Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Columbus, OH

  • Published 2022/10/19

Columbus is the seat of Franklin County and the capital city of Ohio.

It’s one of the most populated cities in the United States, thanks mainly to its bustling local economy.

The city has a long and rich history during ancient and contemporary times.

This is why Columbus is full of historical museums and cultural centers.

It’s also one of the best places to live in the country because of its education, environment, and booming job opportunities.

Columbus is an all-around great city if you want to see beautiful and pleasant city life.

Before going, check this list of the best things to do in Columbus, Ohio.

Spend a Day with the Animals at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

One of the primary attractions in Columbus is the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, located along West Powell Road near the Scioto River.

The expansive zoo is home to many local and foreign wildlife in Ohio and Columbus.‌

There are a lot of exotic land animals you won’t find in the U.S., such as cheetahs, wildebeests, and elephants.

They also have all sorts of primates, birds, and aquatic animals.‌

Throughout the zoo, you’ll see various significant habitats dedicated to different species, like manatees, stingrays, and reptiles.

Overall, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is one of the largest and best-kept zoos in the country, so it’s a must in your itinerary.

See World-Famous Works at the Columbus Museum of Art

Columbus Museum of Art is another top tourist destination in Columbus.

Dating back to 1878, this museum is one of the oldest landmarks in Ohio state.

Many works of famous artists are in the Columbus Museum of Art.

Some of the most prominent ones include Picasso, Monet, and Van Gogh.

Various rotating exhibits are also held in the Columbus Museum of Art.

It’s a fantastic place to immerse yourself in lesser-known talented artists worldwide.

The museum itself also boasts beautiful architecture and has a pleasant layout inside.

You’ll enjoy walking for hours here, especially on non-crowded days.

Columbus Museum of Art is an excellent destination for people of all ages, so take some time to visit this iconic landmark at 480 East Broad Street.

Tap into Your Inner Scientist at the Center of Science and Industry

The Center of Science and Industry, also known locally as COSI, is one of the most prominent museums in Ohio that can take a whole morning for you to explore.

The place is full of galleries and exhibits, ranging from paleontology, geography, astronomy, and technology.

They have various facilities like a science park and a motion simulator that lets you innovatively interact with science in a fun and creative way.

One of the famous attractions here is the Dinosaur Gallery, where you can see a wide range of majestic dinosaur fossils, skeletons, and reanimated sculptures.

The Center of Science and Industry also has a beautiful planetarium that engages you in the solar system’s and galaxies’ mysteries.

It’s one of the most-visited attractions in Ohio, so it’s a can’t-miss in your itinerary.

The museum is at 333 West Broad Street.

Tour the Ohio State University

Columbus is home to the iconic Ohio State University, one of the largest universities in the country.

It is consistently part of the upper echelon in the country’s public university rankings.

Whether you’re looking for future schooling opportunities for yourself or your kids, Ohio State University is an excellent stop if you’re already in Columbus.

Going on a campus tour will let you see the beauty of its grounds.

Loads of trees and greenery accentuate the beautiful architecture of the university’s various buildings.‌

Its most impressive facility is probably the Ohio Stadium, home of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team.

Ohio Stadium gets pretty crazy during games, so watch a game if there is one during your stay!

Ohio State University is along West Lane Avenue.

Appreciate the Fossils at Orton Geological Museum

Orton Hall Ohio State 2020

Blervis, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located inside Ohio State University, the Orton Geological Museum is another must-visit museum, especially if you’re into ancient and prehistoric knowledge.

The Orton Geological Museum is a haven for kids and geeky adults, boasting several fossils from prehistoric Earth.

1600px Orton Geological Museum 20181019 161700

GreenMeansGo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

‌Its biggest crowd-pleaser is the replica of the Cryolophosaurus’s skeleton, a carnivorous theropod from the Jurassic era.

Before leaving, check their dinosaur gift shop inside as well.

It has lots of exciting items good as souvenirs!

1600px Cryolophosaurus 20181019 161929

GreenMeansGo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Commune with Nature at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is one of the best places to enjoy the horticultural collection of Ohio.

It’s also some of the best places to relax and be in tune with nature.

Through several special exhibitions, you’ll be surrounded by all sorts of plant life and rare flowers.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens also change their displays depending on the season.‌

However, the garden rises to its prettiest during Christmas.

Sprawling light shows through their plant exhibits will make this a can’t-miss photo opportunity.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is along East Broad Street.

Franklin Park Conservatory Columbus OH

Jsjessee, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go on a Shopping Spree at North Market Downtown

North Market Downtown is where Columbus showcases its vibrant local economy.

This farmers’ market is full of fresh produce and vendors selling goodies.

Well over 100 years old, North Market Downtown is an established icon among the locals of Ohio.

Besides its fresh produce, this covered market has a multicultural set of products from its local community.

You can find all sorts of snacks, condiments, and handicraft items from different cultures, whether Asian, European, or African.‌

Several dining options make you feel the urge to splurge on food.

It’s one of the best places to eat in Columbus.

North Market Downtown is excellent for loading up your supplies.

Drop by the market at 59 Spruce Street.

