Overhead view of people walking and biking on Columbus’ Scioto Mile (photo courtesy of Experience Columbus)
Travel | Cities

20 Ways to Explore Columbus this Summer

Ohio’s capital city comes to life with a variety of concerts, art events, festivals and more that serve as just the start of what there is to experience


During the summer, downtown Columbus buzzes with festivals, concerts and sporting events. The riverfront is a focal point, offering beautiful views of the city skyline and trails to hike or bike along the Scioto Mile, which hosts popular events like the Columbus Arts Festival, Jazz & Rib Fest and Festival Latino. 

Families love making a stop at COSI, with its hands-on activities, planetarium and special exhibitions like “Tutankhamun: His Tomb and His Treasures,” which runs through Sept. 4. For baseball fans, there is not a bad seat in the house at Huntington Park, home of the Columbus Clippers. Sip a local beer and plan your visit around special events like the ballpark’s fun Dime-A-Dog Night.

The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts hosts a variety of summer events, including its popular and long-running CAPA Summer Movie Series, during which film classics are screened at the Ohio Theatre. 

“Any time you have family and friends in town, bring them to the movies,” says Rich Corsi, vice president of programming at CAPA. “There’s nothing better than watching a classic movie with 2,000 people.”

Columbus Commons is a hub of activity throughout the summer. Weekly programming includes carousel rides for the kids, activities for tots on Friday mornings, and a Thursday food court featuring local food trucks and lots of live music. The Columbus Symphony’s popular Picnic with the Pops brings the crowds for symphonic renditions of pop music, classic rock and patriotic favorites. Corsi suggests visiting for the Common Ground Concert Series, which has free shows featuring Martina McBride on July 9 and Boyz II Men on Aug. 25.

Make a full weekend of it with a stay at The Junto, a stylish new hotel on the Scioto Peninsula that bills itself as the first independent lifestyle hotel in Columbus.

“It’s less transactional,” says Caitlin Beveridge, director of brand communications for Makeready, the management company for The Junto. “We create this space that locals want to spend time in, then travelers will want to stay there, too.”

This includes common areas and multiple eateries, such as the Brass Eye Rooftop Bar. There’s even a gear garage for hotel guests to check out bikes, kayaks, scooters and GoPros. 

People walking around at Grandview Hop in Columbus (photo courtesy of the Grandview Hop / CYP Club)
Neighborhoods & Nearby 

Located just a couple blocks north of the heart of downtown Columbus, the Short North Arts District offers a hub of creativity, from visual art to culinary fare. Although the neighborhood is always a draw for art lovers and foodies, the area shines during the summer.

“June is easily one of the most exciting times in the Short North Arts District,” says Betsy Pandora, executive director of the Short North Alliance. “The first Saturday of every month is Gallery Hop which is a celebrated, nearly 40-year tradition where art galleries feature exhibitions with new artists.”

The Columbus Pride Festival draws over 700,000 people each summer. Held each June at Goodale Park, the event features live music, speakers and a wellness area for what Pandora describes as “the ultimate party with a purpose.”

Head south of the city center to explore German Village, with its brick streets, charming storefronts and rich, pre-Civil War history. Visit Schmidt’s Sausage Haus for fare such as the restaurant’s signature Bahama Mama sausage and half-pound cream puff. Then, browse The Book Loft of German Village and its 30-plus rooms of reads

Not far from COSI, the Franklinton neighborhood is home to Land-Grant Brewing Co., a popular spot with a large outdoor beer garden and food trucks on-site. A stage for live music completes the block-party feel.

Just outside Columbus, Grandview is a destination of its own that also offers easy accessibility to favorite city destinations like the Arena District and the Short North.

“It’s a walkable, dense neighborhood with a lot of things to do,” says Brian Cheek, executive director of Destination Grandview.

The Grandview Hop summer night market series happens the last Saturday of the month, starting in June. Grandview Avenue is lined with food trucks, vendors and street performers. While you’re there, visit Law Bird Supply House for a glass of wine, craft beer or cocktail.

Located about 15 miles north of downtown, the city of Dublin is a favorite stop for travelers. The majestic Dublin Link connects Historic Dublin and Bridge Park, offering a new community focal point with a beautiful pedestrian span over the Scioto River. The Dublin Market brings together local vendors on Saturdays from May through September, while the Dublin Irish Festival draws crowds for music, dance and food in early August.

People climbing the urban via ferrata at Quarry Trails Metro Park (photo by Tony Jackson)

Experience Columbus has teamed up with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission to create the Columbus Outdoor Trails Pass, spanning 42 destinations. Anyone can sign up for the free digital pass using a mobile phone.

“We want people to get outside, get moving and experience some of the beautiful trails we have on our Central Ohio Greenways,” says Michelle Wilson, director of visitor experience for Experience Columbus. “It also encourages users to walk, bike and paddle, which promotes active transportation as sustainable options.” 

The pass includes suggested itineraries that incorporate local businesses along some of the trails, and GPS check-ins via mobile devices enter users into a monthly drawing for a $100 gift card to a local business.

Explore the Heritage Trail in Hilliard, where you can end the day with beers and dinner at the Center Street Market. Cycle past the bison roaming the open prairie at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, spy the bald eagle nest along the 14-mile T.J. Evans Trail or bike the 16-mile Camp Chase Trail that follows railroad tracks and has murals along the route. 

One of the more unique experiences on the Trails Pass is the new urban via ferrata at Quarry Trails Metro Park. The park, which opened in 2022, is fashioned out of a former quarry on the city’s west side. Following the success of the climbing wall at Scioto Audubon Metro Park, park managers were looking for ways to create a new climbing experience in Columbus.

Via ferrata is Italian for “iron pathway,” explains Liz Christian, marketing and social media specialist for Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks.

“Ours is the first urban outdoor via ferrata,” she says. “What you see at Quarry Trails is a bunch of iron rungs that you climb across. You’re clipped into cables that are seated three-to-four feet into the rock.” The 1,040 feet of cabled via ferrata includes a 90-foot suspension bridge.

When You Go
Learn more about other destinations and events in Columbus at experiencecolumbus.com.


Columbus Clippers

Columbus Commons


The Junto

Scioto Mile


CAPA Summer Movie Series

Columbus Arts Festival

Columbus Pride Festival

Dublin Irish Festival

Festival Latino

Jazz & Rib Fest

Picnic with the Pops




German Village


Short North


Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Columbus Outdoor Trails Pass

Quarry Trails Metro Park