The Go-To Guide: Best Bets for Fall Family Fun Around Columbus

Whether you enjoy pumpkin picking, corn mazes or spooky thrills, these 26 destinations offer loads of seasonal enjoyment.

Jim Fischer
Pumpkins Aglow runs through Oct. 31 at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Many families adore autumn, and it’s not just about football, pumpkin spice and the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot.

Fall in Columbus brings an abundance of opportunities to pull on a sweater and enjoy the outdoors. Whether your excursion is farm-y or spooky, harvest or Halloween, many Central Ohioans think that fall is the best time of year.

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.

Some events and venues have implemented COVID-19 safety precautions, and activities are subject to change. Check websites prior to visiting to get the latest information, and remember that kindness goes a long way so everyone can have the best experience.

To suggest an addition to our list, send an email to contact@columbusparent.com.

ONGOING

THROUGH OCT. 24

Freeman’s Farm

6142 Lewis Center Road, Galena; freemansfarm.com

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

This generational family farm in now-suburban southern Delaware County offers a glimpse of farm life to the public each fall. Ride the hay wagon, shop the farm market, snack on fresh kettle corn and pick a pumpkin. And, as always, apple butter will be cooking throughout the festival. Admission is free; there is a charge for some activities, which are subject to change throughout the season.

THROUGH OCT. 30

Leeds Farm

8738 State Route 36, Ostrander; leedsfarm.com

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15

Fall fun takes many forms at this family farm, from hayrides to paintball, farm animals to zip lines and a host of farm-themed play areas and activities. Leeds Farm is carrying over a policy from last year in which tickets must be purchased in advance for a specific date and time of entry. There are also special events throughout the season, including a day dedicated to patrons on the autism spectrum and the popular Witches Night Out for women.

Regular farm fest admission (sold online) is $15 for ages 3-54, $5 for ages 55 and older and free for ages 2 and younger. There is an additional charge for some activities.

THROUGH OCT. 31

Circle S Farms

9015 London Groveport Road, Grove City; circlesfarm.com

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

Fall Fun Days at Circle S includes play barns, a petting zoo, a corn maze and hayrides to the pumpkin patch. Oh, and doughnuts – lots of pumpkin doughnuts. Weekends offer a fuller scope of activities. Admission is $11 per person on weekends, $10 on weekdays. Children younger than 2 are admitted free.

Hidden Creek Farms

581 S. Galena Road, Sunbury; hiddencreekfarms.com

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays

Catch a hayride to the pumpkin patch, meet farm animals, ride a pony and enjoy the pumpkin slide and straw maze at this working farm’s annual fall festival. Admission is $8, $4 for grandparents, free for children younger than 2. Some activities carry an additional charge.

Pumpkin picking is among the seasonal activities at Lehner’s Pumpkin Farm.

Lehner’s Pumpkin Farm

2920 State Route 203, Radnor; lehnerpumpkins.com

10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; 4:30-7 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday Oct. 11 and 18

Lehner’s is celebrating its 30th anniversary and welcomes everyone to the family farm for more than 40 activities, including multiple corn mazes, a play barn, farm animals, paintball, a giant slingshot and rides of all kinds. There is also a pick-your-own pumpkin patch and a gift shop. Many activities are included in the price of admission, which is $12 for ages 3-59 and free for everyone else. Activities are limited on weeknights, when admission is $6.

Miller’s Country Gardens

2488 State Route 37 W., Delaware; millerscountrygardens.com

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays; noon to 5 p.m. Sundays

Ride the hay wagon to the pumpkin patch any weekend in October at this farm and farm market operation. Admission is free. Fresh produce and plants are available seasonally, and the market is open Tuesdays through Sundays in the fall. A fall celebration with a corn maze, pumpkin picking, animals, games, food trucks and live music is scheduled for Oct. 17.

