Columbus is home to some truly spectacular parks.
With some of the oldest parks in the area (and the country) Columbus residents have long been lucky to stroll through these incredible areas. Of course, our Metro Parks system is amazing and it gets a ton of love from everyone, including us.
But the Columbus Recreation and Parks system isn’t too shabby either and it’s often overlooked. From the timeless classics that have been around for well over a century to parks that protect endangered plant life, we’ve got some really amazing spaces to explore in this city.
So put on your walking shoes, grab a pal, and let’s go take advantage of some of the best parks this city has to offer.
Established in 1857, Schiller Park is the second oldest park in the City of Columbus. The park was originally called Stewart’s Grove by early settlers. It was renamed City Park until 1891 when it was renamed Schiller Park after Friedrich von Schiller, a famous German Poet. Due to anti-German sentiment during World War I, the park was renamed Washington Park, although the name reverted to Schiller after the war.
The park serves as a central gathering space for the German Village neighborhood. It’s 23.5 acres, offering a community center, picnic areas, a fishing pond, an outdoor stage, tennis courts, basketball courts, playgrounds, and more.
Schiller Park is also home to two Champion Trees, a Biltmore ash (found here) and a Wych elm (found here). The Champion Trees program identifies and promotes the oldest and largest trees of each species in each state and the country as a whole.
Location: 1069 Jaeger St, Columbus, OH 43206
Nestled in Victorian Village, Goodale Park is the oldest park in Columbus. In fact, it’s one of the oldest parks in the United States. The 40-acre site was donated to the city by Dr. Lincoln Goodale in 1851. Over 650 trees call the park home, including two Champion Trees, a Chinese catalpa, and a Smoothleaf elm.
During the Civil War, the park served briefly as a staging area for Union troops known as Camp Jackson. Those operations were moved to Camp Chase, but some permanent examples of that era remain, including the Goodale Gates.
Today, the park offers visitors a scenic place to spend an afternoon with a gazebo, tennis courts, walking paths, a playground, a pond with a stunning fountain, and more. The park is home to many events throughout the year, including festivals and live performances.
Location: 120 W Goodale St, Columbus, OH 43215
Stunning Garden Parks
Have you ever wondered what it would look like if a city park and a museum were combined? The Topiary Garden Park is located in the downtown Discovery District, and it’s a perfect example of what happens when you mix art and nature. The garden is a living recreation of Georges Seurat’s famous painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LaGrande Jatte.
The concept was conceived and sculpted by Columbus artists James and Elaine Mason in 1989. Over the years, the park has been featured in National Geographic, Life, The Wall Street Journal, and more.
Long before it became the Topiary Garden, the park was known as the Old Deaf School Park. That’s because the land that the park sits on used to house the dormitory and campus of the adjacent Deaf School in the early 19th century. The park is free and open to the public year-round.
Location: 480 E Town St, Columbus, OH 43215
Park of Roses
Founded in 1953, the Columbus Park of Roses is an absolute gem. Located on 13 acres within Whetstone Park, the Park of Roses is home to 11,000 beautiful roses. There’s nowhere else in Columbus like the Park of Roses when it’s in bloom.
There are different garden areas within the park where you can view different types of roses, including the Main Rose Garden, the Heritage Garden, the Earth-Kind Rose Garden, the Herb Garden, and the Perennial Garden.
The Park of Roses is open every day, year-round, and admission is free. The roses are typically in bloom between mid-June and mid-September.
Location: 3901 N High St, Columbus, OH 43214
Frank Fetch Park
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I’m a sucker for pocket parks, and Frank Fetch Memorial Park is one of my favorites. The park is located in German Village and it was designed to resemble the Social Gartens of Munich. The park kind of has a beer garden vibe, with picnic tables to enjoy meals and benches to sit and read.
It’s a charming little spot that perfectly captures the essence of German Village. There are even gas lamps that offer flickering lights. The park is especially charming around Christmas when it’s all decked out for the holidays.
Location: 228 E Beck St, Columbus, OH 43206
Hayden Falls Nature Preserve
This stunning waterfall park is located within Griggs Nature Preserve on the west side of the Scioto River. On the upper level of the park, you’ll find picnic tables and a small parking lot. If you take the boardwalk down the steps, you’ll get a fantastic view of Hayden Falls.
The area surrounding the 35-foot waterfall is home to an incredible ecosystem that includes rare and endangered plants. When you’re visiting, it may be tempting to climb on the rocks surrounding the falls, but don’t give in. It’s important to give endangered plant species the space they need to grow and thrive.
Location: 4326 Hayden Run Rd, Dublin, OH 43017
Get Your Steps In
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Whether you’re looking to fish for rainbow trout or take a run along the Olentangy Greenway Trail, Antrim Park is the perfect place to get out and stretch your legs. It’s one of the most popular parks for running, walking, and biking in Columbus. The park was a gift from the Antrim family back in 1970 and it consists of nearly 120 acres.
The quarried lake is a great spot for fishing, but there is no boating or swimming allowed. You’ll just have to admire the beauty of the space from shore.
Location: 5800 Olentangy River Rd, Columbus, OH 43085
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Stretching along the east bank of the Scioto River, the promenade along the Scioto Mile connects Battelle Riverfront Park and Bicentennial Park. The Promenade itself features a beautiful stone colonnade with swings, park benches, gardens, and tables where visitors can play card games or chess.
There is a historic limestone balustrade that was originally built as part of a flood wall in the 1920s that has been completely restored. Throughout the Scioto Mile, there are several points of interest for visitors, including Huntington Plaza, Coleman’s Pointe, the Lower River Walk, and my favorite, the Prow. In The Prow, visitors will find a grove of birch trees, lantern lighting, and stone benches all on this unique riverfront overlook.
Location: 233 S Civic Center Dr, Columbus, OH 43215
All Columbus Recreation and Parks Department Parks are open year-round. For more info, you can visit columbus.gov/recreationandparks.