Discover the Best Long Weekend Activities in Columbus While Catching Your Favorite Sport

March 21, 2023

Disclaimer: this post is part of a partnership with the Greater Columbus Sports Commission. Photos and opinions are our own.

Planning a trip to Columbus, Ohio to cheer on your favorite team or attend a sporting event with your family? While sports may be the primary reason for your visit, there are plenty of other family-friendly activities to enjoy during your long weekend in this vibrant city. From exploring outdoor parks and attractions to indulging in great local restaurants, Columbus has something to offer for everyone. We’re highlighting some of the best family activities to make the most out of your trip to Columbus.

FIRST, look up our list of Where to Eat & Drink Before the Game for loads of ideas close to downtown for lunch, dinner, and drinks AND Where to Stay, Eat, & Drink Over a Sports-Centric Weekend.

WHERE TO PLAY

Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

Consistently voted one of the top zoos in the country, the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium is an expansive property featuring animals and habitats from all over the globe. Take a boat ride through the Congo, walk amongst kangaroos in the Outback, watch the polar bears swimming in the Arctic, feed the giraffes in the Heart of Africa. Caught in a rain shower? Duck into the reptile house or say hi to the manatees in the aquarium.

COSI

Columbus’ science museum is a long-time favorite for kids of all ages. Located centrally on the west bank of the Scioto River, it features hands-on exhibits and experiments, dinosaurs, a planetarium. Check out the current special show Tutankhamun: His Tomb and His Treasures. If the weather’s nice, take a stroll on the Dorrian Green or along the riverfront!

Columbus Metropolitan Library + Topiary Garden

Columbus’ main library branch downtown is a beautiful Beaux-Arts-style funded by Andrew Carnegie and built in 1903. Visit the kid’s section for books and activities, explore the latest exhibition in the Carnegie Gallery, check out the Aminah Robinson mural. If the weather’s nice, visit the new Kaufman Plaza behind the library, then stroll to the Topiary Garden. Find the perfect viewpoint to see the hedges cultivated to look like Georges Seurat’s painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LaGrande Jatte.”

Columbus Museum of Art

The world-class Columbus Museum of Art hosts rotating exhibitions that range from contemporary and classical. The whole family will marvel at the artwork, unique installations, and special features. Visit the first floors for the JPMorgan Chase Center for Creativity, with hands-on activities and exhibitions that spark creativity for the younger crowds. Afterwards, grab lunch at the Schokko Cafe.

Franklin Park Conservatory

Franklin Park Conservatory offers it all! Stroll through the indoor exhibits and greenhouses, watch the artists of the glass-blowing studio at work, play outside in the children’s garden at this popular stop.

PARKS TO VISIT

Quarry Trails Metro Park

The newest metro park is being constructed from a former quarry. Already there are beautiful waterfalls, ponds, trails, and playgrounds, with more activities like kayaking and a Via Ferrata coming soon.

Schiller Park

This centerpiece of historic German Village features walking paths, a playground, sculptures, a pond. Stick around in the summer to catch a free performance in the park from Actors’ Theatre of Columbus (May-September).

Scioto Audubon Metro Park

With beautiful views of the city skyline, this park is home to the Audubon center, and features playgrounds, a rock climbing wall, trails, and plentiful spots for bird-watching.

Highbanks Metro Park

A favorite metro park north of the city, Highbanks is popular for its wooded trails, river overlook, nature center, bird-watching, and bike paths.

Sharon Woods Metro Park

One of the original metro parks in the region, Sharon Woods features a variety of trails around lakes, woods, and meadows.

The Ohio State University

Visit some of the most iconic sights of Ohio State’s campus, like the criss-crossing pathways of the Oval. Stop into the Ohio Union or the gorgeous Thompson Library. Head down the hill to the Shoe and get your photo in front of the domed entryway.

Hit the Bike Trails

Did you bring your bikes to Columbus? The city features an ever-growing network of bike trails. Try hitting up:

  • Olentangy Trail: the Olentangy Trail follows the Olentangy River (running roughly parallel to US-315). There are multiple entry points. Hop on up north near Worthington and ride it south past Antrim Park, Clintonville, Old North, Ohio State’s campus, Harrison West, downtown Columbus along the Scioto Mile, south past Scioto Audubon Metro Park.
  • Alum Creek Trail: an expansive corridor running the east side of the city that extends from Westerville all the way down to Three Creeks Metro Park
  • Heritage Rail Trail: the Heritage Rail Trail runs northwest out of Old Hilliard and past two metro parks

WHERE TO EAT

You’ll find plenty of options for food and drink close to the Convention Center and Arena District. Find more in Where to Eat and Drink Before the Game. But if you want to venture out farther, here are some tasty discoveries!