Feel the Thrill with Zipzone Outdoor Adventures

If you want to spice up your trip to Columbus, ZipZone Outdoor Adventures is a fantastic addition to your plans.

Geared towards families, Zipzone Outdoor Adventures features adrenaline-pumping activities that are safe even for children.

You’ll find exciting views of Columbus through their zipline tour.

The tour is available at night, offering a different kind of experience.

A vast adventure park also features many obstacles for you to overcome.

For toddlers, a kiddie park is also available.

You can start your adventure with Zipzone Outdoor Adventures at 7925 North High Street.

Tour the Picturesque Ohio Statehouse

You could say that the Ohio Statehouse is one of the prettiest capitol buildings in the United States.

The statehouse is a Greek Revival architectural masterpiece that offers a picturesque photo opportunity on your Ohio trip.

As you walk along its circle and into its interior, there is a sense of royalty and prestige.

Ohio Statehouse offers self-guided audio tours for visitors that tell the statehouse’s history along with the city and state.

Inside, there’s also historical and contemporary art made by Ohio’s artisans.

You can even buy some art-inspired souvenirs through the statehouse’s gift shop.

The Ohio Statehouse is an icon not only of Columbus but Ohio.

It’s a beautiful spot to take photos and learn about U.S. history.

You can access it at Capitol Square.

Visit the National Veterans Memorial and Museum

The city’s National Veterans Memorial and Museum is an architectural marvel that pays tribute to all the country’s veterans.

Visiting the memorial and museum will take you back to different parts of U.S. political history, such as World War II and the American Revolution.

The beautiful viewing deck on the third level reveals the incredible cityscape of Columbus.

There’s also a scavenger hunt activity here for children to enjoy, so it’s a fantastic all-around place for the family.

The National Veterans Memorial Museum can be found at 300 West Broad Street.

Relax at the Scioto Audubon Metro Park

Columbus is home to the Scioto River, which runs along the city toward neighboring Ohio municipalities.

You can enjoy this river at the Scioto Audubon Metro Park.

It’s right along the river and offers excellent views and a nice breeze.

There are a lot of added activities at Scioto Audubon Metro Park, too.

Its most iconic attraction is its climbing wall, which offers fantastic views once you reach its summit.

Beyond that, there are volleyball courts, birdwatching areas, and a dog park for the pups.

Scioto Audubon Metro Park is at 400 West Whittier Street.

1599px Scioto Audubon Park volleyball courts

Kevin Payravi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Check Out the Interesting Sculptures at Topiary Park

Topiary Park is hailed as one of the prettiest parks on the East Coast, and for a good reason.

The park has various topiary (sculpted plants or greenery) made by local artisans that both kids and adults enjoy.

The creative topiaries are all attractive to explore, showing works depicting people and cute animals.

One of the most famous sites includes a set of topiary figures that recreates a famous Georges Seurat painting.

There are also a good number of benches if you prefer to relax.

Dogs are also welcome to the topiary, so bringing your pup is a great way to enjoy this.

Overall, the park is known for its simplistic beauty and cleanliness.

It’s one of the best places to take a breather in Columbus.

Topiary Park is at the heart of Columbus, along East Town Street.

Watch Equestrian Competitions at All-American Quarter Horse Congress

1600px All American QH Congress Trophy

Betty Wills, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While Columbus is home to several large-scale events throughout the year, the All-American Quarter Horse Congress is one of the most iconic.

It’s the largest single-breed horse show in the world, and you’ll see all sorts of entertaining horse competitions here, most prominently barrel racing.

Another exciting thing about the All-American Quarter Horse Congress is its trade show.

Commercial exhibitors have many products on their exhibits, including equestrian vehicles, jewelry, art, and much more.

If you’re a horseback rider, you can also spot a lot of high-quality gear here.

The All-American Quarter Horse Congress happens annually during September and October.

You can participate at the Ohio Expo Center along East 17th Avenue if you’re passionate about the equestrian industry.

Join the Ohio State Fair

Ohio State Fair is another iconic event to get the authentic Ohio experience.

Also held at the Ohio Expo Center, this fair features the rich culture of Ohio and Columbus.

All family members will enjoy live music and a petting zoo.

You’ll even get a chance to see baby animals being born.

There are also tons of performances, games, and community activities.

Of course, no fair is complete without a wide assortment of food and beverages available throughout the event space.

Ohio State Fair is typically held in the summer of late July and early August.

Take the Kids to Legoland Discovery Center

The Legoland Discovery Center will surely give your children a happy surprise.

While not unique to Columbus, a Legoland Discovery Center is an excellent addition to any itinerary because of its fun environment for kids and adults.

Sprawling Lego exhibits are everywhere inside.

Of course, there’s a playground and interactive zone as well.

Additionally, there are several kiddie rides and Lego-building activities for the kids to enjoy.

Legoland Discovery Center is at 157 Easton Town Center.

Final Thoughts

Columbus is a lovely place to live in, a great hangout spot, and a vacation destination if you’re looking for a calming city life experience.

It’s filled with exciting pockets of history through many of its museums that focus on different parts of the city’s rich heritage.

It also has many family-friendly areas, from its parks to its riverside.

Use this list of the best things to do in Columbus to enjoy the best experience!‌‌

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