25 Best Things To Do In Columbus, Ohio: Top-Rated Attractions 2022
Columbus, Ohio, there are many free things to do, ranging from different parks to art centers, galleries, and even a cartoon museum.
Attractions and activities can be found throughout the city for almost any age visitor, from history enthusiasts to nature lovers. The city is also full of special events and festivals throughout the year. Some attractions are free on certain days only. Check before you go.
1. Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum
The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum is home to the world’s most extensive comic and cartoon-related materials.
The collection at the museum includes newspaper clippings and comic pages, archival materials, magazine cartoons, comics, magazines, graphic novels, editorial cartoons magazines, sports cartoons, books, and original art.
Admission to the Billy Ireland Museum is free, and the Central Ohio Transit Authority offers easy access for those who don’t want to find a place to park. The library and museum are open Tuesday through Sunday, from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm, and are closed on Monday.
Address: 1813 N. High St, Columbus, OH 43210
2. Ohio Statehouse
Ohio Statehouse in Columbus is a large building set on over ten acres. For architecture enthusiasts, they will probably love the structure’s beautiful exterior and interior features.
Visitors can join a guided tour to explore the Ohio Statehouse Monday through Friday on the hour, every hour starting at 10:00 am. The last time of the day begins at 3:00 pm.
The guided tours take place during the weekend at 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 3:00 pm. While the Statehouse is open for visitors to explore on the weekend, the cameras can only be viewed on a guided tour.
Address: 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215
3. Orton Geological Museum
The Orton Geological Museum in Columbus, Ohio, can be found in the South Oval inside Orton Hall on the main campus of Ohio State University.
The museum is part of the University’s Faculty of Earth Sciences and plays a vital role in the school’s research, outreach and teaching.
The Orton Geological Museum is open to visitors, free of admission, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Guests can explore fossils, minerals, and rocks from across the state and other parts of the world. There is also a museum shop.
Address: 155 S. Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210
4. Wexner Center for the Arts
The Wexner Center for the Arts is free to visit for members, guests under the age of eighteen, and college students, as long as they have identification. The galleries are open except Monday, while the Café is open except Sunday.
The exhibition program at the arts center offers a world-renowned platform for emerging and established artists working in almost every artistic medium imaginable.
Buses with the Ohio Central Transit Authority provide an easy way to get to the Wexner Center for the Arts from downtown and various neighborhoods.
Address: 1871 North High St, Columbus, OH 43210
5. Park of the roses
The Rose Park encompasses thirteen acres of land consisting of approximately 12,000 roses, teak benches, and paved walkways.
The public park has three rose gardens, perennial gardens, and herb gardens scattered among the many rose bushes throughout the park.
Each of the gardens offers something unique for visitors to see. One example is the park’s Formal Rose Garden, which features an Italian design with symmetrical rose beds, a large fountain, and an observation tower. At the eastern end of the Rose Park is the Heritage Rose Garden with older rose species.
Address: 3901 North High St, Columbus, OH 43214
6. Riffe Gallery
The Rifle Gallery in Columbus, Ohio, was founded on March 17, 1989, by the Ohio Arts Council. The gallery was established to display the various works of art by artists in Ohio and art collections from the state’s galleries and museums.
The gallery aims to inspire art, engage people, create connections, and be a place where people and art mix. Visitors can park in the Rifle Center parking lot after 6:00 pm Monday through Friday and all day on Saturday. The Rifle Gallery is located inside the Vern Rifle Center.
Address: 77 S. High St, Columbus, OH 43215
7. Topiary Park
Visitors can explore Topiary Park in Columbus today to see mature shrubs and appreciate the living artwork in the garden. The topiary is the best-known feature of the public park; the grounds are beautifully landscaped with walks transporting guests to carefully maintained flower beds and over 220 trees.
The park’s historical designation as the Old Deaf School Park remains; this park is now commonly known as Topiary Park due to the popularity of the beautiful topiaries. One of the topiaries is a representation of a painting by Georges Seurat.
Address: 480 E. Town St, Columbus, OH 43215
8. House Thurber
The Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio, is designated on the United States National Register of Historic Places. The house is the former home of James Thurber, author, humorist, and cartoonist for the New Yorker.
The house now houses the Thurber Museum and a non-profit literary center. Self-guided tours of the Thurber House are free, and visitors can explore the museum from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Guests can park for free on Jefferson Avenue after 6:00 pm Monday through Saturday and all day on Sunday. The parking lot just behind the Thurber Center and Thurber House also offers free parking.
Address: 77 Jefferson Ave, Columbus, OH 43215
9. Columbus Public Library
The main branch of the Columbus Public Library is located in the heart of the Discovery District in downtown Columbus. The library houses a Carnegie Authors Series, allowing the public to come and listen to different author talks, free of charge, with national authors.
The Columbus Public Library is also home to the Carnegie Gallery, which features free exhibits of artwork created by established and emerging artists.
The gallery is open during regular library hours. While in the library, visitors can grab a cup of coffee, tea, or a smoothie from Carnegie’s Cafe.
