From historic Civil War Parks to recently renovated recreational areas, Columbus has plenty of lush landscapes to escape the city. Guests can meander through trails that wind along creeks. Bikers, hikers, and horseback riders can enjoy fresh air and the outdoors. Bald eagles soar the skies and bison roam the open prairie range. Public parks in Columbus have all sorts of water activities to offer, from fishing and kayaking to boating and beyond.
1.Alum Creek Trail
Winding along a picturesque, tree-lined creek, the Alum Creek Trail offers a quiet respite from the worries of day to day life. Whether an avid runner, passionate biker, or a person who just wants a casual Sunday stroll, the paved trail accommodates all levels. The Alum Creek Trail crosses through lush greenery, bridges, and public parks. with bathrooms, water fountains, and other amenities available along the way. Pathways also give access to local shopping areas and restaurants to break up the journey. Signage guide guests through the well-maintained trail that runs from Westerville through Columbus to Groveport.
221 West Main Street, Westerville, Ohio
2.Ballantrae Community Park
Ballantrae Community Park gives a place for friends and family of all ages to enjoy a day of fun in the sun. A statue of dancing hares greets visitors at the entrance. The fountain splash pad below lets everyone cool off. Fountain sprays spring up and surprise children. Those looking to get wet should pack their bathing suits and towels. Located in Dublin, Ohio, the Ballantrae Community Park has free entrance, and the fountains stay open from 10 AM to 8 PM. Generally, the park remains in operation during warmer months between late May until mid-September.
6350 Woerner Temple Road, Dublin, Ohio, Phone: 614-410-4700
3.Battelle Darby Creek
Battelle Darby Creek takes visitors out on the open range to experience what Ohio must have looked like hundreds of years ago. Bison once populated the North American plains with numbers in the millions. While most of them have disappeared, the bison still roam at Battelle Darby Creek. The park contains 7,000 acres of forest, prairies, and wetlands and is also home to bison. The majestic animals roam freely in two gated pastures. Battelle Darby Creek opens April through September from 6:30 AM to 10 PM and October through March, 6:30 AM to 8 PM.
1775 Darby Creek Drive, Galloway, OH, Phone: 614-370-6254
4.Battelle Riverfront Park
Comprised of pathways, boardwalks, and small parks along the Scioto River, the Battelle Riverfront Park sits in downtown Columbus. The most notable of its attractions: the replica of the Santa Maria ship that Columbus sailed in 1492 when he first discovered the Americas. Tours of the ship reenact tales of their journey across the Atlantic to where they finally landed in the Caribbean. The pathway begins at Bicentennial Park and heads northbound to the North Bank Park. Along the way, the trail takes walkers through a series of parks. It also runs near the Civic Center Drive with a collection of 50 state flags.
25 Marconi Boulevard, Columbus, Ohio, Phone: 614-645-2489
The John W. Galbreath Bicentennial Park consists of a 4.66-acre grounds in downtown Columbus. This popular gathering area has a huge fountain park for people to play and cool off in during the summer months. A large promenade links the Battelle Riverfront Park with the Bicentennial Park. Walking along the stone pathway, visitors can find playgrounds, gardens, benches, and chess boards. The park also houses an enormous, $5 million permanent stage and pavilion that hosts outdoor live music and events. Named after John W. Galbreath, the park honors the Ohio philanthropist, builder, Kentucky Derby breeder, and owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1945-1985.
233 Civic Center Drive, Columbus, Ohio, Phone: 614-645-7995
6.Blacklick Woods Park
Blacklick Woods Parks covers a lush 643 acres flourishing with beech and maple forests, open fields, and swamp ponds. Visitors can explore the park located in Central Ohio for a chance to escape from city life. Golfers can tee off at the park’s on-premise golf course. Meanwhile, nature enthusiasts can spend the day taking in the beauty of its wildlife and range of tree species including red maple, shagbark, hickory, and dogwood shading the trails. Blacklick Woods stays open April through September from 6 AM to 10 PM as well as October through March from 6 AM to 8 PM.
6975 East Livingston Avenue, Reynoldsburg, OH, Phone: 614-861-8759
7.Chestnut Ridge Park
Those who love the great outdoors can explore Ohio’s picturesque Appalachians all year long at Chestnut Ridge Park. Located on Winchester Road in Carroll Ohio, Chestnut Ridge Metro Park consists of a ridge that soars up to 1,116 feet and stretches over 486 acres. The park stays open all year round from 6:30 AM to dark allowing visitors to capture the outdoor beauty offered by each season, from wintery white days to the reds and yellows of the fall. During the spring and summer months, a canopy of trees shades hikers as they explore the woodlands.
