Explore Cities,  Weekend Trips

Kid-Friendly Things to do in Columbus

My family and I had the opportunity to explore the city of Columbus and I was so pleasantly surprised by all the kid-friendly activities there is to do in the city. Columbus definitely flies under the radar, which is great because you can have a really enjoyable weekend trip here without spending tons of money.

Where We Stayed

Room at Hotel Leveque in downtown Columbus

We were really fortunate to be hosted at Hotel Leveque for the weekend. This hotel is architecturally stunning to walk through, with beautiful décor in every direction. The rooms were just as stunning with comfortable beds. If you have the budget to stay here I would absolutely recommend it!

Where We Ate

We had an early dinner the first night in the hotel’s restaurant, the Keep Columbus. It was a lovely atmosphere with delicious food. I enjoyed the beet salmon salad, and my son absolutely loved the pierogis!

Katalina’s in Columbus

For brunch the next day we went to Katalina’s and tried the famous pancake balls. I filled mine with Nutella – so sweet and delicious! My husband tried the Breakfast Chick ‘Wich and said it was one of the best sandwiches he’s ever had. My son loved the French toast sticks. I would suggest getting here early in the day (especially with kids) to ensure you can get a table. This place is popular (for a reason) so try and beat the rush.

We wanted to walk around the Short North area* on our trip, so we had dinner at El Segundo, where they serve Mexican house-made entrees and hand-crafted cocktails with an extensive tequila list. It was easily one of the best veggie burritos I’ve had – the portions are very generous here so it’s great for leftovers. My son loved the fish tacos from the kids menu.

*Street parking is challenging to find here, so plan on utilizing one of the parking garages nearby!

Inside Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream shop

It wouldn’t be a proper visit to Columbus without ending the day with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, which was just a short walk from where we ate dinner. My son and I had the birthday cake, and we grabbed two pints to take home with us – salted peanut butter with chocolate flecks and salty caramel.

Before we hit the trails and left the city, we made a stop at Roosevelt Coffee House for a delicious pour over coffee experience. Not only is their coffee top notch, profits from their roaster support initiatives that fight hunger, unclean water, and human trafficking.

What We Did

I was really blown away by how many activities there are to do, making Columbus an extremely kid-friendly place to stay and visit. It was pretty cold when we went, so we did a mix of indoor/outdoor activities. I’m excited to go back in the summer to check out more of the Columbus Metroparks!

Franklin Park Conservatory

Walking through one of the greenhouses in the Franklin Park Conservatory

If you’re trying to do mostly free things during your kid-friendly weekend in Columbus, this is one thing I would recommend spending the money on tickets for to go and explore. Tickets are $22 for adults and $15 for children ages 3 & up. Franklin Park Conservatory is the premier botanical garden and home to the iconic John F. Wolfe Palm House, which dates back to 1895. The Conservatory is only two miles from downtown Columbus. There are 13 acres to explore in addition to a 4 acre garden outside. Depending on the season you will get to experience a wide variety of beautiful flowers! The Children’s Garden is a perfect spot for your little ones to run around, explore and even engage in some hands on experiences.

Scioto Mile

A view of downtown Columbus from Scioto Mile

Since we stayed right downtown at Hotel Leveque, this area was within walking distance for us to take the kids. Scioto Mile is an urban oasis comprised of more than 175 acres of lush parkland. Stretching along the waterfront from the vibrant Arena District to the natural beauty of the Whittier Peninsula, the riverfront parks connect downtown to the Scioto River through an integrated system of parks, bikeways and pedestrian paths. This is a great place to take a stroller walk with your kids, or even go for a bike ride with older kids! There are beautiful views of both downtown and the river.

Quarry Trails

Millikin Falls at Quarry Trails in Columbus

One of the newest Columbus Metroparks, this was previously an abandoned quarry which has been turned into a recreation destination. Current amenities include trails, observations areas, a single-track mountain bike trail, a picturesque 25-foot waterfall and lakes. My two year old loved the waterfall area and looking at all the little lakes nearby. It’s a nice, quick hike from the parking lot to the upper and lower waterfall area. There is also a playground if you want to stop and let your kids run around and play.

I can’t wait to spend another weekend here in the summer months to go and see even more. There was so many things on my list that we didn’t get to do them all, but I’ve compiled a list below of even more kid-friendly activities to do in Columbus to help you plan your next trip.

Other Kid-Friendly activities to do in Columbus:

COSICOSI is a nationally esteemed science center inspiring interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics and delivering “hands-on fun” brand of learning. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for kids 2 & up. This would be a great activity to do if the weather isn’t looking great during your trip.

The Columbus Zoo– Arguably one of the best zoos in the country! Tickets are $17 for children and $22 for adults.

Hayden Falls – If you’re looking for a quick walk and a beautiful waterfall, Hayden Falls is the spot to go. The boardwalk takes you directly to the front of the falls. I’d suggest going after a heavy rainfall to ensure there’s a lot of water flowing! This does tend to try up in the warmer months.

Otherworld– I would say this is a place to visit with somewhat older kids. Otherworld is a futuristic entertainment center with interactive puzzles, immersive rooms & digitally augmented art. Tickets are $25 for adults and $18 for children 3 & up.

A few other notable parks to check out during the warmer days!

  • Schiller Park
  • Bridge Park
  • Highbanks Metro Park
  • Sharon Woods
  • Indian Run Falls
  • Shale Hollow
  • Scioto Grove
  • Delaware State Park

**Thank you to Experience Columbus for hosting my family and I for the weekend. All opinions stated above are my own.

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