Best Columbus Attractions
There’s no shortage of tourist attractions in Columbus, Ohio. It’s a fascinating town frequented by people from around the world all through the year. Founded in 1812 at the confluence of the Olentangy and Scioto Rivers, it’s the capital and most populous city of Ohio.
Cowtown (as one of its many nicknames goes) also ranks at number 14 on the list of the most populated cities in the United States. In terms of area, Columbus is the country’s 15th largest city. It holds great historical and cultural significance for the residents of The Buckeye State.
Aside from Cowtown, some other commonly used nicknames of Columbus include The Arch City, C-bus, The Discovery City, Buckeye City, and The Biggest Small Town in America.
Attractions in Columbus
Top Tourist Locations in Columbus, Ohio
Deciding what places to visit and which activities to participate in when planning a trip can be somewhat challenging. In fact, many consider it to be the most challenging part of planning a vacation.
So, if Columbus, Ohio, is in your sights and you’re preparing to visit the city soon, this post is for your benefit. It will give you an idea about the best tourist attractions in Columbus, Ohio and how you can have the time of your life there!
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
A paradise of flora and fauna awaits you at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Towering glass greenhouses showcase hundreds of plant species obtained from around the globe. Take in the beautiful sights and sounds as you walk through the orchid collection, desert, rainforest, and the stunning trails winding through the Garden Campus and the Botanical Gardens.
The nearby grand Palm House – which frequently hosts wedding receptions – is another section that will mesmerize you. Different events and exhibits take place here throughout the year. Blooms & Butterflies during the spring season is among the most prominent. Visitor events like gardening and glassblowing are a regular occurrence as well.
Suffice it to say that the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are a capital city treasure where guests can immerse themselves in its fascinating history and have a good time!
Columbus Zoo & Aquarium
One of the most popular tourist spots in Cowtown, the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium is known for housing an expansive collection of animals. The locals also love its high-quality education programs and changing exhibits.
A day in this place enables you to explore over 10,000 different animal species encompassing every continent on our planet. There are exciting habitats such as Heart of Africa, Congo Expedition, Shores & Aquarium, and Asia Quest for you to enjoy at this location.
Besides the numerous animal exhibits, there are seasonal rides, pools, and water slides at Jungle Jack’s Landing and Zoombezi Bay. So, don’t forget to bring along your swimsuit!
Visitor Tip: You’ve got plenty of ground to cover and so much to do at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium. But, to make the most of your trip, set some time aside to enjoy interactive exhibits like the Adventure Cove or watch stingray feedings and giraffes. If you’ve got children, they’ll surely love this.
Moreover, if your budget allows it, consider booking a one-of-a-kind experience like elephant bathing. This will surely get your kids excited. If possible, a behind-the-scenes golf cart tour is another experience you must go for.
Columbus Museum of Art
The Columbus Museum of Art is a heaven for art and culture enthusiasts. If you’re one of them, there’s a great collection of local and European artwork awaiting you. Notable works of art available in this place include masterpieces by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Pablo Picasso.
Changing exhibits, sculpture displays, and photography shows are some other events that take place frequently at the Columbus Museum of Art. It’s also a great place to bring children along and boost their interest in arts and crafts.
Center of Science & Industry (COSI)
A Columbus institution, the Center of Science & Industry (COSI) has inspired the young and old for decades. Teaching people about the wondrous world of science, COSI has played a crucial role in promoting scientific development and cultural progress over time.
COSI offers various hands-on exhibits that educate the public about energy, outer space, and cultural evolution. There’s also a huge dinosaur gallery established in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History. Furthermore, there are lab experiments, live shows, and revolving temporary exhibits at COSI throughout the year.
Visitor Tip: When you visit COSI, the planetarium is a must-see attraction in Columbus, Ohio. As you learn about the galaxy under a 60-foot dome, the place will make you feel like you’re in a dark desert. An on-location cafeteria offers various delicious eatables so you can enjoy a full day of fun and excitement.
Santa Maria is a 77-foot replica of the original ship by the same name. It was moored in 1992 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the New World. If you want your little ones to undergo a fascinating overnight educational camp, then Santa Maria is a must-visit.
These sessions are designed to give children an overview of everything about the shipping world. From vessel maintenance to loading cargo and working together as a team, kids can learn while having tons of fun on the ship. You can also book a guided tour of this enormous boat and take a trip down the annals of American history.
Huntington Park is the famous home of the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A affiliates of the MLB’s Cleveland Guardians. Visit this ballpark on the dime-a-dog night, and you’d almost feel like a local. You might even want to cheer the Clippers on from the stands.
Located in the heart of the Arena District, Huntington Park is one of the premier attractions in Columbus, Ohio. The energy is unbelievable on a game-day. The downtown Columbus skyline provides a magnificent view during the afternoon and evening. And if there’s a game at that time, the atmosphere becomes electric.
Also, night games usually end with fireworks illuminating the sky and lighting up the ever-growing downtown skyline. Various yummy snacks and drinks are available at Huntington Park. The variety is especially telling when the Clippers are in action. Moreover, consider trying out some fancy restaurants in the vicinity.
Want to immerse yourself in local culture? There’s no better way of doing that than by taking a trip to North Market in the heart of downtown. Dozens of hardworking vendors can sell everything from fresh flowers, handicrafts, and homemade bread. There are also multiple eateries serving delectable Indian, Italian, German, Vietnamese, Chinese, North American, and Nepalese cuisine on two floors.
Columbus has a long history of supporting farmers and independent merchants who are the heartbeat of Ohio’s agriculture industry. The North Market is incredibly vibrant on Saturday, when fresh in-season farm produce and local honey are on sale.
If you find a parking spot in the small North Market lot, remember to get your ticket stamped/validated by a merchant. This will give you a discount on the parking fee!
Thurber House is the place to be for those who want to know more about Columbus’s past talent and history. This used to be the actual home of James Thurber, the renowned author who penned many popular short stories while living here.
Today, Thurber House proudly features on the National Register of Historic Places. If you’re into art and literature, don’t forget to take a detailed self-guided tour of this beautiful two-story home and learn more about the life and times of James Thurber.
The Ohio Statehouse is another trendy tourist spot in Cowtown. There’s so much to explore inside this magnificent building as well as the Capitol Square Complex outside. In fact, you might not be able to cover everything in a day. So, we recommend narrowing the places and activities down when you plan a visit.
The Ohio Statehouse is where official state government business takes place. Free guided tours of the facility are available every day. You should sign up for one of these to get the best overview of the design and history of the complex.
However, if you decide to explore the location on your own, remember to observe the grand rotunda inside. The ground has been created using thousands of marble pieces. Take your time at the Museum Education Center as well.
On your way out, stop by the Statehouse gift shop to check out (and perhaps buy) some unique gift items and eye-catching artwork from local artists. Moreover, take a walk around the outdoor complex surrounding the statehouse. You’ll find some wonderful memorials, statues, and tributes to landmark moments in Ohio’s history.
Whether you’re a nature-lover or have a passion for arts and literature, Columbus has plenty to offer if you’re considering it as a vacation destination. The attractions are many, and we had to leave out many of them due to space limitations.
The ones that couldn’t make it to this list include The King Arts Complex, The Topiary Park, and the Ohio History Center.