8445 Winchester Road Northwest, Carroll, OH, Phone: 614-208-4298
8.Columbus Park of Roses
Floral aromas sail through the air in the Columbus Park of Roses. Guests can come to relax (for free) and take in the beauty of manicured gardens showcasing over 400 varieties of roses. During the spring season, flowering trees and shrubs begin to blossom along with other springtime blooms like hellebores, daffodils, and tulips. In late May, the roses flourish with a display of over 12,000 flowers. The rose blossoms peak in late summer between June to August, but visitors can also enjoy colorful perennial and herb gardens. Rose hips in the winter are accented by wintery frosts and white snowfall.
3901 North High Street, Columbus, OH, Phone: 614-645-3300
9.Franklin Park Conservatory
Nature flourishes in all colors of the rainbow at the Franklin Park Conservatory. Rotating exhibitions showcase floral species as well as art collections. The gift shop contains floral inspired gifts and decor. The conservatory also hosts events and courses for all ages among the gardens. Past events have included Irish dance performances, Tai Chi, leaf casting workshops, nature classes, yoga, and cocktail parties. The conservatory often hosts culinary classes with frequent children’s cooking classes for “tiny chefs”. Those who live close by can become a member and enjoy monthly subscriptions and discounted entry to all of the various hosted activities.
1777 East Broad Street, Columbus OH, Phone: 614-715-8000
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Garden enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a visit to Gantz Park. This unique, non-profit organization sits next to a charming, historical farmhouse. During a visit, expert volunteers walk through the history of gardening over the years. Visitors enjoy learning about different horticultural styles of the past, today, and of the future. Guests can also wander their way through the Gantz Park labyrinth with its winding herbal maze of American Beeches and Sweet Bay Magnolias. Gantz Park is run by volunteers, and men and women of the community work together to share their passion for gardening and herbs with all who visit.
2255 Home Road, Grove City, OH, Phone: 614-277-3050
Along the Scioto River, Genoa Park spans the western bank area between Rich Street and Broad Street in Columbus. The Ohio city, named after Italian-explorer, Christopher Columbus, continues to honor the Italian explorer by naming this park after the city of Genoa in Italy. Visitors to Genoa Park can enjoy panoramic views of the city skyline. The park’s amphitheater hosts thousands of audience members for concerts and events. The Lucas Sullivant Statue overlooks the park in honor of the surveyor and American frontiersman. The Scioto Lounge Deer Sculptures recreate a local Native American legend: the first to arrive found deer hair in the adjacent river waters.
303 West Broad Street, Columbus, OH, Phone: 614-241-2226
Evidence of what the world looked like 17,000 years ago remain at Glacier Ridge. The park contains end moraine, glacial debris left behind. Visitors can admire the park’s wetlands while strolling along a boardwalk. Glacier Ridge also contains a 25-foot observation tower, perfect for viewing local birds and wildlife. Guests can enjoy a host of activities here including biking, horseback riding, an obstacle course, and disc golf in the warmer months. When the snow falls, Glacier Ridge provides a gorgeous setting for cross country skiing and enjoying the frosty air. The dog-friendly park also allows pets to join in for the fun.
9801 Hyland-Croy Road, Plain City, OH, Phone: 614-216-8859
13.Glen Echo Park
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Nestled between the north end of Fourth Street and Indianola Avenue, Glen Echo Park gives city dwellers of Columbus the chance to escape the urban hustle and bustle. Dense woodlands overlook a winding creek, and pedestrians can stroll on a pathway along the banks while admiring local wildlife. Altogether, the park spans 4.20 acres. It first opened in 1912, giving the city of Columbus a place to relax, picnic, enjoy a long walk, and go bird watching. Entrance into the park starts from Cliffside Drive. Visitors can also access the park from the service road at Fourth Street.
510 Cliffside Drive, Columbus, OH, Phone: 614-645-3300
Situated inside Columbus’ historic Victorian Village, Goodale Park hosts city festivals and events. Columbus’ first doctor, Lincoln Goodale, donated the park in 1851, and today his statue continues to greet guests who come to enjoy an afternoon of fresh air. During the Civil War, the historic park served as a staging area for Union Troops, referred to as Camp Jackson at the time. The park and surrounding areas have since become a hub for live music, arts, and entertainment. The free ComFest festival or “Party with a Purpose” takes place here every year.
Locals also enjoy gathering at the Short North neighborhood hangout just nearby.
