Best things to do in Columbus with Kids!

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When looking for great weekend getaways, consider Columbus, Ohio! There are so many things to do in Columbus with kids. We lived near Columbus when our kids were young, and while a job relocation took us away, it still has a piece of our hearts. With so many great kid activities in Columbus, Ohio, it’s a great place to visit!

Columbus, Ohio skyline at night, showing skyscrapers lit up and reflected on the Scioto River.

Things to do in Columbus with Kids

Of course, if you’re planning a trip focused on kid fun in Columbus, Ohio, it probably helps to know all the fun kid activities available!

Good news! In the state, you’ll find some of the best kid activities in Columbus, Ohio.

Here are our favorite activities for kid fun in Columbus, Ohio.

Explore and Discover at COSI (Center of Science and Industry)

Rated among the best hands-on science museums in the United States, COSI has exhibits on space exploration, physics (that makes sense), the ocean and more. There are special areas designated just for younger museum guests. We had annual passes to COSI when we lived nearby and visited often. The kids always loved COSI day! It’s truly among the best museums in the country. Adult tickets (ages 13+) are $30 and kids ages 2-12 are $25.

BUDGET TRAVEL TIP: An annual family membership for 2 adults and up to 10 dependents is only $227.25 and offers reciprocal or discounted admission to lots of other museums.

Catch a Game!

If you like baseball and are visiting during the summer, catch a Columbus Clippers game at Huntington Park. The Clippers are the AAA affiliate team of the Cleveland Guardians. What could be more fun than a baseball game under the stars?

Columbus is also home to the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. Head to Nationwide Arena to watch them play. If you’ve never been to an NHL game, they are loads of fun. You don’t have to understand hockey to enjoy it.

You may have heard that Columbus also has an MLS team, the Columbus Crew. They play at Field in downtown Columbus. For kid fun in Columbus, Ohio, a Crew game is quite popular especially for kids who play soccer.

Of course, with The Ohio State University in town, there’s always a college game of some sort to watch, whether you like football, field hockey, tennis, softball, baseball… You get the idea!

Visit the Topiary Park (It’s one of a kind!)

Located in the Downtown Discovery District, at 480 E. Town Street, this is one of those kid activities in Columbus, Ohio you just have to see to believe. The Topiary Garden Park sits at the remnants of the Old Deaf School Park and dates back to the early 1800s when it was part of the deaf school campus.

The Topiary Garden as it exists today was built in 1989. It is the only living recreation of the artist Georges Seurat’s impressionist painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LaGrande Jatte.” The 7 acre park has a pond which represents the Seine River seen in the painting. There is a lighted walking trail and picnic areas. Take as many photos as you’d like!

Franklin Park Conservatory

Not to be outdone by the Topiary Park, the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens offers a variety of exhibitions for one admission price. With more than 400 species of plants from around the world, including the palm garden in the Palm House, the children’s garden and a Chihuly Glass Exhibition, this is one of the most popular things to do in Columbus with kids. They’ll marvel at what they see throughout this vibrant conservatory and gardens.

They recommend that you secure your admission time and purchase tickets online in advance. From the calendar, click on the date you want to go, then follow the prompts to purchase tickets. As of this writing, adults (ages 13+) are $23 and kids (ages 3-12) are $15.50.

Spend a day at the Columbus Zoo

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is in Powell, Ohio, just outside Columbus. Spanning 580 acres, there’s a lot of kid fun in Columbus, Ohio at the zoo!

When our kids were little, we had annual passes to the Columbus Zoo, and we visited often. The animal exhibits are expansive, providing lots of room to roam. Some of our favorite animals at the Columbus Zoo are the Florida Manatee, the red panda, and the Okapi. In fact, the Columbus Zoo’s manatee rehabilitation program was instrumental in saving these gentle giants of the sea from extinction.

For kid activities in Columbus, Ohio, the zoo has lots more to offer with a number of amusement rides (purchase rides individually or with an enhanced admission ticket), food kiosks and animal encounters to make your day even more special.

Daily admission to the zoo is $23.99 for adults and $18.99 for kids. They participate in reciprocal zoo programs and offer other discounts, so check online before you purchase.

Zoombezi Bay Waterpark at the Columbus Zoo

Next door to the Columbus Zoo, Zoombezi Bay Waterpark is one of the most popular kid activities in Columbus, Ohio. There are lots of slides, a wave pool, lounge chairs and food kiosks for a fun day.

Zoombezi Bay Waterpark also has an adults-only area and a dedicated play area for preschoolers. The waterpark is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and is definitely a popular spot for kid fun in Columbus, Ohio. We recommend you arrive early in the day to enjoy the park!

