The Go-To Guide: Top 25 Outdoor Playgrounds Kids Love

These venues around Central Ohio offer plenty of places where families can have fun and unwind. Many accommodate different ages and abilities.

Jim Fischer
Homestead Park in Hilliard

There’s nothing quite like a playground to get kids’ blood pumping. The thrill of big swings and slides, tall structures to climb and wide-open spaces are an undeniable lure. Backyard playsets just can’t compete.

Most families frequent parks near their home, but if you’re up for a little exploring, Central Ohio has a wide variety of options to pick from.

We’ve assembled a list of some of the most popular local playgrounds, including three new destinations this year. All are in public parks owned by local municipalities or Metro Parks, and many have ADA-accessible equipment. Since they’re open year-round, winter amenities also are listed.

To suggest a destination that we should consider adding to our list, send an email to contact@columbusparent.com.

Alum Creek Park North

221 W. Main St., Westerville; 614-901-6500; parks.westerville.org

Adjacent to the campus of Otterbein University, this venue offers small-town park charm as well as a taste of a remote natural area, thanks to a creek and the informal trails and views. The space features dedicated playgrounds suitable for various ages, including a spiderweb climbing feature and an accessible electronic play structure. Basketball and sand volleyball courts are available, and the creek is open for fishing. A leisure trail offers walking and biking opportunities. There is a shelter house, but it must be reserved. ADA-compliant bathrooms are open seasonally.

Amberleigh Community Park

4715 Vista Ridge Drive, Dublin; 614-410-4700; dublinohiousa.gov

Natural beauty and features distinguish Amberleigh for outdoors enthusiasts, as the 23.5-acre space includes a river overlook and access to a canoe/kayak rail along with numerous walking trails, a nature area and fishing. But the park also offers a unique playground and play village, a shelter house, grills and restrooms.

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

1775 Darby Creek Drive, Galloway; 614-370-6254; metroparks.net

The resident bison are rightly the best-known feature of this Metro Park on the West Side, but the 7,000-plus-acre venue offers much more. There are several playgrounds, plus a 9-acre natural play area near the Indian Ridge Picnic Area with a ravine and creek access. For those looking for a natural experience, try the 14 trails, most of them multiuse. The park also offers fishing, hunting and seasonal ice skating and sledding. A nature center and picnic area are available, and restrooms are abundant. While you’re there, don’t forget to explore the Big and Little Darby creeks.

Woodside Green Park in Gahanna

Every Kid’s Playground at Liberty Park

2845 Home Road, Powell; 740-881-5432; libertytwp.org

This is the area’s first and best-known “universally accessible” playground, full of equipment on which kids of all abilities can play. The park has ample green space with soccer fields and trails for walking/running, plus courts for other sports. There’s also a fishing pond, a walking path and a seasonal sledding hill and ice rink. Other features include an ADA-compliant shelter house and restrooms.

Fancyburg Park

3375 Kioka Ave., Upper Arlington; 614-583-5340; upperarlingtonoh.gov/city-parks

This urban park’s playground, nature area, fitness stations and sports fields offer a bevy of opportunities for play. With a location straight out of Norman Rockwell and a name to match, the park also has picnic areas, a shelter house, grills and restrooms are also available.

Fryer Park

3899 Orders Road, Grove City; 614-277-3050; grovecityohio.gov

Discovery Frontier is this 110-acre park’s ADA-accessible playground, a space-themed area offering fun for all abilities. Play at Fryer is recreational and educational, thanks to the Century Village historic area with a renovated one-room schoolhouse, log cabin and barn. Sports fields, trails, catch-and-release fishing and restrooms also are available. A splash pad and a sledding hill make it a year-round destination.

McCord Park in Worthington

Glacier Ridge Metro Park

9801 Hyland-Croy Road, Plain City; 614-216-8859; metroparks.net/parks-and-trails/glacier-ridge

This vast, 1,037-acre park sits on former farmland and now boasts wetlands, biking and walking trails, horseback riding and disc golf. Play options include a traditional playset, a three-section wooden climbing apparatus and a 3-acre, 12-station obstacle course that’s suitable for children and adults. There’s also a shelter with a grill and restrooms.

