!

10. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live at Palace Theatre

When: Saturday, November 19, 2016
Time: 2:00 PM and 5:30 PM
Location: 34 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

Join Daniel and friends for a live production of songs, dancing and adventure in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe!

11. Disney Movie Saturday at Westland Area Library

When: Saturday, November 19, 2016
Time: 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: 4740 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43228

Enjoy a family-friendly Disney movie with popcorn. All movies are rated G or PG and children age 12 and under are welcome!

12. Sensitive Santa at Polaris Fashion Place

When: Sunday, November 20, 2016
Time: 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Location: 1500 Polaris Pkwy., Columbus, OH 43240
Phone: 614-456-0120

Children with special needs and their families are invited to visit with Santa in an environment sensitive to their sensory and developmental needs. Each family will receive one free photo!

13. Visit Gahanna Holiday Lights Celebration

When: Sunday, November 20, 2016
Time: 2:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Location: Gahanna’s Creekside District
Phone: 614-418-9114

This family Holiday Lights celebration includes a live reindeer petting zoo, train rides, horse-drawn carriage rides, food trucks, live music and the lighting of Gahanna’s community tree! See the full list of 90 activities here!

14. Family Craft Workshop at Inniswood Metro Gardens

When: Sunday, November 20, 2016
Time: 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: Innis House, 940 S. Hempstead Rd., Westerville, OH 43081
Phone: 614-508-8111

Bring the family to create holiday gifts! All ages are welcome and all materials are provided!

15. A Delaware Christmas Story Parade

When: Sunday, November 20, 2016
Time: 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: 20 E. Winter St., Delaware, OH 43015

Christmas kicks off in Delaware with a parade and a visit from Santa!

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ICYMI: MEGA Train List for Central Ohio and Beyond

*Please be aware,  information is gathered from multiple community sources.  Times, dates and locations are subject to change. There may be a fee to participate in a featured activity.  Please call ahead or check links to confirm activities.  Enjoy what you do today!*


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MEGA Train List for Central Ohio and Beyond

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My kids love trains! I have been to *almost* every place on this list! When Jaden was 3, he could have gone to Barnes and Noble every single day to play with Thomas. This list isn’t so much for your kids as it is for you! Of course your kids will love these places, but this list is to keep YOU from going insane from doing the same thing every day! 😉 A good number of these things are special events that are only available for a short time! So check the list and mark your calendars because many of those are coming up this month! You, too, can be a really useful engine! 😉

1. Paul Busse Model Garden Railway at Franklin Park Conservatory, downtown Columbus

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The train in the picture below is up nearly year round, but the one above makes a special appearance during the holidays! Check the link for info on Merry and Bright!

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2. Grandview Library, Grandview Heights

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One great library with a train table!

3. Huntington Holiday Train at Columbus Metropolitan Library, downtown Columbus

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The Huntington Holiday Train arrives in mid-November and the Main Library hosts an Open House on November 30th, which will include hot chocolate and cookies, crafts and the lighting of Topiary Park! For even more trains, keep an eye on the Hilliard and Gahanna branches which will offer Polar Express programs this year!

4. Ohio Railway Museum, Worthington

The museum has been working on repairing the tracks so no train rides are available as of today, but they hope to be up and running for the holidays!

5. The Train Station, Clintonville

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Model trains are for sale here and they also have a small play area for kids!

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6. Moody Street Trains, Clintonville

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Model trains are for sale here and there is a train table for playing. On Saturday, December 3, 2016, they will host the 2nd Annual National Lionel Train Day which will feature prizes, face painting and a visit from Santa!

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7. Model Railroad Days at COSI, downtown Columbus

Model Railroad Days are November 16-20, 2016 this year and large model train sets are available for viewing and there are also trains to play with! During the weekend you can watch the movie Rocky Mountain Express in the theater. At Christmastime, The Polar Express is shown as well! (p.s. there is also a train to play with in the little kidspace at COSI!)

