Staycation : Enjoy Columbus, Ohio on a Budget

Columbus Staycation Ideas Budget


If you’re looking to spend your time in Columbus, Ohio this summer as a staycation then you will want to check out this list of things to do.  I am amazed at how many free and inexpensive things there are to do around Central Ohio.  Whether you want an adventure for the kids, or want to catch a great concert, this list has something for you to enjoy Columbus on a budget.

Make sure to check back tomorrow, where I’ll have a list of staycation ideas for cities all over the United States!

FREE Staycation Ideas for Columbus


Tour the Ohio Statehouse

Take a free guided 45-minute tour of the Ohio Statehouse.  Tours are available every day of the week.

German Village Book Loft

German Village (Book Loft)

Visit one of the nation’s largest independent book stores.  The Book Loft of German Village is located just a few blocks from the State Capitol building.  There are 32 rooms of Bargain Books to explore.


Metro Parks

Visit any number of Metro Parks locations around Central Ohio.  Most are open sunrise to sunset and offer acres of fun for the family.  Take a picnic lunch and enjoy the great outdoors.

Scioto Mile Fountain

The Scioto Mile Fountain

Take a trip down to Columbus with your family and enjoy the Scioto Mile Fountain.  It’s 15,000 feet of water fun!  In addition to the fun, there are events for the kids hosted all summer long.  You can find a list of Scioto Mile events here.


Longaberger Basket Factory

Enjoy a FREE tour at Longaberger.  This one hour tour showcases their Basketmaking floor.  You’ll get to see firsthand how they create the Longaberger basket.  Tours are offered twice daily on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  You must call 740.322.5588 to schedule your tour.

Rhythmn on the River

Rhythm on the River

Enjoy a FREE performance at Bicentennial Park this summer.  Many events are already planned, and each concert is free!  For a list of Rhythm on the River events head over here.

Columbus Commons 

The Columbus Commons also hosts FREE music all summer long!  You can find a full list of music entertainment options on Columbus Bicentennial Pavilion at Columbus Commons here.

Farmers Market Columbus

Farmer’s Market

There are a number of Farmer’s Markets in and around Columbus.  Enjoy fresh produce and from local growers.  You can find an extensive list of 2013 Farmers Markets here from Columbus Underground.


Inexpensive Staycation Ideas for Columbus

Cinemark Movies 12

For only $1.50 per person enjoy a movie!  This is a perfect idea for a rainy or hot summer day!

Franklin Park Conservatory

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Visit the gardens or take a class at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.  The cost is $6 for children 2 – 17 or $11 per adult.

The Columbus Zoo

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo is one of the top Zoos in the United States.  Whether you’re looking to spend the day with the monkeys or the polar bears, you’ll find something for everyone. The zoo is very family friendly, and even allows you to bring your own lunch or dinner on site to enjoy.  Many picnic tables are available throughout the zoo.  Admission is $9.99 for children 2 – 9, $14.99 for ages 10 – 59 and $10.99 for those 60 or older.

Ohio State Fair

Ohio State Fair

The Ohio State Fair is the place to be at the end of July.  Children under 5 are free and adults are $10.  Once you’re in the fair, you can enjoy the animals and other exhibits without spending any additional money.  Pack a lunch to avoid the high food costs, that is unless you need your Elephant ear for the year.

anthony thomas

Anthony Thomas Thomas Factory Tour

Who doesn’t love chocolate?!  Take the family to visit the Anthony Thomas Candy Factory in Hilliard, Ohio.  Tours of the factory are open to the public every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 to 2:30- no appointment is necessary.  Admission fees are $1 for ages 3-18 and $2 for adults (kids 2 and under ger in free).  But no worries- that admission fee can be used toward a purchase in the factory store at the end of your tour.  The tour last about 45 min as you walk along a windowed catwalk above the factory floor.  You will be impressed with how much of the process is still done by hand.  And to top off the tour- everyone receives a Free candy Buckeye at the end.  O-H, I-O!  This tour is definitely a must for kids of all ages!  See more details about the tours and for directions to the factory on the Anthony Thomas website. (Thanks, Mission: To Save!)

Whistle Stop

The American Whistle Corporation is the only manufacturer of metal whistles in the United States and provides whistles for the Super Bowl and Boy Scouts of America. Visit their factory in Worthington, Ohio for a fun and informative 45 min tour.  Tours are privately scheduled for groups of 15 or more during the week- Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9:00 am & 5:00 pm If you do not have 15 in your group, you will be added to another tour group. The cost is only $4 per person.  Which includes a Free whistle at the end.  Also, don’t forget to bring a few extra dollars to purchase lanyards and rubber cover “accessories” for your whistle. See more details about the tours and for directions on the American Whistle Corporation website.  (Thanks, Mission: To Save!)

Clippers Game

Clippers Game

Go out to the ball game!  Enjoy a Clippers Minor League Baseball Game!  Tickets start at only $3 for seniors and $6 for adults.  Visit a game during the dime a dog night and save on dinner too!

Santa Maria Columbus

Santa Maria

Visit  the Santa maria and take a tour to discover what it took for Columbus and his explorers to set out on their mission. You will experience how they lived, interacted and even the tools they used.  Adults are $5 and children are only $3.50.  (Children under 5 are free.)


A Larger Budget Staycation Ideas

Fort Rapids

Fort Rapids

If you find you have a larger budget, you can visit the Fort Rapids Indoor Water Park.  Prices start at $21.95 per person for a full day pass.  The day passes are available based on the number of hotel guests in attendance.  You will want to call ahead before arrival to make sure they are accepting people that day.

Zoombezi Bay

On the same campus of the Columbus Zoo, you’ll find Zoombezi Bay!  Enjoy this top of the line waterpark with your entire family.  Admission starts at $21.99 per day.

Cherry Valley Lodge

For less cost you can drive just outside of Columbus and visit Cherry Valley Lodge.  The indoor waterpark day pass is only $15 on weekends and holidays or $10 on weekdays.



Visit the Center of Science and Industry and discover over 300 interactive exhibits.  No matter what age you are, you’ll find something to discover.  The day pass can be expensive, but if you live nearby you’ll find a deal when you purchase a yearly pass.  Many exhibits and even live shows are available.

Where is your favorite place to visit in Central Ohio?  Leave a comment and share great places to visit this summer!


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