20 Things To Do In Columbus, Ohio

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The capital city of the Buckeye State, Columbus is a fascinating Ohio city teeming with culture and entertainment options. A mighty sports and university city, Columbus boasts the NHL’s Blue Jackets and the main campus of the Ohio State University, which provides Columbus with a trendy, energetic and youthful edge to match its rich historic landmarks and scenic urban parks.   

Not only is the city where the annual Ohio State Fair takes place, but it’s also home to the Ohio Statehouse and one of the most iconic collegiate sporting venues in the United States, making Columbus a true bucket-list travel destination in the Midwest. 


Columbus, Ohio

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Columbus John Glen Airport (CMH) to Columbus – Book your arrival transfer in advance.

Things To Do In Columbus

1- Visit The Ohio Statehouse

Ohio State Capitol Building
Visiting Ohio Statehouse is one of the things to do in Columbus Ohio.

One of Ohio’s most important landmarks is the Ohio Statehouse, the official seat of power and governance in the Buckeye State.

It’s right in the heart of downtown Columbus.  

The statehouse was marred with challenges during its planning and building phase, with a flurry of architects stamping their ideas and designs on the building before it was finally completed in 1861 after a lengthy construction period that started in 1839.  

The wait was worth it.

Now an iconic symbol of the state and her people, the statehouse is open to the public for guided tours and houses the Ohio Statehouse Museum Education Center which draws thousands of visitors every year.  

The Ohio Statehouse is at 1 Capitol Sq, Columbus, OH 43215. 

2- Explore Ohio State University Campus

Founded in 1870 as a public land-grant research institution, the Ohio State University in downtown Columbus has firmly established itself as one of the best and biggest research universities in the United States, with well over 65,000 students calling OSU home every year. 

The university has a large and diverse 1,764-acre (714 ha) campus filled with attractions and landmarks such as Ohio Stadium, the 11-acre (4.4 ha) Oval, the Wexner Center for the Arts, and four buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Ideal for an afternoon stroll or sightseeing trip, the scenic and storied OSU campus in downtown Columbus is the city’s beating heart which virtually everything in and around the city revolves around.     

The Ohio State University Campus is at 281 W Lane Ave, Columbus, OH 43210. 

3- See The Collections At Columbus Museum of Art

The Columbus Museum of Art is a world-class visual arts institution in downtown Columbus with an exhaustive collection of 19th and 20th-century contemporary American and European artwork. 

Founded in 1878, the museum was initially known as the “Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts.”

It’s housed inside a Renaissance Revival-style building dating back to 1931 that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. 

Extensively renovated and expanded in 2007, the museum’s vast collection includes works by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Juan Gris and François Boucher. 

The Columbus Museum of Art is at 480 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43215.                        

4- Wander Around The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a world-class horticulture and educational centre that’s about 2.5 miles (4 km) east of downtown Columbus. 

Established in 1895, the venue initially only featured a Victorian-style conservatory and even briefly housed a few animals which would later be moved to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium after its opening in 1927. 

Among the National Register of Historic Places-listed gardens’ must-see attractions are its Dale Chihuly glasswork, its Bonsai Courtyard collection and its seasonal plant displays. 

The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is at 1777 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43203. 

5- Visit The Center of Science and Industry

The Center of Science and Industry, or COSI for short, is a dynamic hands-on museum that’s been delighting and intriguing visitors of all ages since opening in 1964. 

Conveniently situated in downtown Columbus, the centre moved into its current 320,000 square feet (30,000 m2), Arata Isozaki-designed home in 1999 and overlooks the Scioto River to the east. 

The museum is divided into 8 separate galleries and exhibition spaces that are curated to teach visitors about a wide range of topics that include space, aviation, energy and natural history. 

The Center of Science and Industry is at 333 W Broad St, Columbus, OH 43215. 

6- Go To The Ohio State Fair

Carnival Ride
Attending the Ohio State Fair is one of the fun things to do in Columbus, Ohio, with kids.

Among the oldest, biggest and most attended state fairs in the United States is the Ohio State Fair, a 12-day extravaganza that celebrates the state’s people, traditions, culture and prosperity. 

The first fair took place between 2 and 4 October 1850 and has been organised in Columbus since 1886, growing into the state’s single largest tourist attraction that regularly draws over 900,000 people over the 12-day event. 

Live music, sporting competitions, shows, amusement rides and food stalls are just some of the many attractions and events travellers can expect to enjoy when stopping by the Ohio State Fair, which usually takes place between late July and early August. 

