Fun Things to do in Columbus Ohio With Kids

Explore My City with Guest Blogger Katie from Zen Life and Travel

Columbus, Ohio may not be on your travel radar, but it should be! Columbus is one of the top 20 largest cities in the United States, and it has so much to offer. If you are traveling with kids, you will have so many family-friendly activities to choose from when you visit Columbus, Ohio.

This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of local parents

The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is one of the best zoos in the nation. In addition to the incredible animals who reside at the zoo, there’s plenty of play spaces. The zoo has 3 separate play areas for kids plus a carousel, boat ride, train ride, petting zoo, and more.

If you need to cool off, head next door to Zoombezi Bay — Columbus’ premier water park. And don’t think the zoo is only for summertime. From mid-November to early January you can experience Wildlights. Bundle up, grab a hot chocolate and enjoy this amazing lights display throughout the zoo.

Columbus Zoo Play Area

Cool Off At A Splash Pad

If you are visiting Columbus in the summer and would love a free way to cool off, check out one of the many splash pads in Columbus. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Ballantrae Community Park in Dublin (aka The Bunny Park) is flanked by a huge statue of dancing rabbits!
  • Hilliard’s Station Park Splash Pad is a small area but since it’s located right in downtown Hilliard, it offers easy access to shops and restaurants.
  • The Village Green Park Splash Pad in Powell offers plenty of space to play near downtown Powell.
  • The Scioto Mile Fountain is located downtown in Bicentennial Park and includes over 1,000 jets of water to splash in. There is a restaurant nearby and the park holds special events throughout the summer.
Ballantra Bunny Splash Pad in Columbus Ohio Mom & daughter enjoying

Columbus Metro Parks

Columbus has a great metro park system that offers outdoor activities throughout the year in central Ohio. You and your kids can enjoy activities like fishing, biking, and hiking. Plus the parks offer special events for kids like GPS hunts and animal encounters.

If you are looking for a unique playground, stop by Glacier Ridge Metro Park. This park has cool play structure including a kid-friendly zip line plus miles of bike trails.


COSI is a fantastic kid’s science museum located in downtown Columbus. Your little ones will enjoy the Little Kidspace — an interactive play area that includes themed play spaces, a water play area, light and shadow table, plus a pretend farm, treehouse, and ambulance. Bigger kids (and adults) will enjoy all of the amazing exhibits including the dinosaur gallery, planetarium, and IMAX theater.

A child enjoying COSI Columbus

Visit The Columbus Commons

The Columbus Commons is a 6 acre outdoor space located in the heart of downtown. Throughout the year you can find all kinds of events for the whole family including fitness classes, concerts, festivals, and children’s activities. If you are visiting on a Friday in summer, check out Commons For Kids. This weekly event includes a carousel, bounce house, and themed activities — all for FREE!

Go Apple Picking

Fall in Ohio is incredible. The weather is nice and the color of the leaves on the trees is beautiful. Apple picking is one of our favorite ways to enjoy the fall in Columbus. There are lots of places to pick apples, but our favorite is Lynd’s Fruit Farm. They offer lots of different varieties of apples throughout the season that you can pick right off the trees. Kids will love picking an apple and sampling it right in the middle of the orchard.

Apple Picking in Columbus Ohio

Visit A Cat Cafe

Cat cafes aren’t just for hipster Toyko neighborhoods anymore. You can enjoy this cool experience in Columbus too at Eat Purr Love Cat Cafe. Relax in the cafe with a treat or do some coloring next to your new furry friends. Eat Purr Love partners with Columbus Humane to help their feline residents find their forever homes. You can learn more here.

Cat Cafe Columbus Ohio

Spend The Day In Historic Downtown Dublin

Dublin has so much to do for families and it’s one of my favorite parts of town. Historic downtown Dublin is the place to be, and it will soon be connected to the new Bridge Park area by a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Scioto River.

On the historic side, you and your kids will enjoy the Irish Fairy Doors trail. Grab a passport and find your way through historic Dublin to find 10 magical fairy doors. Then you can return your passport to the Dublin Visitor and Information center for a prize.

Don’t forget to stop at hometown favorite Jeni’s ice creams for a cool treat. If you are in the area on a Saturday morning in the summer, head to the Dublin Market at Bridge Park. This fun farmer’s market is full of local food, produce, gifts, and more. You and your kids will enjoy trying some yummy locally-made treats.

Still looking for things to do?  You’ll find all the best summer activities in Columbus, Ohio here.

About the Blogger Katie Seeman

I’ve lived in Columbus on and off for the majority of my life. I’m a mom to a 5-year-old girl, and we love exploring our city together. I write a blog called Zen Life and Travel which is focused on travel, wellness, and style. While I love exploring and being active on vacation, I’m also happy laying by the pool at a Caribbean resort! You can follow along with Katie’s family adventures close to home and abroad here: 


With thanks to Katie for her contribution to our guest series. You may also want to check out these great guide to exploring Hocking Hills OH with kids, Dayton, Ohio, with kids, or how about a trip to historic Philly?  

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