Living in the Midwest for fourteen years allowed us to explore quite a bit of the area. Unfortunately, of all the Chicago road trips we did, we rarely made it to Ohio. I’m thrilled to have Tonya from Travel Inspired Living sharing the best things to do in Columbus with kids because I learned a lot about the city and hopefully you will too!
Best Things to Do in Columbus with Kids
When it comes to family-friendly cities, it’s hard to beat Columbus. The capital of Ohio, this booming city is full of attractions that appeal to all ages and its proximity to half of the population of the U.S., makes it a great destination to vacation to. It’s hard to choose the top five family friendly things to do in Columbus, but I’ll give it a shot.
1. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
One of the top zoos in the country, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is more of a destination than attraction. With Zoombezi Bay next door, the only waterpark in the country that is attached to a zoo, the new Heart of Africa exhibit, Stingray Bay, Kangaroo Walkabout that allows you to walk through the kangaroo’s habitat and countless other exhibits, you’ll have a hard time seeing all this property offers in one day.
2. COSI- Center of Science and Industry
A longtime favorite attraction for my family, COSI is full of hands-on exhibits, a planetarium and giant screen theater. Interactive exhibits introduce kids to the principles of science. Guests will have the opportunity to lift a nearly 2,500-pound car, roll a two-and-a-half ton sphere of granite, or ride a unicycle across the entryway of COSI while suspended 17-feet in the air.
If you’re looking for a museum that will make science fun for your kids, COSI is the place to explore. You (and your kids) will be amazed at how much hair raising fun (yes, there’s an exhibit for that) learning can be.
3. The Franklin Park Conservatory
Explore the diverse biomes of the Himalayas, the Pacific Islands, desert and rainforest without leaving Columbus. Enjoy the natural beauty of the displays at The Franklin Park Conservatory while observing the art work interspersed throughout the Conservatory, Palm House and Gardens.
The grounds are super kid friendly as there are open areas for them to stretch their legs and run off some energy. Just make sure you’re in the conservatory at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. when the butterflies are released in the Pacific Islands Biome, an experience you won’t want to miss.
4. The Ohio History Center
The Ohio History museum walks visitors through the history of Ohio beginning with an eye-catching giant mastodon. Follow the exhibits where you’ll walk through the Ice Age to the present.
After you tour the museum, exit the doors of the museum and travel back in time to the 1890s in the Ohio Village. A living history museum staffed by interpreters, the village consists of a school house, town hall, tavern, funeral parlor, church, bank and more. Take time to explore, you never know who you’ll meet.
5. Scioto Mile Fountain
If you are looking for things to do with kids in Columbus, don’t miss a walk or a bike ride along the paved trail that runs along the Scioto River. The Scioto Mile offers amazing views of the river and the downtown Columbus skyline. The kids will enjoy splashing in play areas of the Scioto Mile Fountain located in Bicentennial Park. This 15,000 square foot outdoor space shoots water 75-feet into the air. Play day or night, this aquatic play space is well lit and offers light shows at night.
Where to Eat in Columbus with Kids
And because we all know that kids (and moms and dads) get hungry, why not visit the North Market on in the Short North district, a popular artsy and eclectic area of Columbus?
The city’s only public market, this space is a treat for the senses. The bustling atmosphere smells heavenly and some booths offer opportunities to taste before you buy. Make your way to Pistacia Vera for colorful macarons and pastries, or Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams for a sweet treat, while Hot Chicken Takeover offers chicken with some kick.
About the author: Tonya Prater is a born and raised Buckeye on a mission to convince everyone that they must visit Ohio at least once in their life. She shares travel tips, U.S. destination ideas and plenty of things to see and do in Ohio at her travel blog Travel Inspired Living.