15 Best Things to Do in Columbus
ohio stadium
Visit Columbus: Ohio's Capital City

Is Columbus, Ohio on your radar for your next trip? If it’s not yet, then it should be. As one of the fastest-growing cities in the Midwest, visitors flock from all over the nation and the world to experience all it has to offer. The city is often described as “hip” or “trendy” for good reason. It has a little bit of everything, from Midwestern hospitality to historical sites to its innovative art scene. 

Whether you’re planning a family vacation or visiting friends, Red Roof has got you covered. We’ve put together a list of the best things to do in Columbus — and there’s plenty more where that came from! If you enjoy good food, sightseeing, and checking out famous attractions — all conveniently located near our budget-friendly hotels — then you’ll find out there’s no shortage of fun things to do in Columbus. Here are our favorites!

purple flowers
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Without a doubt, this is one of the best attractions in Columbus, Ohio because of its popularity among tourists and locals alike. Spanning over 800 acres, the grounds of Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are home to over 400 species of flowers and plants from around the world. You’ll discover all kinds of exotic plant collections that you wouldn’t normally see. 

Not only is walking through the lush greenhouses and vibrant gardens a great way to pass the time, but it also makes for the perfect photo op. Nature is a highlight of the experience, but most visitors say the gorgeous Victorian-style glass pieces in the conservatory are the real star of the show. Just don’t forget your camera!

farmers market
North Market Farmer’s Market

North Market is an absolute must if you love to shop, eat, and people-watch during your vacations. This public farmer’s market has been in business for over 145 years and receives over a million visitors every single year. Since it’s packed full of completely undercover stalls, it’s one of the best things to do in Columbus whether rain or shine. It’s only open on Saturdays so make sure you keep your calendar clear to check it out for half a day. 

When you arrive, you’ll find a huge amount of independent business owners and merchants gathered under one roof who offer clothes, handcrafted products, locally produced cheeses, baked goods, and much more. Once you’ve had enough shopping, don’t forget to head to check out the food trucks, recharge with an iced coffee, or grab a craft beer to unwind.

rustic store
German Village

The German Village is a historic district that’s known for its vintage shops and incredible local German-style eateries like Schmidt’s Sausage Haus. The neighborhood has been around since the 19th century, so it’s still full of traditional brick streets and houses that make it feel as if you just stepped off a plane into a real German village. The best part about the district is the architecture is authentic and doesn’t feel recreated at all. 

Not sure what to check out first? Noteworthy mentions include the Scioto Audobon Center, catching a Shakespeare play at Schiller’s Park on a summer day, and checking out the 32-room Book Loft — a local’s favorite.

live performance
Ohio Theater

The Ohio Theater is a national landmark and a must-see on your Columbus trip. The grand theater’s Baroque architecture is a work of art in itself. It has since been fully restored since being built in 1928 when it made its debut as a movie house.

Whether you’re in the mood for a symphony, ballet, comedy, or Broadway show, the Ohio Theater has it all. And if you’re in the mood for a succulent steak, fresh seafood, and great beverages, then you’re in luck! The Ohio Theater is a one-stop-shop for date night or fun for the whole family.

monkeys at zoo
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is one of the best attractions in Columbus, Ohio because it’s such a great way to spend the day as a family when you’re in town. With a wide variety of experiences to check out for all ages, it also makes a great way to spend the afternoon on a date or with friends. The world-renowned zoo is wildly popular thanks to the efforts of its retired zoo director and TV personality, Jack Hanna. 

Home to a huge array of over 800 species of animals, it’s no wonder visitors flock to see the incredible exhibits from all over the world. The non–profit zoo is packed with spacious enclosures with animals from Asia, North America, the Australian outback, and the heart of Africa.

ohio stadium
Ohio Stadium

It wouldn’t be a trip to Columbus without checking out a game at the city’s landmark sports stadium. Not only is it known throughout Columbus, but it’s also one of the most renowned landmarks in the world of sports. Ohio Stadium is one of the most fun things to do in Columbus for sports lovers or anyone who loves the rowdy atmosphere of loyal fans at a game, for that matter. 

