Columbus Parks // Dublin Parks // Location Scouting
There are SO many amazing parks in the Columbus and central Ohio areas. Whether you are a photographer, a mom with a camera or just a parent looking to plan a fun afternoon, look no further than Cbus and its open parks & spaces!
In the summer of 2014, I made a challenge to visit seven parks in seven days with my son, JP. It was the last week of summer (I’m also a high school teacher) and I wanted to do something fun with him each day. Treasure each moment. He had a blast playing and I loved watching him and capturing his joy on camera. Yes we got some traditional “look at momma and smile!” shots, but we also got a lot of candid ones. “Lifestyle” as we call it. Him playing. Exploring. Running. Laughing. He was about 18 months old that summer and I will have those images & memories to cherish forever.
In the summer of 2015, JP was now 2.5 years old and we took on the challenge of visiting ten new parks. We stopped at many of the 50+ located right here in our hometown, and also ventured around Columbus to check out several other good ones. You can find most of the parks we visited on one of these links…
Coffman Park, sunset (our favorite time to shoot!)
Red Trabue Nature Preserve, sunset (our favorite time to shoot!)
Glacier Ridge Metro Park, dusk
In 2016 we continued our Columbus Park Tour, with our newest family addition, Madelyn Jane. We took her to some of our old favorites, as well as exploring new ones. She was too little to truly explore, but we got some great shots anyhow! It has now become a fun family tradition to frequent as many parks as we can, some old, some new. You’ll see us… the loud, crazy family with a camera mom chasing everyone around.
And now, into 2017, we FINALLY finished this blog post to share our findings – both from a photographic and family/park perspective – with you! I couldn’t wait until summer, but I’m sure we’ll make some updates. I LOVE looking back at these images from all our Cbus adventures over the last few years. Seeing how the kids have changed. Reminiscing about what their favorite toys were at that point in their life. Noticing how I styled or on many days, un-styled them (you learn to pick your battles and begin letting them dress themselves!) Even though this post took almost four years… I am SO glad I chose to do it.
We now challenge YOU!
Get out there with your family. Bring the camera. Make and cherish memories that you want to hold onto forever. Tell the kids to FREEZE every now and then to get those “look at the camera!” pics, but also just snap away and capture them in the moment. Being themselves. Step IN FRONT of the camera sometimes, despite how you look or feel. And those images that sit on your phone or camera or media card? Print them! Make a canvas! Or heck, start a blog! You will never get these moments back. And as legend has it, they will be some of the best days of your life.
Okay, done jabbering! Drumroll please!
- This park is only about a half mile from our house and hands down, our favorite and most frequented!
- What we like // gorgeous falls, lots of photo options [rustic buildings, bridge, down by water, woods & trees/greenery, wildflowers in summer], hiking on trails, wading (if you dare!).
- Take note // no public restrooms, trails are not ideal for bikes & strollers (not paved, lots of stairs).
2. Coffman Park, Dublin
- This park is only one mile from our house and probably our second most visited
- What we like // historic & rustic buildings for photos, a creek (when its rained enough), great spot for sunset photos, two very large playgrounds with ‘bouncy’ mulch, multiple shelter house areas for picnics & gatherings, fishing pond, small wooded area, access to running & bike trails, restrooms
The playground closer to the Dublin Rec Center has a wide variety of activities, including a mini rock wall for littles to climb!
3. Glacier Ridge Metro Park, Plain City
- What we like // lots of photo options [rustic buildings, wooden plank bridge, water, open fields, gorgeous fall colors], playground area at north end, running trail – right next door to our parent’s farm off Brock Rd – one of our top two favorite spots for sunset pictures!
4. Homestead Park, Hilliard
- What we like // lots of photo options [rustic building, covered bridge, water, open fields, tractor, old Ohio barn, old train], several playground areas, running trail
- In 2016 they planted beautiful wildflowers… blooming late summer/early fall
5. Highbanks Metro Park, Lewis Center
- What we like // hiking & hills, ranked one of best by Experience Columbus, beautiful nature scenery, photo spots, water, dog-friendly paths, nature center. There are non-paved trails, as well as paved paths (if you bring the stroller or bikes). Some paths are dog friendly.
