UPDATED NOV 11, 2019
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!
If you wish to view the world through rose-colored glasses, a good place to start is with a walk through the Columbus Parks of Roses in Whetstone Park. This 13-acre plot in Clintonville is filled with paths lined with 11,000 roses including 350 different types. You can probably imagine that it smells half-decent here. And while well-groomed lawns and a beautiful gazebo make this green space enjoyable any time of year, the most popular time to visit Whetstone is mid-June through mid-September.
While Genoa Park is one of the smaller parks in C-bus, it certainly is not to be overlooked. This two-acre plaza is centrally located downtown between Rich and Broad Street along the Scioto River. It’s most known for the Riverfront Amphitheatre, which hosts concerts throughout the year and has some jaw-dropping views of the Columbus skyline. Oh, did we even mention that these stairs are programmed to light up with different colors throughout the year? Definitely worth a trip.
You can find Goodale Park amongst the Victorian-style homes of Victorian Village. It’s been here a while, but it’s still an outstanding stroll. In fact, it’s one of the oldest parks in the country. And just a short walk to the Short North, this 40-acre park has tennis courts, an expansive playground, and a view of the Columbus skyline that can’t be beat.
One of Columbus’ best-known green spaces, Bicentennial Park, sits in the midst of downtown along the Scioto River. It consists of 4.66 acres, a giant interactive water fountain (we’re talking 1,000 jets of water), and a performance pavilion among the green space. Plus, the park is close by to many other Columbus favorites including the Scioto Mile waterfront trail and Battelle Riverfront Park.
Clinton-Como Park is a must-know location for all Columbus cyclists and runners. The Clintonville green space is right off of the Olentangy River Trail in the Clintonville area, making it the perfect rest stop for all pedestrians or passing bikers. Plus, dogs are welcome and there are some great people watching opportunities, too.
Feel like exploring the Himalayan Mountains? What about a tropical rainforest or Pacific island water garden? Well, here’s a Columbus insider secret for ya: you can travel to all these places and more in just a couple hours by walking through Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Blooming just east of Columbus, this greenhouse was built in 1895 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s beautiful any time of year for plant-lovers and plant-novices alike.
If you like a little more space with your parks, Sharon Woods Metro Park is right up your alley. The 761-acre green space is just north of the city towards Westerville and includes the Edward Thomas Nature Preserve. Other features include places to fish, sled, picnic, play with your kids, and run around with your dog.
Looking for another scenic getaway north of the city? Stop by Inniswood Metro Gardens in Westerville. This green space includes more than 120 acres of streams, woodlands, wildflowers, and over 2,000 species of plants. Sounds like a magical place to us (and a decent place to get lost for a while)!
Once the site of City Center Mall, Columbus Commons is now a six-acre green space available to the public that hosts more than 200 events annually, including 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, read, or enjoy the best of C-bus, Columbus Commons has it all.
If you’re looking for a peaceful place to sit and enjoy the day on your lunch break downtown or pack a picnic on the weekends, Battelle Riverfront might be just the green space you’re looking for. Occupying the space between the Scioto River and City Hall, this park is home to numerous memorials 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, fishing pond, stage, and, of course, a statue of German poet Friedrich von Schiller.
You can find a lot of things in downtown Columbus, including a life-size recreation of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (that’s the one from Ferris Bueller)…using plants. That’s right. Topiary Park, found right behind the downtown branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, features a living sculptural re-creation of this iconic piece of art. Swing by to take in the view or check their schedule for the next free movie screening or jazz concert.
What doesn’t the Scioto Audubon Metro Park have to offer? A lot. This 120-acre wildlife oasis includes the country’s largest climbing wall (35 feet, bring your own gear!), a boat ramp, fishing access, hiking and biking, sand volleyball, a dog park, and a nature preserve. Perfect for a “choose your own adventure” type of day.
Nestled between the University District and Clintonville, Glen Echo Park is 4.20 acres and runs from the north end of 4th Street to Indianola Avenue. The ravine is one of several in the northern Columbus area and is the perfect place for a shaded walk, run, or picnic. The steeped wooded banks run down to a creek, allowing anyone to forget the busy city life above.
45 minutes east of Columbus in Newark, you can get time outside and a history lesson at the Newark Earthworks. This site includes 200-some acres and three sections of preserved earthworks (aka barrows, mounds, or any artificially placed or sculpted rocks or soil). This particular site was built by the Hopewell Tribe between 100 and 500 AD. Neat!