There’s nothing quite refreshing like spending a beautiful day outdoors surrounded by nature. And when it comes to Columbus parks, you’re certainly spoiled for choices. This city has an impressive array of parks, each offering something unique and special. From scenic riverside trails to sprawling urban green spaces, these are 17 of the best parks in Columbus that are perfect for a picnic, a hike, or just some quality time in the great outdoors.
Best Parks in Columbus, Ohio
1. Columbus Commons
For a fun-filled day in the city, head to Columbus Commons. This 6-acre park is located in the heart of downtown Columbus and is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic lunch, take a stroll, or listen to free concerts.
When events are not taking place, Columbus Commons is a great place to people-watch or relax in the shade. The park also has a merry-go-round and a playground, making it a great spot to visit with kids. And if you get hungry, there is a concession stand that sells ice cream, hot dogs, and other snacks.
During my visit to this park in Columbus, I was able to participate in a free outdoor yoga class. The instructor was great, and it was such a fun way to spend an hour on a beautiful day. So if you’re looking for Columbus parks to visit, definitely check out the Columbus Commons park schedule to see what’s going on.
2. Scioto Mile Green Space
If there’s one park that best represents Columbus, it’s the Scioto Mile Green Space. This park is located in the heart of downtown and is full of activity.
The Scioto Mile Green Space is a linear park that runs along the Scioto River. It starts from the Arena District all the way to Whittier Peninsula, connecting eight parks and other bike paths. This makes it a great place to take a break from sightseeing and get some fresh air.
There’s plenty to do at this park. You can walk or bike along the river, have a picnic, play chess, and much more. In addition, there are often festivals and events held at the park. So if you’re lucky, you might catch a concert or performance.
The best part of the Scioto Mile Green Space is the incredible views of the city skyline. The skyscrapers loom over the river, and it’s truly a sight to behold. This makes it one of the best parks in Columbus to visit for a photo opportunity.
3. Topiary Park
If you’re looking for something different, Topiary Park is a must-see park in Columbus. This park is home to the world’s largest topiary, which is a recreation of Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.”
A tour in this park will amaze you with over 54 life-size topiaries, which is truly an incredible sight to see. And in addition to the topiary, the park also has a playground, a gazebo, and a pond. It is the perfect place to go for a walk, have a picnic, or just sit and relax. The best time to visit this is during the spring or summer when the plants are in full bloom. However, the park is open year-round, so you can enjoy it no matter what time of year you visit. Just make sure to take a camera because this is one of Columbus parks you will want to remember.
4. Zoombezi Bay
On a hot day in Columbus, there is no better place to cool off than at Zoombezi Bay. This water park is owned and operated by the Columbus Zoo, so you know it will be top-notch.
There are more than 17 different slides at Zoombezi Bay, so there is something for everyone in the family. And if you get tired of sliding, you can float down the lazy river or take a dip in the wave pool. There is also a designated area for young children, which is always a bonus.
I started my day’s adventure at Zoombezi Bay by going down the Python Plunge, which is a thrilling 70-foot-long waterslide. Then I cooled off in the lazy river before hitting the wave pool. I had so much fun that I went back to the Python Plunge a few more times.
There are also several food options at the water park, so you can refuel after a long day in the sun. I highly recommend the chicken tenders and fries, which are some of the best I’ve ever had.
The best part about Zoombezi Bay is that it is included with admission to the Columbus Zoo. So if you’re looking for the best parks in Columbus to visit with kids, this is a great option.
5. Goodale Park
Goodale Park is a beautiful, historic park that is perfect for a leisurely stroll or a picnic lunch. The park is located in the Short North Arts District of Columbus and is within walking distance of many restaurants and bars.
The park was originally established in 1850 and is one of the oldest parks in the city. The park is named after Dr. Lincoln Goodale, a prominent Columbus physician who was instrumental in establishing the park. He is also the one who donated the land for the park to the city.
Today, the park features a gazebo, a pond, a playground, and plenty of open green space. On a sunny day, the park is filled with people enjoying the beautiful weather and the tranquil atmosphere. You can also find people playing tennis or basketball, as there are courts located within the park.
