Central Ohio
By Steve Stephens
The Columbus Dispatch
When a glacier came through Central Ohio some 12,000 years ago, it ironed out the terrain and left a boringly flat topography. So mountain climbing is out.
But what the region lacks in hills, it makes up for with fun summer events and thrilling attractions. A few suggestions for the coming months:
Theme Parks
Zoombezi Bay
10101 Riverside Drive, Powell (Delaware County)
 614-724-3600
Plenty of aquatic adventures await visitors to the water theme-park next to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The new Otter Banks attraction includes Sandpiper Splash Drop Slides; Sea Challenge, an aqua-themed obstacle course; and Sand Dollar Shores with cascading waterfalls and relaxing seating walls. The park also offers Summer Nights (family-friendly movie nights) on selected Fridays.
Admission: Daily admission is $34.99, or $26.99 for children 3 to 9, with discounted prices online. Includes admission to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on day of visit.
zoombezibay.columbuszoo.org

Botanical Gardens/Zoos
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
1777 E. Broad St., Columbus (Franklin)
 614-715-8000
This year marks the 25th anniversary of “Blooms & Butterflies,” with hundreds of colorful butterflies flying freely in conservatory’s Pacific Island Water Garden. Patrons can visit the display during regular hours. Plus, special presentations are offered daily at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. for a deeper insight into the delicate creatures. And, on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon, butterfly lovers of all ages can explore Metamorphosis Lab Discovery Tables to interact with cocoons, chrysalises and moths with the guidance of a butterfly expert.
Admission: $19, or $16 for those 60 and older, $12 for children 3 to 12
fpconservatory.org

Dawes Arboretum
7770 Jacksontown Road S.E., Newark (Licking)
1-800-443-2937
This 2,000-acre botanical oasis is perfect for a lovely walk, or a drive along the site’s 4.46-mile auto tour route. Visitors will find extensive wooded and wild areas including one of the most northerly bald-cypress swamps in North America. Themed gardens include a Japanese garden and Dutch Fork Wetlands with six ponds, a prairie meadow, an observation deck and a shelter house. Visitors can also climb an observation tower for magnificent views of the entire arboretum. The historic Daweswood House displays 19th- and 20th--century antiques and memorabilia from the Dawes Family, which founded the arboretum. House tours are offered on Saturdays, Sundays and the second Wednesday of the month.
Admission: $10 for adults, $5 for children 5 to 15 and free for children under 5 and members
dawesarb.org

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
4850 W. Powell Road, Powell (Delaware)
614-645-3400
Columbus’s famous zoo houses more than 10,000 animals of 600 different species grouped in six distinct regions: Australia and the Islands, Congo Expedition, Shores, Asia Quest, North America and Heart of Africa. New babies born this year at the zoo include a dama gazelle and a silvered leaf langur, both threatened species.
Admission: $16.99 and $11.99 for seniors ages 60 and older and children 3 to 9 for Franklin County residents; $21.99 and $16.99 for nonresidents. Parking is $10 per vehicle.
columbuszoo.org

Outdoor Arts
Lancaster Festival, July 18-27, Lancaster (Fairfield)
740-687-4808
The music festival, celebrating its 35th anniversary season, features a wide variety of performances at indoor and outdoor venues in and near Lancaster. Other festival events include art displays and demonstrations, dramatic performances and kids’ activities.
Admission: varies by performance
lancasterfestival.org

Columbus Arts Festival
Downtown Columbus (Franklin)
614-221-8625
June 7 – 9
One of the top arts festivals in the nation, this event along the Scioto Mile and Scioto River waterfront brings in hundreds of talented artists working in a wide variety of media to display and sell their wares. Visitors can also enjoy five different entertainment stages.
Admission: free
columbusartsfestival.org

Museums
Sherman House Museum
137 E. Main St., Lancaster (Fairfield)
740-687-5891
The birthplace of General William Tecumseh Sherman, in downtown Lancaster, was built in 1811. Today it commemorates the life of the Civil War hero with an interior restored to look as it would have when the house was occupied by the Sherman family. Visitors will also find memorabilia including a parlor set owned by another Ohio Union Army hero, General (and later President) Ulysses S. Grant , and many other Civil War artifacts.
Admission: $6, $2 for students 17 and younger. Active-duty military personnel with ID are admitted free.
shermanhouse.org

National Veterans Memorial and Museum
300 W. Broad St., Columbus (Franklin)
1-888-987-6866
Set in an architecturally innovative circular building on the banks of the Scioto River, this museum that opened in October commemorates and celebrates the lives of American military personnel. The stories of individual veterans and themes of challenge, sacrifice and achievement are explored in the museum’s galleries. The display culminates in the Remembrance Gallery with space for reflection in the glow of a floor-to-ceiling stained-glass installation inspired by military campaign ribbons.
Admission is $17, $15 for seniors 65 and older, $12 for college students with ID, $10 for children 5 –17. Active-duty military and military veterans are admitted free.
nationalvmm.org

COSI Columbus
333 W. Broad St., Columbus (Franklin)
614-228-2674
COSI, the Center of Science and Industry, is another institution housed in an architecturally significant and interesting building (designed by this year’s Pritzker Prize-winning architect Arata Isozaki). Inside that building is one of the country’s most acclaimed science centers, where visitors can enjoy a variety of exhibits, including the American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery. Also, through Sept. 2, the exhibit “Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids,” will examine the real and imaginary aspects of history’s most legendary animals.
Admission: beginning at $25, or $20 for children 2 to 12. Family Friday Night (last Friday of the month) offers admission tickets after 5 p.m. for $15, or $10 for children. Some exhibits, including “Mythic Creatures,” have an additional fee.
cosi.org

