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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

Somerset Fourth of July Celebration

The Somerset Fourth of July Celebration in Perry County is a great small town salute to our country’s independence. The celebration takes place every year on the first Saturday in July. The party starts well before lunch with a car and antique tractor show at 10 a.m. and a parade through the downtown area at 11. These activities are followed by games, live entertainment, vendors, food and more until about 10 p.m., when the fireworks start. There’s usually one headlining performer that gives a concert both before and after the firework display, so you can easily party until midnight in downtown Somerset.

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.

Lancaster Festival

The Lancaster Festival is 10 days of fun and excitement throughout Lancaster. They hold car shows and small concerts downtown, an art walk, concerts at local churches, wine tastings, a children’s fair at the fairgrounds and much more. The crown jewel of the festival is two concerts (one held each weekend) at the outside stage at OUL. Each concert usually costs $15 - $40 to get in, though the cost varies depending on where you want to sit and how early you buy your tickets. The concerts are usually artists that were popular a few years ago, so it’s a good chance to see someone you always wanted to see but never got to. The concerts are followed by pretty big firework shows, so bring a blanket and a picnic and plan to stay while.