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5 Free Things to Do in Columbus

Save big and have fun in Columbus anytime of the year


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 anytime of the year.

1. Libraries are Fun!

Columbus Metropolitan Library
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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

2. Metro Parks Hikes & Programming

Photo by Carol Ottolenghi
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.

Check out North Market Review

3. Free Tours

Yummy factories and the Statehouse - there are free tours all over the place in Columbus.

Statehouse Tour

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.

Graeters Ice Cream Factory Tour

Anthony Thomas Candy Factory Tour

*While not completely free, the low prices - $2 for adults, $1 for kids over 3 years old - makes this a cheap treat that's worth the trip.

January 4th through September 28th
Monday - Friday 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Ages 21 and over

Check out Central Ohio Summer Festivals

4. Cool Festivals

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


Asian Festival

Central Ohio Folk Festival

Arts Festival


Park Street Festival

Creekside Blues and Jazz Festival

Pride Festival

ComFest Community Festival

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Jazz and Rib Fest in Columbus

Lancaster Festival

North Market Food & Ohio Wine Festival

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Festival Latino

14th Annual Heritage Concert Series at King Arts Complex

Grove City's Balloons & Tunes

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Greek Festival

Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival

Hot Times Festival

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Columbus Italian Festival

Circleville Pumpkin Show

Gahanna Creepside Festival

Fall Harvest Festival

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Columbus International Festival

Holiday Craftacular

5. Gallery Hops

Copyright tim.perdue via Discover Ohio Travel Flicker Group
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.

Check out my review of the Short North Gallery Hop here. Third Saturday of the month, March 21 - November 21
2 p.m. - 7 p.m.

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