The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide to Columbus, Ohio

visiting Columbus

Columbus (often referred to as Cbus by locals) is the capital city of Ohio.  With top-rated attractions such as the Columbus Zoo, COSI, a nationally recognized public library system, an amazing recreation and parks department, and lots of free events it’s easy to see why visiting Columbus is a great idea.  

How to use this guide:

Use the tab feature to find information sorted into categories. Click on each image to be taken to a post about that topic.

Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

Without a doubt, the number one experience is a stop at the Columbus Zoo. There’s so much to see and do, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time. An absolute must is the Heart of Africa area where you will truly feel like you are visiting an African Savannah.  The Polar Bear exhibit in North America has an underwater viewing area. Currently there are 3 baby polar bears so hopefully at least one of them will be out on your visit.

In addition to the various animal regions, you’ll find Jungle Jack’s Landing (open spring to fall) with rides and Zoombezi Bay waterpark.  Both of these sections require an additional admission price.  

Printable Zoo Scavenger Hunt

zoo scavenger

Quick Trip to the Zoo

zoofeatured

COSI

COSI (Center of Science and Industry) has been voted one of the best science centers in the country.  If you are visiting with little ones, be sure to head to the top floor and check out little kidspace.

Columbus Landmarks, Statues and Art

These Columbus sights and spots are worth checking out!

Capital Building

Franklin Park Conservatory

Franklin Park Conservatory is a beautiful setting to observe plants, flowers and nature. There are often events geared towards children and seasonally Blooms & Butterflies is a popular exhibit. Currently, through October 29 the exhibit Topiaries at the Conservatory can be seen.

Places to see Animals

There are a lot of places besides the zoo to see animals. This list has a mix of nature centers, sanctuaries, parks, and farms around the Columbus area and beyond.

Animals in Ohio

The Ohio State University Campus

It won’t take you long to realize that Columbus residents are crazy for The Ohio State Buckeyes.  If you yell out O-H, you’ll most definitely hear an I-O in return. There’s a lot of Ohio pride.

Ohio State is one of the biggest campuses in the nation and there’s a lot to see and do. A top attraction would be watching the football team play at the Ohio Stadium (often referred to as The Horseshoe.)

Other places of interest are Wexner Center for the Arts, Orton Hall and visit the Orton Geological Museum (free to the public-check days and times), Mirror Lake and Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.

Popular Family-Friendly Dining Options

101 Beer Kitchen (locations: Dublin, Gahanna, Westerville)

Cap City Diner (locations: Grandview, Gahanna and opening soon in Dublin)

Harvest Pizzeria (locations: German Village, Clintonville and Dublin)

North Market (location: downtown)

Northstar (locations: Short North, Easton, Westerville, Beechwold)

Schmidt’s (location: German Village)

The Thurman Cafe (location: German Village)

This list of Kids Eat Free Nights will help you save money!

Kids Eat Free Nights

These affordable dining options are great for kids too!

Columbus Restaurants

Here’s a roundup of one mom’s favorite Columbus spots with options for all budgets.

table-71380_640

Start the morning off with a tasty doughnut from one the places listed here.

sprinkle donut

These spots are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings.

sweet spots

Here are a few favorite local ice cream shops!

Iocal ice cream shops

One thing to keep you going on vacation is….COFFEE!!

Columbus Coffee

Shopping Malls

Easton Town Center

Easton Town Center is just a few miles from the airport.  There’s an indoor shopping space, but most of the shops are lined along the streets in this open air shopping concept. There are wonderful restaurants, a comedy club- Funny Bone, a huge restaurant/game center at KDB, American Girl store and more!

Polaris Fashion Place

Polaris Fashion Place is a two-level mall with a zoo themed play area, lots of retail stores and many restaurants. 

The Mall at Tuttle Crossing

The Mall at Tuttle Crossing contains over 100 stores and a newly renovated children’s play area.  

Tanger Outlets

Tanger Outlets is just north of Polaris Fashion Place and Ikea.

