Free Things to Do


Brewery District

Operated by the Ohio Arts Council, this facility hosts shows highlighting Ohio artists, as well as the collections of the state's various museums and galleries. Located in the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts, across from the Statehouse. A recent exhibits have included shows of photography, fashions, sculpture and quilts.

Read more about Riffe Gallery →

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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Part of Ohio State University, the galleries play host to a diverse and changing roster of work from an international array of contemporary artists, emerging filmmakers and documentary producers. Performing arts troupes include dancers and musicians. A cafe and gift shop complete the experience and allow guests to take a little something of their experience home.

Read more about Wexner Center for the Arts →


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.

Read more about Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens →

Brewery District

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.

Read more about Thurber House →

Brewery District

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.

Read more about Topiary Garden →