There are always other events going on so be sure to check out what’s on the agenda when you’re in town. The giant horseshoe-shaped stadium is also famous for holding incredible concerts with big names like Pink Floyd, Chris Janson, Beyonce, and Jay-Z.

woman ziplining
ZipZone Canopy Tours

Adrenaline junkies and adventurers won’t want to miss out on a trip to ZipZone Canopy Tours. There’s nothing more exhilarating than soaring above the forest as you take in the views of wildlife and foliage beneath you. They also have a tree obstacle course and a ground-level kids' park, so it’s suitable for the entire family. 

When it comes to ziplining, anyone over the age of seven can take a tour at this outdoor adventure park. Choose between a 1.5-hour or a 2-hour tour to suit your preference. If you’re visiting while there’s a full moon, you can even take a guided moonlight zipline tour once the sun goes down.

kids watching movie

Looking for one of the best attractions in Columbus, Ohio for kids? Then make sure you make a stop at Legoland. The indoor playground is great for families and kids aged 3 to 10, whether rain or shine. Kids can play, build, and ride in a uniquely immersive experience that spans over 36,000 square feet. 

Another favorite among kids is watching their favorite Lego characters come to life in the 4D Cinema. You’ll experience a variety of different effects from the movie right in the theater, ranging from gusts of wind to rain to snow. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss!

art museum
Columbus Museum of Art

Calling all artsy folk — make sure you check out the Columbus Museum of Art while you’re in town. Named “Best Art Gallery,” it’s clear the CMA lives up to its great reputation that’s known across the nation. With incredible pieces from artists like Monet, Van Gogh, and Picasso, anyone can truly appreciate the exhibits. 

There are always fun interactive activities like puzzle-building throughout the experience, depending on the exhibit at the time. Plus, the museum is kid-friendly, so you don’t have to miss out if you’re vacationing with your family. The Wonder Room provides hands-on activities that aim to teach kids about art from a young age.

coffee shop
Short North Arts District

This quirky, offbeat little neighborhood is a must-see during your trip. Locals fondly refer to it as the ‘heart and soul’ of Columbus — and we see why! Centered around High Street, the area’s strong influence from Ohio State University has helped put Columbus on the map. 

The bustling district is packed full of students, locals, and tourists that make the city come alive both during the day and night. It has the perfect combination of unique cafes, hip eateries, vintage shops, and historic architecture that you won’t find anywhere else. Not only that but one of the most beautiful things about Short North is the plethora of colorful murals painted throughout the neighborhood. If you feel like getting out into nature, you can even go hike the Short North Arts Trail.

kids at science center
Center of Science and Industry (COSI)

The Center of Science and Industry (COSI) is by far one of the best things to do in Columbus for families. The planetarium shows, dinosaurs, a life-sized Marvel exhibit, and activities like parachute building will have the little ones — and people of all ages — inspired to explore science and technology. 

And with regularly changing exhibits, there are always new and exciting activities to see, no matter how many times you visit. Who knew learning could be this fun?

park bench
Whetstone Park

Whetstone Park is a hidden gem that is also known as the “Park of Roses,” which is one of the best things to do in Columbus on a sunny day. With over 12,000 roses in every color of the rainbow, this is a beautiful sight that you won’t want to miss.

Stroll through 13 acres of rose gardens, catch a summer concert, or stop and watch the ceremony of a nearby wedding in the park.

Scioto mile columbus
Scioto Mile

If you want to take your workout outside for the day or you’re simply looking for a beautiful place to walk or bike, the Scioto Mile has got you covered. With over 175 acres of scenic river views and greenery, you can take your pick from the vast array of paths throughout the park. 

If you want to skip the long walk, there are often other fun things to do and see like checking out the 15,000-square-foot fountain, watching an outdoor summer concert, playing the outdoor chess boards, and taking a shot at the huge free climbing wall.

kid at museum
Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

Can you say you’ve ever been to a cartoon museum? This unique experience is one you won’t find anywhere else. Located on the Ohio State campus, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum features the hugest collection of cartoons and comics you’ll find anywhere in the world. 

Take a deep dive into American cartoon history as you view the original artwork. It’s an absolute must-see for all cartoon and animation lovers!

man and dog hiking
Hayden Falls Park

Feel like getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city and out into nature? Hayden Falls Park is the perfect place to stroll and enjoy a picnic on a nice day. 

Take in the view of the 35-foot cascading waterfall into a beautiful gorge surrounded by Columbus wildlife. It’s a quick walk down to the falls and is perfect for people of all fitness levels.

guest room
Book Your Stay at Red Roof

What are you waiting for? Book your stay in the heart of Columbus at Red Roof today.