Top 6 Outdoor Activities in Columbus
scioto mile promenade
When Nature Calls, Columbus, OH Has Answers

As the state capital of Ohio, Columbus is a city that has long welcomed both citizens and vacationers from every walk of life. A big reason for this is not just the inspiring fusion of old and modern architecture felt throughout the city – nor its superb cuisine and active nightlife scene. 

In fact, a big draw for visitors to this city are all the fun outdoor activities Columbus has to offer: from art and culture to street food, natural beauty and pockets of serenity aplenty. 

We’ve gathered a few of Red Roof staff favorites in this article. Where will your stay in Columbus take you next?

columbus park
Columbus Commons

Where better to begin than the beating heart of the city? Framed by tall skyscrapers but tastefully pared back from the comings and goings of pedestrians and traffic, Columbus Commons often houses many of the best outdoor things to do in Columbus – all year round. 

Columbus Commons shows off just how well the city takes care of its parkland. Whatever the season, expect greenery and plenty of places to play. Being the largest park in the city’s downtown district means there’s always plenty of space, perfect for letting the kids burn off some energy. 

Fun outdoor activities in Columbus, Ohio don’t only cater to the children. Live concerts often call Columbus Commons home throughout the year. You never know what up and coming acts you might stumble upon on a random visit to the Commons. Frequent festivals and other outdoor events often make their way to Columbus Commons - variety is definitely the spice of life here.  

Speaking of spice, don’t miss the food vendors at Columbus Commons during your visit. Rich flavors, varied menus,  and cool drinks to stay hydrated, often prove just the ticket when you’re getting ready for some exercise or an impromptu gig to attend.

Ohio Wildlife Center

Animal lovers looking for outdoor things to do in Columbus are advised to head out to the northernmost reaches of the city. Not only do the skyscrapers become suburbs – and then become lush green landscapes altogether – but you’re certain to love Ohio Wildlife Center. 

Outdoor activities Columbus offers often connect you to nature in magical ways, but Ohio Wildlife Center deserves special mention. That’s because this is not a safari park or a zoo in the conventional sense, but actually a nonprofit in which animals from all over the world are offered safe, secure places to play, learn, and heal from bad life experiences. The goal of Ohio Wildlife Center is to house and protect those animals who are too old, too frail or too removed from their own instincts to return to the wild to lead healthy, happy lives in comfort. This fantastic place is also a rehabilitation center – so whenever possible, expert trainers, tamers, and animal whisperers help all kinds of furry and feathered friends to learn the skills they will need to be released back into the wild when the time comes. 

There’s almost any kind of animal you can imagine too, from foxes and birds to rodents and reptiles. No critter too exotic and no furry friend too familiar – as far as outdoor activities Columbus offers go, Ohio Wildlife Center is definitely one place nature lovers should never ignore. However, a word of caution – while Ohio Wildlife Center welcomes visitors and vacationers of all kinds, the site is dedicated to working on behalf of the animals first and foremost. You won’t see any performances or training shows here – and likewise, there are occasions in which the site is close to the public to let staff focus on their work. As you plan your next trip to Columbus, make sure the Ohio Wildlife Center is on your list!

scioto mile
The Scioto Mile Promenade

Fun outdoor activities in Columbus, Ohio often take place in the abundant parks that are linked to the famous Scioto Mile – a riverside avenue that links over 175 acres of prime parkland and outdoor events. 

From photogenic city skyline views to scenic bridges and sweeping stretches of green parkland, The Scioto Mile gives you riverside recreation of all kinds – from music and art to secret eateries and romantic nooks to hide away in with your sweetheart. However, special attention needs to be given to the Scioto Mile Promenade, especially for how it links peaceful waterside walking with awesome architecture and plenty of venues to spontaneously pop your head in for surprise gigs or a quick drink. 

