What to Do & Where to Eat with Kids in Columbus, OH

Welcome to Columbus! As one of the largest cities in the Midwestern United States there is a great deal to do here. Perhaps most notable for being home to The Ohio State University, one of the largest universities in the U.S. Whether you live here, or are just passing through, you will find a medley of family activities to satisfy both you and your youngsters.  

What to do: 

  • Spend the day at COSI 

            -One of the best science museums in the U.S. 

            -Over 300 interactive exhibits appropriate for all age levels

           - A large childrens area called KidSpace that you will have to drag your kids out of when it's         

           time to leave.

 

           

Crafting in KidsSpace at COSI

Crafting in KidsSpace at COSI

           -Roam the cobbled stone streets of German Village and check out the amazing, 32 room, Book Loft. Get lost in the maze that is this adorable bookstore. 

           -Make sure to stop by Stauf's Coffee next door and Pistacia Vera to pick up amazing desserts. (Hint: Don't leave without trying as many Parisian macarons as you can)

           - Take the kids to the beautiful Schiller Park to run out some energy. If you time it right in the summer months, you may catch Actor's Theater putting on a free show in the ampitheater.  

           -Grab lunch at the original Max & Erma's, Brown Bag Deli, Katzinger's Delicatessen, or Harvest Pizzeria.  

           - This indoor botanical garden will be a real treat for adults and kids alike. The butterfly garden was a favorite for my children, but we had a great time exploring all the different rooms. 

          - Make sure to stop and watch the professionals blow glass at the Hot Shop which performs daily demonstrations.

 

Spying on the fish in the koi pond. 

Spying on the fish in the koi pond. 

Blown glass sculptures in the Butterfly garden.  

Blown glass sculptures in the Butterfly garden.  

           - The kids and I have been to this zoo more times than I can count at this point. If you're just visiting, it is way too large to see everything in one visit. If you need to pick and choose I recommend visiting the Heart of Africa exhibit, Congo Expedition, and Australia and the Islands. The Heart of Africa area is the most impressive exhibit I have ever seen in a zoo. Spanning 43 acres you can watch the animals roam the plains, cheetahs sprinting at select times, and feed giraffes (also at select times). On your way to Heart of Africa, coming from the entrance, there is also a great petting zoo that's worth a stop. 

 

Kids looking at penguins at the Columbus Zoo in Columbus, Ohio
A kangaroo up close! 

A kangaroo up close! 

The petting zoo is a must stop for us every time we visit.  

The petting zoo is a must stop for us every time we visit.  

           -Cool off in the summer with this waterpark located directly next to the zoo. In fact they are connected and you pay your admission in the same area. Since a ticket to the zoo is included with your admission to the waterpark, I recommend arriving as soon as the zoo opens at 9, walk around and check out some of the exhibits until the waterpark opens at 10. That way you can snag some aptly located beach chairs. 

           -One of the best things to do in the summer is take the kids to the Scioto Mile Fountain. Consider it the best splash pad on the face of the earth. The water is chlorinated and often they have lifeguards on duty. Visit at night to watch the streams of water light up.

           -Right next to the fountains is the restaurant Milestone 229. I would recommend coming for brunch, grabbing a patio seat, and taking the kids to play in the fountains afterwards. The chilequiles and brisket hash are pretty good but this restaurant is more about location than food. 

 

Bicentennial Park in Columbus, Ohio

           -  A 7 acre park in downtown Columbus famous for its topiary interpretation of George Seurat's painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte. 

           - Throughout the summer check out PBJ & Jazz in the park. The kids will adore the interactive storytime, art activity, and jazz concert. A great opportunity to introduce your children to new styles of music and the large group of kids dancing in front of the band is truly adorable. 

 

Of course the dog shaped bush was the most intriguing for these two.

Of course the dog shaped bush was the most intriguing for these two.

           - This remarkable destination features 12,000 roses of more than 400 varieties. Stroller friendly and a great spot for family photos. 

           - In late May the Heritage Rose Garden reaches peak bloom, while the Formal Rose Garden reaches peak bloom mid-June.  

            

What better place to work on respecting nature when the anklebiters try and rip out a rose?   Photo credit: columbus.gov

What better place to work on respecting nature when the anklebiters try and rip out a rose?  

Photo credit: columbus.gov

           - Come and appreciate the best of Columbus in this public market. Very similar to the Milwaukee  Public market in the Third Ward.

           - Mediterranean fare, Indian, BBQ, fried chicken, polish, Vietnamese, sushi, Italian, bakeries, ice cream, produce, fresh meat and fish, and a dozen gourmet shops. The assortment is quite broad.  Everything from Banh Mi to Jeni's gourmet ice cream. (Wildberry lavender and Pistachio & Honey are my favorite flavors.)

           - This market gets packed during lunch hours and on the weekend. The farmers market is on Saturdays and this is a great lunch spot for all the corporate businessmen nearby. When going with the kids I recommend arriving during off peak hours like mornings and weekdays, but our first time was on a busy Saturday and I still felt okay maneuvering a large stroller around all the shops.  

           - My best suggestion? Check out all the options and then head to the second floor for seating. The kids will love to spy on the shoppers below and you will be right next to Hot Chicken Takeover. This restaurant is amazing and serves southern comfort food while you dine at communal picnic tables. I'm not big on fried chicken, but I loved it. Oh, and the mac 'n' cheese is to die for. Also, free sweet tea that will remind you of summer all year round.  

  • Where to eat: 

           - Obviously I have already mentioned quite a few but here are some more restaurants to keep in mind. The Short North neighborhood of Columbus is centered on the main strip of High Street, north of downtown. Great for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Lots of galleries, fantastic restaurants, and bars. I would say this is definitely prime location for a date night sans kids, but if you want to explore the area and try some new restaurants with the tots, go early. For example, 5 pm would be a great early dinner.

           - Rigsby's Kitchen is our family favorite thus far. The mussels are a must. Also, their oysters.  

           - Northstar Cafe has great food all day but the breakfast / brunch is fantastic. Pancakes? Yes. Cowboy breakfast? Yes. Breakfast burrito? Definitely.  

           - Pies and Pints has the best pizza I have had in a long time. Pesto pizza and the Chicken Gouda are some top favorites. Also, the pizzas are HUGE. I have also heard the wings are amazing.  

 

Happy travels fellow mommies!

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." - Helen Keller