Columbus may be a city, but it’s also full of green space, parks, and beautiful gardens. The seasons in Ohio lend to stunning and ever-changing displays at these beautiful public gardens in Columbus. Some of the gardens and arboretums that we’ve included are also free, so pack a picnic, bring your camera, and explore the best gardens in Columbus year-round. Get inspiration for your own garden (#gardengoals), or just enjoy the beautiful surroudings and fresh air.
Outdoor gardens and parks are open, unless otherwise noted. Remember to allow proper distance from others, and follow safety guidelines. Restrooms may not be open.
The Most Stunning Public Gardens in Columbus
Columbus Park of Roses
Created in 1953, Columbus Park of Roses has grown to include over 12,000 roses of more than 400 varieties. There are also herb and perennial gardens and display beds of annual plantings. The Columbus Recreation and Parks Department owns and maintains the park. While there are plenty of gardens to enjoy from Spring – Fall, peak Rose season is late May through Summer, with a second bloom in September in the Formal Rose Garden.
Visit: The park is free to all visitors and open every day from dawn to dusk. It is accessible to strollers and wheelchairs. 3901 N High St, Columbus, OH 43214 See details here.
Topiary Garden in Old Deaf School Park, also known as Topiary Park is a living recreation of Georges Seurat’s famous post-Impressionist painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LaGrande Jatte. The unique park features an extensive showcase of topiaries, lake, colorful gardens, and mature trees. Topiary Park is located behind the Columbus Metropolitan Library Main Branch.
Visit: The park is free. They offer free self-guided tours and tree walk, and guided group tours for donation. The Gatehouse & Visitors’ Center is open seasonally. 480 East Town Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215
Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks
Central Ohio is home to an amazing Metro Park system with nearly unlimited free activities and events. The system of parks is truly a gem in our community. Metro Parks features 19 outstanding natural area parks with more than 230 miles of trails and over 27,700 acres of land in seven Central Ohio counties.
There are gardens all throughout the Metro Parks, with Inniswood Metro Gardens being the most notable for beautiful garden areas. You’ll also find nature centers, natural play areas, picnic shelters, bird watching areas, and more. See the whole system of parks and trails at the website.
Visits: Visits to the parks are free, and parks are generally open from dawn to dusk. See program search to find events and activities held in the parks once restrictions are relaxed.
Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens
The Arboretum & Learning Gardens include and extensive plant collection and are examples of annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs, both native and non-native, for the central Ohio climate. The plants and the intensely landscaped gardens are the focus for urban design and environmental studies.
The gardens feature colorful displays during the growing season, and year round beauty with fall color and snow-covered landscape in the winter. Other attractions include the Green Roof on Howlett Hall, a Chartres-style Labyrinth, 3.5 acre catch/release lake, bird watching, Solar House, Bloch Cancer Survivors’ Plaza, as well as the extensive native trees, flowers, and plant collections.
Visit: Visiting the garden is free; Pay-n-Display parking available in the surrounding parking lots (parking rules are strict on campus, with towing vultures lurking around every corner). 152 Howlett Hall, 2001 Fyffe Court, Columbus, OH 43210. See details here.
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Franklin Park Conservatory is closed until further notice, but Franklin Park which contains the Conservatory IS open during daylight hours, and there’s plenty to explore and see.
There’s so much to see at Franklin Park Conservatory! With multiple indoor and outdoor gardens, unique art exhibits, and even a Children’s Garden and Play Area, you want to the whole day there, whether its good weather or bad. The Blooms and Butterflies exhibit from Spring through Summer is a major attraction for both locals and visitors.
Don’t count them out for the colder months, as they also showcase fall exhibitions, holiday themed displays and Christmas lights, as well as Orchids Utopia through the dreary winter season. They also offer tons of classes and workshops, fitness, family activities, and more throughout the weekend and evenings.
Visits: Currently closed. Admission is between $12-$19, with various membership options. The first Sunday of each month is Community Day where the Conservatory is free for residents of Franklin County and the City of Columbus (with valid ID). You may also qualify for a discount through other affiliated membership programs with local attractions and other gardens. 1777 E. Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43203 See details here.
Dawes Arboretum in Newark
Located about 30 minutes east of Columbus, Dawes Arboretum features 2,000 acres with 12 miles of trails, an informative Auto Tour, Japanese Garden, lakes, or take in breathtaking views from the Observation Tower, and over 15,000 living plants. There’s also an indoor and comfortable bird-watching sitting area, and children’s exploration area in the basement of the visitor center.
Visits: The Arboretum is starting to reopen with a soft opening for members on May 11. Members will need to make a FREE online reservation to visit the grounds. Check this website for updates on The Arboretum’s gradual reopening process. There are membership options, and they plan to host free “public” days throughout the year for special events. Arboretum admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 -15. Children younger than 5 will be admitted for free. Arboretum members will not be charged admission. Check local libraries for passes. 7770 Jacksontown Rd. SE, Newark, Ohio 43056. See details here.
The Biological Sciences Greenhouse at The Ohio State University
The Ohio State University is closed through summer semester.
The Conservatory houses plants native to tropical and desert environments. The collection has an estimated 1200 specimens representing over 100 plant families from around the world, including some specimens rarely found in cultivation and endangered species. There are flowers and fruits year-round and a vast diversity of foliage shapes, sizes and colors. Carnivorous plants, ferns, orchids and bromeliads are specialty collecions with the Conservatory collection.
The Insectary rears approximately 130 species of insects and arthropods for instructional and research purposes, including tarantulas, walking sticks, and giant hissing cockroaches.
Adjacent to the Biological Sciences Greenhouse facility are the Jennings Courtyard and the Aronoff Bioswale. These outdoor areas are planted with Ohio native species are under the care of the greenhouse staff.
Visits: Small groups and individuals can join scheduled tour groups, and self-guided tours are available to schedule for the greenhouse but not The Insectary. 332 W. 12th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210 See details here.
Other articles of interest
- Virtual Events Calendar
- Free and Cheap this Weekend in Columbus
- What’s Open in Ohio: reopening phases and what you need to know
- Farmers Markets in Columbus (and the changes for 2020)
- Freebies for healthcare workers and frontline employees
- Senior shopping hours in Columbus stores
- Skip the stores: Grocery pickup and delivery in Columbus
- Stuck at home? On demand and Virtual Events and Entertainment
- Virtual tours, on demand videos and live streams for kids
- Fun and Free Educational Resources for Kids
- Ultimate guide to Columbus restaurants with pickup and delivery
- Ways to get cocktails, beer, and wine delivery in Columbus
- Food freebies, delivery, and cheap eats in Columbus
- Pre-order Farmers Markets goods from vendors offering pickup/delivery
- Farm delivery and CSA’s in Columbus for local produce, meat, and dairy
- Schools and restaurants offering free lunch for kids
- DIY Take and Make Kits in Columbus
- Virtual offerings with the Wexner Center for the Arts