6. Balgriffin Park, Dublin
- What we like // a local close to home park, nice playground, doggie watering fountain, pond for fishing or duck watching, shelter house for picnics & gatherings
7. Monterey Park, Dublin
- What we like // close to home (in our neighborhood, less than 1/2 mile walk), mini creek (when there has been rain), a big hill to run up and down or sled, tennis courts, close to Historic Dublin if you’re in the mood for a bite to eat, coffee or ice cream!
Monterey Park is a close by favorite for snow days and sledding!
8. Griggs Reservoir Park [Hayden Falls], Dublin
- What we like // gorgeous falls, a wooden boardwalk great for a miniature hike, ranked one of best fall hikes by Experience Columbus, typically wildlife including ducks and fish, stream trickles into Scioto River
- Take note // no playground and not supposed to get in the water… fenced boardwalk prevents it. Also limited parking, hard to find a spot on busier days.
9. Ballantrae Community Park, Dublin/Hilliard
- What we like // Waterfall fountains are fun for the kids!
- Take note // fountains are crowded in the summer, not much shade (for babies, etc).
10. Heritage Trail [Hilliard Dog Park], Hilliard
- What we like // bring the dogs, bike & running path (North end of the Hilliard Rail to Trail path), gorgeous shots for sunsets
- Take note // no playground
11. ML Red Trabue Nature Reserve, Dublin
- What we like // This is one of our favorite spots for photo shoots, as well as family time! There is a bike/running path, gorgeous shots for sunsets & other photo spots (pond with dock, rustic buildings, green space, stone walls, trees and a trellis/pergola with beautiful ivy in the summer and gorgeous fall colors in October). The various ponds are great to fish, feed ducks, skip rocks or just watch & relax. We chose this spot for our family photos in the summer of 2015 (thanks Kelsey!)
- Take note // no playground, although the path does lead to Karrer Middle School, no public restrooms
12. Scioto [LeatherLips] Park, Dublin
- What we like // lots of photo spots (stone, water, trees, stairs, LeatherLips head), along the Scioto River, large playground, nice bathrooms, concerts in the summer
13. Emerald Fields, Dublin
- We call this ‘the music park’ but everyone else calls it Emerald Fields!
- What we like // large musical toy, lots of space to run, really nice play area, nice bathrooms, running & biking trails. Was originally designed for children with special needs, but welcome to all children of all skill levels.
- Take note // large play area is more challenging to keep an eye on your kiddo(s) at all times, give them a pep talk before you go!
14. Amberleigh Park, Dublin
- What we like // running & bike paths nearby, hiking trails through woods, unique playground area with climbing hill, along Scioto River, shelter areas for picnics, restrooms
15. Goodale Park, Victorian Village
- What we like // ranked one of Columbus’ best parks, it is the oldest park in Columbus and surrounded by a beautiful neighborhood. There are lots of photography spots and this has been a very popular choice for our engagement photos (fountain, gazebo/pavilion, brick, trees & greenspace, view of downtown Columbus). It is walking distance to the more urban areas of Short North/High Street with lots of other photo spots, bathrooms and coffee shops.
- Take note // no playground, more for enjoying nature!
16. Whetstone [Columbus] Park of Roses, Clintonville
What we like // ranked one of Columbus’ best parks, gorgeous scenery, running & biking trails, ponds, playground.
17. Schiller Park, German Village
- We often start at Winans of German Village (we love Winans chocolates and coffee!) or another snack/coffee stop before heading to Schiller.
- What we like // ranked one of Columbus’ best parks, gorgeous spots for photography and running (paths, flowers & gardens, trees, water, ducks, fishing pond, bridge, large stone trellis area with rustic pillars & ivy in summer).