The Ohio State Fair is at 717 E.17th Ave. Columbus, OH 43211. 

7- Walk The Scotio Mile

The Scotio Mile is a series of 9 public parks and outdoor attractions linked together along the banks of the Scotio River that connects parts of the Scotio Greenway Trail with nearby Franklinton. 

Established around the 2010s, the Scotio Mile’s collection of parks combine to offer outdoor enthusiasts more than 145 acres (59 ha) of total outdoor space to enjoy without leaving downtown Columbus. 

Free to enjoy, the Scotio Mile is made up of parks such as the Battelle Riverfront Park, the Scotio Mile Promenade, Bicentennial Park, North Bank Park and McFerson Commons, all interconnected by a network of trails and easy-to-traverse pathways.  

8- Gaze At The Creations In Topiary Park

Exploring Topiary Park is one of the interesting things to do in Columbus, Ohio.

Covering an area of well over 9 acres (4 ha), Topiary Park was formed sometime during the 1980s and is named after the numerous life-size topiaries perfectly trimmed to mimic a variety of shapes, people and animals. 

The park’s topiaries are purposefully rearranged to portray “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”, the 1884 masterpiece by French artist Georges Seurat, and is both owned and maintained by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department.     

Topiary Park is at 480 E Town St, Columbus, OH 43215. 

9- Watch A Game At Ohio Stadium

Nicknamed “The Horseshoe”, Ohio Stadium has been the official home of the Ohio State University’s Buckeyes football team ever since the iconic 102,780-seat collegiate football venue opened in 1922. 

The stadium cost $1.3 million to build and was designed by architect Howard Dwight Smith, a fellow OSU alum and winner of the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal for Public Building Design.  

It’s one of the most imposing and intimidating sporting venues to play in for opposing teams.

The stadium truly is among the most exciting and energetic landmarks to visit in Columbus. 

Ohio Stadium is at 411 Woody Hayes Dr, Columbus, OH 43210. 

10- Dive Into The Legoland Discovery Center

The Legoland Discovery Center is a unique 36,000-square-foot (3,345 m2) attraction in downtown Columbus where visitors of all ages can immerse themselves in the creative and colourful world of Lego. 

Opened in 2018, the centre has a wide array of interesting attractions and interactive areas where visitors can explore through play by building unique items and projects with Duplo and regular Lego bricks. 

Giant bowls of Lego bricks, cart rides, earthquake tables and a 4D movie theatre are just some of the amazing things on offer to visitors at the Legoland Discovery Center, making it the perfect Columbus attraction to visit if you’re travelling with kids. 

The Legoland Discovery Center is at 157 Easton Town Ctr, Columbus, OH 43219. Skip the line and book your tickets here

11- See A Show At Ohio Theatre

Dubbed the “Official Theatre of the State of Ohio”, the Ohio Theatre is a recognised National Historic Landmark that is among the best-preserved grand theatres in the United States. 

The iconic Columbus landmark was designed by renowned theatre architect Thomas W. Lamb and held its grand opening on March 17, 1928. 

 Saved from scheduled demolition in 1969, the theatre has undergone extensive renovations to keep it modern and up-to-date and is still used as a live performance venue hosting music concerts and Broadway productions. 

The Ohio Theatre is at 39 E State St, Columbus, OH 43215.

12- Feel The Vibe At The German Village 

The German Village neighbourhood is a distinctly unique Columbus district that got its start when throngs of German immigrants began settling in the state’s capital looking for work and opportunities during the 1810s.   

Renowned for its red brick architecture, brick streets and annual Oktoberfest celebrations, the entire neighbourhood was added to the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its historic significance and cultural uniqueness. 

While there’s no shortage of things to do and places to see in the German Village neighbourhood, one must-see attraction is The Book Loft, a 32-room independent bookstore that’s been dubbed a “national treasure” by the New York Times.  

13- See The Animals At Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Providing refuge for more than 10,000 animals, the 580-acre (234 ha) Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is among the largest zoological parks in the United States, attracting millions of visitors every year. 

The world-class zoo opened in 1927 and is home to over 600 species of animals divided into a collection of exhibits representing different geographical regions of the world. 

Boasting an 18-hole golf course and an adjacent 22-acre (9 ha) waterpark, the zoo is the ultimate outdoor Columbus attraction that’s situated just 20 miles (32 km) north of the Ohio capital’s downtown district. 

