The Ultimate Guide to Summer in Columbus

things to do in the summer in Columbus, Ohio

Summer has arrived and this is your Ultimate Guide to Summer fun. You’ll find where to go and what to do to enjoy the summer days in and around Columbus.

* This guide will be updated throughout the summer, so be sure to pin it and check back often.

*As always, be sure to check directly with the businesses and organizations listed to make sure the information listed here is current. Some of these posts were written before the pandemic, so things may have changed.

How to use this guide:

Click on the various tabs (Parks & Playgrounds, Free Activities, etc.) to take you to a new section. Each image leads to either a full guide and list of local spots you’ll want to hit, or to an article with details on a summer outing or activity for you or your kids. Click on each image to find more info. Happy Summer!

There are lots of fun ways to stay cool in the summer heat. We have a list of FREE splash pads in the area.


Chances are when you think of Ohio, beaches aren’t what come to mind. But, there are some great options!

Ohio beaches

Creeking is a great way to practice safe social distancing and cool down at the same time. So strap on some water shoes, bring a small net, and see what you can find around Columbus!

creeking in Columbus

The playgrounds on this list have shaded spots such as large trees, tent covers, and some with buildings nearby to pop in and cool off. 

shaded park

10 of the BEST parks to check out in Columbus!

Upper Arlington Spotlight Miller Park Playground

Use the Playground Finder in our directory to find a playground that fits your needs. There’s a map so she can see where the playground is located, a description and some pictures too.


The parks on this list involve some combination of nature and opportunities for creative/dramatic play. In short, these parks all spark imagination in ways that are slightly different from your typical playground. 

Central Ohio Parks That Spark Imagination

Rain can often leave playgrounds muddy. These 6 parks all offer an alternative surface besides mulch to keep everyone as clean as possible.

playground in Dublin

Get a glimpse of some pictures and insights when exploring these 4 great Metro Parks.

Columbus Metro Parks

One mom shares a rundown of her 8 favorite Metro Parks.

exploring metro parks

These outdoor spots in Delaware County are a perfect way to spend the day!

creeking in Columbus

Put a new spin on a normal hike by searching for treasures!

Explore the Metro Parks with geocaching!

This list is packed with free and cheap activities to do this summer in Columbus!!! There are so many options that it will be hard to decide what to do each day!

free things to do this summer

Watching a movie outdoors under the stars is a perfect way to spend a summer evening. This list is packed with movie nights and many of them are free.

Grab a blanket, some snacks and watch a movie from the trunk of your car under the stars.

drive-in theatres

Information about the Kids Bowl Free Program and a list of places in Columbus that are participating. 

Free Summer Activities

There are a whole lot of camp options to pick from!

camps this summer in Columbus

Check out the VBS programs happening this summer. They are organized by area of town so it is easy to find one near you.


Many communities offer more than just fireworks and much of the fun is FREE. You’ll find parades, bands, food trucks and activities. (Will be updated soon!)

fireworks in Columbus

A list of 20 family activities to give back to the community.

These theme ideas for the day of the week are lots of fun! (Think…Make it Monday, Wet and Wild Wednesday, etc.)

summer schedule

This zoo scavenger hunt will add a whole new layer of fun to a typical zoo trip.

zoo scavenger

This advice is best for those with a membership or tagging along on someone else’s. Why? You won’t see the whole zoo with this plan.


We have compiled a list of our favorite, family-friendly day trips from Columbus – all within a 2-hour drive from downtown.

day trips

This is an epic list for animal lovers filled with farms, sanctuaries, parks and animal encounters in Ohio.

Animals in Ohio

It can be overwhelming trying to plan your day trip or getaway so here are some Hocking Hills suggestions based on ages to help get you started!

hocking hills for families

At just over 30 miles away from Columbus, Lancaster is the perfect day trip for the whole family!


Here’s one mom’s 5 favorite things to do in Ohio that will get you out of Columbus and into far reaching corners of our amazing state. 

A comprehensive guide to Farmers’ Markets in the Columbus area!


 A handful of local farms with U-Pick strawberry patches.