Overall, Goodale Park is the perfect place if you’re looking for a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city. And if you’re looking for something to do after your visit to the park, you can explore the Short North Arts District, which is full of great shops, restaurants, and bars.
6. Whetstone Park of Roses
Whetstone Park of Roses is a beautiful park located in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus. The park is home to over 11,000 roses of 350 different varieties. The park also has a playground, picnic tables, bike trails, and a tennis court.
The Whetstone Park of Roses is one of the best parks in Columbus for those who love flowers. The roses are in bloom from mid-June through October. And during that time, the park is a great place to take a stroll, have a picnic, or just enjoy the beauty of nature.
So if you’re visiting Columbus, definitely make a stop at the Whetstone Park of Roses. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
7. Franklin Park Conservatory
The Franklin Park Conservatory is much more than just a park. In addition to the meticulously manicured gardens, you will also find an art gallery, a garden cafe, and a gift shop.
This is one of the best parks in Columbus for those who appreciate horticulture and nature. The Conservatory offers a variety of different gardens, each with its own unique theme. My favorites were the Orchid exhibit, the Palm House, and the Bromeliad House. There are also a variety of events held at the park throughout the year, such as plant sales and art exhibits.
In addition to the Conservatory, Franklin Park also has a playground, a dog park, and a few different walking trails. So if you’re looking for things to do in Columbus, this is a place you should definitely add to your list.
8. Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens
If you love nature and gardens, then you will love the Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens. This is a 62-acre arboretum located on the campus of The Ohio State University.
The gardens are absolutely beautiful, and they are well-maintained by the university. There are many different gardens to explore, including a rose garden, butterfly garden, and sensory garden. My favorite was the herb garden, which had a lovely smell and was so peaceful.
In addition to the gardens, there is also an education center on-site. Here, you can learn about the different plants and gardens through exhibits and hands-on activities.
9. Ballantrae Park
Located in the city of Dublin (a suburb of Columbus), Ballantrae Park is one of the best parks in Columbus for those who want to experience a bit of country living. This park is home to a large pond, where you can go fishing or feed the ducks. There are also plenty of walking trails, making it a great place to get some exercise.
The highlight of the park is the three large rabbit sculptures. These sculptures are so big that they’re visible from the street. And they’re so cute that they’re sure to put a smile on your face. You can walk up to them and discover the creativity that went into their design.
Below the rabbit sculptures is a splash pad, which is perfect for cooling off on a hot day. And if you have kids, they’re sure to love it.
10. Malabar Farm State Park
If you’re looking for a Columbus park that’s a little bit out of the city, Malabar Farm State Park is the place for you. This park is best known for being the former home of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield.
Today, the farm is a working farm and museum that offers tours to visitors. You can tour the 32-room farmhouse, walk through the beautiful gardens, and even visit the animals on the property. In addition, the park hosts numerous events throughout the year, such as the Maple Syrup Festival, which is a must-visit for anyone who loves all things maple.
All in all, Malabar Farm State Park is the perfect place for a day trip from Columbus. As you tour the farmhouse and grounds, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Plus, the park is wonderful, and it’s a great place to enjoy the outdoors.
11. Griggs Reservoir Park
Another one of the best parks in Columbus is Griggs Reservoir Park. This park was dedicated to Julian Griggs, a Columbus long-serving chief engineer back in the early 1900s.
Today, this park offers stunning views of the Griggs Reservoir, which is a man-made body of water. Popular activities in the reservoir include boating, canoeing, and kayaking. In addition, there is a paved trail along the river that’s perfect for going for a walk, running, biking, or riding. The paved trail is about 2.3 miles long and a popular spot for locals and visitors.
And if you love golfing, Griggs Reservoir Park is also home to the best municipal golf course in Columbus. Golf Digest has rated the course four stars, offering a challenging and fun experience for all skill levels.
So whether you’re looking to enjoy the great outdoors or get in a game of golf, Griggs Reservoir Park is a great place to visit.
12. Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park
A visit to Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park is a must if you’re looking for the best Columbus parks to visit. Also known as “The Field of Corn,” this park is home to 109 beautiful large ears of corn. This was made in honor of Sam Frantz, who helped in developing hybrid corn.
