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Children ice skating outdoors

Outdoor Winter Fun in Columbus and Central Ohio

Brrr! It’s been a cold start to 2019.  It’s so tempting to stay inside by the fire, cuddled up on the couch with a movie, warm blanket and fuzzy slippers.  But let’s be honest – cabin fever will probably hit you and your family at some point and you’ll all want to get out of the house!

Winter activities in central Ohio don’t all have to be indoors, either. The cold weather might be a deterrent to get outside – but if you’re willing to brave the chilly temps, there’s still plenty of fun to be had in Columbus this winter!

Outdoor Winter Fun in and Around Columbus


Whole pizza cut in slices on wood block

Columbus Food Adventures

Ongoing dates. Walking and van based guided tours will take you through some of central Ohio’s neatest culinary spots.  Learn about the history of German Village and try a variety of fares on the German Village walking tour.  Or walk through the Short North and sample numerous bites in the area.  Carnivore?  There’s even a meat lover’s tour, too!



The 5th Line 5K, Presented by OhioHealthTwo people hugging and smiling after running race outdoors

Feb. 9 (10 a.m.), Nationwide Arena. Warm up and get your blood pumping with a run through the Arena District and downtown Columbus. The race ends on center ice inside Nationwide Arena.  Registration for this 5K includes a voucher for two Blue Jackets game tickets (select games), a technical race shirt and a CBJ-themed finisher’s medal. Who knows, maybe you’ll even see Stinger!



Columbus Metro ParksFamily hiking in the winter

The Columbus Metro Parks team says the winter season tends to be less crowded, so it’s a great time to hike, cross-country ski or snowshoe on over 200 miles of trails.  Many of the parks also have great hills for sledding!  Looking to spot some winter wildlife?  The trails are Battelle Darby Creek and Highbanks are a good bet.  Many parks also have fun activities scheduled throughout the winter for all ages, such as the “Insects in the Winter” event where you’ll learn how insects survive in the winter and then dig around to find them.  There’s also photography events, maple syrup making, winter hikes and more!


Columbus Zoo and AquariumCloseup of a tiger

Did you know that the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is open every day of the year, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas?  Though the Wildlights are over, it’s still a great time to see the animals while the crowds aren’t as big.  Many of the animals, like the polar bears, are still out on exhibit and love this cold weather.  And if you get cold, you can warm up with some hot chocolate or by popping into one of the heated indoor exhibits!



Weekly Bird HikesTwo people looking for birds with binoculars in the winter

Saturdays (10 – 11:30 a.m.), Grange Insurance Audubon Center. Every Saturday, even in the winter, the Audubon Center educators lead people of all ages through the park.  On the hike, you’ll learn about the birds you come across. Binoculars and field guides are provided for you to use during the hike.



Paintball with LVL UP SportsPerson with paint gun outdoors in winter

LVL UP Sports in Grove City is open year round and offers outdoor paintball for ages 10 and up.  There is even a low impact paintball option for young or newer players.  LVL UP requires reservations for groups during the week but offers walk-on play on Saturdays and Sundays.

Just because it’s winter, it doesn’t mean you and your family have to be cooped up inside.  Throw on your coat and gloves and get out there and have some fun!