Free Things to Do in Columbus, OH

There’s no shortage of activities to do in Central Ohio, and as an added bonus, many of them are free. If you want to have fun and explore without breaking the bank, here are a few things to do in Columbus and the surrounding areas.

There is a seemingly endless number of things to do in Central Ohio. If you want to have fun and explore without breaking the bank, here are a few free things to do in Columbus and the surrounding areas that you can try:

1. Take a stroll through Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens. Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens covers over 60 acres of land within The Ohio State University’s main campus in Columbus. Open year-round with no admission fee, the Arboretum & Learning Gardens are a great place to learn more about the trees and plants of the area. Don’t forget to check out the 12,000-square-foot green roof garden, which is open to the public during normal business hours.

2. Stop and smell the Park of Roses. Columbus is home to one of the largest public rose gardens in America, and with over 12,000 roses of more than 400 varieties, it’s absolutely stunning during the warmer months. There are also herb and perennial gardens and display beds of annual plantings. Open year-round, the park is free and open every day from dawn to dusk. Visit their website for a list of what will be in bloom during various times of the year.

3. Get down in Uptown Marysville. Marysville is only 30 miles outside of Columbus, and Team Marysville offers a lot of exciting free events during the summer. Their Summer Concert Series and Uptown Fridays are regular events and a fun chance to come out and kick back each weekend with the community. Dates for the 2016 schedule are already online.

4. Spend Sundays at the Columbus Museum of Art. The expansive Columbus Museum of Art houses many impressive collections, including nineteenth and early twentieth-century American and European works of art, folk art, glass, and photography. Sundays at the CMA are free, and if you are an active military member or family member, simply show your active-duty military personnel or military family I.D. at the admission desk for free entry any day of the week.

5. Find your artsy side at the Short North Gallery Hop. Every first Saturday of the month from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Short North Arts District, thousands of visitors flood High Street to celebrate art with new gallery exhibitions, street performers, special events, food, and drinks throughout the District.

6. Attend a festival or two. There are tons of festivals throughout the year all over the Central Ohio area. During the summer, you can find several happening each weekend. A few popular (and free!) festivals in the past have been ComFest, Jazz & Rib Fest, and the Columbus Arts Festival.

7. Explore the outdoors at Columbus Metro Parks. The Metro Parks system features 17 natural area parks with more than 200 miles of trails and over 27,000 acres of land in seven Central Ohio counties. Spot wildlife as you walk the trails, sit and relax outside, or attend a free naturalist-run nature program to learn more about Ohio environments.

8. See some Covered Bridges. Union County has five historic bridges all built in the late 1860s and 1870s, and four are still in use as a part of the county highway system. Map them out, and go on a self-guided drive to see a living part of history. There’s also a Covered Bridge Bluegrass Festival held every September that celebrates the bridges and their historical significance.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a good time, and with so many opportunities for free fun, you’ll always have things to do in Columbus and the Central Ohio region.

Image Source: Flickr/Always Shooting


Tamara Oakley is a hardworking real estate professional based in the Columbus, Ohio area. As a top Listing and Selling Agent at Coldwell Banker King Thompson and a 2015 recipient of the Columbus REALTORS®’ Twenty-Five Million Dollar Club Award, Tamara understands the importance of staying knowledgeable and informed about the ever-changing climate of real estate.

She is committed to continuous growth and stays up-to-date with real estate trends and new information so that she can provide superior service to her clients. That, in combination with her local expertise, have allowed her to become the highly-skilled agent that she is today.

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