Labor Day is summer's last hurrah and Columbus, Ohio, is a worthwhile place to spend the holiday weekend, with plenty of activities for visitors and residents alike, entailing everything from vintage baseball and Greek cultural festivals to butterfly releases.
Although most locals spend the weekend by the pool or grilling with friends, others enjoy taking a stroll at the Botanical Garden or splashing around with their children at a water park. If you're in the Ohio state capital for Labor Day, don't miss out on some of the best local experiences during this holiday weekend.
Check Out Zoombezi Bay
Zoombezi Bay is a fun, family-friendly water park outing that pairs nicely with summer. Located just north of Columbus near Powell, the water park offers numerous attractions, such as group rafting with music, waterslides, and a heated water playground for little ones. Cabana rentals are also available for those seeking more relaxing, splash-free moments. Several eateries are on-site as well as a shop for any last-minute items you may have forgotten, like sunscreen or bathing suits. And this waterpark isn't just for kids; the Croctail Creek is an adults-only lazy river to float around with a refreshing beverage.
Zoombezi Bay is open Labor Day weekend, but in 2020, you must have a reservation to enter the park. The number of guests permitted to enter each day is limited, so be sure to get tickets early if you plan to visit on the busy holiday weekend.
Have Fun at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Open practically every day of the year, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a great spot for animal lovers to explore during Labor Day weekend. Bring comfortable shoes for your journey, as you'll be walking around to learn about the over 800 species of animals that reside at the zoo, ranging from a wolverine to a Madagascar tree boa to an American bison. It's quite an education for the whole family.
The most passionate learners can attend a summer family overnight with conservation educators as your guides. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium offers before hours and after-hours special programming, too. Contact the zoo if you are in need of a VIP cart due to any mobility issues.
In 2020, you need an advance reservation to visit the zoo due to limited capacities. Labor Day is an especially busy time to visit, so make sure to book your tickets early if you plan to visit on this popular weekend.
Experience Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
In the late summer, there are numerous things to do at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Check out the end-of-summer blooms as the plants begin to transition for the upcoming fall and special exhibitions. The Chihuly Collection isn't strictly botanical, but the glass art from renowned artist Dale Chihuly is still a wonder to see and complements the surrounding flora.
Many of the typical summertime activities are not being offered in 2020, including the popular Blooms and Butterflies program, the cooking demos, and Hot Glass Studio Nights. It's also required to book tickets in advance for a reserved time to enter the gardens, so get your tickets early to make sure you can enter at the time you want.
Celebrate at the Columbus Greek Festival
The Columbus Greek Festival is canceled in 2020.
Immerse yourself in culture, food, and entertainment at the Columbus Greek Festival, a Labor Day tradition for almost 50 years. The four-day celebration goes from Friday through Monday of Labor Day weekend at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, on Goodale Boulevard and High Street. It's worth a visit just to eat your way through the festival and taste traditional foods from Greece like dolmades, pastitsio, moussaka, keftedes, gyros, and baklava sundaes, or even try a cooking lesson.
You'll also find jewelry, clothing, and art objects imported straight from Greece, as well as packaged Greek food to buy. Folk dancers perform to the festival's bouzouki music in traditional dress and they'll even teach you how to dance. In addition, you can take a tour of the cathedral to learn about its impressive mosaics and marble.
Shop at the Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival
The Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival is canceled in 2020.
Running since 1983, the Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival is one of the top events of the weekend in the region. Located in Northam Park in Upper Arlington, Ohio, the blind-juried arts festival is about a 10-minute drive from Columbus. Roughly 200 local, regional, and national artists set up at the event to sell their wares, which are made from a diversity of media.
As you peruse the works of art, make sure to stop for a bite to eat from the many food vendors and check out performances from local musicians on the festival's two stages. This one-day event held on Labor Day itself often attracts over 25,000 people.
Hit Some Balls at the Ohio Cup Vintage Base Ball Festival
The Ohio Cup Vintage Base Ball Festival is canceled in 2020.
As summer fades away, get to Ohio Village in Columbus on the Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend for a different type of activity—one of the nation’s largest vintage baseball festivals. Over 30 teams from across the United States head to Ohio Village to play the sport in an 1860s-style; you'll have a chance to give playing a try with the local team, the Ohio Village Muffins. Proof of the team's dedication to the origins of the sport: they like to educate people that in the mid-19th-century U.S., “base ball” was two words.
Historic games, sports, and other kids' activities will be going on all day. Families can also dine on some items from food trucks and find drinks to purchase nearby. Bring a blanket and chairs to have a comfortable place to land.
See a Show at the Park of Roses Summer Concert Series
The Park of Roses Summer Concert Series is canceled in 2020.
Local musicians have been entertaining the public in the gazebo at Whetstone Park of Roses in Clintonville, an unofficial neighborhood in north Columbus, for over 60 years. The concerts are always free, thanks to the Civitan Club of North Columbus, the City of Columbus, and local sponsors.
Head to the park on the Sunday night of the holiday weekend for a fun end-of-summer show where you likely might find a free snow cone as well. If the weather doesn't work for an outdoor show, concerts are moved to the shelter house.