The Go-To Guide: Fall Family Fun

Jim Fischer
Columbus Parent
The popular Pumpkin House will be on display during Pumpkins Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

You might not be using your calendar the way you normally would. And you might not even know what day of the week it is, except for the ones when your kids have to get on the school bus. But surely the smell of dried leaves and pumpkin spice and your increasing desire to wear a sweater have tipped you off. Fall is here.

While we’re still in this place we wish we weren’t, perhaps some of the comforts of the season will help us all cope with this topsy-turvy world. Thankfully, Central Ohio offers an abundance of places to find such comforts, whether themed to harvest or Halloween or any of the trademarks of fall.

We’ve compiled a roundup featuring some of the most popular celebrations for family fun, along with a few other favorites. Bonus: Many of the events are free. Ongoing events are listed first, followed by those with fixed dates. Venues have implemented safety precautions including required social distancing and mask mandates, though some places do not require masks outdoors.

To suggest an addition to our list, send an email to

Through Oct. 25

Freeman’s Farm

6142 Lewis Center Road, Galena;

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays

Each year, the farm hosts a Fall Festival where visitors can take a hayride, shop a farm market and pick pumpkins. There is no petting zoo this year, but as always, apple butter will be cooking throughout the festival. Admission is free; there is a charge for some activities, which may be limited and are subject to change throughout the season.

Through Oct. 31

Hidden Creek Farms

581 S. Galena Road, Sunbury;

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays

Catch a hayride to the pumpkin patch, meet farm animals, ride a pony and enjoy the playground and straw maze at this working farm’s annual fall festival. Admission is $7, $4 for grandparents, free for children younger than 2. Some activities carry an additional charge.

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Through Oct. 31

Leeds Farm

8738 State Route 36, Ostrander;

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays

This popular destination is instituting an advance-purchase, timed ticket requirement for every guest. Admission (sold online) is $12 for ages 3-54, free for ages 2 and younger. Hayrides, paintball, farm animals, pig races, zip lines and farm-themed play areas are among the offerings. There is an additional charge for some activities.

Through Oct. 31

Lehner’s Pumpkin Farm

2920 State Route 203, Radnor;

10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays (and Fridays in October), 4:30-7 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays Oct. 5, 12 and 19

This family farm hosts a fall event that offers more than 40 activities, including multiple corn mazes, a play barn, farm animals, paintball, a giant slingshot, rides of all kinds and more. Most activities are included in the price of admission, which is $7 for adults, $9 for ages 3-17 and free for ages 2 and younger. There is also a pick-your-own pumpkin patch and a gift shop.

Through Oct. 31

Miller’s Country Gardens

2488 State Route 37 W., Delaware;

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays in October

Ride the haywagon to the pumpkin patch any weekend in October at this family farm operation. Fresh produce and plants are available seasonally. A Fall Festival with animals and special activities will be held Oct. 11. Admission is free.

Through Oct. 31

Pigeon Roost Farm

4413 National Road SW, Hebron;

10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays through Sundays

The Great Pumpkin Fun Center returns for 2020 with play areas, a corn maze, an enchanted forest, games, a straw barn, farm animals and wagon rides on weekends. Admission is $8, free for children younger than 2.

Through Nov. 1

Lynd Fruit Farm

9399 Morse Road SW, Pataskala (corn maze is at 9851 Morse Road SW);

10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays

Lynd Fruit Farm is open this fall and offering many of its popular activities, including a Jurassic Corn Maze, barrel train and pick your own fruit and pumpkins. But all ticketing is online and timed—one of Lynd’s FarmSafe initiatives—so make sure to plan ahead. Prices are based on activities chosen.

Through Nov. 1

The Maize at Little Darby Creek

8657 Axe Handle Road, Milford Center;

5-10 p.m. Fridays, noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 6 p.m. Sundays

The centerpiece of the annual Maize at Little Darby Creek event is a 9-acre corn maze, this year celebrating the covered bridges of Union County. Other activities include a ball zone, a pumpkin blaster, games and laser tag. Base admission is $10 in advance, $12 at the farm, free for ages 2 and younger. Additional activities, including pumpkin picking and hayrides, are available for a fee.

Through Nov. 1

The Orchard & Co.

7255 U.S. Route 42, Plain City;

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays

The Orchard & Co. features a variety of activities, including apple picking, wagon rides, animal visits, a corn pit, pedal cars and an animal barn. Admission is $10, free for ages 2 and younger. Some activities have an extra charge. There is no admission fee to pick apples; check the website for details.

Late September to October (dates TBD)

Circle S Farms

9015 London Groveport Road, Grove City;

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

This marks the farm’s 40th year of Fall Fun Days. While details had not been announced as of mid-September, past years have featured play barns, a petting zoo, a corn maze and hayrides to the pumpkin patch.

Oct. 3

Powell Community Bonfire

Village Green Park, 47 Hall St., Powell;

6-8 p.m.

The Powell Police Department and Liberty Township Fire Department are partnering again on this free annual event, which features hot dogs, cider, doughnut holes and marshmallows to roast over one of the fires.

Oct. 13-15

Golden Bear Scare

Smith Nature Park, 1270 Fishinger Road, Upper Arlington;

6:30-7:30 p.m. for elementary-school-age children; 6:30-9 p.m. for middle schoolers

Spooky maybe, but not really scary, this trip through a “haunted” park brings kids in touch with the outdoors at night. A Scare Ranger leads groups through the woods, where visitors encounter witches, a troll and zombies. Recommended for children in grades 1-8. Admission is free.

Oct. 14-25

Pumpkins Aglow

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus;

5-9 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays

Glowing jack-o’-lanterns, creatively carved and presented, and seasonal horticulture displays are just the start of this special event, which also includes the Pumpkin Patch Monster, a giant spider and the spectacular Pumpkin House. Tickets ($22 for ages 13-59, $12 for ages 3-13, free for ages 2 and younger) must be purchased in advance. Glass art, entertainment and more are included.

Oct. 16-18, 23-25 and Oct. 30-Nov. 1

Boo at the Zoo

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, 4850 Powell Road, Powell;

5-9 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays

This family-friendly opportunity to enjoy a “merry-not-scary” Halloween happening features seasonal décor and character visits. Children can dress up and visit the Trick or Treat Trail, see character ambassadors and catch special shows and activities. Boo at the Zoo is included with standard admission, which requires advance purchase of timed tickets. Members can attend after 2 p.m. without a reservation.

Oct. 24

Candy by the Carload

Tentatively Seldom Seen Park, 3240 Seldom Seen Road, Powell;

4-6 p.m.

Powell businesses and organizations set up booths and car trunks to pass out candy and Halloween goodies to costumed children at this free annual event. Guests are limited and registration is required.

Oct. 28

Pickerington Haunted Village

Olde Pickerington Village, Center and Columbus streets;

6-8 p.m.

This free annual family event features ghost tours, hayrides and trick-or-treating at Olde Village businesses. A haunted museum and roving storytellers are also part of the festivities.

A two-sided slide is among the activities at The Maize at Little Darby Creek.