If you feel like you’ve seen all there is to see, go off the beaten path and check out this list of unique things to do 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!
We’ll start of with some ideas for unique things to see and do in Columbus and then end with some unique eats and treats!
Unique Things to do in Columbus, Ohio:
- 130 Hutchinson Ave. Columbus, OH 43235
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!
- Find parking at 2027 Coffey Rd., Columbus, OH 43210
The gardens at Chadwick Arboretum are free to visit! I was surprised to come across this larger than life-sized praying mantis! This would be a fun excursion for the kids to explore the gardens and find this bright green bug!
You can find the praying mantis in the Lane Avenue Gardens at the corner of Fyffe Rd. and W. Lane Ave. When you’re in that area, make sure to check out the Labyrinth Garden which is one of my favorites in the area!
- 3649 Fishinger Blvd. Hilliard, OH 43026
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!
- Read more: Aquarium Adventure
- 500 Georgesville Rd., Columbus, OH 43228
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 (referral link) that happens each summer! Sign up to get free bowling every day for kids!
- 6975 East Livingston Ave., Reynoldsburg, OH 43068
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!
- 1777 Arlingate Lane, Columbus, OH 43228
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 Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM.
Factory Tours must be scheduled online. No walk-ins are permitted at this time. Groups can be scheduled for parties of 4 to 16 people.
You end the tour in the gift shop and you get to use your admission price ($2 for adults and $1 for kids 12 and under) towards a purchase of candy in the gift shop! (This is unconfirmed for 2022.)
- This activity is also featured on 25 Free Things to do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio this Winter
- 2160 West Case Rd. Columbus, OH 43235
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!
- See more pictures and more details here: OSU Airport and Barnstormer Diner
- 4326 Hayden Run Rd., Dublin, OH 43017
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!
- 13 N. Westmoor Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43204
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!
Unique Eats and Treats in Columbus, Ohio:
- 1885 W. 5th Ave. Columbus, Ohio 43212
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!
If you’re looking for more restaurant ideas, you can check out this list of downtown Columbus restaurants to try!
- 4201 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43228
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!
- Find more unique ice cream treats on the The Unofficial West Side Ice Cream Trail
- 400 S Hamilton Rd., Columbus, OH 43213
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
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!
- Related: 5 on Friday: Unique Ice Cream Spots
- 1124 Parsons Ave., Columbus, OH 43206
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
- Grandview: 1288 W 5th Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43212
- Easton Town Center: 4100 Worth Ave., Columbus, OH 43219
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!
- Related: 5 on Friday: Columbus Donuts
If you’ve exhausted this list of unique things to do in Columbus, try 100 Fun Things to do in Columbus, Ohio for even more ideas!
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