Best Attractions & Activities

With all of the things to do and see in a city, deciding how to spend your time can be quite an agonizing decision. 10best has narrowed all of the available attractions in Columbus to a list of the most appealing and reputable, to aide in your decision making. You can rest easy knowing that any choice you make from our list is sure to please.


Upper Arlington

More than 600 species, including Humboldt penguins and okapi, inhabit these 100 acres along the banks of the Scioto River. Well known for its successful gorilla breeding program and for its extensive reptile collection, it also has aquarium exhibits, one called Manatee Coast was among the first sea cow exhibits outside Florida.

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Located three miles outside the city center, this horticultural landmark originally opened to the public in 1895 and now boasts 90 acres of outdoor green space, 400 plant species, 100 butterfly species, 800 feet of model railroad track, 7,000 panes of glass, a rain forest section, a replica of the Himalayas, a water garden, bonsai courtyard and an amazing orchid collection. A visit here is a delight in any season, as a walk on the carriage paths opens up vistas of color and form unique to each.

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Ohio Statehouse

Completed in 1861, this columned Greek revival-style building and its surroundings of Capitol Square is considered to be one of the most significant architectural accomplishments of the early republic. It features exquisite decor with marble floors, statues and paintings. The magnificent central staircase is offset by murals and a breathtaking stained-glass skylight in the Atrium, and the Map Room and Salmon P. Chase Education Center attract thousands of visitors each year.

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Center of Science and Industry (COSI)

Aptly billed as "The Fascination Destination," this 300,000 square-foot center offers changing exhibits such as a gravity-defying unicycle visitors can ride across the three-story atrium. Interactive, hands-on exhibits spotlight the ocean, life sciences and archaeology. Be sure to catch a show at the John Glenn Extreme Screen Movie Theater. You'll be wowed by the visual detail of special films on an eye-popping 83 feet wide and 7-stories tall screen.

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Brewery District
Thurber House

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this is the home of author James Thurber during his collegiate years, and the setting of many of his most famous short stories. Take a self-guided tour of the first two floors and learn about Thurber's family and the inspiration for much of his work. Next door is Thurber Center, a conference facility hosting visiting authors and writing programs, and a gallery of book-related artwork. The center is staffed by volunteers on weekends, so they advise you to call ahead on Sat-Sun.

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Brewery District
Columbus Museum of Art

Collections in the museum range from French Impressionists to American Modernists and other late 19th- and early 20th-c American and European modern art, including major works by Monet, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Hopper and O'Keeffe. Changing exhibits include photography, textiles, folk art sculpture and an interactive "I-Spy" show that helps all ages learn about and interpret the featured art. Derby Court and the Sculpture Garden provide places to relax and eat lunch.

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Kelton House Museum and Garden

This charming Victorian-era house, which was built in 1852, now showcases 19th century life in Columbus. Once an important stop on the Underground Railroad, as slaves could stay here and then cross the Erie to Canada and freedom. The home, run by the Junior League, is surrounded by well-tended gardens. Tours for groups of six or more are available during the week, call for an appointment.

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Brewery District
Topiary Garden

This unique exhibit is a detailed topiary re-creation of Georges Seurat's famous "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." It is the only existing topiary interpretation of a painting. James Mason, who teaches sculpture in Columbus, designed and executed the landscape, which consists of boats, dogs, a pond, trees, and people (some 12 feet tall). The painting is nearby in order to make the comparison.

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Brewery District
Santa Maria

To commemorate the 500th anniversary in 1992 of Christopher Columbus' voyage to the New World, city groups and businesses teamed up to moor an authentic, museum-quality replica of the Santa Maria on the banks of the Scioto River. The 77-foot ship, based upon plans from historical archives, hosts tours and overnight camps that allow kids of all ages work in teams to learn how to \"survive\" as 15th century sailors, load cargo, make rope and grommets, climb aloft, map and navigation tasks and work at ship maintenance as needed. A true test of skill with historical accuracy!

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North Market

Thirty or more merchants set up stands and sell everything from pasta and sauces, produce, flowers, Indian groceries, gift baskets, cookware and coffee. At Gatterdam Eggs, patrons choose their own and pay on the honor system, a tradition since 1916. Try fresh seafood from The Fish Guys or a sandwich from Barry's Deli and enjoy your meal on nearby picnic tables. Grab something sweet from Mozart's Bakery for dessert.

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