Columbus, Ohio’s bustling capital city, boasts many exciting activities and attractions for every type of traveler. Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast, history buff, art lover, or simply seeking a relaxing escape, you’ll find tons of things to do in Columbus, Ohio. This article takes you on a journey through 21 fun-filled experiences that will make your visit to Columbus unforgettable.
Challenge America’s First Urban Via Ferrata
Start your Columbus adventure with an adrenaline rush at America’s first urban via ferrata at Quarry Trails Metro Park. One thousand forty feet of cabled climbing creates this “iron path” with metal rungs, ladders, and fixed cables guiding climbers over intermediate rocky terrain. The route includes compelling elements such as a 90-foot suspension bridge poised 105 feet above a scenic pond, two aerial walkways, and a 54-foot steel staircase.
Pro-tip: The via ferrata is completely free for the public to use with all equipment provided. Visitors just need to register in-advance on the metro park’s site to participate.
Go for a Bike Ride
Embrace Columbus’ bike-friendly atmosphere and explore the city like a local. The town boasts numerous scenic bike trails and greenways, providing an excellent opportunity to admire the charming neighborhoods and iconic landmarks. From the iconic Scioto Mile to the ever-popular Olentangy Trail (Ohio’s first rail trail built in 1967!), you’ll see why everything’s better on two wheels.
Explore German Village
Immerse yourself in Columbus’s rich history by strolling through the enchanting streets of German Village. This charming neighborhood features well-preserved architecture, quaint shops, and delectable restaurants. The 233 acres of German Village are on the National Register of Historic Places. Local favorites include The Book Loft, with 32 rooms of books to explore, Stauf’s Coffee, Schmidt’s Sausage Haus, and Schiller Park, Columbus’ home for Shakespeare in the Park.
Watch the Fireworks
If you visit Columbus during a special event or celebration, don’t miss the spectacular fireworks display that illuminates the night sky. Whether it’s the Fourth of July or another festivity, the city knows how to light up the heavens. Red, White, and Boom – the Midwest’s largest firework show- offers a full day of live music and fun before the pyrotechnics take to the sky from Genoa Park.
Stay at the Historic Hotel LeVeque
For a touch of elegance and a glimpse into the city’s past, indulge in a luxurious stay at the Historic Hotel LeVeque. This iconic hotel boasts a striking Art Deco design and offers modern amenities with a vintage charm, making your visit even more memorable. Enjoy dinner at the Keep Restaurant and Liquor Bar and your front-row seat to all the downtown action.
Pro-tip – get a river view room over 4th of July and watch Red, White, and Boom from your room.
Take in a Show at the Ohio Theatre
Experience the vibrant arts scene of Columbus at the historic Ohio Theatre. From Broadway performances to concerts and ballets, this opulent venue hosts a diverse range of shows that will captivate your imagination. What’s more, it’s conveniently located next door to the Hotel LeVeque.
Walk the Scioto Mile Promenade
Take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Scioto Mile Promenade, which stretches along the Scioto River. Beautiful gardens, fountains, and public art installations line this serene walkway offering a perfect escape from the urban hustle and bustle. The 175 acres of lush parkland stretching along the Scioto River is one of the most popular areas to get outdoors and was named one of the 21 Best Urban Parks in the country by Men’s Journal in 2022.
Paddle the Scioto River
For a unique perspective of Columbus, rent a kayak or canoe and paddle along the tranquil waters of the Scioto River. This experience allows you to appreciate the city’s skyline from a different angle and offers a refreshing escape into nature.
Pro-tip: Windrose Outdoors offers kayak and stand up paddle board rentals downtown.
Savor the Short North
Indulge in a delightful culinary experience in the vibrant Short North Arts District – the “art and soul” of Columbus. This eclectic neighborhood is brimming with trendy restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques that cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences.
Pro-tip: For nearly 40 years, the Short North has hosted Gallery Hop on the first Saturday of every month.
Get Your Game On At The Arena District
Sports enthusiasts will find their haven at the Arena District, where they can catch a thrilling game or concert at the Nationwide Arena. Cheer on the Columbus Blue Jackets or enjoy a live performance by your favorite artist.