Address: 96 S. Grant Ave, Columbus, OH 43215
10. Center for Cultural Arts
The Cultural Arts Center in Columbus, Ohio, offers workshops, classes, art exhibits, tours, conferences, special events, and a treasure-filled gift gallery.
The arts center is the premier visual arts center in central Ohio. The Cultural Arts Center’s art gallery features contemporary artwork, focusing on emerging artists. Free parking can be found after 6:00 pm in the Central Ohio Synod parking lot on the 2nd.
There is also a stretch of gravel road on the west side of Jewett Alley, between Mound and Noble. This is free to park on Saturdays and after 6:00 pm on weekdays.
Address: 139 W. Main St, Columbus OH 43215
11. King Arts Complex
The King Arts Complex is home to the Elijah Pierce Gallery. This art gallery displays a wide range of contemporary and historical exhibits, including decorative arts, photography, graphics, sculpture, and painting.
This gallery is named after Elijah Pierce, America’s foremost wood sculptor of 20th-century folk art and a resident of the late Near East Side of Columbus.
The gallery offers school tours, hands-on workshops, talks on various arts education topics, guided tours, and exhibits by international, national, and local artists. The King Arts Complex is open Monday through Friday, from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Address: 867 Mt. Vernon Ave, Columbus, Ohio 43203
13. Ohio Craft Museum
The Ohio Craft Museum is an establishment run by the Ohio Designer Craftsmen. The museum exhibits five major exhibitions each year and some interesting exhibits.
Visitors can also view a rotating display of items from the museum’s permanent collection. Along with exhibits, the Ohio Craft Museum offers occasional events and educational workshops and is also home to the Craft Research Library.
Admission is free, and free parking on the museum’s east side. The museum is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday and from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm on weekends.
Address: 1665 W. Fifth Ave, Columbus Ohio 43212
14. Blendon Woods Subway Park
Blendon Woods Underground Park consists of stream-cut ravines featuring exposed wavy rock sandstone, along with hickory oak and beech-maple forests surrounding open fields where visitors can relax, and children can play.
The park spans more than 650 acres and includes the more than one hundred-acre Walden Waterfowl Refuge on its Lake Thoreau.
The Walden Waterfowl Refuge area is a safe habitat for hundreds of ducks, birds, and other types of wildlife, including wild turkeys, waterfowl, and songbirds. Two elevated viewing refuges open year-round with gazebos available to view waterfowl.
Address: 4265 E Dublin Granville Rd, Columbus, OH 43081
15. Chadwick Arboretum and Gardens of Learning
The Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens encompass more than sixty acres of sprawling, urban green preserve on the main campus of Ohio State University.
The nursery is open all year round and is free for visitors to explore all the plants. Among the areas available for guests to explore is the twelve thousand square foot green roof garden.
There is no cost to visit the Chadwick Arboretum and Gardens of Learning. However, guests can choose to schedule a tour of the grounds for a small fee.
Address: 2001 Fyffe Ct, Columbus, OH 43210
16. Columbus Art Walks
Columbus Art Walks is a group of self-guided audio tours and walking maps that guide people through one of the different districts of Columbus.
Maps guide visitors to do one of the Columbus Art Walks to various sites throughout the chosen district. At the same time, a series of recorded information shares details with them about each location.
District features in Columbus Art Walks include Capitol Square, Brewery District, Discovery District, German Village, Near East, University District, Arena District, Highland West, Short North, River South, Merion Village, Clintonville, and Franklinton.
17. Downtown Pearl Market
The Downtown Pearl Market offers visitors and residents the opportunity to purchase locally produced vegetables, fruits, coffee, baked goods, and more from artisans and farmers throughout the region.
Market visitors can also eat something from some of the local food trucks. Downtown Pearl Market season runs from sometime in May to mid-October.
Local farmers can tell guests what produce grows in the state of Ohio. The early summer offers berries and asparagus, while the latter brings tomatoes and corn.
Address: 19 N Pearl St, Columbus, OH 43215
18. Franklin Park Conservatory Farmers Market
The Franklin Park Conservatory Farmers Market begins its season in Columbus, Ohio, in early June and runs through early September. The market takes place every Wednesday afternoon from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm.
There is no Farmers Market event on July 4 if Independence Day falls on a Wednesday.
The Farmers Market is located on the lot just outside the Franklin Park Conservatory and offers a mix of local produce, specialty foods, health and beauty products, and baked goods. There are also crafts for children and wellness and cooking demonstrations on occasion.
Address: 1777 E. Broad St, Columbus, OH 43203
19. Metro Highbanks Park
The Highbanks Metro Park comes from the massive 100-foot shale cliff towering above the Olentangy State Scenic River. Tributary streams running through the cliff have created several deep gullies on the park’s east side.
The park spans over a thousand acres and is open April through September from 6:30 am to 10:00 pm, and October through March from 6:30 am to 8:00 pm. Olentangy and Ohio shales can be seen on the edges of ravines and the cliff face. These shales often contain large concretions.
