What would a city be without its playful oases of green? Downtown Columbus - and the Victorian Village neighborhood, to be precise - has a great oasis in Goodale Park. This 32-acre, 163-year-old park sits just north of Interstate 670, which lends a soundtrack of humming traffic to the beautiful scenery in the park and the horizon of skyscrapers to the south.
Depending on how busy the park is, free parking (though not a lot of it) is available at the park's center near the two playgrounds (one suitable for the wee ones, the other for older kids). The drivable entrance into the park is reached on Park Street, but there is plenty of metered parking on the perimeter.
The playgrounds are nothing unusual. The only "bathrooms" available are two nearby Porta-potties. But what makes Goodale Park a destination that will remain etched in your kids' mental hard drives is the elephants fountain on the north end of the park. It's just flat-out cool - and, on Sunday afternoons in warmer months, the fountain oversees the outdoor "Music in the Air" concert series (which often includes craft activities and food trucks).
The park also has plenty of picnic tables, a gazebo, tennis courts and an open-air shelter (the historic "shelterhouse"/building in the center of the park is not open to the public, but is available for rental). And there's a magnolia grove that is wonderful for playing in.
One word of warning: Dogs could be off their leashes ("direct control" means the owner swears the dog will obey commands to come, sit and stay, and we all know how that goes).
Another word of warning: The outdoor sculpture at the Pizzuti Collection art museum opposite the Park Street entrance features another "fountain" structure (let's just say a very tall man is "watering" the flowers) and it could certainly provide a teachable moment about modern art.