COLORFUL FAMILY FUN THIS FALL
This fall is the best time to visit Columbus! Indiana’s most colorful town is a sight to behold and a blast to experience right now. Pathways are lined with vibrant red and gold leaves and downtown is filled with colorful art to play in. Take a family fall break to the place with more fun photo ops than your Facebook feed can hold. It’s just 45 minutes south of Indianapolis.
With dozens of unique marshmallow flavors, like Bourbon Brown Sugar and Crunchy Cinnamon, the team of Alexa Lemley and Samantha Aulick hand-craft artisan treats in Columbus. Their creations have really struck a note around the country, and they’ve been featured in many national publications, including Oprah magazine. They create treats in small batches with local, all-natural, and organic ingredients.
240Sweet can provide demonstrations, tastings, and special interest classes. Contact them for details.
240Sweet never uses preservatives, stabilizers, artificial colors, or artificial flavors. 240Sweet treats include Michigan beet sugar, Ohio glucose, Indiana corn starch, and organic Tahitian beans to make their our own vanilla extract. Chef Alexa is an Indiana Artisan, which is “a Hoosier recognized for careful attention to detail, knowledge of a craft and an entrepreneurial spirit – their extraordinary talent contributes to Indiana’s reputation for quality work.” Chef Alexa has also been the Artist in Residence at the Indiana State Museum.
Located eight miles east of Columbus, off of Highway 46
A forty-four acre park featuring a cascading waterfall (amount of water varies by rainfall) and two hiking paths of 1.75 and 2.25 miles.
Directions : from Columbus, go east on SR 46 about 8.5 miles to CR 925 E (on the right) and turn right. The road will turn sharply left, becoming CR 200 N. Follow this road about 2.2 miles to CR 1140 E (on the left just before the creek) and turn left. Go about 0.4 mile to the parking lot on the left.
Photo by Gary Scroggins
History-loving kids and parents will enjoy Bakalar Museum, a no-cost attraction that features memorabilia from World War II. Learn about glider pilots and see the cockpit of a glider, just like the ones that coasted into Normandy. Learn about the WASPs, the Women Air Force Service pilots, like local veteran Jeanne Lewellen Norbeck, a test pilot who was anything but conventional.
Blue’s Canoe Livery is located just north of Columbus and nearby Edinburgh Premium Outlets. It is an outdoor recreation center that provides canoe, kayak, and raft trips on the Driftwood River, as well as camping and smallmouth bass fishing. The most popular river trips flow through a secluded state wildlife preserve and a part of Camp Atterbury wilderness area, where you may encounter deer, beaver, great blue heron, osprey, and wild turkey. There are occasional mild rapids for added excitement. Large groups are welcome, overnight camping is available, and a shelter house can be used for picnics.
Less than ten minutes southeast of Columbus, your family can have their pick of a wide range of recreation options at CERA Park, a 345-acre park with both indoor and outdoor activities. You may have a hard time choosing from the many things you can do, there’s a stocked lake for fishing, paddle boats, row boats, canoes, seven shelter houses, and picnic areas. Then there are two outdoor basketball courts, shuffleboard courts, six horseshoe pits, two sandpit volleyball courts, a go-kart track, an 18-hole miniature golf course, a driving range, six tennis courts, an outdoor amphitheater that hosts many events, playgrounds, a remote control airplane strip, a rifle and archery range, a trap and skeet range, nine ball diamonds, an aquatic center with a large water slide and toddler play area.
- View the CERA Park guide (PDF)
Or you can head indoors and use the 30,000-square-foot sports and fitness center with two full gyms, a cardio room, a running/walking track, a weight room, and locker rooms, as well as a Fitness Center to help you achieve your fitness goals! Outdoor enthusiasts will also appreciate how close the park is to two state parks that are favorites in Indiana: Brown County State Park, the largest in the state known for its stunning vistas, is only thirty minutes away, and Clifty Falls State Park, with its must-see waterfalls, is only sixty minutes away.
CERA is also known for its beautiful 355-site campground, including camping cabins, and has been a prime location for motor coach and camping club rallies. In 2013, CERA was given a ranking of 9/10 for facilities, 9/10 for restrooms, and 10/10 for appeal by Good Sam Camping Club and the park is now a Good Sam Certified destination. CERA also hosts many local youth camping retreats for scouts, church groups, and school athletic teams, because they have found that it is a perfect choice for team building and camaraderie.
TripAdvisor reviewer Rhilohso recently wrote, “We had a beautiful campsite right on the lake and under some beautiful pine trees. It was really the best campsite we have ever stayed in. So much nature but also so many others things to do there. We enjoyed kayaking (brought our own), putt putt, disc golf, driving range etc. We took a day trip to Brown County State Park for horseback riding and hiking. Great fall weekend with family.”
In addition, CERA is the host site for Bartholomew County Little League, Fastpitch Softball, and Baseball tournaments and leagues, and is an AAU-sanctioned park.
Columbus Rock Gym
Visit Columbus Rock Gym Website
CRG is a bouldering gym. Climbers of all ages climb over a padded floor with no ropes or harnesses required and a variety of routes for both new and more experienced climbers.
