When snow coats the ground and there’s a chill in the air, there is still plenty to do in the nation’s 14th largest city. Columbus offers a wealth of world-renowned attractions with indoor experiences to keep all ages entertained throughout the winter.
Most importantly, visitors can feel safe exploring Ohio’s capital thanks to the Live Forward Pledge. Signed by nearly 200 businesses in all sectors, the Live Forward Pledge is a commitment to keep health and safety at the forefront of operating amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Alongside a citywide mask mandate and strict social distancing measures, the orange window decal serves as a visual representation of who has taken the pledge.
A number of the city’s highest visitor touchpoints are also leveling up their commitment by pursuing the Global Biorisk Council’s GBAC STAR™ Accreditation, the cleaning industry’s only outbreak prevention, response and recovery accreditation for facilities. John Glenn Columbus International Airport has already received accreditation, one of only four airports in the world to have done so, and the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) is the world’s only public transportation system to have committed to pursuing it. The Hilton Columbus Downtown, Hyatt Regency Columbus, Courtyard by Marriott Columbus/OSU and Hyatt Place OSU are also seeking accreditation to offer overnight visitors additional peace of mind.
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, offering the world’s largest collection of Chihuly Glass in a botanical garden, is also pursuing GBAC STAR™ Accreditation. Plus, plants are proven mood boosters, so for anyone who misses long daylight hours during winter months, Franklin Park Conservatory is the place to be.
The extensive gardens and art collections continue to pulse with life all year long with the truly exotic wonders of nature on display. In addition to the incredible, intricate glasswork of Dale Chihuly, the conservatory features more than 400 species of plants from around the world as well as James Turrell’s Light Raiment II.
Two rotating exhibitions will also be offered this winter. The annual orchid exhibition will run from January 23 – March 7, 2021, featuring thousands of vibrant orchids on display in the historic John F. Wolfe Palm House.
Fan favorite Blooms & Butterflies has also moved to winter this year, and will run from January 23 – May 31, 2021. Guests can expect to be whisked away to an enchanted land of tropical butterflies and splashes of floral color as hundreds of butterflies fly freely in the Pacific Island Water Garden. Daily butterfly talks impart deeper insight into the species that make up the exhibit as specialists release newly emerged butterflies daily.
National Veterans Memorial and Museum
Having recently celebrated its two-year anniversary, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum (NVMM) is the only place in the country that honors all veterans and their families, past and present, from all eras of conflict and branches of service in a single facility.
Stories of veterans come to life with interactive exhibits and stunning video testimonials. The Remembrance Gallery on the mezzanine level is a space for reflection and recollection of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, with a warm, colorful glow coming through the floor-to-ceiling stained glass installation inspired by military campaign ribbons. The focal point is an “infinity-flag” display, honoring the millions who died in the name of service to the country. If military service is part of your or your family’s history, you can leave your own story behind at the museum.
The Share Your Story space features a story booth where you can answer a series of prompts and questions to create a short video to record your story. Situated along the city’s Scioto Mile riverfront, an open-air rooftop sanctuary and 2.5-acre Memorial Grove offer peaceful spots for reflection after experiencing powerful stories of service when weather cooperates.
This winter, don’t miss We The People: Portraits of Veterans in America, currently on display through March 21, 2021. An exhibit seven years in the making, NVMM is the first stop for Cleveland watercolor artist Mary White’s extraordinary painting series of military Veterans – one from each state – reintegrating into society and the workforce after military service.
NVMM is also KultureCity Sensory Inclusive Certified, making it a great spot for individuals with sensory needs.
Nearby, central Ohio’s dynamic hands-on science center COSI has recently reopened after careful consideration for how to safely operate amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Step away from the screen and bring science to life in any of the 300-plus on-site exhibits or Ohio’s largest planetarium or have a one-of-a-kind experience with the country’s only high-wire unicycle. Plus, history is larger-than-life in the American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery, featuring a full-sized cast of a Tyrannosaurus rex, 100 million-year-old fossilized amber, an eight-foot titanosaur femur cast and much more.
Most attractions in Columbus require timed tickets for entry amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Be sure to check websites for current requirements.
Save money on your next trip with the Roar & Explore pass, offering a 20% discount on entry to these attractions as well as the Columbus Museum of Art and Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The Roar & Explore Pass is delivered instantly via text and email for a completely contact-free experience with no app to download. Learn more at experiencecolumbus.com/fun.
Columbus Winter Activities
Photos courtesy of Experience Columbus.