Goodale Park

120 W. Goodale St. (Short North), Columbus; 614-645-3300; columbus.gov/goodalepark

The oldest park in the city of Columbus, Goodale Park’s most notable feature is its elephant-fountain-adorned pond. But this historic, 32.71-acre site bordering the Short North and Victorian Village neighborhoods also has playgrounds, a gazebo, walking paths, sports courts and a sledding hill. Portable toilets are available. There is some free parking available within the park; metered street-side spots circle the park and line nearby roads.

Homestead Metro Park

4675 Cosgray Road, Hilliard; 614-216-8859; metroparks.net/parks-and-trails/homestead

Play opportunities are plentiful at Homestead. The 44-acre site features multiple play areas from which kids can choose, most with different features, including an adaptive play area. Plus, the rolling green space feels like the country, though it’s tucked into a suburb and easily accessible. Check out the covered bridge, train station replica and caboose; cast a line in the 2.5-acre pond; play on sports courts and fields; and enjoy the trails, fitness stations and 10-acre prairie garden. Shelters with grills, an amphitheater and restrooms are available.

Huber Village Park

362 Huber Village Blvd., Westerville; 614-901-6500; parks.westerville.org

Planet Westerville at Huber Village Park is a sprawling, classic playground with modern features offering designated areas for younger and older kids. The 27.56-acre site also has sports fields, a paved trail, a nature area with woodlands and wetlands, a shelter and ADA-compliant restrooms.

Jefferson Community Park

7494 Clark State Road, Gahanna; 614-855-4260; jeffersontownship.org

Visitors will find lovely scenery as well as a playground that accommodates varying ages. The 28-acre park also features a fishing pond, multiuse trails, picnic tables and horseshoe pits. Restrooms and three shelters are available.

Jeffrey Park

165 N. Parkview Ave., Bexley; 614-559-4300; bexley.org/parks

Adjacent to the historic Jeffrey Mansion in Bexley, this nearly 40-acre park offers play areas and a chance to appreciate nature. There is a playground suitable for younger children, as well as sports fields, nature trails with a boardwalk along Alum Creek, canoe and kayak access, picnic areas with grills, shelter houses and restrooms (typically open April to October). The Bexley Community Pool and the Bexley Historical Society lie within the park. Note that dogs are not permitted.

McCord Park

333 E. Wilson Bridge Road, Worthington; 614-436-2743; worthington.org

The All Children’s Playground at McCord is an all-abilities play area. Adjacent to the Worthington Community Center, the park has two playgrounds, sports fields and courts, a community garden and a shelter house that includes restrooms and picnic tables.

Millstone Creek Park

745 N. Spring Road, Westerville; 614-901-6500; parks.westerville.org

Enjoy the “inclusive boundless” playground, suitable for all abilities and geared to ages 2-12, inside this 15.27-acre park. It also features wetlands, a nature play area, a boardwalk and a sand pit. The park offers athletic courts and fields, walking paths, a gazebo and ADA-compliant restrooms with changing stations.

North Orange Park

7560 Gooding Blvd., Delaware; 740-657-2630; orangetwp.org

The playground offers separate areas designed for ages 2-5 and 5-12; many features are ADA-compliant. Other amenities at the park, adjacent to the North Orange Aquatic Center, include walking and nature trails, sports courts and fields, an open-air shelter with a fireplace, fishing ponds and a sledding hill.

Olentangy River Parklands

600 W. Wilson Bridge Road, Worthington; 614-436-2743; worthington.org

This scenic, 100-acre riverfront park boasts two playgrounds—Whitney and Highgate—both accessible from the Olentangy Trail or nearby neighborhoods. Each features equipment surrounded by green space. The park also has a 2-mile multiuse trail, sports courts and fields, and the Winding Adventures Skate Park. Other outdoor activities include a sledding hill and river access for canoes and kayaks.

