Columbus is a great city for families! And with so much to offer – like the best zoo, science center and library in the country – it’s a great place to take a weekend trip. While it may be in a “flyover state”, don’t underestimate how much this great mid-western city has to offer kids of all ages (and their parents too).
This weekend itinerary highlights some of the best attractions and yummy eats the city has to offer. It starts on Friday evening and ends Sunday afternoon, and is packed with ideas to keep you busy and experience the best spots in town.
What you will get in this itinerary:
- Indoor and outdoor activities that are fun for the whole family
- Unique local tips to make your trip great
- Alternate itinerary plans for rainy days
- Great family food recommendations featuring only local restaurants
- Quick and easy directions to get you from point A to B
- Additional resources to help you plan your trip
Most of the weekend itinerary is centered in Downtown Columbus. The city center is booming with new restaurants, shops, food trucks and the Columbus Commons – the city’s new 9 acre park. The state capital is here, as are a AAA baseball stadium, a vibrant urban market and a sports and entertainment arena that hosts an NHL team and countless concert tours. Columbus is a walking city and is easy (and safe) to get around on foot. It’s quieter on the weekend which makes it great to explore Friday through Sunday.
Venturing Outside of Downtown
This itinerary takes you outside of Downtown on Sunday – to one of the city’s best activities, The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. It also features alternative plans if Zoos aren’t your thing. Did you know Columbus is go-to city for testing new retail concepts? You’ll find many of them at Easton Town Center – the premier shopping destination in Columbus with a unique mix of shopping, restaurants and entertainment. Franklin Park Conservatory is among the best conservatories in the country and is just minutes outside of Downtown. And don’t forget about the city’s crowning jewel – The Ohio State University with a beautiful campus just minutes north of Downtown and a Big 10 athletics program.
Columbus has a thriving restaurant scene with unique restaurant concepts and a growing food truck community. This itinerary features nothing but home-grown Ohio restaurants, many of which use local ingredients. Have you heard of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams? Well this is the Mother land (and if you haven’t tried them you must when you visit!). If your family is a bit more adventurous on the food front, Columbus also has an abundance of ethic restaurants. Many Columbus restaurants have been featured in national media including, Man vs. Food, Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Rachael Ray, Bon Appetit and other food magazines. This itinerary has suggestions and other resources to find great Columbus eats that fit your family.
Columbus is easy to drive to with major interstates from neighboring states flowing right through the city. It’s also easy to get to by plane if you’re coming from farther away. (Just make sure to rent a car too.) CMH is the airport code. The airport is easy to get in and out of and is just 10 minutes outside of downtown Columbus.
Sample From the Itinerary
This is a sample of the itinerary. The actual itinerary includes additional pictures and maps.
COSI (Center of Science & Industry)
There’s a reason why Parents Magazine named COSI America’s #1 science center. Its 320,000 square feet of space is packed with over 300 interactive experiences, world-class exhibits, an outdoor science park, Extreme Screen Theater, and the country’s only high-wire unicycle.
The Center’s permanent exhibits let you bring out your inner scientist by witnessing scientific research in real time, commanding an underwater ROV, testing your skills as an armchair astronaut and more. In the Little KidSpace®, little ones can build a fort, play in a tree, and splish splash in a water play area. Traveling exhibits come to COSI for a limited time and may require an additional ticket purchase - as do Extreme Screen movies in the John Glenn Theater. There’s definitely more than enough at COSI to fill an afternoon.
LOCAL TIP: COSI is a popular spot and can get crowded. Save yourself some time standing in line to purchase tickets and order them online.
CONTACT AND HOURS:
Monday-Saturday - 10am-5pm
Sunday - Noon-6pm
ADMISSION: Adults $16.95, Youth $11.95, Senior (60+) $15.95 + additional fee for movie of Adventure exhibit. Special discounts for members, military, teachers and groups of 12 or more.
PARKING: Parking in adjacent lot is $5 (cash only) per day.
- I’ve lived in Columbus for 5 years and have explored this city inside and out with my 2 nephews. We know what’s fun to do and have unique local insights to help you have a great family trip.
- E-mail me at mybatteredsuitcase [at] gmail [dot] com. I’m happy to answer any additional questions.
Updated March 2015