Best restaurants for kid fun in Columbus, Ohio

When looking for things to do in Columbus with kids, include a meal or two at the best local restuarants for families. These are the restaurants my kids insist we go to every time we visit Columbus!

Schmidt’s Sausage Haus

Located in German Village, Schmidt’s Sausage Haus has been a family favorite for decades. The restaurant is located in the historic German Village neighborhood with brick streets and German style architecture. The charming neighborhood is interesting, but the cream puff at Schmidt’s? OOOOOHHHHH, so good. It was even featured on Food Network’s “Best of Ohio” and on the Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food.” Honestly, it’s that good!

Graeter’s Ice Cream

Graeter’s Ice Cream, which has been serving ice cream since 1870, is incredible! It’s so good, in fact, that we’ve been known to drive a few hours out of our way to get a few pints to bring back to North Carolina on dry ice. The rich, creamy French pot style ice cream is silky smooth and packed with flavor. The most popular flavor, available year-round is the black raspberry chocolate chunk, but my favorite is the coconut chocolate chip. The chocolate “chips” are made from gourmet chocolate that is melted and poured into the ice cream to create rich, chocolatey chunks. It’s ohhhhh sooooo good!

Skyline Chili

Skyline Chili, which originated in nearby Cincinnati, is an unusual chili that many have tried to imitate, but can’t. Our kids loved going for the cheese coneys, mini hot dogs smothered in delicious Skyline Chili and heaped with mounds of shredded cheddar cheese. When you go to Skyline, you’ll order chili as “three way,” “four way” or “five way.” Choose from the following to build your chili bowl: beans, spaghetti, onions and cheese. It’s a fun place to grab a quick meal!

These are just three of the many restaurants that offer kid fun in Columbus, Ohio. The laid back atmosphere in Columbus means most restaurants are accommodating and will do what they can to make kids feel welcome. Check out this guide to the best family friendly restaurants in Columbus.

Indoor kid activities in Columbus, Ohio

In Ohio, it’s a good idea to plan for bad weather, though a day or two of rain is usually followed by several sunny days. Luckily, there are lots of great kid activities in Columbus, Ohio suitable for rainy days.

Shopping in Columbus

Columbus is home to several shopping districts with lots of indoor entertainment options.

Easton Town Center has a LEGOLAND Discovery Center, an escape room, a bowling and arcade center and a movie theater. Of course, that’s in addition to the shops and restaurants.

Polaris Fashion Place has 150 shops and restaurants, plus kid activities in Columbus, Ohio. There’s a Big Air Trampoline Park, a soft sculpture play area and kids’ stores to explore.

Tanger Outlets is another option for a family shopping day. With 70 stores offering great discounts, the outlet mall is a popular family shopping destination.

Climb at Bloc Garten

Located in the Brewery District, Bloc Garten at 512 Maier Place, is a world-class bouldering wall and climbing gym. Suitable for beginners and advanced climbers, Bloc Garten is a great place to spend a rainy afternoon having fun. As they say, don’t be intimidated. It’s easy to learn!

Book your session online to reserve a spot.

Spend a day at Momi Land

With three locations, in Hilliard, Gahanna and at Polaris, Momi Land is an indoor playground for kids ages 8 and younger. The indoor playgrounds have ball pits, slides, trampolines and even play kitchens for imaginative playtime. When the kids are stuck indoors because of rain, this is a great option. Admission for the first child is $15 and for additional children it’s $10.

Hotels in Columbus, Ohio

Columbus is the state’s capital, and it’s a prominent business hub. That means there are lots of hotels, so planning for kid fun in Columbus, Ohio is easy!

  • The Westin Great Southern Columbus. Built in 1897, this historic hotel, offers incredible charm in the perfect downtown location. Within walking distance of many great sites in the city, it’s the perfect place to start your family vacation.
  • Doubletree Suites by Hilton. The only all-suite hotel downtown offers everything you could want and then some! Besides the spacious rooms, the central location makes it easy to explore downtown on foot. It’s located on the riverfront, with great views.
  • The Blackwell Inn and Pfahl Conference Center. Located on The Ohio State University campus, the Blackwell offers modern rooms and suites in a vibrant, campus setting. If headed to the museums or to watch Ohio State athletics, this is a prime location.

When we lived in Ohio, we appreciated that there were so many things to do in Columbus with kids. Most of the things we did for kid fun in Columbus, Ohio are still there today. As I wrote this post, I enjoyed the little trip down memory lane! I truly believe that the best places to raise a family are the best places for vacation getaways. And with all the kid activities in Columbus, Ohio, it’s a worthy getaway for sure!