Columbus, Ohio is a great city for young families because it has to cater to its own demographics! Those aged 25-34 make up 17% of the city’s population, so you know that where there are young couples, there are usually young children!
Columbus boasts of its diverse neighborhoods, great festivals, and a love for the arts. However, concerts and festivals can end up costing a family a lot of money! I’ve compiled a list of 5 FREE things to enjoy Columbus, Ohio with your kids. No need to spend any of your hard-earned cash.
#1 Take a Walk Through Historic German Village
German Village is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Largely settled by German immigrants, this area of Columbus became heavily populated between 1840 and 1914- It was a place where German was spoken and streets and landmarks were named after Germany and its people.
After a long period of decline,brought on by anti-German sentiment during the First World War and the closing of local breweries during Prohibition, restoration began in the 1960s.
What you’ll experience now is brick, tree-lined streets and small cafes and restaurants (and also, a Starbucks!).
If your children are older, this may be a great place to take them when they’re learning about WWI. For our young children, we focused on enjoying the quaint streets and feeling like we’d stepped in Europe when we were only 40 minutes from home.
#2 Enjoy Columbus’ many parks
An ever-popular free activity in Columbus is a visit to one of its parks! Columbus has many grassy spaces reserved for playing, picnicking, or taking a leisurely wander. Topiary Park is just east of downtown, yet you’ll feel miles away from the city like you stepped into a life-sized Monet painting. The park is great for reading a book while the baby sleeps or watching the older ones throw a frisbee.
Schiller Park in the aforementioned German Village has a nice playground to keep little and big kids busy while you enjoy the architecture of the stately brick homes that surround the park.
Columbus also has plenty of free MetroParks spread throughout the many suburbs of the city. The closest one to downtown is Scioto Audubon. Located on the banks of the Scioto River, older children and teenagers will enjoy the obstacle course or outdoor rock climbing wall.
#3 Tour Ohio’s Statehouse
Ohio’s state capital building was completed in 1861 and has a wild past as to how it came to completion (including prison labor!). Free tours are offered daily. What a great way to teach your children state AND national history.
Make sure you leave time to visit the Museum! Here, families can learn more about our state budget and the right to vote.
#4 Enjoy the Columbus Commons on a Friday during summer
The Columbus Commons is a new(ish) green space created after the City Center mall was torn down. This area not only hosts concerts, but it also provides a free place to spend your summer Friday lunch hour. Each Friday from 10-1 is Commons for Kids. Whirl around on the Carousel, jump in the bounce house, or do craft and art projects provided by local vendors. If you’re lucky, you may catch a visit from the traveling van of the Columbus Zoo.
#5 Take a sensory-loving stroll through the North Market
Fresh flowers, aged cheese, and savory sweets. Ok, so it’s free in theory but you may end up dropping a few bucks after you decide you MUST take home that bag of coffee (and maybe a few chocolates for your Mom stash).
Check out the events calendar before leaving home and remember that the Farmer’s Market takes place on Saturdays. Located just south of the Short North district, afterward, there is even more for the eye to behold by window shopping on North High Street.
I hope these 5 free things help you to explore more of Columbus. Have you been to any? Maybe you have more to add to the list?
Staying overnight in Columbus? Check current rates HERE.
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