20 Things to Do Under 20 Dollars in Central Ohio This Summer

City Guide, Things to Do


Written by Step Out Columbus

Published on July 3, 2024
Photo courtesy of the Short North Arts District on Facebook

We get it. Money is tight. But just because you’re trying to save some cash doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your sanity!

If boredom is eating away at you, you’ve come to the right place. We pulled together a list of some super cheap thrills that are sure to knock your socks off and keep your bank account balance in the positives.

So, without any further ado, here are 20 things to do under $20 in Columbus and Central Ohio!

1. Free Family Movie Nights at the Columbus Commons | Free

160 S High St, Columbus, OH 43215

These monthly movie nights are totally free to the public and are super unique ways to enjoy critically acclaimed and popular movies while being able to soak in the magic of the Columbus Commons. Movies start at 8:15 PM. More info and the full schedule can be found here.

Photo courtesy of the Columbus Commons on Facebook

2. Grandpa’s Cheesebarn & Sweeties Chocolates | Free – $20+

668 US-250, Ashland, OH 44805

If you don’t mind driving just over an hour north of Columbus, you’ll be in for one of the most delicious and unique experiences of your life. Located just of I-71 in Ashland, Grandpa’s Cheesebarn is quite the tourist destination, featuring incredible local and imported cheeses, meats, sweets, sauces, ice cream, and so much more! It’s really fun to just poke around, even if you don’t end up buying anything. I highly recommend the horseradish cheddar cheese or the smoked gouda.

3. The Columbus Park of Roses | Free

3901 N High St, Columbus, OH 43214

Quite possibly the most summer-feeling place in a list of incredibly summer-feeling places, the Park of Roses is one of our favorite spots to visit to soak up the sun and just relax. It’s super well maintained and 100% free to the public, so there’s really no reason not to go every single day!

4. Kayaking on Buckeye Lake | $20

15396 Township RD 403, Thornville, OH 43076, US

At Buckeye Lake Boat Rental, you can rent single kayaks for exactly $20, which gets you a kayak (obviously) and 4 hours out on the water. If you don’t think that sounds like an absolute bargain, then maybe you should look up the definition of the word bargain again because I’m pretty sure Buckeye Lake Boat Rental’s picture is next to it in the dictionary.

Photo courtesy of Buckeye Lake Boat Rental on Facebook

5. Free Sundays at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens | Free

1777 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43203

On first Sunday of every month, the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are free to the public as long as you are able to show proof of current residency in Franklin County. It’s truly one of the most incredible deals you’ll ever come across, especially when you see how incredible the conservatory truly is.

6. Try a New Coffee Shop Each Week With Our Guides | <$10

We get it. You love coffee. But how often do you venture out and try a different coffee shop than your usual spot? If you’ve been looking to spice up your routines and find unique places to get some Java, check out our guides to Aesthetic Coffee Shops and Coffee Shops Good for Working From Home!

7. BAM Thursdays at the Columbus Museum of Art | Free

480 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43215

It seems like most people already know about the Columbus Museum of Art’s Free Sundays, but did you know that BAM (Bar, Art, and Music) Thursdays are also free and super fun for whatever vibe you’re looking for. Work happy hour? BAM Thursdays. Searching for some artistic inspiration? BAM Thursdays. Looking for something free and fun? BAM Thursdays!

Photo courtesy of the Columbus Museum of Art on Facebook

8. MOO-ve on Out to Young’s Jersey Dairy Farm | $10 – $20+

6880 Springfield Xenia Rd, Yellow Springs, OH 45387

We’d be sorely mistaken if we didn’t include at least one adventure out to get some ice cream, and there’s no better place to do it than by visiting Young’s Jersey Dairy Farm in Yellow Springs. This dairy farm not only offers delicious homemade ice cream, but also tons of family fun adventures like mini golf, a driving range, picnic areas, a carousel, and lots more.

9. Go to a Metro Park


Growing up in Cleveland, I always thought we had the most underrated Metro Park system in the entire country. Moving to Columbus in 2017 quickly changed that notion, as I’ve discovered so many unique places just by visiting the Metro Parks. Each one is so different, so if you’ve only been to a couple, do what you can to visit all 20 this year. You can thank me later.