Explore the free indoor playground at the Commons. The centerpiece of this no-cost play experience is the 35-foot-tall Lucky Climber, which truly must be seen to be believed! The climber was created by the late Thomas Luckey, an artist, sculptor and architect known for building his own brand of distinctive climbing structures throughout the country. Safety-conscious parents need not worry — this jungle gym-like climber utilizes five steel columns, roping, and six miles of coated stainless steel aircraft cable to connect 50 custom-made curved platform pieces that kids scale to reach the top.
The Luckey Climber is only one feature of the Commons’ appealing 5,000-square-foot indoor playground. You’ll also find slides, a water cylinder kids crank to make their own tornado, and oversized musical chimes.
Divided into age-appropriate areas for toddlers, preschoolers and bigger kids, there’s enough here to keep children active and occupied for as much time as you have to spare. Adjacent to the playground are quick-order restaurants where hungry kids can refuel.
- View a more detailed page of The Commons Playground with photos and videos
Country Chalet Farm has been created for animal lovers to enjoy a day excursion and educational hands-on farm experience, with over 200 animals and more than 20 species, including horses, goats, South American Macaw, Asian Leopard Bengal cats, European Juliana miniature pigs, and Australian Bennet wallabies. Kids will love being able to milk a goat, hold a cockatiel, brush the donkeys and a miniature horse, cuddle bunnies and guinea pigs, feed the geese and chickens, take a trail ride, and gather eggs right from the nests!
Call for information on private party packages, birthday parties, family reunions, holiday packages, and special event packages.
Corner of Marr Road and Hollowell Drive, Columbus
Columbus Dog Park is an off-leash recreation area for all sizes of dogs, with a fenced area where dogs may run, play, and socialize with each other under the supervision of their owners. Day passes are available for $5 at Hotel Indigo and the park is open from dawn to dusk year round. There are two, separate fenced areas for large and small breeds. The park has water, a shelter house, park bench, picnic tables, and dog potty-bag stations. The park is run by a dedicated group of volunteers.
Explore interactive installations like you’ve never seen in a colorful Indiana town.
Learn more about Exhibit Columbus
“Exhibit Columbus,” a community-wide exhibition, features 18 spectacular installations. Go ahead and touch, climb, take photos and interact with each one of these unique pieces! This family-friendly exhibition comes to life this fall only in Columbus, Indiana, just 45 minutes south of Indianapolis.
At Parkside School
Freedom Field is a 1.5-acre playground for all children, and is the first of its kind in the nation. Located at Chapman T. Blackwell Park, it has been designed for the handicapped and able-bodied to access and play. Physically challenged parents and guardians can closely supervise children. Children of all ability levels can play in a sensory rich, exciting and challenging atmosphere.
The playground is covered with a rubberized surface and has handicapped accessible pathways among parking, restrooms and play structures. An environmentally, and Americans with Disabilities Act-friendly, sub-base is made of Pervious Concrete, which eliminates puddles and ponding on the playground surface.
The playground is open to the public, excepting from 10:30 am – 1:30 pm, Mon – Fri, during the school year.
Photo from Arrows Sent Forth
Hamilton Center Ice Skating
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.
Photo by Lynn Lucas
Hangar 5 Restaurant, at Columbus Airport
Dine and enjoy a superb view of Columbus Municipal Airport, which regularly has fly-ins and fly-overs from nearby military operations. Open seven days a week from 6:30 am until 2:00 pm. Right next door to the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum.
Kidscommons offers families with toddlers to early teens a vibrant, safe setting where they can explore together our three floors of hands-on, interactive exhibits. Guests all enjoy designing their city of the future in City by Design, climbing our 17′ wall that replicates the front of the building, creating a masterpiece in the Kids-at-Art studio, learning about another culture in Our House Japan, and taking a trip down our world famous giant toilet in ExploraHouse, while learning about the ins and outs of a house. Birthday parties and after-hours rentals are also available. Special programs for schools, Scouts and the general public are conducted on a weekly in-house basis to enhance guests’ experience.
Open Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Sunday 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm. Admission $7.00 per person, ages 18 months and older.
For additional information regarding activities and hours, please click the website link at the top of this page.
Related links (and discount coupon)
Mill Race Park
Mill Race Park
Landscape Management recognized this 85-acre riverfront park as one of the top 100 parks in the nation for design, reputation, and accessibility. Designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh, and featuring structures by Stanley Saitowitz, it includes an 84-foot observation tower, a covered bridge, people trails, fishing at two lakes, picnic shelters, playground equipment, horseshoe pits, basketball courts, and an amphitheater that hosts concerts and performances.
Not Just Popcorn
Featured on the Food Network, this popcorn ships all over the world. Located in downtown Edinburgh, it is well worth the 3.5 mile drive from Edinburgh Premium Outlets. The retail store is in the same building where they create their popcorn mixes and and they will be happy to let you watch! Group tours are available for a nominal fee, and guests are taken through the process of growing, harvesting, popping, coating, packaging, and finally meeting the popcorn connoisseurs – there is always a lot of tasting going on!
