5 Free Things to Do in Columbus

Save big and have fun in Columbus anytime of the year

Ohio State Capitol Building
••• William Manning / Getty Images

Part of Columbus' charm is its affordability. There are activities and events for every budget and every resident. Most of the free things to do in Columbus also add the added bonus of learning more about this great city. These hot spots are great for any time of the year.

  • 01 of 05
    Entrance to the Columbus Metropolitan Library
    ••• Niagara66/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

    Ohio's libraries are consistently ranked among the top library systems in the country. The Columbus Metropolitan library system is number one in the country with Cuyahoga and Cincinnati/Hamilton County systems listed in the top ten.

    What makes our local libraries the best is they offer much more than just books. Storytime activities and family day events draw big crowds. Other big draws include special summer concerts, extensive art collections and stellar research resources for businesses, genealogy, and electronics. And about those books—not only is the selection extensive, the libraries in the area have robust e-books selections and eReader programs where patrons can learn the latest in gadgets.

    Check out 7 Romantic Outdoor Places in Columbus

  • 02 of 05

    Hike the thousands of trails in Central Ohio with trained guides or alone using a map and a trusty compass as your guide. Some hikes are designed with fitness in mind, while others are designed to show off nature.

    The hikes are not the only programming offered by Metro Parks. Programming for kids, homeschoolers, bird lovers, and more are offered weekly, most with no cost involved.

  • 03 of 05
    Ohio State Capitol Building
    ••• William Manning / Getty Images

    Free guided tours are offered Monday through Friday on the hour from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays from noon until 3 p.m. Tours depart from the Map Room easily accessible from the Third Street entrance. Tours are approximately 45 minutes in length.

  • 04 of 05

    Festival time is almost all year in this city. Great food, music and more!

    May

    June

    • Park Street Festival
    • Creekside Blues and Jazz Festival
    • Pride Festival
    • ComFest Community Festival

    July

    • Jazz and Rib Fest in Columbus
    • Lancaster Festival
    • North Market Food & Ohio Wine Festival

    August

    • Festival Latino
    • 14th Annual Heritage Concert Series at King Arts Complex
    • Grove City's Balloons & Tunes

    September

    • Greek Festival
    • Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival
    • Hot Times Festival

    October

    • Columbus Italian Festival
    • Circleville Pumpkin Show
    • Gahanna Creepside Festival
    • Fall Harvest Festival

    November

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Art lovers and people watchers unite! There are several "hops" in the area including these three favorites:

    Grandview Hop

    The last Saturday of each month from April through November
    5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

    Short North Gallery Hop

    The first Saturday of the month
    4 p.m. to 10 p.m.