UPDATED APR 3, 2020
Sometimes you just need to get outside and explore a little. So, when you’re cooped up all day or need a fresh breath of air, check out this list of beautiful parks, gardens, and outdoor spots in Columbus. Now, get out there and enjoy some nature!
We'd argue that this 13-acre plot in Clintonville is the most beautiful park in the city. It's filled with rose-lined paths and tons of different plant varieties — many of which are native to Ohio. And while well-groomed lawns and a beautiful gazebo make this green space enjoyable any time of year, the most popular time to visit is mid-June through mid-September when it's warmer.
Genoa Park is one of the smaller parks in C-bus, but we don't think it should be overlooked. First, this two-acre plaza is centrally located downtown between Rich and Broad Street along the Scioto River, so it's super convenient to get to. It's also known for the Riverfront Amphitheatre, an awesome venue that hosts concerts throughout the year and has some jaw-dropping views of the Columbus skyline. Did we even mention that these stairs are programmed to light up with different colors? Definitely worth a trip.
Fun fact: this is one of the oldest parks in the country. It's pretty unique, too. Although it's nestled among the Victorian-style homes in the charming Victorian Village neighborhood, it features one of best views of the city skyline. Overlook or not, the tree-line pond and quite nature of this community space make it an excellent place to go for a walk.
Bicentennial Park sits in the middle of downtown along the Scioto River, making it one of Columbus’s best-known green spaces. Its most famous features are a giant interactive water fountain (we’re talking 1,000 jets of water) and an epic outdoor pavilion that hosts concerts, movies, and more. But we love that it's close to other Columbus favorites the Scioto Mile waterfront trail and Battelle Riverfront Park, so we can easily hop from one to the other.
If you're a cyclist or runner, you need to know about Clinton-Como Park. The Clintonville green space includes a section of the Olentangy River Trail that runs along the river. And if you're feeling adventurous, you can take the bridge at the south end of the park all the way to downtown. Pretty, cool, right? Plus, dogs are welcome and there are some great people-watching opportunities, too.
Sharon Woods is just north of the city toward Westerville Metro Park, and well, it's just great. During the summer, it's one of our favorite places to go hiking and biking. The huge, 11-acre lake is also one of the best fishing spots around. And if we get a heavy snow in the winter, you can bet we're hitting the park's sledding hills.
Looking for another scenic getaway north of the city? Head to Inniswood Metro Gardens in Westerville. This green space includes more than 120 acres of streams, woodlands, wildflowers, and over 2,000 species of plants. When you need to press pause and escape for a bit, it's worth a visit.
Once the site of City Center Mall, Columbus Commons is now a six-acre public green space that hosts more than 200 events annually. Think the Food Truck Festival, the Cap City Half Marathon, and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s Picnic with the Pops. So, whether you’re looking for a place to play Spikeball, want to kick back with a good book, or want to enjoy the best of C-bus, this is the spot.
If you live or work downtown, chances are you're familiar with this park. It's right across from City Hall, on the east part of the Scioto River, and is perfect for a midday walk, a quick lunch outside, or a picnic on the weekends. There are also a handful of awesome memorials to see, including City of Columbus Fire Fighters Memorial, a tribute to local Native Americans, the Workers’ Memorial, and several others.
German Village’s Schiller Park is best known for its public summer theatre like Shakespeare in the Park. However, it has so much more to offer. This 23-acre park was established in 1857 and includes a rec center, picnic areas, softball diamonds, and a fishing pond. We suggest spending an entire day here.
You can find a lot of things in Downtown Columbus, including a life-size re-creation of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (that’s the one from Ferris Bueller)… made with plants. That’s right. Topiary Park is right behind the downtown branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library and features a living sculptural re-creation of this iconic piece of art. Swing by to snap some pics or check their schedule for the next free movie screening or jazz concert.
It doesn't matter how many times you've been to Scioto Audubon Metro Park, you'll find something new to do. It boasts the country’s largest climbing wall (35 feet, bring your own gear!), a boat ramp, fishing access, hiking and biking trails, sand volleyball, a dog park, and a nature preserve. Seriously, there's endless opportunity for adventure.
This local park is a peaceful, secluded spot with tons of shaded areas and a paved pathway that's ideal for a leisurely walk or jog. And because it's a ravine park, you can count on woodsy forests, steep embankments, and a rocky creek that we enjoy dipping our toes in during the summer. You'll also want to make sure you visit in the fall when the leaves change — it's a sight to see.
Just 45 minutes east of Columbus in Newark, you can enjoy time outside and a history lesson at the Newark Earthworks. This grassy green space is huge—200-some acres—and has three sections of preserved earthworks (aka barrows, mounds, or any artificially placed or sculpted rocks or soil). And this particular site was built by the Hopewell Tribe between 100 and 500 AD. Neat!
Get the latest news on Columbus’s fitness scene.