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.
Welcome to The Red Zone, the only laser tag arena within five counties and provides the safest fun center for all ages. Come on to try laser tag, blaze through the bounce house, fulfill your superhero fantasies on the Spider Wall, and soar into a slam dunk on our Aeroball!
Shireman Homestead is a not-for-profit organization that provides services to other organizations and assisted living homes for therapeutic help. The Homestead also provides rescue services and helps re-home many animals. Shireman Homestead has many special events and activities throughout the year. Yearly events include a pioneer village in the spring and summer, candle and rope making, weaving, a summer kitchen, and wagon rides year round.
The Haunting event is in October. This is an exciting farm trail that enters the woods and crosses bridges into the mine, past the village, with the visit of the Headless Horseman.
Holiday at the farm comes in December. A lighted wagon will take you to our village to visit Santa’s house, then to the Holiday treat house and the craft workshop. Be sure to have those special letters for Santa’s mailbox with your return addresses so you will be sure to get a letter back.
Columbus Skateland is a locally-owned and locally-operated skating rink that has been serving the Columbus area for over 35 years. This clean, safe, reasonably-priced, family-orientated facility serves Columbus and surrounding South Central Indiana counties.
The mostly wooded 32-acre Tangeman Woods features the Outdoor Lab nature trail, which the Bartholomew County Soil and Water Conservation District created in the 1970s and continues to use for school field trips. The Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation donated the preserve to Sycamore Land Trust in 2007 and named it in memory of Clementine Tangeman, a past owner of the property and sister of J. Irwin Miller.
Touch The Earth Natural Area is the largest park in Bartholomew County and features natural hiking trails and bird watching.
Photo courtesy Arrows Sent Forth
Yes Cinema & Conference Center is a combined cultural arts and convention facility which caters to cultural arts patrons, corporate customers, and civic/social groups. In addition to showing classic and independent and bargain films, Yes Cinema also hosts conferences, comedy showcases, community events, televised sporting events, employee training workshops, catered events, and private parties.
Fine art photography, paintings, sculpture, glass, wood. Handmade jewelry, crochet, bath and body, toys, hats, purses, scarves. Events to learn acrylic painting, watercolor, mixed media, wineglass painting, and speed painting.
Are you looking to have some fun painting? Or, maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to paint? Either way, you are going have a great time at our painting classes. Knowing your shapes, letters, and colors are the only tools you need to get started.
Bring a friend and your sense of humor and we will take care of the rest – including ALL of your painting supplies (smocks, brushes, easels, canvases and everything in between!)
Reservations are needed to visit Utopia Wildlife, which is a wildlife care facility, not a zoo.
Check their Facebook page for Open House dates, typically the first Saturday of the month May through September.
Utopia Wildlife Rehabilitators is dedicated to providing expert veterinary care, rehabilitation and release for orphaned, sick and injured native Indiana reptiles, mammals, birds, and birds of prey.Utopia provides engaging and compelling educational programs about conservation, nature, and wildlife for people of all ages and walks of life, and also provides mentoring and hands-on learning opportunities for students of all ages, as well as encouraging interest in the outdoors and wildlife careers.
Zaharakos Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor
Learn much more and see more at the Zaharakos detailed listing
This elegantly-restored 1900-style ice cream parlor and museum was named “The Number One Thing Every Hoosier Must Do” byIndianapolis Monthly magazine. One writer said it is “…a confection of mirrors, marble, Tiffany glass, carved woodwork, and polished soda-fountain plumbing.” The one-of-a kind Victorian ice cream parlor and museum is a treat for kids of all ages, from the music coming from the 1908 Welte Orchestrion to the homemade sodas and ice cream. Try a local favorite, the Green River, made the old-fashioned way. The gift shop features handmade toys, trains, and ice cream items. Plus, the Commons playground and kidscommons are right next door!
Learn much more about the famous ice cream parlor
Brown County State Park is located just thirty miles due west of Columbus. Nicknamed “The Little Smokies” because of the area’s resemblance to the Great Smoky Mountains, Brown County encompasses nearly 16,000 acres of rugged hills, ridges, and fog-shrouded ravines. Glaciers from the most recent ice ages stopped short of the “hills o’ Brown,” but their meltwaters helped create the narrow ridges, steep slopes, and deep gullies of the park.
Indiana’s largest park is a traditional fall color hot spot, with nearly 20 miles of tree-lined roads and many scenic vistas overlooking miles of uninterrupted forestland. And, of course, Nashville is on the edge of the park and features dozens of art galleries, artisan shops, and restaurants.
Explore Brown County Adventure Park offers: 15 zip lines, paintball, ATV and buggy tours, 30 miles of mountain biking and hiking trails. Explore Brown County has the fastest, longest and tallest twin racing zip line in Indiana! Soar over a mile of cable to heights of 80’ through treetops, over hollows, and a lake. Buggy and ATV Tours explore 1,000 acres visiting historic sites. Paintball offers over 90 acres of woods and Speedball. Harvest Hall seats 250 while camping cabins sleep up to 80.