Guide to Family Fun in Columbus, Indiana
With some of the most innovative play-spaces in the Midwest, a three-story children’s museum, and an authentic, old-fashioned ice cream parlor, Columbus is a great place for a family adventure, and it’s an easy drive from Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Louisville!
A forty-four acre park featuring a cascading waterfall (amount of water can vary significantly by local rain patterns) and two hiking paths of about two miles each.
3699 N 1140 County Rd E, Hartsville, Indiana – Map it
See also Pathfinder Outfitters for more kayaking adventures
David Zinn art
David Zinn’s temporary creations of fantastical creatures were scattered around downtown Columbus and hidden, in plain view – three of them have withstood weathering and are still looking good! Can you find them ?
Hamilton Center and Ice Arena
The original Swiss chalet style building was designed by Harry Weese as a community building with warming house and changing rooms for an outdoor ice rink. The building exterior features rough-hewn granite boulder battered walls and glass with views to the exterior. The interior features triple-peaked roof with wood beams and planking. A central granite fireplace, highlighting the spacious interior, is surrounded by wooden benches, an inviting sight to chilled skaters.
Because of an increased community interest in ice skating and the need to extend the skating season, the community decided to enclose the outdoor rink in 1975. Koster and Associates designed the enclosure of the large ice arena as an extension of the existing center with similar exterior materials and architectural details, and now includes a regulation- sized hockey rink and an adjacent practice rink, so the facility offers year-round skating.
Jolie Crider Memorial Skate Park
In Clifty Park – across from East High School
The city’s latest design destination is unique – it’s a skatepark designed by Janne Saario, a Finnish landscape architect and former professional skater.
As noted in an Oct. 1, 2019 New York Times article: “The podcast ’99 Percent Invisible’ got Mr. Saario the job: Jonathan Nesci, a designer who lives in Columbus and is the father of a skater, cold-emailed the architect after listening to ‘The Pool and the Stream,’ a 2017 episode about the connection between curvaceous swimming pools and skatepark design featuring Mr. Saario.” – read the full NYT article by Alexandra Lange
See more photos of the skatepark
Learn more about walking and biking in Columbus
Anything people powered is welcome on the more than 27 miles of paved trails, and the route in and around town and into the countryside is a pleasant way to enjoy the outdoors. The paths run very close to three rivers, two creeks, plenty of green space and productive farmland. Great for leisurely exercise with a distraction or two.
Touch the Earth and Tangeman Woods
Touch the Earth
Located conveniently near State Road 46 just west of Columbus, this preserve is one of the larger protected natural areas in Bartholomew County and is an excellent spot for hiking and bird watching. Sycamore’s Tangeman Woods preserve is less than a mile away, just on the other side of State Road 46.
A mowed parking area along County Club Road provides access to two miles of mowed trails through scenic woods and former farm fields that have reverted to nature. The trail features several benches and an observation deck. Dedicated neighbors volunteer to keep the trail and parking area mowed for visitors.
Located less than a mile from Tangeman Woods
Tangeman Woods is a beautiful mixed hardwood forest with intermittent creeks, located on the eastern edge of southern Indiana’s rugged Norman Upland. The Outdoor Lab nature trail, created by the Bartholomew County Soil and Water Conservation District in the 1970s, is still used for school field trips, including those conducted by Sycamore’s Environmental Education Program.
The Outdoor Lab trail features bridges over shallow but steep ravines, which have been repaired and enhanced by several Boy Scout service projects. Sycamore staff have worked to enhance the forest by controlling invasive bushes including privet and burning bush, and monitor annually for garlic mustard near the trailhead.
Located less than a mile from Touch the Earth
Utopia Wildlife Rehabilitators is a 501(c)(3) state and federally permitted wildlife rehabilitation facility dedicated to providing expert veterinary care, rehabilitation, and release of native Indiana reptiles, mammals, birds, and birds of prey.