For a city filled with storied tales of the past, including its origins as a western frontier post for the 13 original colonies, Columbus, Georgia, offers a host of attractions for the youth firmly planted in the modern world. As an added bonus, many of the city’s kid-friendly activities are completely free of charge.
Arts and Letters
The Columbus Museum celebrates the region with an extensive collection of works of art and historic objects relating to native tribes and slaves. The museum has child-friendly interactive exhibits that give little ones the chance to put on puppet shows and draw self-portraits. The museum also hosts Fantastic Fridays and Second Saturdays, special family programming that includes activities such as singalongs, art workshops and scavenger hunts. Admission to the museum is free. Columbus is home to three major branches of the Chattahoochee Valley Library system: the Columbus, South Columbus and North Columbus public libraries. The libraries stage special events for kids throughout the year, including film screenings, storytelling sessions, game nights and arts and crafts workshops. The libraries also host an annual Columbus Children’s Book Festival, complete with children’s literature book vendors, illustrators and writers.
Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center is a free interactive museum that provides kids with an up-close view of wildlife. Children can come face to face with an array of animals in both indoor and outdoor exhibits, including alligators, bees, fish and snakes. The center also has classroom laboratories, an auditorium and gardens with natural trails. Kids can soak up the great outdoors at Cooper Creek Park, a lush regional park filled with playgrounds, walking trails, tennis courts and horseshoe pits. There’s also a large lake where the families can enjoy a day of fishing.
Wet and Wild
Kid can cool off at Woodruff Park by running through the Riverfront Splash Pad, a small space outfitted with 32 jets that shoot streams of cold water into the air. Children can also enjoy a show as the water dances to a synchronized music and light show. Chattahoochee Riverwalk is a 15-mile paved path that runs along the course of the waterway. The trail is open to bikers, walkers and joggers. Ride on Bikes in downtown Columbus rents bicycles to the public, including children’s and tandem bikes.
Outdoor in Auburn
Make your way to the nearby college town of Auburn, Alabama, just 35 minutes northeast of Columbus, for an assortment of outdoor kid-friendly activities. The city hosts a summer movie series from early June through early August, airing family films outdoors in Duck Samford Park on select Friday nights. Auburn also stages a fall concert series held on Thursday nights in Kiesel Park in September. Crowds are encouraged to bring picnic dinners to these free family events. Vendors are often on hand selling food and drinks.