Go To a Festival
Columbus is known for its lively festivals that celebrate everything from arts and culture to music and food. Check the local events calendar and join in on the festivities to experience the city’s vibrant community spirit. Our favorites include the satirical Doo Dah Parade, the friendly ComFest, and the deliciously tasty Jazz and Rib Festival.
Discover Yourself at COSI
Fuel your curiosity and engage your mind at COSI (Center of Science and Industry). This interactive science museum offers a hands-on learning experience perfect for visitors of all ages. With traveling exhibits like King Tut and permanent attractions like Ohio’s largest planetarium, it’s no wonder COSI was named the best science museum in the nation by USA TODAY 10BEST Readers’ Choice Awards four years in a row.
Play in a Park
Columbus takes pride in its beautiful parks, and each one offers something unique. Don’t miss the chance to visit Schiller Park, Goodale Park, Topiary Park, and Park of Roses, where you can relax, have a picnic, or enjoy a leisurely walk surrounded by nature’s beauty.
Climb America’s Largest Free Outdoor Climbing Wall
Adventure seekers will love the challenge of climbing America’s Largest Free Outdoor Climbing Wall at Scioto Audubon Metro Park. Test your skills and conquer this massive structure while embracing the great outdoors. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Grange Insurance Audubon Center, which offers free admission and fascinating exhibits about wildlife on the Scioto River.
Zip-Away with ZipZone Canopy Tours
For an unforgettable treetop adventure, head to ZipZone Canopy Tours. Soar through the forest canopy on zip lines, bridges, and other thrilling obstacles, immersing yourself in the beauty of nature. ZipZone has been recognized by USA TODAY 10BEST Readers’ Choice as the number one zipline in Ohio and number two in the entire country.
Go Wild at Battelle Darby Metro Park
Escape the city and get in touch with nature at Battelle Darby Metro Park, one of the largest parks in the area. Explore its diverse landscapes, including prairies, forests, and wetlands, while keeping an eye out for wildlife. You might see the park’s giant bison grazing in their pastures if you’re lucky.
Tour The Ohio State Campus
The Ohio State University has more than 65,000 students and ranks first among Ohio public universities and 16th in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report. And yes, it is “The Ohio State University”, last year, Ohio State officially trademarked the word “The.”
Discover the heart of academics and innovation by taking a tour of The Ohio State University campus. Admire the impressive architecture and soak in the vibrant college atmosphere. While you’re on campus, be sure to check out some of the many museums, like the Contemporary Art Center, which the Washington Post says is “one of the most dynamic contemporary programs in the country.”
Enjoy a Farmer’s Market
Experience the local flavors and community vibes at one of Columbus’s farmer’s markets. Sample fresh produce, artisanal goods, and local delicacies while supporting the area’s farmers and artisans.
See Street Art
Columbus is home to a thriving street art scene. Take a walking tour through the city’s neighborhoods to spot vibrant murals, graffiti art, and unique street installations that reflect the city’s creative spirit. Janet Echelman’s colorful 229-foot long, 700lb sculpture –Current– is Columbus’ largest installation. Ryan Sarfati and Eric Skotnes The Journey is an 11-story was the world’s largest augmented reality mural when it was created in 2019.
Get Back to Nature at Franklin Park Conservatory
Escape to a world of botanical wonders at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Explore diverse plant collections, art installations, and seasonal exhibitions that promise to leave you inspired. Of note, Franklin Park has the world’s largest collection of Chihuly’s glass artwork in a botanical garden.
Try the New Trolley District
End your journey through Columbus with a visit to the New Trolley District, a vibrant area with trendy shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Sample local flavors, shop for souvenirs, and soak in the lively atmosphere.
Wrapping up Fun Things to Do in Columbus
Columbus, Ohio, is a city brimming with diverse attractions and experiences, offering something for everyone to enjoy. The capital city has everything from thrilling outdoor adventures and cultural hotspots to serene natural getaways and art-filled neighborhoods. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey to Columbus, where you’ll find way too many things to fit into one visit and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.
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