If you grew up in Columbus and you’re of a certain age, you probably remember when the Whittier Peninsula was far from beautiful.
The area once served as the police impound lot and the riverbanks were covered in litter. But over the course of the past 20 years, clean-up efforts have culminated in one of the city’s most beautiful parks.
Scioto Audubon Metro Park is a 120-acre park located just south of Downtown Columbus, near the Brewery District and German Village. The park runs alongside the banks of the Scioto River, offering a unique place to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown.
The park was a partnership between the City of Columbus, Ohio Audubon, and the Columbus Metro Parks with the goal to bring more natural spaces to city residents, and they totally delivered. There are a lot of things to do when you visit Scioto Audubon Metro Park, so let’s dive in and start planning the perfect visit.
One of the coolest things about the park is that it connects cyclists from the park straight into downtown Columbus. Ride along the Scioto River to the Scioto Mile, where you can enjoy beautiful views of the city, enjoy activities along the riverfront, and visit iconic spots like COSI and the National Veterans Memorial. The Scioto Greenway Trail runs for 10 miles, making for the perfect biking trip.
Explore the nature center
The Grange Insurance Audubon Center offers a variety of programming throughout the year. Admission to the center is free for all and there are nearly daily offerings for visitors to enjoy. If exploration is your vibe, you can swing by the front desk to check out an adventure or discovery backpack, full of activities and suggestions for the whole family to enjoy.
There’s also an animal room that’s home to three turtles, a birding library, craft and coloring tables, a forest playroom, and more. In addition to the nature backpacks, you can also check-out binoculars, field guides, nature play blocks, chalk, games, and more. You can learn more about the Grange Insurance Audubon Center right here.
Take a hike
The trails at Scioto Audubon aren’t just for biking. You can also enjoy them on foot. There are three trails, including the Scioto Greenway. The Connector trail links various areas of the park and is 2.5 miles long. Hermit Thrush is a very short, mulched trail that runs from the Scioto Greenway Trail to the Scioto River. All of the trails are pet friendly.
Speaking of being pet friendly… Scioto Audubon Metro Park is home to one of the best dog parks in the city. The dog park is 2.5 acres and it’s separated into two sections, one for large dogs and small dogs. There’s also an agility course where you can let your pup run out all of the zoomies. Domesticated dogs and cats are allowed in picnic areas and parking lots, but they need to be on a leash!
Go rock climbing
The massive climbing wall at Scioto Audubon Metro Park is 35 feet tall and includes three towers, two arches, and over 7,000 square feet. There are four auto belays on the wall, but climbers have to bring their own climbing harnesses. The climbing wall is open to anyone 16 and over, but kids under 16 must be accompanied by an adult and climbers must be 13 years or older to belay.
Stroll around the wetlands
The short trail that crosses over the wetlands at Scioto Audubon is the perfect place to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife. It’s a great spot to explore with the kids or to take a leisurely stroll.
If you’re hoping to cast a few lines, you can go fishing in the Scioto River from the boat launch or an elevated dock along the river. The boat ramp is located just inside the entrance of the park, once you cross over the railroad tracks. In addition to fishing, it also happens to be one of the most beautiful places to watch the sun go down each night.
It’s easy to pop your canoe or kayak into the water at the boat ramp. There are no kayak or canoe rentals at the park, so you’ll need to bring your own.
Adventure through the obstacle course
The obstacle course at Scioto Audubon Metro Park is a quarter-mile long running track with a tire belly crawl, balance beams, monkey bars, an over/under log run, an 8-foot wall, and more. Get your heart rate up while you enjoy some exhilarating physical activity with a great view of the Columbus skyline.
The whole reason the park has its name is that it was co-founded by Ohio Audubon, an organization devoted entirely to Ohio’s birds. With the wetlands and the river nearby, there’s a chance you’ll see all kinds of Ohio wildlife on your visit.
Head up the water tower
Finally, it wouldn’t be a visit to Scioto Audubon Metro Park without climbing up to the top level of the water tower located within the park. This is a popular feature at the park, so if you’re looking to get the view all to yourself, you’ll want to visit during non-peak hours.
In addition to all of those epic things to do, the park also gives guests some opportunities for seasonal fun. In the autumn you can enjoy a little leaf peeping, in the winter you can go sledding, and at the end of the summer, you can camp out overnight during Scioto Fest.
For more information about Scioto Audubon Metro Park, please visit MetroParks.net