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is at 4850 W Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065. 

14- Step Back In Time At Ohio History Center

Serving as the headquarters of the Ohio History Connection, the state’s main historical society, the Ohio History Center is a fascinating Columbus landmark where visitors can experience the state’s rich cultures and history like never seen before. 

The museum/research centre houses a library and Ohio’s state archives in addition to an ever-expanding collection of important artefacts and curated exhibits. 

Formed in 1970, the centre has been added to the National Register of Historic Places and features a Brutalist-style exterior that places the focus and attention on the venue’s interior attractions and displays. 

The Ohio History Center is at 800 E 17th Ave, Columbus, OH 43211. 

15- Cheer On The Blue Jackets At Nationwide Arena

The Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus is a 20,000-seat indoor sports and entertainment space that serves as the home venue for Columbus’ professional hockey team, the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. 

The Blue Jackets moved into the arena shortly after its completion in 2000, serving as the arena’s main tenant when Nationwide Arena isn’t used for live concerts or the occasional basketball game. 

Nationwide Arena is well worth a visit if you’re a major hockey fanatic or planning on catching a music concert and is situated near several of downtown Columbus’ popular attractions and retail spaces. 

Nationwide Arena is at 200 W Nationwide Blvd, Columbus, OH 43215. 

16- Explore Short North Arts District

Regarded as the artistic epicentre of Columbus, the Short North Arts District is a vibrant neighbourhood jam-packed with trendy bars, contemporary art galleries, quirky stores and cafes practically overrun by OSU students. 

The district has dozens of thought-provoking and boundary-pushing art houses and was once one of Columbus’ most dilapidated neighbourhoods before undergoing a revitalisation effort that’s become a textbook example of how to successfully convert run-down areas into trendy tourist spots. 

A Short North Arts District tradition that’s turned into a real Columbus staple is the Gallery Hop, a nighttime art experience where food, entertainment and round-the-clock drinks combine with dozens of open art galleries to create one of the most unique cultural experiences in Ohio. 

17- Easton Town Center

The Easton Town Center is a large indoor-outdoor retail space designed to represent a typical small 1900s Midwest town, complete with grid-patterned streets, storefront parking meters and town squares centred around a series of fountains. 

Completed in 1999, the shopping centre is the premier retail spot in Columbus and is home to about 300 different stores, restaurants and inviting public gathering spaces. 

More than 30 million visitors swing by the Easton Town Center every year, making it one of the city’s most popular attractions and a great place to visit if you’re in the mood to shop or dine. 

The Easton Town Center is at 160 Easton Town Ctr, Columbus, OH 43219. 

18- Bicentennial Park

Completed in time for the United States’ 200th Anniversary in 1976, Bicentennial Park is a 4.6-acre (2 ha) urban outdoor space featuring all your typical park amenities in addition to a splash fountain, a performance pavilion and a restaurant. 

The park is officially known as the John W. Galbreath Bicentennial Park and was named in honour of successful Ohio philanthropist, businessman and legendary Kentucky Derby Thoroughbred breeder John W. Galbreath. 

The park is right in the heart of downtown Columbus and is connected to some of the city’s other popular public parks via the Scioto Mile. 

Bicentennial Park is at 233 S Civic Center Dr, Columbus, OH 43215. 

19- Huntington Park

Situated in Columbus’ Arena District in the city’s downtown area, Huntington Park is the home of the city’s Triple-A, Cleveland Guardians-affiliated minor league baseball team, the Columbus Clippers. 

The ballpark seats about 10,100 fans and was completed in time for the 2009 baseball season. 

Huntington Park has previously hosted both the Triple-A National Championship Game and the Triple-A All Star Game, as well as a couple of music concerts. 

Huntington Park is at 330 Huntington Park Ln, Columbus, OH 43215. 

20- North Market

Established in 1876, the North Market is as much an important cultural and historic Columbus landmark as it is a busy retail space, with over 35 vendors selling everything from cookware and gift items to fresh produce and culinary delicacies. 

The North Market also organises an outdoor farmer’s market every week between June and October, and remains one of the best places in town to pick up speciality goods and hard-to-find items. 

The North Market is at 59 Spruce St, Columbus, OH 43215. 

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Jessica Shaw is a storyteller who has lived in four U.S. states - Missouri, Georgia, Ohio and Illinois - and has visited many others. She loves history and nature and is a big fan of road tripping.