Worth the Drive: Franklin Park Conservatory

Here in Cincinnati, we are fortunate to have one of the best botanical gardens in the US right at our fingertips, with the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

Cincinnati is also just a stone’s throw from the state capitol, where you’ll find one of Ohio’s most wonderful treasures: Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.


This hidden gem is easily one of the most beautiful and breathtaking places in all of Ohio, and truly accessible to everyone, from curious toddlers and active kids to avid gardeners and horticulturists.

Franklin Park Conservatory is an easy day trip from Cincinnati, and well worth the drive this summer!

Located on 13 acres of picture-perfect land, Franklin Park Conservatory takes you by surprise. It’s located just two miles from the heart of Downtown Columbus, and it’s shocking to find something so peaceful and pastoral just a stone’s throw from the city’s urban core.

The Conservatory itself is breathtaking. Located inside the John F. Wolfe Palm House — which dates back to 1895 — it’s a huge greenhouse divided into wings with different biomes. It’s bright and sparkling and completely stunning. Julian is a big fan of carnivorous plants, and was thrilled at the impressive selection of pitcher plants.

But for kids, the main attraction is The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden.  It’s magical — like walking into Oz from Kansas — everything is so bright and colorful. The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden is a two-acre discovery garden and nature playscape that will keep your kids busy for hours. Everything is very hands-on, and there are so many ways to interact with the environment.

The Canopy Walk is a big treehouse complete with a large, trampoline-style net (a big hit with my kids); the Nature Play Zone features large, Lincoln-Log style building sticks; and the Sunrise Lawn is an open space for rolling, running and blowing off steam. I literally had to bribe my kids to leave.

This summer, as we continue to emerge from COVID-19, many of us are looking for outdoor attractions where we can more easily practice safe social distancing. Franklin Park Conservatory is a one-of-a-kind place that fits the bill. Ohio is a state that will surprise you, and Franklin Park Conservatory is the perfect example of this: a gorgeous, green Oz that’s just waiting to be discovered.

Franklin Park Conservatory is located at 1777 E. Broad Street Columbus, OH 43203. It’s open daily from 10 am-5 pm. Read about the Conservatory’s COVID-19 policies here.

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