Discover the best long weekend activities in Columbus while catching your favorite sport

Disclaimer: This post is part of a partnership with the Major Sports Commission of Columbus. Photos and opinions are our own.

Are you planning a trip to Columbus, Ohio to cheer on your favorite team or attend a sporting event with your family? While sports may be the main reason for your visit, there are plenty of other family activities to enjoy during your long weekend in this vibrant city. From exploring parks and outdoor attractions to enjoying great local restaurants, Columbus has something to offer for everyone. We highlight some of the best family activities to get the most out of your trip to Columbus.

FIRST, check out our list of where to eat and drink before the game for lots of ideas near downtown for lunch, dinner and drink AND where to stay, eat and drink during a sports-focused weekend.

Consistently voted one of the best zoos in the country, the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium is an expansive property with animals and habitats from around the world. Take a boat ride in the Congo, walk among kangaroos in the Outback, watch polar bears swim in the Arctic, feed giraffes in the heart of Africa. Caught in a rainstorm? Go to the reptile house or say hello to the manatees in the aquarium.

The Columbus Science Museum is a longtime favorite for kids of all ages. Centrally located on the west bank of the Scioto River, it includes exhibits and hands-on experiments, dinosaurs, and a planetarium. Check out the current special show Tutankhamun: his tomb and his treasures. If the weather is nice, take a stroll along Dorrian Green or along the riverside!

Columbus Library’s main downtown branch is a beautiful Beaux-Arts style funded by Andrew Carnegie and built in 1903. Visit the children’s section for books and activities, explore the latest exhibit in the Carnegie Gallery, and see Aminah Robinson’s mural. If the weather is nice, visit the new Kaufman Square behind the library and stroll to the Topiary Garden. Find the perfect vantage point to view hedgerows cultivated to resemble Georges Seurat’s painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of LaGrande Jatte.”

The world-class Columbus Museum of Art hosts rotating exhibitions ranging from contemporary to classic. The whole family will marvel at the artwork, unique fixtures and special features. Tour the first floors of the JPMorgan Chase Center for Creativity, with hands-on activities and exhibits that spark creativity for younger crowds. Afterwards, lunch at the Schokko cafeteria.

Franklin Park Conservatory offers it all! Stroll through the indoor exhibits and greenhouses, watch the glassblowing studio artists at work, play outside in the children’s garden at this popular stop.

The newest subway park is being built from an old quarry. There are already beautiful waterfalls, ponds, trails and playgrounds, with more activities such as kayaking and a Via Ferrata coming soon.

This centerpiece of the historic German village features walking paths, a playground, sculptures and a pond. Stay in the summer to see a free performance in the park at the Teatre d’Actors de Colom (May-September).

With beautiful views of the city skyline, this park is home to downtown Audubon and includes playgrounds, a climbing wall, trails, and lots of bird watching.

A favorite metro park north of the city, Highbanks is popular for its wooded trails, river views, nature center, bird watching and bike paths.

One of the region’s original metro parks, Sharon Woods offers a variety of trails around lakes, woods, and meadows.

Visit some of the most iconic sights on Ohio State’s campus, including the crisscrossing paths of the Oval. Stop by the Ohio Union or the magnificent Thompson Library. Walk down the hill to the shoe and have your picture taken in front of the domed entrance.

Go to the bike paths

Have you brought your bikes to Columbus? The city has a constantly growing network of bike paths. Try to hit:

  • Olentangy route: The Olentangy Trail follows the Olentangy River (runs roughly parallel to US-315). There are multiple entry points. Head north near Worthington and ride south past Antrim Park, Clintonville, Old North, Ohio State campus, Harrison West, downtown Columbus along the Scioto Mile, the south past Scioto Audubon Metro Park.
  • Alum Creek Trail: A broad corridor running along the east side of the city that stretches from Westerville to Three Creeks Metro Park
  • Heritage railway route: the Heritage Rail Trail runs northwest from Old Hilliard and passes through two metro parks

You’ll find plenty of dining and drinking options near the convention center and Arena District. Find out more in Where to eat and drink before the match. But if you want to venture further afield, here are some tasty discoveries!

Located in a historic fire station, this family-friendly brewery offers easy-drinking beers, great German food, and a great beer garden.

An Austin-based chain that has been making its way into the Columbus market, offering rich salsas and cheeses, creative tacos and margaritas. Find a location near Polaris and soon one in Dublin.

Adjacent to East Market is Columbus Brewing Company’s new Beer Hall, a heavily renovated space with 24 beer taps, cocktails and a creative menu.

Everyone will find something to love at the new East Market, built in a former barn in the historic Trolley District. It’s near the Franklin Park Conservatory and has a collection of vendors, from pizza and falafel to Korean and New Orleans favorites to coffee to nuts and snacks.

Follow your nose for the inviting smoky smells of Hank’s, a family outpost in Clintonville serving up ribs, smoked chicken, charcuterie and more.

The long-standing Jack & Benny’s is located a couple of minutes north on Ohio State. Grab a booth and check out the Buckeye paraphernalia while you order pancakes, huevos rancheros, and giant Gutbusters.

Chef Avishar Barua (who appeared in season 18 of upper head), opened this daytime cafe in Old Worthington to serve great coffee and creative versions of breakfast sandwiches, fried rice, lamb koti rolls, and more delicious treats.

Stop by Subbourbon in Linworth (between Dublin and Worthington) for Southern classics like fried chicken, grits, okra and pimento cheese, all paired with a solid whiskey list.

Weenie Wonder has two locations, one in Easton and one in Dublin’s Bridge Park, serving up hot dogs, milkshakes, tater tots and more retro snacks. Both locations are connected to PINS Mechanical Co. and 16-Bit Bar + Arcade, which means they’re great fun for all ages.

This neighborhood restaurant in Grandview will have you questioning what’s better: freshly made donuts or hearty dining room fare, from biscuits and gravy to towering burgers.

This large brewery and bar in a renovated Milo-Grogan warehouse serves a full food menu. Take the time to check out all the Ohio themed paraphernalia, including a real airplane!

If you want to get out of downtown Columbus, there are many neighborhoods within easy driving distance. Here you will find shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and more local fun.


West of the river from Victorian Village, Grandview is a popular residential location. Stroll down Grandview Avenue for everything from shops and restaurants to wine bars and vintage movie theaters.


Historic Old Worthington offers the charm of a New England village. Grab coffee or pastries from the local cafes, relax on the Village Green, visit one of the many shops in the district and linger long enough for dinner and a drink.


Hilliard’s Main Street has been reinventing itself in recent years, most notably with the addition of the Center Street Market with a brewery and various vendors. Check out the other bars, diners, shops and beer gardens.


Start in historic Dublin to find a collection of shops and cafes along the city’s charming streets, then cross the river on the Dublin Link Bridge (the world’s longest single-tower S-shaped suspension bridge) to Bridge Park , a modern neighborhood with a lot of bars, restaurants, hotels and entertainment options.

Don’t forget our list of where to eat and drink before the game for lots of ideas near downtown for lunch, dinner and drink AND where to stay, eat and drink during a sports-focused weekend.

Disclaimer: This post is part of a partnership with the Major Sports Commission of Columbus. Photos and opinions are our own.

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