Top Attractions in Columbus, Ohio

Looking for things to do in Columbus, Ohio? This big city with a small-town feel boasts some of the nation’s top-ranked attractions.

Although not necessarily known as a vacation destination, half of the population of the United States lives within 550 miles of Columbus, Ohio., a city offering fun adventures and things to do that are educational, exciting, and affordable.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Ranked as the #1 zoo in America by USA Travel Guide, the Columbus Zoo has been providing opportunities for children and adults to visit zoo animals for over 80 years. Thanks in great part to Jack Hanna, the over 7,000 animals in this zoo come from various regions of the earth including Asia, Africa, North America, Australia, and the Polar Frontier. A view of ocean life is offered in the aquarium containing sharks, stingrays, and electric colored fish. The Columbus Zoo also houses the Manatee Coast, one of only three manatee facilities outside of Florida.

When planning a trip to the Columbus Zoo, it may be wise to allow for more than one day in order to experience all that the zoo has to offer. Admission for the zoo is quite reasonably priced, and families who live in the area may benefit from purchasing an annual membership. Plus, right next door to the zoo is the Zoombezi Bay water park, and the Safari Golf Course, both of which provide additional adventure opportunities for guests and members.

COSI–Center of Science and Industry

This interactive, hands-on science “museum” has been ranked #1 by Parent’s Magazine. While the idea of a science museum may sound boring to some, COSI provides an interesting adventure for folks of all ages. Exhibits such as Space, High Wire Unicycle, the outdoor Big Science Park, Ocean, and Gadgets Cafe are constant fixtures. In addition, traveling exhibits offer fresh opportunities for adventure and learning. Guests of COSI may also watch science-related films on the 83 feet wide and 7 stories tall Extreme Screen, for an additional fee. Ticket prices are reasonable, however, the center keeps only daytime hours.

Santa Maria

In an effort to make history come alive, Columbus, Ohio offers what has been called the world’s most authentic replica of the flagship sailed by Christopher Columbus. This museum-quality ship sits on the Scioto River in downtown Columbus, just blocks from COSI. Intimate guided tours take visitors back 500 years into the adventurous lives of the 40 seamen who sailed on this wooden ship.

From an up-close look at crude navigational tools to examples of the meager living standards, guests will find pieces of history around every corner. The Santa Maria season begins in April and ends in October. Tickets are quite inexpensive, but the tour is very short—certainly not long enough to fill an entire day.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Located just two miles east of the Santa Maria, Franklin Park Conservatory makes horticulture education exciting. Built in 1895, the Conservatory is set within the 88 acres of the beautiful Franklin Park and houses over 400 plant species. Visitors may tour various plant habitats including those from a variety of global areas including Brazil, Indonesia, Mongolia, Northern Europe, and the Continental United States

Those who visit from March through June may take advantage of the Blooms and Butterflies exhibit which provides an interactive experience with over 100 species of butterflies from all over the world. Other annual exhibitions take place at the Conservatory, promoting environmental appreciation and ecological awareness.

Only the beginning of adventures to be had in the Columbus, Ohio area, these four attractions provide balanced adventure and educational fun including experiences in wildlife, biology, science, botany, and history.

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