Free Activities in Columbus, OH
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.
Buried deep within the hustle and bustle of the campus of The Ohio State University is a beautiful garden oasis. The Chadwick Arboretum is a green reserve in the middle of campus, dedicated to learning and educating about Ohio’s native plants. Come for a picnic or bring the kids to learn about native plant species. They’re open seven days a week, from sun up to sun down. Be sure to stop by the labyrinth, one of the garden’s most popular attractions. It’s fun to look at, but don’t attempt it if you’re on a schedule. Rumor has it the labyrinth takes a minimum of 20 minutes to complete.
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!
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.
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.