Today, the Field of Corn is a popular spot for photo ops and picnics. It’s also a great place to take a stroll and enjoy the fresh air. And in addition to the Field of Corn, there is also a playground and a pavilion at the park. This makes it a great place to visit for families with young children.
Overall, Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park is a must-see park in Columbus. Not only is it visually stunning, but it’s also a great place to spend some time outdoors.
13. Highbanks Metro Park
Just north of Columbus is the beautiful Highbanks Metro Park. This 1,200-acre park is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the great outdoors.
The park features miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The trails are well-marked and range from easy to moderate in difficulty. I recommend wearing comfortable shoes and bringing water with you on the trail.
In addition to the trails, the Olentangy River runs through the park, making it a great spot for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. The park is also a great place for bird watching. Over 200 species of birds have been spotted in the park, so bring your binoculars.
The park also has several open and picnic areas, making it a great place for a family outing or a picnic with friends. And if you visit this park during winter, the park is open for cross-country skiing and sledding.
14. Scioto Audubon Metro Park
Scioto Audubon Metro Park is another of the best parks in Columbus for people looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. This park is located on the southwest bank of the Scioto River and offers stunning views of the city skyline.
The park is huge, and it has a lot to offer its visitors. There are plenty of trails for walking, running, or biking. And if you have kids, they will love playing in the playground or visiting the nature center. Benches and picnic tables are scattered throughout the park, making it a perfect place to relax and enjoy a quiet day outside.
However, the centerpiece of the park is definitely the soaring rock-climbing wall. This is one of the tallest outdoor climbing walls in Columbus, and it is a popular spot for both experienced climbers and beginners.
Other notable features of the park include a dog park, an obstacle course, a sand volleyball court, and a boat ramp. Scioto Audubon Metro Park is truly a gem and one of the best places to enjoy the outdoors in Columbus.
15. Schiller Park
This Columbus Park is one of the best places to visit if you’re looking for a little bit of everything. This 23-acre park has a playground, basketball court, tennis court, fishing pond, and walking trails.
The playground equipment is new and includes a variety of slides and climbing structures for kids of all ages. The basketball court is full size and always seems to have a game going on, which is fun to watch. The walking trails are well maintained and a great way to exercise while enjoying the fresh air.
In addition, the park has a picnic area which is perfect for a family cookout. Plus, you’ll still find other picnic tables spread throughout the park.
What I loved most about Schiller Park is its large shade trees that are perfect for spreading a blanket and relaxing. Or, you can buy take-out from one of the great restaurants near the park to enjoy a picnic lunch.
16. Bicentennial Park
If you’re looking for a serene and beautiful park to relax in, Bicentennial Park is the place for you. Located in downtown Columbus, this park has undergone renovation to become the gorgeous oasis it is today.
Locals and tourists flock to the park to enjoy the many different activities it has to offer. You can go for a walk or run on the paved trail, have a picnic in the grass, or relax by the fountains. In addition, concerts and festivals are often held in the park. And if you’re lucky, you might catch a show by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.
The highlight, for me, was taking a stroll along the Scioto Mile. This is a paved trail that runs along the Scioto River, and it offers stunning views of the city skyline. Plus, the trail is lined with swinging benches, water canals, artistic fountains, and tables on which you can play chess.
All in all, Bicentennial Park is one of the best parks in Columbus because it is so versatile. It is perfect for a solo visit, a romantic outing, or a family day. There is something for everyone to enjoy at this park.
17. Three Creeks Metro Park
Are you looking for a park that offers more than just walking trails and open spaces? Then you’ll want to check out Three Creeks Metro Park. Located southeast of Columbus, Three Creeks is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The park offers 14 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
One of the best things about Three Creeks Metro Park is that it is so big. It spans over 1,100 acres, so you definitely won’t feel cramped while you’re exploring. And if you need a break from all the outdoor activities, there’s also a nature center on-site.
These are just a few of the best parks in Columbus that you should definitely check out. Whether you’re looking for a place to have a picnic, take a walk, or just relax, you’ll find a park that suits your needs. So get out there and explore the beautiful parks that Columbus has to offer.