This summer, in an attempt to save the budget and vacation days, I thought about several staycations. Living in Central Ohio, I read a great article post written by Jennifer Kaufman about staycations in Cincinnati here. Loved all the best things to do in Cincinnati and can honestly say, I have already experienced several on the list. If you are in Ohio, please be sure to check out Jennifer’s staycation list. This summer, I was hoping to stay closer to home, so I thought about all the wonderful places to experience in Columbus for your own staycations and thought I would share.
I have lived in Columbus all my life and have watched the city grow and prosper though the years. Columbus is a city rich in culture, diversity, the arts, quaint neighborhoods and delicious cuisine. Here are some of my great staycation ideas in Columbus, Ohio.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (open year-round): The Columbus Zoo is a full day of traveling the globe visiting North America, Australia, Africa, Asia and the Polar Artic. See all the Lions, Tigers and Bears, and a few Giraffes and the Polar Bears oh my. Open year round (excluding some holidays and hours), this is always a great day with the animals.
Zoombezi Bay Water Park (open summer months): Located next to the Columbus Zoo, Zoombezi Bay is a waterpark delight. Something for every water enthusiast, this is sure to please and cool anyone off on a hot summer day. Open during the summer, separate admission is required to visit the water park.
Center of Science and Industry (COSI): Located in the heart of Downtown Columbus, COSI is fun for all ages. Explore the physical nature of water; or watch how a child can lift a car; and view all the stars in the Galaxy. So, put on your walking shoes and your thinking cap and be prepared to learn the natures around you.
Short North: Located just a short distance north of Downtown Columbus, the Short North is a diverse, lively neighborhood full of art gallery’s, sidewalk sales, diners, fine cuisine, restaurants and home to the Ever popular Gallery Hop. Also, if looking to spend an evening, there are plenty of lodging from Hotels to B&Bs.
Easton Town Center: Looking for indoor and outdoor dining, shopping, movie theater with a little town like feeling, then Easton Town Center is a great place to visit. Located just miles from Port Columbus, this is a convenient location to meet family and friends for the day, to shop or let the kids splash in the fountain. There is also tons of entertainment from Art Festival to Fitness Yoga on the Square to Wine Tasting. This little town gem is sure to please.
Eighteen (18) Metro Parks: The Columbus Metro Parks (open year round) are always a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. With hundreds of pet friendly walking / running and biking trails, play structures for the young at heart, lots of places to bird watch or spend time with family and friends for an impromptu (or planned) picnic, any of the 18 Metro Parks will provide a wonderful day of rest and relaxation.
Ohio State Fair: This is always a summer time favorite and must see. The Ohio State Fair has everything from Big Name Music Concerts, Camel rides, Agriculture & Horticulture exhibits, Livestock Competition, a Lumberjack Show and Smokey the Bear, Rides in the Midway to Culinary and Fine Arts exhibits. The State Fair runs late July to mid August (about 12 days). Come early and spend the day.
Columbus Crew Soccer Club: Enjoy a great game of Soccer with Columbus’s own Major League Soccer Team, the Columbus Crew. Located just north of the Ohio State Fair grounds, the MAPFRE stadium is home to the Crew Soccer Team calling Columbus Home since 1994. With a seating capacity of 20K, come out to watch the Crew battle it out against some of the great teams around the country.
Columbus Clippers: If you are a sports fan, then you must enjoy a day at the ballpark. Columbus Clippers is our very own Minor League Baseball team. Moving from Cooper Stadium to their new home, Huntington Park in 2009, this ball field is located in the heart of the Arena District. The Clippers Major League affiliate is the Cleveland Indians. So, grab your cracker jacks and peanuts and ball glove and head over to see the Clippers play.
Nationwide Arena: Home to the Columbus Bluejackets Nation Hockey League (NHL), the Arena is the anchor in the Arena District which opened in 2000. With roughly 20K seats, this massive arena holds NHL games, Collegiate Basketball Games/ Tournaments and Concert venues of all sorts. Also within walking distance are a plethora of Bars/ Clubs, Restaurants and a Movie Theater and of course Huntington Park (as mentioned above). So make a day of it and have a bite to eat and watch a game.
Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanicals Gardens: The Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is located on the east side of Columbus and is open daily. The conservatory is a horticulture and educational institute for over 400 exotic plant species representing several climate zones, a Blooms and Butterfly exhibit and showing casing the artwork of Dale Chihuly. The newly opened Children’s Garden, provides a place for kids to climb and crawl, with a replicate of the sandstone creek for splashing around. A fun fact is that the Conservatory is also on the National Register of Historic Places. Grab the family and head on over to the Conservatory for an afternoon.
Columbus Museum of Art (CMOA): Located on the east side of Downtown Columbus, the Museum of Art offers an array of exhibits for any age. With several permanent collections from the late nineteen and early twentieth century, and major collections from Ferdinand Howald and the Sirak Collection. The best part if that Sundays offer free admission.
The Scioto Mile: Home to the Columbus Jazz & Rib Fest, Red, White & Boom, Bicentennial Park, The Columbus Arts Festival and several Columbus 5Ks, the Scioto Mile is a scenic space located along the Scioto Riverfront in Downtown Columbus. This urban oasis has almost 200 acres of green parkland ranging along the riverfront from the Arena District to the Whittier Peninsula. Then Scioto Mile reconnects downtown through parks, bikeways and pedestrian paths. Also be sure to experience the Fountain open now for the season.
Polaris Fashion Mall: Located just north of Columbus, the Polaris Fashion Place Mall offers everything anyone could desire. Their slogan is Eat, Shop and Play. And why not, flanked by several anchor stores including JCPenney, Macy’s Saks Fifth Avenue, and H&M, there is sure to be something everyone will want. If all that shopping has worked up an appetite, then grab a bite to eat at the numerous restaurants including the Cheesecake Factory and Dave & Busters.
Memorial (Golf) Tournament: This Golf Tournament is held in late May/early June at the Muirfield Village Golf Club where world class players gather from around the world to play Jack’s (Nicklaus) Course. The first golf tournament was held in May 1976, the tournament gives back in the form of charitable contributions benefiting where the primary beneficiary is Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The tournament run a week long with practice rounds Monday through Wednesday. Round play begins on Thursday and finishes up on Sunday.
Quarter House Congress: If you love horses, and maybe cowboys and cowgirls, then the month of October at the Quarter Horse Congress is the place for you and your family. The congress is known as the largest single breed horse show in the world with over 24K entries. The annual event is held at the 360 acre Ohio Expo Center at the Ohio State Fairgrounds and draws more than 650,000 people to the month long competition.
Whetstone Park of Roses: Located north of Downtown, the Columbus Park of Roses is a public garden created in 1953. Over the years, it has grown to include over 12K roses in more than 400 different varieties. Open year round, in late May, the Heritage Rose Garden is in full bloom with the more fragrant “old garden roses” only blooming once a year, so don’t miss them! Depending on weather, the roses may continue to bloom in colorful waves through late summer. Bring a water bottle and have a seat on one of the park benches; then relax and smell the roses.
Topiary Park of Columbus & New Main Columbus Library: Located behind the Main Columbus Metropolitan Library, this Topiary Park is a wonderful display of training perennial plants to develop and maintain clearly defined shapes. This 7-acre Topiary park dedicated in 1992 has become known as the Topiary Park. Inspired by the story of James and Elaine Mason, you will see the famous painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte.
The Ohio State University: Home to the Ohio State Buckeyes Football Team, The Ohio State University one of the largest universities in the nation. Also home to the Wexner Center for the Arts, the Schottenstein Center and the Horseshoe, there is always something scheduled. Walk the campus, view the Oval or purchases tickets for an OSU football game. Go Bucks!
Ohio State House: Visiting the Ohio Statehouse should be a must for all ages. Free daily guided tours are offered, or you can do a self guide tour at your pace with no reservations needed. The Capital Square is a complex that includes the Ohio Statehouse, the Senate Building and the Atrium. Although the buildings are not working government offices, they are a magnificent monument for which Ohio’s democracy was founded. The statehouse is senior friendly and handicapped accessible.
Let me know if you have visiting or experienced my suggestions or feel free to add additional suggestions. Enjoy.