Sporting Events
Columbus Clippers
330 Huntington Park Lane, Columbus (Franklin)
614-462-5250
Columbus’ triple-A baseball team makes its home in Huntington Park, voted “Ballpark of the Year” eight different times. The park, in the Arena District downtown, features seats in a variety of price ranges and many special promotions and giveaways throughout the season, including Party-at-the-Park events offering live music before every Saturday home game. At Friday home games this year, the team will don uniforms as Los Veleros de Columbus to celebrate baseball’s Hispanic and Latino ties and culture.
Admission: from $7 for adults and from $5 for children under 12 and seniors over 60
Information: clippersbaseball.com

Columbus Crew SC
Mapfre Stadium, Interstate 71 near East Hudson Street, Columbus (Franklin)
614-447-2739
Fans and new owners helped save Columbus’ professional soccer team from moving to Texas, and a new stadium is in the Crew’s future. For now though, fans can still see matches at the team’s venerable home, Mapfre Stadium, the first soccer-specific stadium built in the United States.
Admission: from $25
columbuscrewsc.com

The Memorial Tournament
Muirfield Village Golf Club, 5750 Memorial Drive, Dublin (Franklin)
May 27-June 2
1-877-682-2343
The world’s best golfers gather annually for this PGA tournament to vie for the $9 million purse and pay tribute to golf’s legends, including the tournament founder and host, Jack Nicklaus. Each year, the Memorial especially honors one great from the world of golf. This year’s honoree is Judy Rankin, a 26-time winner on the LPGA tour and currently an analyst with the Golf Channel and ESPN. Last year’s tournament winner was Bryson DeChambeau, who took home more than $1.6 million for the victory.
Admission: Weekly patron badges start at $185. Practice round tickets are available online for $35 for a set of three and also at the gate.
thememorialtournament.com

Festivals and fairs
Ohio State Fair
Ohio Expo Center, Interstate 71 and East 17th Avenue, Columbus (Franklin)
July 24 to Aug. 4
1-888-646-3976
One of the largest state fairs in the country, the Ohio State Fair features 360 acres of exhibit halls, animal barns, rides, food and more entertainment than you can shake a corndog-on-a-stick at. This summer’s featured entertainers include Toby Keith, Hank Williams Jr., and REO Speedwagon.
Admission: $10, or $8 for those 60 and older, $8 for children 5 to 12 (rides and most concerts have an additional fee).
ohiostatefair.com

ComFest
Goodale Park, 120 W. Goodale St., Columbus (Franklin)
June 28 to 30
The country’s largest independent, volunteer-run festival is so popular that it’s hard to describe it as “counter-culture.” But it’s certainly non-corporate, with a free and easy vibe (and free admission) and a mission to “promote community unity, tolerance and equity.” The street festival began in 1972 and features alternative politics, local music, arts and crafts, food and drink.
Admission: free
comfest.com

Wineries/breweries
Dalton Union Winery & Brewery
21100 Shirk Rd., Marysville (Union)
937-645-5889
This friendly winery, open Fridays and Saturdays, added beer-making to its repertoire last year, making it Union County’s only craft brewery.
Visitors to the tasting house, located in a country setting just outside Marysville, will find a variety of sweet and dry wines including the popular “Covered Bridge Red,” a limited edition. Also on tap is mead, hard cider and a large list of site-brewed beers. The winery hosts live music and a food truck every Saturday night.
daltonunion.com

Slate Run Vineyard Winery
1900 Winchester Southern Road, Canal Winchester (Fairfield)
614-834-8577
This family-owned winery produces 17 varieties of wine, all made with Ohio fruit. The tasting room, open daily except Sunday, is surrounded by the winery’s four acres of vineyards, producing 60 varieties of grapes.
slaterunwine.com

Outdoor adventures
ZipZone Outdoor Adventures
7925 N. High St., Columbus (Franklin)
614-847-9477
Adventures can zoom tree-to-tree on one of several zip line tours, or experience Adventure Park with five trails and more than 60 different forest challenges through the lush woods of Camp Mary Orton. For younger adventurers ages 4 –7, the site’s Kids Park provides closer-to-the-ground fun.
Admission: Adventure Park, $46, or $39 for children 7 to 11. Zip line tours begin at $46. Kids Park adventure is $19.
zipzonetours.com

Trapper John’s Canoe Livery
7141 London-Groveport Road, Grove City (Franklin)
614-877-4321
A paddle trip from Trapper John’s is a great way to explore a stretch of Big Darby Creek National Scenic River, one of the most biologically diverse streams in the Midwest. Paddlers meet at the creek-side livery in Darbydale and can choose a variety of trips from “sampler” paddles of 1 to 2 hours to full-day, 12-mile floats from the confluence of the Big and Little Darby creeks in Battelle-Darby Metro Park. The livery can also provide shuttle service for paddlers with their own kayaks or canoes.
Admission: Float trips begin at $16, or $5 for children 6 to 12, canoe or kayak.
trapperjohnscanoeing.com

sstephens@dispatch.com