Columbus is such a fantastic city to explore. My brother lives in Columbus so we visit often. It’s a pretty boring 2-2.5 hour drive, but it can easily be done in a day. Pop on a movie for the kiddos, grab yourself a coffee, and go!
I’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite places to visit and eat because let’s face it, all of our road trips revolve around food.
The Columbus Zoo is a wonderful place to spend the day.
We’ve been many times and have yet to make it through the entire zoo in a day. It’s huge! One of our favorite parts of the zoo is the animal shows and keeper talks. You also might just happen to be there during their Hanna-versary celebration and meet Jack Hanna like we did (please tell me I’m not the only one who grew up watching him on Saturday mornings?!). There is also the next-door water park, Zoombezi Bay, that you could easily spend an entire day splashing around. So, if you’re looking for an easy way to entertain your kiddos for the weekend, the zoo and water park are your best bet! Also, if you are a Toledo Zoo member, the Columbus Zoo is part of the reciprocity program, so you get a discount.
Since I mentioned staying for the weekend, which we have done in Columbus, I’m just going to go ahead and recommend a hotel with a pool. My kids were in heaven. We stayed in the Staybridge Suites near OSU for the sole purpose of the pool, complimentary breakfast, and suite (with closing doors to the bedroom, so we didn’t have to go to bed at 8 pm with the kids). We woke up, ate breakfast, and then went to the pool. Once we were back at the hotel for the night, we went to the pool. My kids slept great! And it doubled as a bath! Kidding. Well, maybe not.
Another favorite area of ours is German Village.
This quaint town, right outside of downtown has everything, including brick streets, shopping, delicious restaurants, and a beautiful park to explore. It is a great place to wander, pop in and out of shops, such as The Book Loft, visit Schmidt’s for fudge, and then end up at Schiller Park to play and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Schiller Park has a large playground for big and little kids, a pond with ducks to watch, lots of green space, benches, and trees to climb. There are restrooms available inside the rec center (we know, we’ve used them many times ) and they are very clean.
If history is your family’s idea of a good time you have to check out the Ohio Village Muffin’s Baseball League.
This baseball league plays vintage baseball exactly like it was played in the 1860s, including the uniforms and lack of baseball mitts. My brother plays for the German Village 9 team (their games are held at Schiller Park) and we watched one of his games last year. It was a great time! The Muffins play at the Ohio History Connection Museum, so after you catch a game, explore the museum and grounds. Be sure to wander through Ohio Village and see what shops and houses looked like in mid-nineteenth-century America.
If science and hands-on fun is more up your family’s alley then head to Cosi.
There is something there for everyone! We spent a lot of time in the little kid area, which had an amazing treehouse with slides, a house with kitchen, farmer’s market with food, firetruck, ambulance, diggers and so much more. But don’t worry, there is a lot for the bigger kids too. The Ocean exhibit allowed us to play in the water and go inside a mini-submarine. The Gadgets exhibit lets you build, take apart, put back together, and explore how things work. There’s even an outdoor discovery area. And the best part, if you’re an Imagination Station member you can get into Cosi for free!
Staying within the exploring exhibits theme, take a trip to Other World for a hands-on immersive art experience.
This is the ultimate large-scale art playground. There are 40 different rooms to explore, touch, climb, and interact with. Some exhibits are video game-like and you can “play” them by jumping on bubbles on the floor or making jewels explode on the wall. Other exhibits have hidden passages that lead you to new rooms. It’s incredibly wild! All of my kids enjoyed it and are still talking about it months later. I highly recommend checking this out!
Now onto the food portion of our trip.
- Bareburger was a hit and had something all of us would eat. You can create your own burger (from bun to patty and toppings) and my kids were huge fans of the pickles. And, the best part is the many organic, vegan, and gluten-free options available.
- Land Grant Brewery is a fun place to hang out with something for everyone, including delicious beers for mom and dad. There’s a huge outdoor space for the kids to run around, complete with tables and outdoor games. Food trucks are your food choices, so check the website or their Facebook page to see what trucks are parked in their beer garden.
- Mikey’s Late Night Slice. You buy the pizza by the very huge slice and there’s a window into the kitchen so you can watch the pizza being made (complete with dough flying high in the air). Dinner and a show! I recommend the restaurant on 4th street and then after dinner, when everyone is full and happy, head behind the building to the “Columbus” and rainbow murals and snap some cute family photos.
Now that you are armed with some fun spots to visit, take that day trip or even a weekend trip to Columbus! Have fun!!