Guide to 12 Cheap and Free Things to Do This Summer in Central Ohio

City Guide, Seasonal, Things to Do


Written by Step Out Columbus

Published on May 29, 2024
Photo courtesy of the Columbus Metropolitan Library on Facebook

As tough as it is to admit, there are simply less affordable things to do in Central Ohio than even 5-10 years ago. But just because there are less, doesn’t mean that there are none.

And being the distinguished investigative journalists that we are, we dug the depths of the internet to find all of the best budget-friendly activities and events in Central Ohio for your (and your wallet’s) enjoyment.

So, without any further ado, here are the best summer-time savings activities in Central Ohio!

Did we miss one? Did one of these places close? Send us a note!

U-Pick Farms

U-Pick (or pick-your-own) farms are super fun and all-natural ways to get locally-grown fruits and vegetables. I still remember going to U-Pick farms as a kid and I was obsessed with pulling my family’s wagon around with everyone’s strawberries in them. Plus, with prices as low as $3 per pound of produce, it’s one of the cheapest, tastiest, and most relaxing activities out there. Find our full guide to U-Pick farms here.

Photo courtesy of Knox Berry Farm on Facebook

Clippers Games

330 Huntington Park Ln, Columbus, OH 43215

With tickets as low as $8 (and even less for kids) and promotions throughout the summer such as Dime-a-Dog nights, Clippers games are some of the most affordable events all year. You could order 10 hot dogs and still leave the stadium having spent less than $10. Incredible!

Photo courtesy of the Columbus Clippers Cargo Store on Facebook

BAM Thursdays at the Columbus Museum of Art | May 30 – September 26

480 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43215

Every Thursday night, the Columbus Museum of Art has a bar, art, and music (hence, BAM) as a fun way to get people out and experiencing all the incredible artistry and artists in Central Ohio. FREE general admission to the museum is available from 5 – 10 PM on Thursdays. You don’t need a reservation or ticket to attend BAM Thursdays, but if you are planning on going to the museum, you must reserve a time slot in advance.

Photo courtesy of the Columbus Museum of Art

Blacklick Woods Canopy Walk and other Columbus-area Metro Parks

6975 E Livingston Ave, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068

The talk of the town this season has been the long-awaited opening of the multi-million dollar Canopy Walk at Blacklick Woods Metro Park. Free to use while offering thrills and scenic views, the canopy walk is one of our new favorite attractions at any of the Metro Parks in the area. If you’re scared of heights or have already checked it out, be sure to visit any of the other 19 Metro Parks in Columbus, all of which are free to enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Blacklick Woods Metro Park on Facebook

Ohio Statehouse Tours

1 Capitol Sq, Columbus, OH 43215

Here’s something that not a lot of people know or take advantage of… the Ohio Statehouse offers free guided tours every single day except state holidays. This is the perfect chance to get a look behind the scenes of how our democracy functions and allows you to see inside one of the most historic buildings in the entire state. It’s pretty cool if you ask me!

More info

Photo courtesy of the Ohio Statehouse on Facebook

Columbus Commons Events

160 S High St, Columbus, OH 43215

The Columbus Commons is a piece of serenity tucked into the middle of downtown, and summertime is when the park really comes alive. With hundreds and hundreds of free events throughout the year, the Commons is a great spot for cheap fun in the heart of happenin’ downtown CBus!

Photo courtesy of the Columbus Commons on Facebook

Short North Gallery Hops

N High St. – E. 2nd Ave to E. 5th Ave.

The Short North Gallery Hops are a great way to get out and immerse yourself in the artsy side of Columbus. With live street performances from local artists, open art galleries, and tons of vendors selling everything from clothing to jewelry, the gallery hop is a great way to see just how talented Columbus artists truly are.

Photo courtesy of the Short North Arts District on Facebook

Worthington Farmers Market

661b High St, Worthington, OH 43085

Similar to the Short North Gallery Hops, the Worthington Farmers Market is a great way to experience all the cool local vendors and the deliciousness that is locally grown produce. I know what you’re asking… why are you highlighting the Worthington Farmers Market specifically? Great question! The Worthington Farmers Market was just ranked as the #1 best farmers market in the country by USA Today!

Photo courtesy of the Worthington Farmers Market on Facebook

Hocking Hills Hiking

As one of the most visited state parks in all of Ohio, Hocking Hills is a one-stop destination for all things outdoors. Featuring famous hiking spots like Old Mans Cave, Ash Cave, and Rock House as well as kayaking, rock climbing, swimming, archery, and horseback riding, there is so much adventure that awaits you in Hocking Hills.

Photo courtesy of Hocking Hills State Park on Facebook

Culture Pass Library Card (Columbus Zoo, Clippers Games, Ohio History Center, and more for free)

Did you know that if you have a Columbus Metropolitan Library Card, you have access to events and attractions like the Columbus Zoo, Ohio History Center, Columbus Chamber Orchestra, and Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens for FREE?! While supplies are limited, you can head to a library near you with your library card for free tickets to tons of places in Columbus.

More info here.

Photo courtesy of the Columbus Metropolitan Library on Facebook

Inniswood Metro Gardens

940 S Hempstead Rd, Westerville, OH 43081

The Inniswood Metro Gardens is a little slice of Eden up in Westerville, OH. At the Metro Gardens, you get the perfect combination of beautiful landscaping mixed in with a natural, majestic backdrop of over 2,000 unique plant species and wildlife. If serenity is your thing, the Inniswood Metro Gardens is your place. Plus, it’s free to visit. Talk about a bargain!

Photo courtesy of the Inniswood Metro Gardens on Facebook

Whetstone Park of Roses

3901 N High St, Columbus, OH 43214

Looking for a beautiful and budget-friendly outing in Columbus? The Columbus Park of Roses is a must-visit. With over 12,000 (yes, you read that right) stunning rose specimens and more than a mile of paved walkways, this 13-acre garden is perfect for a leisurely stroll. Explore five charming areas, including the Formal Rose Garden’s symmetrical rose beds and the Heritage Rose Garden’s antique varieties. There’s also a Perennial Garden, an Herb Garden, and a Backyard Garden brimming with gardening ideas for your personal garden.

Photo courtesy of Friends of Columbus Park of Roses on Facebook

We launched StepOutColumbus!

Featuring things to do, places to go, and ways to explore the beauty that is the greater Columbus area. We help connect residents and visitors to local businesses, organizations, and awesome ways to experience our region.

We hope you enjoy what we have on-site and we would very much appreciate your feedback so we can make *all* you want and need as your go-to resource for the best of Central Ohio!

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