Hotspots in Columbus, OH

Dock 580

Dock 580 is an historic hardware store in downtown Columbus that has been transformed into two separate urban venues, perfect for a wedding, big or small. Exposed brick and pipes, along with oversized windows and polished concrete floors give the perfect combination of grit and glam. The Venue is a large room with exposed brick and 30-foot ceilings. There’s plenty of room for tables and dancing, with several different ways to arrange the room. The Loft isn’t as versatile. It’s a two-story venue with dancing on the first floor and dining tables on the balcony. Dock 580 started out as a catering company, so the food is excellent. On-staff planners are ready to help you plan your wedding down to the last detail.

Ohio Craft Museum

Ohio is home to many skilled artists, and a large number of those artists display their work at the Ohio Craft Museum. The museum has five exhibits each year, and a permanent collection is on display all year long. On display you’ll find glass, pottery, metal work, paintings, cookware, jewelry, silk scarves, wood carvings and much more. Admission and parking are both free. The museum would be a great way to start a date night or an educational trip for older kids. Take care when you have younger kids in tow – much of what you’ll find on display is breakable!

Sky Zone Columbus

Imagine your kids’ reaction when you show them a sea of trampolines, surrounded by a wall of the same. Sky Zone is basically a huge room filled with trampolines so you can bounce non-stop off the floors and the walls! They do have different sections so smaller children can be separated from larger, more rambunctious jumpers. They do hold special events and private functions, so call ahead or check the website before you go. They have a few different money-saving packages, so ask about those before you pay to get in. If you think this sounds like something your family might like to do (and who wouldn’t?) like them on Facebook, where they have lots of money-saving opportunities.

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum

Cartoons are an art all their own. If you or a child you know can appreciate that fact, you’ll love the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, located on the campus of The Ohio State University. Billy Ireland was one of Ohio’s most famous cartoonists and was a regular in the Columbus Dispatch. The museum celebrates not only his work, but the entire genre, with displays, exhibits and collections available for viewing at no charge. Parking on campus can be tricky and costly, so be careful where you decide to leave your vehicle. The cheapest option is the South Campus Gateway garage, which is about a block away. Parking there is only $1 for a three-hour block.

Park of Roses

Take all day to stop and smell the roses at the Park of Roses, a section of Whetstone Park, just north of Columbus. The Park of Roses is 13 acres and is made up of three separate rose gardens. Stroll through the park and see just about every type of rose you can think of, as well as many you never knew existed. On your way into the park, stop at the kiosk and pick up a pamphlet. It’ll give you a map of the park, as well as information to help you identify different rose varieties. Go with a friend for a peaceful stroll, or take the kids to learn a little bit about nature.

Riffe Gallery

In the mood for some art, but museum admission isn’t in the budget? The Riffe Gallery displays the work of Ohio artists, as well as collections owned by the state’s galleries and museums. They’re located in the Verne Riffe Center for the Government and the Arts, located across the street from the Ohio Statehouse. Admission is free, but parking will probably cost you at least a few bucks. Park at the statehouse garage, or find a metered spot on the street. The center is closed on Mondays, but stays open through the weekend.

Fort Rapids

You don’t need perfect weather to have a great time at this water park! Fort Rapids, a massive water park built inside of a hotel resort, is a great way to spend a day with the family year ‘round, rain or shine. Visit for just a day, or book a room and stay for the weekend. The many slides, some of which actually travel outside of the building and back in again, along with the splash pools, lazy river and more, are enough to keep the whole family busy all day long. If you decide to dry off for a while, try out the old-time photos or go on a gold mining adventure. Check out the packages before you book – they offer several and they’re usually good deals.

Old Man’s Cave

Old Man’s Cave is gorgeous any time of year, but during the winter, it’s breathtaking. The mile-long gorge, which throughout the rest of the year is filled with waterfalls and rock formations, is transformed into a winter wonderland during the colder months of the year. The waterfalls become giant icicles, and the wind blows snow banks into works of art. Old Man’s Cave is located just 30 minutes south east of Columbus. Wear sturdy hiking shoes and tread carefully, especially during the winter when the trails often become solid ice. Keep in mind that ice usually takes an extra week or two to melt at Old Man’s Cave, since much of the area is tree-covered.

Black Creek Bistro

The food at Black Creek Bistro is farm fresh. The long-time owners own a farm just down the road, and grow most of the food served at the restaurant. Items not from their farm are purchased locally when possible as well, so the menu is always changing to accommodate what’s available. Basically, this means don’t get too attached to your favorite dish, because it may not be on the menu when you. Reservations are recommended at this popular Old Towne East eatery, especially during Happy Hour. Every Monday through Friday, 4-7 p.m., meal-sized appetizers are offered for just $5 each. Dogs are welcome on the patio.

Marcy’s Clayground

Get your hands dirty at Marcy’s Clayground. On the second Monday of each month, the pottery studio hosts a Mommy and Me Paint Pottery class, where themed pottery making follows storytime. Cost is $7, plus the cost of your project. Be sure to wear old clothes or bring a change of clothes. The program is designed for children between the ages of 2 and 5, although most 2-year-olds won’t make much more than a mess. A similar program is offered on Saturdays for working parents.