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8. Barnes and Noble, various locations

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Barnes and Noble offers the hope that your children will play with trains while you quietly sip coffee and read a magazine.

9. Hilliard Branch, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Hilliard

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The Hilliard Branch is a fun library for kids and has a Chuggington train table.

10. Von Maur, Polaris Fashion Place

In the children’s section of the store, there is a train that runs along the wall and a train table for playing!

11. Easton Express Railway, Easton Town Center

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This outdoor train track is always decorated for whatever season it happens to be and is a big hit with the kids!

12. BrickUniverse, Columbus Convention Center

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There are lots of working LEGO trains at this once-a-year LEGO Expo!

13. Delaware County Model Railroaders’ Open Houses, Delaware

Model railroads are set up on these special open-house dates!

14. Great Train Show at Ohio Expo Center

This expo is coming January 14-15, 2017 and includes model railroads, train dealers, hands-on exhibits and more!

15. Inniswood Metro Gardens, Westerville

We stumbled upon this train track behind the offices at Inniswood. I couldn’t find any info on if/when it is used, but if you know, please leave a comment below!

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16. Holiday Train Display at Ohio History Center

This special train is on exhibit during the holiday season! It will be on display November 28, 2016 – January 4, 2017.

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There are other trains on the grounds of the Ohio History Center year round, including one inside the building that can be sat in, and the one seen below that sits outside.

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17. Schiller Park in German Village

This is a great park with a train that can be played on!

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18. Alum Creek Park North, Westerville

This park is affectionately known as “the train park” – and aptly so!

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19. Henceroth Park, Grove City

This park offers lots of vehicles to play on including a jeep, boat and this wooden train!

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20. North America Train Ride at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

For $1 per person, you can ride a train around the North American exhibit at the zoo!

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21. Christmas Time Open House at Central Ohio Model Railroad Club

For 4 weekends in December, the club puts on an open house featuring giant model railroad layouts, an interactive Thomas the Tank Engine display and more! Admission is free!

22. Open Garden Tour by the members of Columbus Garden Railway Society

On the second Sunday in September, members of the Columbus Garden Railway Society open their houses (gardens!) for a tour of their own Garden Railroads!

BEYOND COLUMBUS . . .

23. Little Buckeye Children’s Museum, Mansfield

One of the larger exhibits at the Little Buckeye Museum is the model train display and nearby train tables for playing!

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24. Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum, Bellevue

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There are tons of trains on display here, may of which you can climb aboard! This museum has indoor and outdoor components and the gift shop has a train table for playing!

25. Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation, Inc., Findlay

This organization offers train rides and holiday events (including the North Pole Express), a museum, gift shop and model train displays!

26. The Buckeye Express Diner, Bellville

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Eat dinner in an OSU-themed train car! There is a train playground outside too!

27. Dennison Railroad Depot Museum, Dennison

This museum has a railroad car just for kids, model trains and a scavenger hunt just for kids!

 28. Lodi Station Outlets, Lodi

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This outlet mall is built with a train theme! You can purchase tickets to take a train ride around the property!

29. EnterTAINment Junction, West Chester

This venue offers displays, a museum, seasonal rides and a funhouse!

30. Day Out with Thomas, various locations

These special days only happen a few times a year at Ohio locations and include a 25-minute train ride, kids activities, live music and more!

31. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, Northeast Ohio

The trains here run mainly on the weekends and there are several events scheduled throughout the year, including a Christmas Tree Adventure!

32. Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, Nelsonville

This railway offers special trips throughout the year including a Santa Train on December 18, 2016. Tickets are limited.

33. LM & M Railroad, Lebanon, Lebanon

This historic railroad offers special events including the Day out with Thomas and North Pole Express!

34. Train-O-Rama, Marblehead

One of Ohio’s largest multi-gauge model railroad displays open to the public! Trains are for sale in the gift shop as well!

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ICYMI: 5 Moms of Nationwide Share their Favorite Places to take their Kids in Columbus


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