Raising children is ridiculously expensive. Keeping them entertained on a budget is a huge challenge, so I’ve compiled a list of free things to do here in the Columbus area, for those days when you need to get your children out of the house but would rather save your walking around money.
1. Sprout Soup Crafty Tuesdays- Every Tuesday from 11AM-1PM, Sprout Soup in Clintonville hosts kid craft time for ages two and up.
2. Wexner Center for the Arts- Free admission to the gallery on Thursdays after 4PM, and every first Sunday of the month.
3. Hartman Aviary- Located in Sunbury, the aviary houses over 300 parrots. Visitors are welcome to feed and pet some of the birds. Hartman Aviary is open mid-April through mid-October on Saturday afternoons.
4. Central Park Playland- The Westerville Christian Church hosts free open play hours a few mornings and one evening a week. Don’t forget your socks!
5. Slate Run Living Historical Farm- Located in Canal Winchester, Slate Run offers free programs for children. Join in on sheep sheering, helping the farmers feed the animals and toy boat building!
6. Anthony Thomas Candy Company- Tour the factory and experience candy making in a free open house tour, Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
7. Columbus Museum of Art- Admission is free to the museum for all visitors on Sundays.
8. Scioto Audubon Metro Park- The park offers the largest free outdoor rock climbing wall in the country. One caveat- visitors must bring their own equipment, including ropes.
9. Outdoor Water Play Parks- Ballantrae Park in Dublin, Homestead Park in Hilliard, and the Spray Park in Powell are a few parks in the Columbus area that offer waterfalls, jets and fountains for kids to splash around on a summer day.
10. Inniswood Metro Gardens- Explore 121 acres of the nature preserve, where you will find a tree house , a rock garden with waterfalls and the Secret Garden.
11. Al’s Popcorn Factory Tours- At the end of the tour, you’ll get to sample unique popcorn flavors such as Bubblegum and Pizza. Yum?
12. Alum Creek State Park- We’re a bit land-locked here in Central Ohio, but you can still enjoy a day at the beach at Alum Creek in Delaware.
13. Graeter’s Ice Cream- Tour the factory on Bethel Road and play in the Scoops and Chutes indoor play area.
14. Shakespeare in the Park- Enjoy a free performance of Shakespeare at Schiller Park.
15. Ohio Craft Museum- Admission is always free (donations welcome) to the rotating exhibitions at the museum.