Schiller Park

1069 Jaeger St. (German Village), Columbus; 614-645-3300; columbus.gov/schillerpark

This 23.5-acre park in the German Village neighborhood of Columbus is an urban gem, featuring an expansive playground along with a walking trail, gardens, a gazebo, a fishing pond, sports fields, a tennis court and a sledding hill. Public art is plentiful, from the statue of park namesake German poet Friedrich von Schiller to the more-recently-added Suspension: Balancing Art, Nature, and Culture exhibition, to the amphitheater where Actors’ Theatre of Columbus presents free productions each summer. Parking is available surrounding the park and on some neighboring streets.

Slate Run Metro Park

1375 State Route 674 N., Canal Winchester; 614-329-1392; metroparks.net/parks-and-trails/slate-run

There are multiple play areas in this southeast area Metro Park, including one that features rope netting for climbing. The 1,705-acre space also includes a 7-acre natural play area, numerous trails, creek and wetland areas, and two shelters with grills. A 14-acre lake boasts a boardwalk and two children’s fishing docks.

Sycamore Creek Park

481 Hereford Drive, Pickerington; 614-837-3974; ci.pickerington.oh.us

This scenic park located at the entrance to Olde Pickerington boasts multiple play areas, including a ninja obstacle course. It also features walking paths, a creek, an arboretum, a covered bridge and a 2.3-acre pond for fishing. Other amenities include a skate park, sports fields, a sledding hill, an amphitheater and a gazebo. Restrooms are open seasonally.

Veterans Park

1121 S. Houk Road, Delaware; 740-203-1810; delawareohio.net

The Veterans Park playground has plenty of all-ages climbing options, not to mention the bonus of a slide that starts inside a dinosaur’s head. Cool off in the shaded area, or check out the dinosaur-themed splash pad. The 25-acre park also offers a 1.2-mile trail and plenty of picnic tables.

Walnut Woods Metro Park

6723 Lithopolis Road, Groveport; 614-357-9375; metroparks.net/parks-and-trails/walnut-woods

The playground at this 1,170-acre park features a natural-design play area that complements the environment, which includes wetlands, trails and a creek. An ADA-accessible shelter includes two grills and borders a hiking trail. In winter, the low hill, in the Buckeye Area, is suitable for sledding. Fishing and canoe/kayak access are available.

Whetstone Park

3923 N. High St. (Clintonville), Columbus; 614-645-3217; columbus.gov/whetstonepark

Whetstone Park occupies 136.3 acres along the Olentangy River. Features include a universally accessible playground, sports courts and fields, a fishing pond, a prairie, river access, a walking trail, a gazebo, picnic areas and a shelter house. Find it next to the Whetstone Community Center and the Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library. The 13-acre Columbus Park of Roses (3901 N. High St.; parkofroses.org) is located within Whetstone.

Windsor Park

4414 Broadway, Grove City; 614-277-3050; grovecityohio.gov

Special needs children get their own area at this 38-acre park, which also offers a traditional outdoor play space. Windsor Park has 10 baseball/softball diamonds and the Dream Field for special needs players, plus sports courts, three shelters/gazebos and restrooms.

Woodside Green Park

213 Camrose Court, Gahanna; 614-342-4250; gahanna.gov/parks

A local Girl Scout troop constructed a play area at this 32-acre green space that features an obstacle course, tunnels, fort building, climbing and more. Sports fields and courts, a fishing pond, a shelter house and heated restrooms are also available. The park connects to the Big Walnut Trail and has a canoe launch into Big Walnut Creek.

Wyman Woods

1520 Goodale Blvd., Grandview Heights; 614-488-3111; grandviewheights.org

This centrally located park in Grandview Heights features a playground as well as a multiuse field, paths, a sledding hill, a shelter house with a kitchenette and accessible bathrooms open seasonally.

This story is from the Summer 2022 issue of Columbus Parent.