Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is one of the top destinations for visitors and residents in Columbus.
The earliest days at Franklin Park Conservatory are a little bit of a mystery. Columbus City Hall records were destroyed in a fire in 1921, so although we know when the Palm House was first built on the property, we don’t know much else.
In 1992, the conservatory took to the national stage to host AmeriFlora. The international flower festival was a massive event, even hosting then-President George H.W. Bush. Attending Ameriflora is actually one of my favorite memories from my childhood and although the event wasn’t a commercial success, it does hold a special place in the hearts of Columbus residents.
There are so many wonderful things to do and see at the conservatory that planning a visit can seem a little overwhelming at first. But we’ve picked out our favorite things to do there, which will guarantee that you have an epic visit.
Check out the Chihuly display
One of the biggest highlights of any visit to Franklin Park Conservatory has to be the beautiful display of glass-blown works by Chihuly. The sculptures can be found throughout FPC, both inside and out, adding the perfect amount of whimsy to the gardens. While they are always on display, if you’re looking for a special night out, you can visit during Chihuly Nights when all of the installations are professionally lit up to create quite the backdrop inside the Conservatory.
READ MORE: The Chihuly Exhibit At Franklin Park Conservatory Is The Prettiest Thing In Columbus
Visit the Children’s Garden
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden is an absolute gem. This 4-acre area is full of wonders for the kids to explore, from a natural play area that’s built to look like a stream to a treehouse that will inspire creativity. Children can spend the whole day enjoying the garden, learning about plants and nature, and of course, having fun.
READ MORE: The Children’s Garden At Franklin Park Conservatory Is Nothing Short Of Magical
Shop at the Farmer’s Market
Held June-September, the Farmer’s Market at Franklin Park Conservatory is free and open to the public. The market is held in the parking lot at FPC, offering a mix of local produce, baked goods, specialty foods, handmade items, and health and beauty products.
READ MORE: The Best Farmers Markets Around Columbus
Take a glassblowing class
The Hot Shop features daily glassblowing demonstrations by local, professional gaffers. Viewing the demonstrations is included in your admission to the conservatory, but if you’re looking for something a little more hands-on, you can take a glassblowing class for an additional fee. Classes are offered from April through December.
READ MORE: Test Out Your Glassblowing Skills At Franklin Park Conservatory’s Hot Shop
Attend an evening of cocktails
While the Children’s Garden might be all the rage for the kids, the adults can treat themselves to an awesome night of Cocktails at the Conservatory. Each event has a different theme, local food & drink vendors, live music, and more. These events are 21+ only and occur after the conservatory is closed to the public.
READ MORE: Cocktails at the Conservatory
Enjoy the seasonal programming
Franklin Park Conservatory has shifting seasonal exhibitions throughout the year. From spring events like Blooms & Butterflies to the incredible holiday light display during Conservatory Aglow, there are wonderful exhibitions on display year-round. You can view the full list of season exhibitions right here.
Experience a butterfly release
Speaking of Blooms & Butterflies, one of the coolest events of the year happens every spring at the conservatory. Thousands of butterflies flutter through the Pacific Island Water Garden biome. On bright, sunny days, the butterflies are most active, flying around visitors and landing on nearby plants where you can get a closer look.
READ MORE: Blooms & Butterflies At Franklin Park Conservatory Is The Perfect First Taste Of Spring
Have a picnic
Once you’ve tired yourself out by exploring the conservatory all day, you can grab some food from the cafe and head out to the grounds of Franklin Park to enjoy a picnic. It’s a peaceful area with great views of the Palm House.
Explore the Victorian-era Palm House
First constructed around 1895, The John F. Wolfe Palm House is the crown jewel of the conservatory. Inside the palm house, you’ll fund a stunning double grand staircase, a tropical setting, iron gazebos, and even a Venetian-style fountain.
Visit After Dark To See An Incredible light display
If you’re visiting after hours for any of the conservatory’s special events, be sure to step outside and enjoy the beautiful light display on the Palm House. Renowned light artist James Turrell designed the light installation at FPC, which features approximately 7,000 computer-controlled LED light sources. To get the best view, you should head out to the Grand Mallway.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to visit Franklin Park Conservatory
Admission to the conservatory is $22 for adults, $19 for seniors, and $15 for kids 3-12. Discounts are available and you can learn about them here.
Are there things to do for kids?
The park is full of wonderful things to do with the kids, especially Scott’s Miracle Grow Children’s Garden. Admission to the Children’s Garden is included in your admission to the conservatory.
How long does it take to walk through Franklin Park Conservatory?
Franklin Park Conservatory is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (unless there’s a special event) and visitors should plan on spending at least 2-3 hours exploring. It can be done in less, but you’ll definitely feel rushed.
How large is Franklin Park Conservatory?
The visitor experience at Franklin Park Conservatory spans roughly 13-acres, which includes the Conservatory building, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden, and the Grand Mallway. The conservatory is settled within Franklin Park, an 88 acre City of Columbus park.
Can you get married at Franklin Park Conservatory?
Yes! In fact, the conservatory is one of the most popular wedding locations in the city. The cost of weddings at the conservatory varies based on a variety of different factors. You can learn all about what the conservatory has to offer couples for their big day right here.
Is the conservatory open year-round?
The Conservatory is open seven days a week, all year round, except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.