Shopping Areas

Short North

The streets of Short North are lined with boutiques, delicious food options, and great people watching! Check out these kid-friendly places.

Suburbs

Many of the communities in the Columbus have cute downtown areas with unique shops and great restaurants.

Delaware (Here’s where to shop and here’s where to eat.)

Dublin (Here’s where to shop and here’s where to eat.)

Gahanna (Stroll the boardwalk area along the creek, eat on one on the many patios and fit in some shopping time.)

Powell (Here’s where to shop.)

Westerville (Here’s where to shop and here’s where to eat.)

 

 

If you are planning a weekend getaway, this post has a sampling of places to stay, eat and things to do in Columbus. Plus, it’s broken down by price range!

weekend getaway

Besides the hotels mentioned in the post above, here are other popular options:

Hilton Columbus at Easton

Columbus Marriott Northwest (Check out our review of the newly renovated hotel.) 

Embassy Suites by Hilton Columbus Dublin

The Blackwell Inn and Pfahl Conference Center

If you want to head to other parts of Ohio, here are some cool adults-only and fun kid-friendly options. From tree houses to yurts, below is a list of the top glampgrounds in Ohio.

glamping_cover

This list is packed with free and cheap activities to do this summer in Columbus!!! 

Columbus Free Activities

Back by popular demand is the 2017 list of FREE concerts, festivals, movies, events and more!

free summer events

Here are 5 things you can do indoors with the kids in Columbus!

columbus-outings

This is the go-to resource for summer fun in Columbus!

Ultimate Guide to Summer

Professional

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets are a hockey team that play at Nationwide Arena. There are a lot of bars and restaurants in the Arena District area.  

Columbus Crew

The Columbus Crew are a soccer team that play at Mapfre Stadium. This stadium is located outside of downtown and is near the Ohio Expo Center and Ohio History Center.

Ohio Machine

The Ohio Machine are a lacrosse team that play at Fortress Obetz. 

College

The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University is one of the biggest colleges in the country and has top-notch sporting teams. Read more about Ohio State Athletics.

Minor League

Columbus Clippers

The Columbus Clippers are a baseball team that play at Huntington Park. There are a lot of bars and restaurants in the Arena District area.  

These indoor play areas are located on the West Side of Columbus.  

Indoor play-area at the Naz Grove City

Try out these 5 kid-friendly venues in the Short North!

shortnorthkids

Here are five places in Worthington perfect for toddlers.

5 Mommy and Me Toddler Dates in Worthington

Here are a few ideas in Grandview geared towards the younger age group.

Enjoy sprinkles in your chocolate milk while wearing a crown! What could be better?

10 of the BEST parks to check out in Columbus!

ColumbusParks

The parks on this list involve some combination of nature and opportunities for creative/dramatic play. In short, these parks all spark imagination in ways that are slightly different from your typical playground. 

Central Ohio Parks That Spark Imagination

Rain can often leave playgrounds muddy. These 6 parks all offer an alternative surface besides mulch to keep everyone as clean as possible.

playground in Dublin

These outdoor spots in Delaware County are a perfect way to spend the day!

Parks

Put a new spin on a normal hike by searching for treasures!

Explore the Metro Parks with geocaching!

We hope you enjoy your visit to Columbus! 

, , , , ,

2 Responses to The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide to Columbus, Ohio

  1. Avatar
    Lena August 8, 2017 at 1:35 pm #

    Hello. Your blog is awesome. I’m so hesitant to make the move to Ohio.
    I’ve been looking into what the best places/ neighborhoods are to live in. We don’t want to be downtown but want to live within an hour of downtown.
    Do you have any recommendations where I should look? I’m emphasizing on good schools, low property taxes, great neighborhood, mom groups, parks and things to do.
    I would really appreciate your input.
    Thank you.
    Lena

    • Amy Onifer
      Amy Onifer August 9, 2017 at 10:33 am #

      Hi, Lena! We are so glad you are enjoying Columbus Moms Blog. There are so many wonderful neighborhoods in the Columbus area. I’ll email you some information. 🙂