18. Creekside, Gahanna
- What we like // wide variety of photo spots (creek, urban city feel, park, fountains, bridges and more), shops and ice cream, ponds with ducks, walking paths
- Take note // this park is quite a drive from Dublin so we don’t visit often, didn’t see a playground (but may be one hidden somewhere or nearby)
- What we like // Fountains (with public restrooms), Mile 229 Restaurant, views of the city, activities in summer including yoga, kids activities & more.
- Note // BUSY during summer months
20. Sharon Woods Metro Park // Westerville
What we like // Great trails for running & hiking (including a couple hills), two playgrounds, restrooms, dog friendly.
Other parks & spaces around Columbus we kinda dig…
Although we don’t get to these parks as frequently, we still like visiting them!
Kiwanis Riverway Park, Dublin
This park technically has two sides, one on either side of the river! The east side has a parking lot and paths that go down over the river, a boardwalk of sorts. The west side doesn’t have parking… and beware parking on the street at the top, we’ve been told by residents that is private parking! We often park in the Winans parking lot, grab a cup of joe or some chocolate, then head down on foot. There are no playgrounds, just scenic spots & walking trails.
Elementary school parks, Dublin
You can find several, no matter where you are in Dublin! When visiting my in-laws we walk to Deer Run Elementary, from our house we walk to Indian Run Elementary or we head over to Thomas Elementary. Indian Run is our favorite, because you can then walk down to Indian Run Falls while you’re there.
Field of Corn, Dublin
Or as our son calls them, ‘the silly corn.’ You won’t believe it until you see it. Walking paths nearby, but not much else!
Harrison Park, Victorian Village
When visiting our Gigi at her office in the Short North, this little park is just a block away! A unique playground and a fancy gazebo that could be used for a great photo opp. Running trail nearby (I believe its the Olentangy Trail?)
Avery Park, Dublin
This is the main soccer park in our neighborhood. Although it has a playground, baseball fields and some great photo spots, we’ve frequented most of our stops here in bright yellow Timbit soccer shirts.
Spray/fountain park, nice public restrooms, food trucks on Thursdays in the summer, bike & running path nearby (Heritage Trail that leads to Heritage Trail park).
Columbus Commons, Columbus
Lots of fun summer activities, including yoga, Food Truck days and family friendly events. There is a carousel, Jenis Ice Cream and more!
Only been here once, but it is really nice! Also the location used for Stroller Strides Northwest, which we also enjoyed!
Inniswood Metro Gardens, Westerville
A very popular spot for our photo shoots, we don’t get here as often for family playtime. Beautiful trails throughout the gardens.
Llewellyn Farms Park, Dublin
A little over a mile from our house, so we often jog or walk over, play on the playground, then head home.
Hayden Run Community Parks, Dublin/Hilliard
There are four different playground/park areas within approximately a one mile radius, bike paths, ponds & gazebos. The Lifestyle Communities “Goat” is also walking distance so you can grab a drink or bite to eat. Take note; there are not many trashcans or dog stations, so take your pup bags with you!
Scioto Audubon Metropark, Downtown Columbus
Rock climbing, dog park, hiking, ranked one of best fall hikes by Experience Columbus. We would go here a lot more often if it were closer!
Kaltenbach Park, Dublin
Close to home, playground, walking path, community center that is available for rent for parties, hosts music lessons and more.
Genoa Park, Columbus
Ranked one of Columbus’ best parks. Right outside COSI and fabulous views of the city. Running trails that take you through downtown to The Scioto Mile. Never taken the kids here, but lots of races and yoga events have been here.
Parks we still want to visit…
Millstone Creek Park, Westerville – Rated as one of most unique parks in Ohio.
Darby Creek Metro Park – Gorgeous sunset photos (Kelsey has done several photo shoots here), miles of hiking, ranked one of best fall hikes by Experience Columbus.
Slate Run Historical Farm – Located in Canal Winchester & recommended by 614 Mom.
Rocky Fork – Also recommended by 614 Mom.