I don’t know about you, but taking a tour is one of the first things I do when I visit a new city. However, just because you are a local doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t enjoy the local tours, too. There are so many Columbus tours to choose from. Don’t leave all the fun to the tourists!
Paddle in the City
Pricing: $25 single kayak, $40 tandem kayak
Duration: 2.5 hours total
HERO USA partnered with Columbus Parks and Recreation to bring you Paddle in the City. Canoe, kayak, or paddleboard down the Scioto River, while receiving instruction and nature education from your guide. This program runs from springtime until the end of October every Saturday and Sunday at 10am, 1pm, and 4pm. Sunset paddles will be presented throughout the season.
Be prepared for tons of laughs, dancing, and for pedaling to be harder than you think! Pedal Wagon Columbus has great neighborhood tours as well as tours that serve as a pregame for a Clippers or Blue Jackets game. And the best part – the pedal wagons are BYOB, beer and wine ONLY. Please note: only 36 oz of beer or 18 oz of wine is allowed per rider, with no liquor or glass. Everyone must be 21+ on the wagon for alcohol to be allowed onboard. And finally, unfinished alcohol cannot be taken off the wagon at the end. Only bring what you can consume! Cruises run year-round, every day, closing for some holidays and private events (WOW!).
Because every city needs a Segway tour – and SegAway is ours! If you have never ridden a segway before, no worries, they spend about 15-20 minutes teaching you at the beginning of the tour. They operate two downtown tours, the Original City Tour and the Rivers & Bridges Tour. Tours run every day from March 1st until December 23rd.
Pricing: $25-$80 (ticket pricing is less for zoo members)
Duration: 45 minutes – 2.5 hours
The award-winning Columbus Zoo gives you ample opportunities to get an educational look at the animals and park operations. Their Behind-the-Scenes tours allow you to pick from three locations and are offered daily. Before Hours Tours give you an opportunity to eat breakfast at the zoo and interact with one of the animals. The After Hours Tour is a uniquely intimate VIP experience Ride in a golf cart around the zoo, hear stories, and enjoy light refreshments while connecting to the wildlife. These two tours are an option from March to October.
Pricing: $7-$180 (ticket pricing is less for zoo members)
No need to book a trip to Africa for a safari, when we have The Wilds just an hour and a half from downtown. The Wilds presents an array of amazing safari tours. A few that stood out to us are a Giraffe Painting Party, a Sunset Horseback Safari, or a Zipline Tour. Who wouldn’t want to paint with giraffes? Most tours operate from April – October with the exception of the Winter at the Wilds Tour which operates from November – April.
Most of us have probably gone to the Short North District for a Gallery Hop at least once in our life (if not, get to it!). Why not take it a step further and learn about the history of the “art and soul” of Columbus, aka the Short North? On this tour you will learn about the history of the district and how it came to be the art hub of Columbus. Visit six galleries, have an artist meet-and-greet, and walk away with a limited edition 30th anniversary t-shirt. The Gallery Hop happens on the first Saturday of the month. Reservations must be made by email at least two weeks prior to the event.
Food and Drinks
Columbus Food Adventures
Duration: 3-5 hours
Bucket List item: Complete all the tours that Columbus Food Adventures offers! They all sound extremely delicious. Food tours are the best at giving you just a sampling of something you might not ever choose for yourself. Also, you get to learn the history of the neighborhood and establishment, often getting a behind-the-scenes look! They offer tours of most of the immediate neighborhoods surrounding Columbus. But they also offer some unique tours like the Taco Truck Food Tour, Coffee Tour, Meat Lover’s Tour, and a Scavenger Hunt. The tour will include 5-7 stops and samples of enough food for an average meal. These tours operate on the weekends year-round with greater availability being in the summer.
Columbus Brew Adventures
Duration: 3-5 hours
Columbus Brew Tours was founded by the owners of Columbus Food Adventures. When the Columbus beer scene started growing they saw a great opportunity to combine beer with local history. They have combined breweries for tours based on their location. You will visit 3-4 locations and learn about the craft beer culture and brewing scene along the way. Each tour will include transportation, 3-4 samples or a half pint at each location, and a snack. We’ve got our eye on two tours in particular, the Pitchers & Pizza Tour and the Beer, Wine, Boos, & Spirits Tour. They have tours year-round every Saturday and select Sundays with some tours operating only during the summer months.
Besides great drinks, you will receive a mixology lesson at each stop. This is a walking tour that will include a cocktail, snacks, and a Q & A at each location. The other cool part is the Columbus Craft Cocktail Passport. During the tour, you will get three stamps out of the way and then it’s up to you to obtain the remaining ten. Once the passport is completed you will earn a Columbus Craft Cocktail Tour shirt. These tours are offered year-round on Saturdays, with some Sunday Funday tours thrown into the mix.
History and Mystery
NOTE: Most of the food, drink, and history tour sites give haunted tours around October, you just have to watch out for them, because they sell out quickly!
Columbus City Adventures
Duration: 1 ¼ – 3 hours
Another sister company of Columbus Food Adventures, this is Central Ohio’s first full-service city tour provider. Tours contain Columbus history, landmarks, and architecture. They may be a walking tour or conducted in a van or bus. One tour that stands out is the Secret Columbus tour that shows some of the hidden and weird parts of Columbus. Select tours are offered daily, with some limited days during the winter months.
Pricing: Free – $25
Duration: 90 minutes
Columbus Landmarks is an organization dedicated to restoring and preserving old buildings. One of their recent tours was of the buildings on 2018’s Most Endangered Buildings list (#thisplacematters). These are buildings the community has decided as most deserving of being saved from the wrecking ball. Their CityWalks guided tour happens every Saturday at 10am. Once a month they have a CityWalks Night Tour whose sole purpose is to take advantage of the sunset and the city skyline. Sounds like a date night best bet to us!
Located in historic downtown Dublin, this tour takes you to various haunted places around the city. Tour guides combine personal experiences and local lore, with factual history of the city. You might even be joined by a local wandering spirit! Tours operate from May-August by reservation only, Saturday nights in September, and Friday and Saturday nights in October.
Art in Public Places Cell Phone Tour
This interactive, comprehensive tour highlights over 20 years of public art around Dublin.
Columbus Museum of Art
While admission is required the CMA does offer free self-guided and guided tours. PSA: Sundays are free admission for anyone.
Self-guided walking tours of your favorite capital city. Also available in 1,000 cities worldwide, perfect for use on a trip!
Free guided tours daily
M-F, 10am-3pm and Sat-Sun, 12pm-3pm
Trees of the Oval
Download the brochure or app showcasing the 32 trees surrounding the Oval on Ohio State’s campus.
Urban Arts Space
Urban Arts Space is a gallery for OSU students, faculty, and staff, as well as the Columbus community. Thirty-minute guided tours are given daily, and advance notice is prefered.
Other tours you may love:
Feature image credit: @cbusadventures