Pigeon Roost Farm

4413 National Road SW, Hebron; pigeonroostfarm.com

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

Check out the Great Pumpkin Fun Center, featuring an expanded corn maze, zip lines and other new activities. The event also includes farm animals, an enchanted forest and loads of games and activities. Admission is $9, free for children younger than 2. The market and pumpkin shopping are free. Some fun center activities are only held on weekends.

A glass-blowing scarecrow in Lancaster was among the displays in past years at the Trail of Scarecrows in Fairfield County.

Trail of Scarecrows

Throughout Fairfield County; visitfairfieldcounty.org

For the third year, Fairfield County businesses and residents have created their own fall fun with a Trail of Scarecrows that residents and visitors can explore by car or on foot at their own pace. Follow the online trail map and vote for your favorites.

ZOMBIE-zi Bay

Zoombezi Bay, 4850 Powell Road, Powell; zombiezibay.columbuszoo.org

6 to 10 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays; 6 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays

The inaugural incarnation of this fright-filled event is geared for older kids and adults. Four haunted houses, two scare zones and lots of other spooky surprises await. Admission is $32.99. Parking is $10, free for Columbus Zoo and Aquarium members.

THROUGH NOV. 1

Lynd Fruit Farm

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

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

Lynd Fruit Farm offers a Seven Seas Corn Maze, where the $11 admission also includes other fall farm family activities, including a barrel train and wagon rides. Tickets are sold online for a specific date and entry time. Apple picking is available select days, and the market is open daily.

The Maize at Little Darby Creek

8657 Axe Handle Road, Milford Center; mazeandberries.com

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

The Maize is celebrating its 20th year of fall farm fun. The centerpiece of the annual activity schedule is a 9-acre corn maze, this year dedicated to legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus. Other activities include a ball zone, a pumpkin blaster, games and laser tag. Base admission is $11 in advance, $14 at the farm, $5.50/$8.50 for ages 55 and older, and free for ages 2 and younger. Additional activities, including pumpkin picking and hayrides, are available for a fee. On Friday and Saturday nights in October, the Maize becomes “Field of Fright,” with haunted happenings for older children and adults.

The Orchard & Co.

7255 U.S. Route 42, Plain City; theorchardandcompany.com

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 $12, $5 for seniors and 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.

DATE-SPECIFIC EVENTS

Boo at the Zoo allows children to dress in costume and meet Character Ambassadors.

Oct. 1-31

Boo at the Zoo

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, 4850 Powell Road, Powell; columbuszoo.org

5 to 9 p.m. Fridays; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays

Celebrate Halloween in “merry-not-scary” fashion at the annual Boo at the Zoo. This family-friendly event features activities and adventures of the animal kind throughout the zoo grounds, including Tommy C. Turtle’s Trick or Treat Trail. Character Ambassadors, special shows and more. Boo at the Zoo is included with standard admission. Costumes are encouraged but regulated.

Oct 2, 9, 26, 23, 30

All Hallows’ Eve

Ohio Village, 800 E. 17th Ave., Columbus; ohiohistory.org

5:30-9:30 p.m.

This annual event evokes Victorian-era Halloween entertainment, with activities including a lighted pumpkin path, roaming characters, pumpkin carving, fortune telling, a straw maze, a children’s area and a retelling of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by a bonfire. Admission is $16 for adults, $14 for ages 4-12, free for ages 3 and younger.

Oct. 11-13

Golden Bear Scare

Smith Nature Park, 1270 Fishinger Road, Upper Arlington; upperarlingtonoh.gov

6:30-7:30 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, with a slightly spookier experience in the later hours geared for older kids. Admission is free.

Oct. 13-31

Pumpkins Aglow

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

5-9 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays

Glowing jack-o’-lanterns, creatively carved and presented, are just the start of this annual seasonal celebration at the conservatory. Giant, glow-in-the-dark spiders, a huge glowing pumpkin, a foggy creek and pirate display are special features of this event, which also includes seasonal horticulture displays and Harvest Blooms. Tickets ($22 for ages 13-59; $12 for ages 3-13; free for ages 2 and younger) should be purchased in advance. Glass art exhibits, entertainment and more are included.

