Visiting the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio can be done any time the doors are open to the public! Guided tours of the Statehouse are available or you can take a self-guided tour! Make sure to visit the Ohio Statehouse Museum, too!
Visiting the Ohio Statehouse is something every Ohioan should do at least once! And if you live in Columbus, it’s a definite must-visit destination! With a couple of tips, your visit to the Statehouse in downtown Columbus can be smooth and enjoyable!
Where is the Ohio Statehouse?
The Ohio Statehouse is located at the intersection of Broad St. and High St. in the heart of downtown Columbus. The official address is 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215.
Is the Ohio Statehouse open to visitors?
Yes, the Statehouse is open to visitors any time the doors are open. Current hours (as of April, 2022) are:
- Monday – Friday: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
- Saturday and Sunday: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Where do you enter the Ohio Statehouse?
As of April 2022, the 3rd Street entrance, State Street entrance, and the South Light Court sliding doors are open to the public. An easy way to find an entrance to the Ohio Statehouse is to enter on the side of Ohio Theatre!
Where can you park when visiting the Ohio Statehouse?
The Ohio Statehouse has its own Statehouse Underground Parking Garage! This makes for easy parking. If you spend up to 2 hours there it will be $5 or less. Each additional hour is an additional dollar.
Another option for parking is the Columbus Commons parking garage. Parking rates are very similar to the Underground Parking Garage. For $5 you can spend up to 3 hours. 2 hours is $4.
How long should you expect to spend when visiting the Ohio Statehouse?
I would plan to spend 1-2 hours at the Ohio Statehouse. If you’re doing a self-guided tour, you can move at your own pace. I would say my kids and I have spent about an hour there when we visit. Plan to spend longer if you want to have lunch or take a guided tour.
Options for Touring the Ohio Statehouse
Touring the Ohio Statehouse is a great free activity in Columbus, Ohio! There are two main options for touring the Ohio Statehouse: Guided or self-guided tours.
Guided Tours of the Ohio Statehouse
Free guided tours of the Ohio Statehouse take place every day except state holidays. These tours begin on the hour. To catch the next tour, meet 5 minutes beforehand in the Map Room, right outside of the Statehouse Museum Shop on the ground floor. Tours begin at 10:00 AM daily and the last tour begins at 3:00 PM.
Self-Guided Tours of the Ohio Statehouse
If you’re kids aren’t quite up to the attention span of a guided tour (like mine), you can opt for a self-guided tour of the Ohio Statehouse! Start by picking up a self-guided tour book at the Statehouse Museum Shop which will give you all of the information you need to know including maps of each floor.
If you want even more information, use your cell phone for an audio tour by calling the numbers on the plaques at each location. Phone numbers are also listed in the paper tour book. You can also check out an audio tour wand in the Statehouse Museum Shop for no charge.
What is there to see at the Ohio Statehouse?
Let’s get to the good stuff! What is there to see and do at the Statehouse? Here are a few of the highlights that you won’t want to miss when you visit! I will start with destinations on the Ground Floor and then move to the First Floor.
Let me start out by saying that when you enter the statehouse from the State Street side, you will be on the First Floor. In order to get to the Ground Floor, you will need to take the steps or an elevator down a floor!
1. The Statehouse Museum Shop (Ground Floor)
First off, you should start at the Statehouse Museum Shop where you can pick up a self-guided tour booklet! This will help you get a lay of the land and give you all the background information on the things you will see! The gift shop here is also a really unique stop for gifts and souvenirs!
2. The Map Room (Ground Floor)
Just outside the Statehouse Museum Shop, you can’t miss The Map Room! The Map Room is named for the map of Ohio that is made in marble on the floor! All 88 counties of Ohio are represented. Make sure to get a pic of your kids standing in your home county!
3. The Statehouse Museum (Ground Floor)
In my opinion, The Statehouse Museum is one of the key stops on your tour of the Ohio Statehouse! This area is full of exhibits and historical artifacts about the history and government of Ohio. There is lots of information about the functions of each of the branches of government.
There are interactive exhibits explaining how a bill becomes a law, where you can watch monumental hearings, and where kids can watch a teleprompter to give a speech just like the governor would.