Address: 9466 Columbus Pike, Lewis Center, OH 43035
20. Ohio Open Doors
The Ohio Open Doors event allows both locals and visitors to learn more about the heritage of the state of Ohio. During the event, landmarks and historic buildings from across the state invite visitors to open doors and discover landmark sites through special events and tours.
Ohio Open Doors typically lasts a little over a week in September, during which time more than two hundred partner organizations host events in their communities across the state.
Guests of this event can get a behind-the-scenes look at many different historical attractions. All these events do not charge entry.
21. Pickerington Ponds Underground Park
Pickerington Ponds Metro Park is Ohio’s leading destination for bird watching. Over 260 different species of birds have been seen within Pickerington Ponds.
The rich vegetation mix of seasonal wetlands and ponds, along with the bordering forests, act as a kind of magnet for waterfowl, land birds, and shorebirds during their migration.
Fox, beaver, and deer can sometimes be seen in adjacent fields and woods and near ponds throughout the 1,608-acre Pickerington State Park. Besides being great for bird watching, the park is also an excellent place to have a picnic or sit back and relax.
Address: 7680 Wright Rd, Canal Winchester, OH 43110
22. Scioto Audubon
The Scioto Audubon sits within a former industrial landscape that has been transformed from a ruined brownfield into a green oasis habitat where birds and other wildlife can thrive. The park spans over 120 acres and is an educational and recreational destination for people of any age.
The Scioto Audubon is located just south of downtown Columbus along the banks of the Scioto River. The riverside park results from the partnership between Columbus Metro Parks and Columbus, Ohio Audubon. The goal was to bring more nature to the city.
Address: 400 W. Whittier St, Columbus, OH 43215
23. Scioto’s Mile
The Scioto Mile consists of a lush park across 145 acres, running through downtown Columbus. It connects the different areas of the downtown sand district of the city facing the river.
The Scioto Mile offers locals and tourists a way to explore the riverside through an integrated park, boulevards, trails, and bike paths.
Several attractions along the way, such as a free climbing wall, a massive interactive fountain, the Scioto Audubon, and an amphitheater. Several special events also occur on Scioto’s Mile throughout the year, such as the Rib and Jazz Festival.
Address: 1111 East Broad St, Columbus, OH 43205
24. Short North Gallery Hop
The Short North Gallery Hop, which celebrates good food, local shops, and art, has become a monthly tradition in Columbus for the past thirty years.
The gallery jump takes place on the first Saturday of each month, during which thousands head to the city’s Short North Arts District to explore new gallery exhibits, special events, street performers, drinks, and food throughout. The Arts District.
The actual Gallery Hops is from 4:00 pm until 10:00 pm. Most galleries and shops open earlier and bars, and restaurants stay open later. Vendors also sell unique artisan items.
25. The Gateway Picture Show
The Gateway Picture Show in Columbus, Ohio, occurs on the second Wednesday of each month. This is a free movie night at the Plaza at The Gateway. Guests are encouraged to come in early for refreshments, including specialty beverages offered by The District PourHouse.
People wishing to see the Gateway Picture Show can bring their chairs or sit on the outdoor patio at The District PourHouse. Blankets are not recommended as chairs can obstruct views. The weekly summer movie series on The Gateway generally runs from mid-June to mid-September.
Address: 1556 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
Frequently Asked Questions: Best Things To Do In Columbus
Is Columbus Ohio worth visiting?
While Columbus is not known as a tourist destination, as you can see, there are a lot of great things to see and do here. Once you have seen them, you may want to return as a tourist, and see more of the attractions and see more of the performances.
Which city is better Cincinnati or Columbus?
If we all come down to it, Columbus is much colder than Cincinnati. On the other hand, Cincinnati is a city with a better music scene. If one likes the river and a lot of sports, Cincinnati is the best option for you. But in terms of the housing market and the job economy, both cities can actually deliver.
Is Cleveland or Columbus Zoo better?
The Columbus Zoo often is rated among the best in the nation, but many persons prefer the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, which features one of the nation’s best Rainforest exhibits, one of the nation’s largest (if not the largest) collections of primates, and reportedly the nation’s best exhibit of African elephants.
Is Columbus a safe city?
Crime in Columbus isn’t far above the national average and it has a far lower rate of violent crime than other major Ohio cities like Cincinnati and Cleveland. Despite some high-crime areas, Columbus is a safe place to live. The Columbus crime rate isn’t much higher than the national average despite being a major city.
Where is the Scioto Mile?
The Scioto Mile is a collection of parks and trails along both banks of the Scioto River in Columbus, Ohio, connecting parts of the Scioto Greenway Trail with downtown Columbus and Franklinton. The nine parks cover 145 acres (59 ha).
How long does it take to get through otherworld?
Plan for your visit to range anywhere from 1-3 hours. This really depends on how interactive your group is getting and how deep you’re looking to go. You may explore for as long as you’d like, but you must arrive at your scheduled time.
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