Oct. 15-16

Dublin Halloween Spooktacular

Dublin Community Recreation Center, 5600 Post Road, Dublin; dublinohiousa.gov/events/halloween-spooktacular

4-8 p.m. Thursday; 1-5 p.m. Friday

This annual family event is sponsored by the city of Dublin. Guests are invited to come in costume for all sorts of fall festivities throughout Coffman Park, including the hay maze, the Trunk or Treat Trail, eerie exhibitions and cool dance performances. A block of time is reserved each day for sensory-friendly hours.

Oct. 15-16, 22-23

Haunted Statehouse tours

Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus; ohiostatehouse.org

7-9 p.m.

Returning for 2021 with a whole new pathway, Haunted Statehouse is a spooky trip through Ohio history and lore via the darkened hallways of the Statehouse. The event is appropriate for ages 12 and older. Tickets are $13 for adults and $7 for students, and must be ordered via the Statehouse website.

Oct. 16

Boo & Brew Birthday Bash

Polaris Fashion Place, 1500 Polaris Parkway, Columbus; polarisfashionplace.com

Noon to 4 p.m.

This event offers something for all ages, with children’s activities as well as food trucks and beer tasting for adults. Kids can participate in a costume contest, check out a pumpkin patch, play on inflatables and more. Admission is free.

Oct. 20-23

Circleville Pumpkin Show

Downtown Circleville; pumpkinshow.com

Hours vary

All things fall make up one of Ohio’s great seasonal traditions, but the heart of it all is pumpkins—from handheld sizes to ones that approach the size of a small car. Activities at the festival, which was first held in 1903, include rides, parades, pageants, live music and more. Admission is free.

Oct. 20-26

The Great Westerville Pumpkin Glow

Nine parks throughout the city; parks.westerville.org/programs/the-great-westerville-pumpkin-glow

Suggested viewing time is 7-10 p.m.

The Westerville Parks & Recreation Department has adapted this local tradition for the pandemic times, moving from a large display at one location to smaller scenes at nine parks around the city. The event is free. In addition, a pumpkin giveaway will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 23 and 24 at Heritage Park, 60 N. Cleveland Ave. Each resident younger than age 14 can receive a free pumpkin. See the website for the list of participating parks.

Oct. 21-22

Great Gahanna Goblin Trail

Academy Park, 1201 Cherry Bottom Road, Gahanna; gahanna.gov/parksandrecevents

6-9:30 p.m.

This drive-through Halloween experience features live and virtual entertainment and art, including a choreographed light show. Come in costume and trick-or-treat from the comfort of your car; many visitors decorate theirs. The cost is $15 per carload; this popular event sells out quickly.

Oct. 24

Candy by the Carload

Seldom Seen Park, 3240 Seldom Seen Road, Powell; cityofpowell.us

4-7 p.m.

Powell businesses and organizations set up booths and car trunks to pass out candy and Halloween goodies to costumed children. The event is free but advance registration is required.

Oct. 24

Easton Fall Festival

Easton Town Center, 160 Easton Town Center, Columbus; eastontowncenter.com

Hours and details for this day of fall-themed fun and festivities are pending; check website for more information.

Oct. 24

Trick or Treat Trail

Gallant Woods Park, 2151 Buttermilk Hill Road, Delaware; preservationparks.com

1-4 p.m.

Children in costume can collect treats from characters along the “enchanted” trail at this free event. Visitors also can decorate a pumpkin, go on a hayride and view insects and nocturnal birds of prey.

Oct. 26

KidX Candy Crawl

Polaris Fashion Place, 1500 Polaris Parkway, Columbus; polarisfashionplace.com

5-7 p.m.

Polaris Fashion Place will host indoor trick-or-treating around stores in Center Court. Children can participate in games, crafts and a costume contest. The event is free.

Oct. 27

Pickerington Haunted Village

Olde Pickerington Village, Center and Columbus streets; pickerington.net

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.