These are the top 10 things to do with kids in Columbus Ohio!
Columbus has so much to offer families! It’s a great place to live, work, play and visit! Every day it seems I run across something new going on or a special event to check out! My family moved here over 10 years ago and we have fallen in love! (Make sure to follow us on Instagram for every day ideas of things to do in Columbus, Ohio with your kids!)
If you’re new to Columbus, planning a trip to Columbus or a new parent in Columbus, these are the top 10, can’t miss family-friendly things to do in this amazing city!
The Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio:
1. Center of Science and Industry
One of the top science museums in the country, the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) has something for kids (and adults) of all ages! There are 2 full floors of hands-on science exhibits with different themes from Oceans to Gadgets to Energy, a cafe, a little kidspace that’s perfect for the 6 and under crowd, a permanent American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery and seasonal, traveling exhibits.
Within the museum is a cafe serving coffee, wine and snacks, a restaurant serving full meals and a great gift shop! Parking is available in the underground garage or at nearby meters. Outside COSI is Dorian Green, a great park and playground area where the kids can run around and you can eat a picnic lunch!
2. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Another gem in Columbus is the Zoo and Aquarium! Highlights include the Heart of Africa, the Polar Frontier and the new Shores Play Park! The Zoo is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Don’t miss the special shows, programs for kids and holiday events like Boo at the Zoo and Wildlights! During the summer you can combine your visit with water play at Zoombezi Bay (additional tickets required)!
Within the zoo are several snack shops and a food court. You can also bring in your own food – but no glass bottles or straws! Check the website for their bag policy to make sure your bag fits the size specifications. Coolers and food storage bags can be stored at your own risk in a pavilion just outside of the zoo entrance.
3. Columbus Metropolitan Library, Main Library and Topiary Park
The Main Library in downtown Columbus was remodeled in 2016 and offers a large children’s area, reading rooms, a coffee shop and cafe, gift shop with unique items, and outdoor patio and access to the internet.
It’s worth stopping here even if just to check out the unique Topiary Park just East of the library. There is access to the park from the library. The park is a sculptural interpretation of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte. There are 54 people made of plants and bushes as well as boats, dogs and other animals, standing up to 12 feet tall!
4. Columbus Commons
Looking for a green space in the middle of the city to put your feet up and let the kids run around? Look no further than Columbus Commons. Not only is there a huge green space for kids to run around in, during the warmer months there is access to art supplies and books on most days and a carousel!
There are two permanent cafes in the park, Tortilla – Mexican street food and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – some of the best ice cream in Columbus! Throughout the season the park hosts many events, concerts and festivals including Commons for Kids on Friday mornings during the summer.
Easy and convenient parking is available in the Columbus Commons Garage at 55 E. Rich St.
5. Columbus Museum of Art
Believe it or not, there is a lot for kids to do at the Columbus Museum of Art! Check out the Wonder Room, a space completely dedicated to kids where they can explore various textiles and activities to inspire the artist inside. Throughout the museum there are rotating activities for kids to make connections to the art on the walls.
Each year the museum is home to Think Outside the Brick, a huge LEGO display and opportunities for free building. Look for opportunities to take a Family Adventures Tour or drop in on a Young Child Studio. Bonus: the museum is FREE on Sundays!
6. Inniswood Metro Gardens
Many of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks offer amazing play and learning opportunities for kids, indoors and outdoors, but Inniswood Metro Gardens is especially magical for children. The park includes a Sister’s Garden with places for kids to play, look for frogs and hide in the Secret Garden.
Kids can walk amongst the trees on suspension bridges and climb into a treehouse. The park also offers programs for children throughout the year. Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks offers programs throughout the year for preschoolers, families and adults at this park!
7. Franklin Park Conservatory
Franklin Park Conservatory offers the opportunity to step into another climate, be it the desert or the rain forest! Amazing botanical displays are a guarantee and exhibits rotate throughout the seasons. In the spring Blooms & Butterflies opens and your family can watch newly emerged butterflies be released into the habitat.
There is a small children’s play area, preschool programs and family friendly activities throughout the week and on Saturdays. The conservatory itself has indoor and outdoor components and new in 2018, they have added an amazing Children’s Garden which is included in admission and offers a full experience in itself! The public grounds around the Conservatory are beautiful in themselves and also include a playground!
8. Scioto Audubon Metro Park
The only Metro Park in downtown Columbus is the Scioto Audubon Metro Park. Within it is the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. The best views of downtown Columbus can be seen from the Center and inside there is a children’s play area, live animals on display and lots of opportunities for bird watching!
Walk through the park, over the boardwalk to the climbing wall and playground area for extra exercise! Outside the Audubon Center there is a sand box for kids to play in, a chalk board and overlook decks to spot wildlife!
9. Ohio History Center
The Ohio History Center is the hub of the Ohio History Connection, which includes 58 historic sites around Ohio. The Ohio History Center features exhibits highlighting the history of Ohio including a life in the 1950’s, pioneer Ohio, Ohio animals, including a large Mastodon on display, a children’s play area, vehicles and airplanes on display and much more.
During the summer months, Ohio Village, an outdoor village that recreates life in the 1800’s is open for exploring and special events including Storybook Village and 1880’s style Base Ball games! The special events at Ohio Village are lots of fun but if you happen to visit on a weekday when the Village is less crowded, there is something pretty magical about stepping back in time and exploring the 1800’s at a relaxed pace!
10. Easton Town Center
Easton Town Center is your one stop destination for shopping, eating, playing and more! This open air mall offers just about any store you can imagine, fountains for splashing, a model train and kid-friendly stores like Build-A-Bear, American Girl, The LEGO Store plus the amazing LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Columbus!
When it comes to dining, Easton offers tons of stand-alone restaurants to choose from as well as a food court. If you’re looking for some kid-friendly dining options check out: 5 Tasty Kid-Friendly Restaurants at Easton Town Center for the scoop!
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Explore Ohio's caverns, mine for gems, play mini golf, and more!
Kids can get all their energy out at one of these FREE indoor play areas!
These are free or inexpensive indoor options for large muscle movement!
Save some dough at these spots where kids eat free or cheap in Columbus!
This is a great list of parks that are perfect for the toddler crowd!
Keep your toddler occupied with one of these great outings in Columbus!
Columbus has some great Metro Park Nature Centers - here are two of the best!
Kids can watch planes land and take off from the Observation Deck at the OSU airport!
Looking for things to do with kids on the campus of The Ohio State University? Check out this list of fun ideas!