Gemut Biergarten

This family-friendly brewery, housed in an historic fire station, features easy-drinking beers, great German food, and a huge beer garden.

Torchy’s Tacos

An Austin-based chain that’s been making its way into the Columbus market, serving up rich salsas and queso, creative tacos, and margaritas. Find a location near Polaris and one coming soon to Dublin.

Columbus Brewing Company Beer Hall

Next to the East Market sits Columbus Brewing Company’s new Beer Hall, a beautifully renovated space with 24 taps of beer, cocktails, and a creative menu.

East Market

Everyone will find something to love at the new East Market, built out in a former barn in the historic Trolley District. It sits close to Franklin Park Conservatory, and features a collection of vendors, from pizza and falafel to Korean and New Orleans favorites, coffee to nuts and snacks.

Hank’s Texas BBQ

Follow your nose to the welcoming smoky smells of Hank’s, a family-run outpost in Clintonville serving brisket, ribs, smoked chicken, sausages, and more.

Jack & Benny’s

The long-running Jack & Benny’s sits a couple minutes north of Ohio State. Grab a booth and check out the Buckeye paraphernalia while you order pancakes, huevos rancheros, and giant Gutbusters.

Joya’s Cafe

Chef Avishar Barua (who appeared on season 18 of Top Chef), opened this daytime cafe in Old Worthington to serve great coffee and creative versions of breakfast sandwiches, fried rice, lamb koti rolls, and more delectable goodies.

Subourbon Southern Kitchen & Spirits

Stop by Subourbon in Linworth (between Dublin and Worthington) for hearty Southern classics like fried chicken, grits, okra, and pimento cheese – all paired with a solid whiskey list.

Weenie Wonder

Weenie Wonder has two locations – one at Easton and one in Dublin’s Bridge Park – where they serve hot dogs, shakes, tater tots, and more retro snacks. Both locations are attached to PINS Mechanical Co. and 16-Bit Bar + Arcade, meaning they’re loads of fun for all ages.

DK Diner

This neighborhood diner in Grandview will have you questioning what’s better: the scratch-made donuts or the hearty diner fare, from biscuits and gravy to towering burgers.

Ohio Brewing Company

This massive brewery and taproom in a renovated warehouse in Milo-Grogan serves a full food menu. Take time to check out all the Ohio-themed paraphernalia, including an actual airplane!

NEIGHBORHOODS TO VISIT

If you want to get outside of downtown Columbus, there are plenty of neighborhoods within an easy drive. There you’ll find shops, cafes, restaurants, bars, and more local fun.

Grandview

Just west over the river from Victorian Village, Grandview is a popular residential spot. Stroll Grandview Avenue for everything from shops and restaurants to wine bars and vintage movie theatres.

Worthington

Historic Old Worthington offers the charm of a New England village. Grab coffee or pastries from local cafes, relax on the Village Green, visit one of the many shops in the district, and stick around long enough for dinner and a drink.

Hilliard

Hilliard’s Main Street has been reinventing itself in recent years, notably with the addition of the Center Street Market with a brewery and multiple vendors. Check out the other bars, diners, shops, and beer gardens.

Dublin

Start in Historic Dublin for a collection of shops and cafes along charming city streets, then cross the river on the Dublin Link bridge (the longest single-tower, S-shaped suspension bridge in the world) to Bridge Park, a modern neighborhood with loads of bars, restaurants, hotels, and entertainment options.

Don’t forget our list of Where to Eat & Drink Before the Game for loads of ideas close to downtown for lunch, dinner, and drinks AND Where to Stay, Eat, & Drink Over a Sports-Centric Weekend.

Disclaimer: this post is part of a partnership with the Greater Columbus Sports Commission. Photos and opinions are our own.

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FOOD + TRAVEL WRITER

I go by Dr. Breakfast, but in addition to restaurants and recipes, I write about family travel, breweries and distilleries, the arts, outdoor fun, and so much more.

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