U-Pick Strawberry Farms

Find out where to pick blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. (Hasn’t been updated for 2021 yet.)

u-pick berries

There are typically many rainy days and ones where it is too hot to play outside. Luckily, there’s an abundance of indoor play options with AC!


These busy bag ideas are geared towards the younger crowd and are the perfect entertainment for those times you need to keep your kiddos occupied indoors.  

Busy Bag Ideas for Indoor Play

If you are stuck inside and can’t find something to keep your toddler or preschooler occupied besides Paw Patrol, here are a few ideas that don’t require a lot of money or creativity.


This list of homemade fun ideas includes a recipe for playdough, finger paint, edible slime and more!

fun with playdough

Next time you have a precious date night on the horizon, consider changing it up with one of these options.


Sit outside and enjoy a delicious meal on a patio. Here are some great places to visit this summer.


We’ve got a list of places all around Columbus that make for a fun night. Hopefully, this will inspire our Columbus Moms to take a night off and enjoy some much-needed bonding with their mom pals!


A list of places in Powell that offer Happy Hour specials.

Powell Happy Hours

From tree houses to yurts, below is a list of the top glampgrounds in Ohio if you want to give the trend a try this summer. Here are some cool adults-only and fun kid-friendly options for the kids and for the kids-at-heart.


Designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas (DORA) allow for bars and restaurants to operate, have more seating outside, provide social distancing and permit patrons to walk around in specific areas with open containers of purchased alcohol. Lots of communities have these this summer!


Ice cream + summer = happiness. Here are a few favorite local shops that you must try before the end of the season!

Iocal ice cream shops

Columbus is home to several Mexican ice cream shops and these are three good ones to try a paleta (aka Mexican popsicle).

Mexican popsicle

We have put together a fantastic list of kid-friendly breweries and happy hours in Columbus. 

family-friendly brewery

There are lots of wonderful donut shops in Cbus.

sprinkle donut

One way moms keep going is by drinking coffee.  Here are some great coffee shops to try.

Columbus Coffee

Want to know a little trick that can be use to avoid cooking during the summer? Voila- it’s Freezer to Grill Recipes!


Here are 25 go-to summer recipes with some side dishes, desserts and cocktails thrown in to celebrate all the flavors summer has to offer.

Quick Summer Meals

Check out our June Events Guide for what’s happening this month and stay tuned for the July Guide.


Even though Columbus has so much to offer, we know it’s fun to get away and explore other areas. Take a look at our travel guides.

Are you looking for a family-friendly beach vacation within driving distance? Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on the Michigan coastline just might check all the boxes for you!

Sleeping Bear Dunes Vacation Empire Bluff Trail and Overlook

If you are a nature lover, consider driving to a city with a mountain view.

Road trip Gatlinburg

The Outer Banks is a wonderful family vacation destination!

Outer Banks Beach

Here’s one family’s “top five” things not to miss when visiting the Smokies.


Hilton Head is a top summer destination for Ohioans. Check out the top 5 list.

beach at Hilton Head

Here’s a list of places to go camping that are within 1.5 hours of Columbus.

campgrounds near Columbus

If you aren’t ready to take the trip of a lifetime, check out these more affordable alternatives.

trip of a lifetime

Are you looking for new places to visit that won’t break the bank? If you have a COSI membership you can visit several science museums around the country for FREE.

Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

We encourage you to explore all that the capital city has to offer by checking out the different Columbus neighborhoods and suburbs. Below you will find an extensive and detailed guide written by our team that highlights some of the best places to eat and things to do.

Columbus Suburbs

Landmarks, statues and art worth seeing in Columbus!

Capital Building

Did you enjoy this post? We have over 20 writers on our contributor team so we share a wide variety of real, honest, sometimes heartwarming stories about parenting. We have lots of resources on Columbus happenings, events and how to connect with other parents in the Central Ohio area. Be sure follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay up to date!


  1. I love the Columbus Mom’s blog and have told many of my momma friends about it! I especially love the blogs about fun things to do around Columbus. I’ve tried out many of the ideas, and it’s been so helpful. So thank you!

    • Thanks for the great feedback! We are so happy to hear that it has been a helpful resource and that you have shared about it with your friends. Hope you are having a fun summer!

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