There is a section in The Statehouse Museum explaining the election process and displaying historical campaign signs and banners. There is special attention paid to the suffrage movement.
Depending on the interest level of your kids, you could spend a lot of time here! The museum is really a hidden gem in Columbus! You can also view the Ohio Constitution of 1802.
Hours for the Ohio Statehouse Museum are Monday through Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM and Saturday and Sunday: 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM. (As of April, 2022.) Check their website to verify before visiting!
4. Dunkleosteus Terrelli (Ground Floor)
Say what? Make sure to visit the skull of this prehistoric fish that is Ohio’s State Fossil Fish. It’s fossils were found along the shores of Lake Erie in 1867. For short, this fish is nicknamed “Dunk” and is named after the two men who discovered its fossils: Dr. David Dunkle and Jay Terrell.
5. Full Size Liberty Bell Replica (Ground Floor)
This Liberty Bell replica sits in the Museum Gallery and is one of 55 replicas cast in 1950. It’s a fun object to spot during your visit!
6. The Rotunda (First Floor)
One of the most memorable and striking things to see at the Ohio Statehouse is the Rotunda! It’s awe inspriring! Personally, I love the artwork hanging in and around The Rotunda, particularly the ginormous painting of Perry’s Victory by William H. Powell.
After President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, his body was taken from Washington, D.C. to his birthplace of Springfield, IL. On the trip, his body was available for public viewings in 10 American cities, including Columbus, Ohio! His body lay in state in The Rotunda of the Ohio Statehouse.
7. The Atrium (First Floor)
The Atrium connects the Statehouse to the Senate Building. Look for fossils embedded in the limestone! This is another breathtaking spot!
8. The Governor’s Office (First Floor)
Another fun photo opp may be a stop at the Governor’s Office! It was pretty cool for my kids to see exactly where the Governor works!
9. The Grand Stair Hall (First Floor)
It’s fun to just peek in at the Grand Stair Hall because it is just that: Grand! Look up to the ceiling to see a stained-glass seal of Ohio!
I have not covered everything there is to see at The Ohio Statehouse! But these are some of the highlights and if you pick up one of the self-guided tour booklets you can make sure you see all there is to see if you have time!
Sights to See on the Grounds of the Ohio Statehouse
A walk around the outside of the Ohio Statehouse offers a lot to see on its own! My kids have enjoyed seeing the monuments and statues on the grounds of the Ohio Statehouse! Here are some highlights:
1. The Ohio Holocaust and Liberators Memorial
One of the most striking and meaningful memorials you can visit on the grounds of the Ohio Statehouse is the Ohio Holocaust and Liberators Memorial. This memorial was unveiled in 2014 by Governor John Kasich and it commemorates Ohio Holocaust survivors and World War II Veterans.
2. The McKinley Monument
This monument honors William McKinley who was an Ohio Governor AND U.S. President! You can find this monument on the High Street side of the Statehouse. Thanks to the self-guided tour booklet, I learned that the two groups of people on either side of the monument represent peace and prosperity.
Additionally, I also learned that Governor McKinley would stand at this spot and wave to his wife who was in their house (the Neil House) across the street!
3. These Are My Jewels
These are My Jewels is the oldest monument on the grounds of the Ohio Statehouse and recognizes several Ohio leaders who served the Union in the Civil War.
4. Ohio Veterans Plaza
On the Third Street side of Ohio Statehouse is the Ohio Veterans Plaza featuring two walls engraved with letters from members of the armed services sent to friends and family.
Where to Eat at the Ohio Statehouse
If you plan your visit to the Statehouse around lunch time, you can take advantage of eating at The Capitol Cafe! House Taco is the delicious restaurant you will find on the ground floor of the Ohio Statehouse, right near the Statehouse Museum!
House Taco invited us to visit earlier this winter and my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the tacos and sides! I highly recommend the nachos! Also, there is a pretty big seating area inside the restaurant for you to relax and eat your lunch when you visit!
What is There to Do Near Ohio Statehouse?
If you’re looking for more fun things to do in downtown Columbus, head over to Columbus Commons for a ride on the carousel (during the summer) or visit the Main Library and the very unique Topiary Park. Check out some more kid-friendly restaurants in downtown Columbus!
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