In our Midwest winters, we do get a handful of days that make me want to throw my boots and a jacket on and head outdoors. Then there are the rest of them: cold, blustery, and mainly downright willful to keep me and The Kid inside all day. Once we’ve tired of watching Netflix and playing video games (yes, I’m terrible at them but they’re still fun!), we want to get out of the house and enjoy fun, indoor activities. Activities that keep both our health up and minds sharp. What are the best spots for indoor Columbus, Ohio activities? Here’s our top picks.
Truth? No matter what the weather, when we visit Columbus, COSI is always on our short list. The science center is filled with three stories of educational fun – including a high wire unicycle that my teen daughter was brave enough to try out on our last visit. My favorite areas have to be Progress, a glimpse into eras past and packed with interactive exhibits and Ocean where kids (and adults) can learn all about the properties of water.
If you do feel like bundling up for a few minutes, throw on your coats and head outside to Big Science Park and lift a full-size car in the air using only your strength and the power of science. That’ll get your blood flowing and warm you up!
The Ohio Statehouse
Sure, history class can be a snooze fest, but learning through interactive displays at The Ohio Statehouse is completely the opposite. The museum has fun exhibits that let the kiddos really think about how Ohio government is run and encourages them to try to solve a debt crisis or perform a Governor speech. During regular hours, you can also mosey around most of the building and, if your state representative is in town and in office, you have a chance to say hello as well.
Again, another place we’ll visit no matter what the weather – North Market. The no frills foodie haven is right in the heart of Downtown Columbus at the Short North and filled with so many restaurants and foodie delights we have a hard time making up our minds what to eat first. Out of the 35 vendors, we have to go with Omega Artisan Bakery for its massive Cinnamon Rolls, Pistacia Vera for some of the best macarons we’ve ever tried, and Katzinger’s Little Deli for traditional sandwiches.
Parking can be a little bananas, especially on the weekends, but the market does have dedicated pay parking to help. If you arrive at market opening there’s usually some metered parking around as well which is more cost effective.
Columbus Museum of Art
As a mom with a teen that is passionate about art, we can never visit the Ohio capitol without stopping at Columbus Museum of Art. The museum itself it not over-sized so small kids won’t poop out mid-visit – awesome for parents that want to check out pieces from George Bellows, Mary Shaffer, or Pablo Picasso.
For the kiddos, however, a visit to CMOA is not complete without a visit to Wonder Room and Big Idea Gallery. These two places are THE spots in the museum that allows them to explore art through fun, hands-on experiences. Kids can build a cardboard tree, play dress up, or even climb in a tree house. My teen loves Big Idea Gallery for its creative prompts and open-ended question boards. The idea is to let all guests channel their inner artists and create answers that are never wrong. Now, that’s the right idea.
Franklin Park Conservatory
Franklin Park Conservatory is the place to mosey in Downtown Columbus. In all reality, the botanical haven was built that way to allow folks to take in the small, as well as obvious, decor and landscape. Each indoor garden has its own theme and feel (and temperature!) to keep the plants and flowers happy. Its art incorporation is right up my teen daughter’s alley. You’ll spy more than one Dale Chihuly piece in both the gardens and classrooms for inspiration. To get your creativity flowing, the Glassblowing Hot Shop lets visitors see how it’s done.
Anthony Thomas Chocolates
Where can you head to score a 235-pound peanut butter and chocolate Buckeye? Anthony Thomas Chocolates, of course! Just walking into the store area of Anthony Thomas Chocolates is heavenly, but there’s a kicker, too. The chocolatier gives daily tours of its factory as well. The small tour fee is given back in a coupon towards the purchase of its chocolate products so it’s a win-win situation.
Where’s your go-to place in Columbus, Ohio, when the weather turns cold? Please let me know in the comment section below!
Disclosure: I was given complimentary tickets for many of the these attractions thanks to Experience Columbus. All opinions and photos are site property!