120 West Goodale Street, Columbus, OH, Phone: 614-645-3300
15.Heritage Trail Park
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Columbus’ Heritage Trail Park winds through Hillard, Ohio. Here, a paved walking trail gives guests the opportunity to relax while taking in the scenery and fresh air. The park also contains a dog area for furry friends to play. Altogether, Heritage Trail Park contains 87-acres. The multi-purpose pathway begins in Old Hilliard off of the city’s Main Street and stretches over to Plain City. Bikers, walkers, hikers, and the like can enjoy the 6.1 mile trail converted from an abandoned right-of-way. The park contains a bridle trail as well. Visitors can also easily access the city’s nearby Homestead Metro Park.
7262 Hayden Run Road, Hilliard, OH, Phone: 614-216-8859
16.Highbanks Metro Park
Bald eagles soar the skies at Highbanks Metro Park. An enormous 100-foot cliff towers over the park where this majestic bird often nests and circles above. Below runs the Olentangy State Scenic River, and while walking through the park, visitors can stroll along its many tributaries and nearby ravines. Highbanks Metro Park contains 1,200 acres. The metropolitan park also houses two archaeological sites called the Orchard Mound and Muma Mound built by the Adena Native American Tribe. Another archaeological site sits nearby known as the Highbank Park Works where the Cole culture likely built the shallow ditch centuries ago.
9466 Columbus Pike, Lewis Center, OH, Phone: 614-906-3149
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City dwellers can quickly escape to the countryside at Homestead Park. With 44-acres altogether, the Hilliard, Ohio park provides a place to enjoy the quiet and fresh air. Visitors can get their hearts pumping while playing sports on the basketball and volleyball courts as well as exercise equipment. Hikers, bikers, and horseback riders will find two trail options including the 6.1-mile Heritage Rail Trail. Along the way, they’ll find shelters, covered bridges, barns, and a train station as well as a 2.5-acre fishing pond. The pet-friendly park also allows guests to bring their leashed dogs along.
4675 Cosgray Road, Hilliard, OH, Phone: 614-216-8859
18.Prairie Oaks Park
Prairie Oaks Park reminds visitors of what the country looked like long before settlers came to North America. The metro park, located in West Jefferson, Ohio, captures the quintessential “out on the open range” experience. Grasslands and prairies flourish across 500 acres of land. The city restored the prairies by using seeds native to the Darby Plain. Prairie Oaks Park contains both the Big Darby State and National Scene River. The idyllic atmosphere provides the perfect setting for walking and hiking. In addition, visitors can enjoy fishing and boating in one of several of the park’s lakes.
3225 Plain City Georgesville Road Northeast, West Jefferson, OH, Phone: 614-208-4321
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19.Rocky Fork Park
Rocky Fork Park has over three miles of walking trails that extend through forests and fields. Furry friends who need some exercise and socializing can roam free in one of the dog parks. Dogs can also head out on the off-leash trail. Families can pack a lunch for an afternoon of picnicking at the park’s large, shaded pavilion area. Horseback riders can head out on the bridle trails. Large wooden chairs give guests a place to sit, relax, and take in the surrounding scenery and open fields. Rocky Fork Park sits on Walnut Street in Westerville, Ohio.
28728 Wolf Picnic Area Dr, Bay Village, OH 44140, Phone: 216-635-3200
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As one of Columbus’ oldest parks (second to Goodale Park), Schiller Park first opened in April of 1867 for the price of $15,000. Early settlers of the region first named the park Stewart’s Grove, but it later received a new name to honor the German poet, Friedrich von Schiller. Today, his statue overlooks guests in the center of the grounds. Interestingly, during World War I, the park received a temporary new name of Washington Park. Schiller contains 23.45 acres altogether where visitors can enjoy recreational activities like basketball, picnic areas, softball fields, walking trails, and playgrounds.
1069 Jaeger Street, Columbus, OH, Phone: 614-443-3699
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21.Scioto Audubon Metro Park
This former industrial area of Columbus has become a place for the community to escape the streets. Ohio Audubon and Columbus Metro Parks teamed up to build a green oasis in the city. In the Scioto Audubon Metro Park, wildlife and birds flourish. Guests can meander throughout the 120-acre park to enjoy some fresh air. The lush landscape offers plenty of outdoor activities. Bikers can come to explore the trails. The metro park also has boating, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. Sporty guests can break a sweat rock climbing, playing on an obstacle course, or sledding in the winter months.
