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Family Fun in Columbus, Indiana Review – Some Options to Note

By Amy Munice

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Body-sized bubble making


True, many of the visitors to Columbus, Indiana are reported to be well over 50 and with time and discretionary income sufficient to do architectural explorations.  


Photo courtesy of Zaharakos


In just a short time in Columbus though, we saw many fun ways for a family to make sure that its vacation time doesn’t go entirely down the drain.


Entrance to Kidcommons Children's Museum


Unless of course, that drain happens to be in the larger than life toilet that is in the how-things-work exhibit of the Kidscommons Children’s Museum


You get to climb into the toilet at Kidscommons Children's Museum


How adorable!


Jean Tinguely's "Chaos"


Talk to the locals who grew up in the town and you’ll also learn how they came to treasure, as children, the “Chaos” sculpture by Jean Tinguely that has been in the Columbus Commons since 1974, even remaining there during re-construction of the building, which was done around it.  Imagine a loud kinetic Rube Goldberg machine that was originally designed to wax with the traffic of the workday, and now is turned on more infrequently.  Those times when “Chaos” is powered and unleashed are reportedly a happy gathering moment in the town. 


Jungle gym and more in the Commons' inside playground


The nearby jungle gym looks very treacherous, which probably adds a great deal to the fun of the climb.  (It’s safe.)


Engine enthusiasts will enjoy the one you see as a sculpture outside the Cummins headquarters


"Exploded Engine" in the Cummins headquarters


Kids who love all things truck or car will likely also likely enjoy the “Exploded Engine” in the Cummins corporate headquarters in the center of town. 


High tea at The Inn at Irwin Gardens is served November through March


It’s also easy to picture a mom and tween daughter going to high tea at The Inn at Irwin Gardens. 


Pizza, sandwiches, more—there seem to be many casual dining options that would work for a range of palates. 


Photo courtesy of Zaharakos


Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlour and Museum, replete with restored fountains, cash registers and a number of calliopes (automatic music machines) would be the top pick for most—at least once during your visit.


Photo courtesy of Zaharakos


Photo courtesy of Zaharakos


While these family oases do exist—and no doubt add a great deal to the quality of life for those who live there--  Columbus is mainly on the tourist map because of its collection of modern and post-modern buildings by world-famous architects.  The good news is that you see most of these on a self-guided tour and some parents might be inclined to hire videos as backseat babysitters. 


Warning:  Miller House is probably the top architectural attraction in Columbus but it is not particularly kid-friendly.  Young children who can’t keep their hands off stuff should be kept away.  Adults have enough trouble sticking to the tourist carpet trails laid down in the house without chasing energetic kids too.  Columbus Visitors Center guidelines suggest that the tours are for children 10 years old and above.


There are numbers of festivals in Columbus that might be special times to plan a family visit.  You can get information on these and other tips for family travel from the Columbus Indiana Visitors Center by calling 800 468 6564 or visiting the Columbus Indiana website.



Photos:  Peter Kachergis, unless otherwise indicated 


Published on Oct 27, 2015

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