The Scioto Mile Promenade is flecked with trees, and peppered with pillars connected to some of the most impressive buildings in all of Columbus. The peaceful promenade itself is only the appetizer – the secret main course is how The Scioto Mile Promenade connects you to some of the best outdoor things to do in Columbus. That’s because The Scioto Mile Promenade offers you an easy and convenient – not to mention scenic – way to get to beautiful Columbus venues like Genoa Park and the Bicentennial Park. When you need a break from the rush of the city, both of these parks come highly recommended. Why not take a stroll down the promenade and see what surprises await you?

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Easton Town Center

Fun outdoor activities in Columbus, Ohio aren’t always parks and meadows – although the city certainly has a plentiful supply of places like that. If you’re in need of a touch of retail therapy, but want a more quaint and outdoorsy way of browsing the aisles than a typical mall, you need look no further than Easton Town Center

Styled like a little small town community all its own, Easton Town Center is dotted with old fashioned storefronts and a central fountain that’s perfect to sit by with an ice cream or some frozen yogurt. 

Kids are sure to adore the miniature railway line that’s threaded throughout parts of Easton Town Center, which shows just as much attention to detail as the precisely manicured trees and adorably well kept dining outlets. In fact, the food and drink here is perhaps well worth a visit alone, all able to be enjoyed in the great outdoors – from coffee and cakes, to homestyle cooking, or fast food. 

Keep in mind that outdoor music events and concerts are also frequently held at Easton town Center – music plays a massive role across all outdoor activities Columbus plays host to. From jazz and folk music to blues and rock bands, there’s a genre for every visitor in this quaint little town within a town.

children playing
The Yard at Polaris Fashion Place

As the name suggests, this is one part of the city where style reigns supreme – but if you’re also keen to see your kids or significant other spend some time on your Ohio vacation free from screen time, The Yard offers plenty of outdoor activities Columbus visitors are sure to love. 

Why are we so confident in that? It’s because The Yard is actually home to an oversized toybox of sorts, dotted throughout the sidewalk. Outdoor things to do in Columbus often offer you plenty of options, but where else in a city as varied as this can you find giant LEGOs, a chess set as tall as the people playing it, a big Connect Four game or ping pong tables all in one place? 

The scenic fountain and appealing mannequins in nearby storefronts certainly lend this area plenty of style, yet The Yard is far from pretentious for being a fashion district. In fact, you might just find that this locale has enough outdoor things to do in Columbus to awaken your inner child. In fact, you might want to come here even if you’re not traveling with the kids!

columbus zoo and aquarium
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

While we certainly celebrated the excellent work done by Ohio Wildlife Center earlier in this piece, there’s no way we could exclude the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium from a  list of outdoor activities Columbus offers.

Outdoor activities the Columbus Zoo offers vary from season to season, but they’re often as inspiring and educational as they are appealing for animal lovers of all ages. Oftentimes, zoo keepers will offer talks and lessons on the habits and behaviors of the various species under their care – meaning you have the chance to learn more about cute and cuddly penguins as much as lizards and exotic birds. 

One of the best aquariums in the United States is right here at the Columbus Zoo, with elegant manta rays, mysterious jellyfish and plenty of species of fishes. Naturally, you’ll have plenty of food and drink on site to choose from to energize your walk around. Kangaroos and sea lions, together with polar bears and cheetahs, make for a remarkably varied day out with the family. 

If you like your outdoor things to do in Columbus to be planned in advance, consider scheduling a tour or experience ahead of time. Want to enjoy outdoor activities the Columbus Zoo offers on your own terms? Consider VIP tour bookings for your visit.

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Book Your Stay With Red Roof

Outdoor activities in Columbus offer experiences for everyone. Whether you’re soaking in the sun at the many parks and green spaces that make Columbus such a majestic city, or heading to see the animals kept by some of the best environmental minds in Ohio, outdoor things to do in Columbus can’t help but inspire. 

You’ll need some R&R between your Columbus adventures, but don’t fret. Red Roof has comfortable accommodations sure to make your Columbus trip a triumph. Book a room at one of our affordable, pet-friendly hotels today.