400 West Whittier Street, Columbus, OH, Phone: 614-202-5197
22.Scioto Grove Metro Park
The 620-acre Scioto Grove Metro Park contains idyllic trails winding along soaring bluffs and lush forests. From peaks, guests can enjoy views of the Scioto River below. The waters also give the opportunity for sports like kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. Guests can admire the local wildlife from lookout points. Visitors can spend the afternoon enjoying a picnic, going for a walk along the trails, or grilling a barbeque. The park welcomes dogs on leashes. Scioto Grove Metro Park stays open from 6:30 AM to 10 PM between April and September and 6:30 AM to 8 PM between October through March.
5172 Jackson Pike, Grove City, OH, Phone: 614-949-1078
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23.Scioto Mile Promenade
The Scioto Mile Promenade gives visitors a chance to enjoy views of the Columbus’ Scioto River. The paved promenade runs along the river banks starting from Battelle Riverfront Park and Bicentennial Park along Civic Center Drive. Along the way, guests can relax on one of the shaded swings, sit on a park bench, or play a little chess. Scioto Mile Promenade also houses colorful, scented gardens. The park also contains a historic carved limestone balustrade first built as a floodwall in 1920, and today the city has fully restored the handrail. Bronze deer sculptures also pop up along the walkway.
233 Civic Center Drive, Columbus, OH, Phone: 614-645-3800
24.Sharon Woods Park
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Whether looking to sled in a winter wonderland or explore green forests of large oak, hickory, and beech trees, Sharon Woods Park gives visitors a chance to enjoy the great outdoors all year long. Sharon Woods Park operates between 6:30 AM to 10 PM from April through September. During the winter months, the park opens between 6:30 AM to 8 PM from October through March. The 761-acre park has lush field and an 11-acre lake. Paddling ponds give frogs and other amphibians a place to play and swim. Park activities available include biking, fishing, sledding, and picnicking.
6911 Cleveland Avenue, Westerville, OH, Phone: 614-315-5520
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25.Three Creeks Park
Located in Groveport, Ohio, Three Creeks Park is a bird watcher’s dream. All sorts of fowl flock here including owls and great blue herons as well as over 100 species of birds. The park received its name because the Alum, Big Walnut, and Blacklick creeks converge here. Visitors can also admire other wildlife including beaver, mink, coyote, and deer. Three Creeks Park operates all year from April through September, 6:30 AM to 10 PM, and October through March, 6:30 AM to 8 PM. Park activities include biking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and picnicking. The pet-friendly park also allows leashed dogs.
3860 Bixby Road, Groveport, OH, Phone: 614-208-2874
25 Best Columbus Parks
- Alum Creek Trail, Photo: photopixel/stock.adobe.com
- Ballantrae Community Park, Photo: bucknut4pic/stock.adobe.com
- Battelle Darby Creek, Photo: Richard/stock.adobe.com
- Battelle Riverfront Park, Photo: spiritofamerica/stock.adobe.com
- Bicentennial Park, Photo: aceshot/stock.adobe.com
- Blacklick Woods Park, Photo: robertuzhbt89/stock.adobe.com
- Chestnut Ridge Park, Photo: ondreicka/stock.adobe.com
- Columbus Park of Roses, Photo: bucknut4pic/stock.adobe.com
- Franklin Park Conservatory, Photo: produck/stock.adobe.com
- Gantz Park, Photo: zephyr_p/stock.adobe.com
- Genoa Park, Photo: bravissimos/stock.adobe.com
- Glacier Ridge, Photo: Niizeki/stock.adobe.com
- Glen Echo Park, Photo: Phongphan Supphakank/stock.adobe.com
- Goodale Park, Photo: aceshot/stock.adobe.com
- Heritage Trail Park, Photo: Alena Stalmashonak/stock.adobe.com
- Highbanks Metro Park, Photo: Pongsak/stock.adobe.com
- Homestead Park, Photo: Baan Taksin Studio/stock.adobe.com
- Prairie Oaks Park, Photo: Richard/stock.adobe.com
- Rocky Fork Park, Photo: tonktiti/stock.adobe.com
- Schiller Park, Photo: bucknut4pic/stock.adobe.com
- Scioto Audubon Metro Park, Photo: blackday/stock.adobe.com
- Scioto Grove Metro Park, Photo: evannovostro/stock.adobe.com
- Scioto Mile Promenade, Photo: bucknut4pic/stock.adobe.com
- Sharon Woods Park, Photo: Paul Lemke/stock.adobe.com
- Three Creeks Park, Photo: Venera/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Sherman Cahal/stock.adobe.com