10. Explore Ohio’s Caverns and Caves | Free – $20+

Did you know Ohio has a rather vast system of caves and caverns underneath its surface? Some of these spots are so far into the Earth’s crust that the temperature stays at a constant 50 or so degrees year round. Whether you’re looking for a guided tour or personal exploring, these cave hikes are sure to satisfy.

Photo courtesy of Ohio Caverns on Facebook

11. Plan a TopGolf Outing | $5 – $20+

2000 Ikea Wy, Columbus, OH 43240 / more info

TopGolf is taking the world by storm. It’s like this century’s version of bowling (no knock on bowling, by the way). Reserving a bay at TopGolf is super quick and easy, and there’s plenty of deals to be had along the way. For example, Tuesdays are half priced, so if you and five friends reserve a bay together, you could each pay under $6 for an entire hour of TopGolf.

12. Hop Around the Short North Gallery Hop | Free

More info

The Short North Gallery Hops are a great way to discover local artists, vendors, and musicians who otherwise would be difficult to find. It’s fun for the whole family, and allows people who don’t usually go to the Short North (or those that only go at night) to see a whole new, vibrant side of the city that they may not usually see.

13. Hit Up A Local Farmers Market | Free

Columbus is home to so many incredible farmers markets, including the Clintonville Farmers Market and USA Today’s #1 Famers Market, the Worthington Farmers Market. Whichever one you go to, it’s a great way to get yourself outside and interacting with the community.

Photo courtesy of the Clintonville Farmers Market on Facebook

14. Ohio Statehouse Tours | Free

1 Capitol Sq, Columbus, OH 43215

Many people don’t know that you can actually get free tours of the historic Ohio Statehouse daily! These tours allow you to peak behind the curtains of our democracy and see exactly where policies are created, debated, and voted upon. It’s a really cool experience and I highly recommend it to everyone!

15. Get in Shape with Yoga on the Square at Easton Town Center | Free

3993 Easton Station, Columbus, OH 43219 (Just south of Brio)

My typical excuse to not exercise has now been completely shattered thanks to free yoga classes at Easton Town Center. Guess I’ll have to come up with a more foolproof excuse next time.

16. Go to a U-Pick Farm | $5 – $20+

Farmers Markets are great, but sometimes it’s nice to get your produce directly from the source. No, we’re not advocating sneaking onto a farm and stealing crops. Instead, you should check out these U-Pick Farms in Central Ohio who allow you to pick fresh produce throughout the year (as long as you pay for it).

Photo courtesy of Paige’s Produce/Family farm market on Facebook

17. Drive Up and Hang Out at a Drive-In Theater | Free – $20+

Watching a flick at a drive-in is like taking a big slice of Americana and placing it in the 21st century. Drive-in theaters have been around for decades and decades for good reason: they are super cheap, convenient, and unique. What more could you ask for? Check out some of the local drive-ins near you here.

18. Enjoy Golden Hour at your New Favorite Patio | $1 – $20+

There’s not much I look forward to more than eating dinner and having a few drinks on a patio on a warm summer night. But, not all patios are made equal. That’s why we pulled together some of our favorites in Columbus here and here. Check ’em out and let us know what you think!

19. Check out Incredible Public Art and Murals | Free

You don’t have to go to the art museum or an art gallery to find incredible art and artists in Columbus. We are so fortunate to have incredible public art installations and public murals on display for the entire population to admire, just make sure you don’t get too distracted by these as you’re driving!

Photo courtesy of @sid on FindMASA.com, Art by Eric Skotnes

20. Spend A Day Out on the Water | Free – $20+

When people complain about living in Columbus because it’s a “land-locked” city, it makes me want to scream. Sure, we don’t have an Ocean, but we have two massive rivers and tons of lakes to choose from. Whether you’re looking for some jet skiing adventures or just a beach to tan at, these waterfront towns in Central Ohio are sure to pleasantly surprise.

Summer Guides

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 StepOutColumbus.com *all* you want and need as your go-to resource for the best of Central Ohio!

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