How to Have the Perfect Father’s Day In Columbus While Practicing Social Distancing

Everything You Need to Know to Have a Fun, Safe Father’s Day

a father holding his child's hand by a pond

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It’s never too early to start planning for Father’s Day, especially when so many family traditions might take a back seat this year amid continuing closures of parks, restaurants, and shops. But just because Father’s Day may look a little different doesn’t mean you can’t still have a fun, joy-filled holiday celebrating the father figures in your life.

Whether you’re getting out or ordering in, practicing social distancing--which includes wearing a mask and taking care when coming in contact with exposed surfaces--is essential. 

Our list below will help guide you through Father’s Day, providing a list of fun activities, delicious eateries, and fantastic gifts from around Columbus that will make this Father’s Day one to remember.

Read on for information on:

  • Local Parks and Outdoor Spaces
  • Gifts From Around Columbus
  • Brunch, BBQ, and Baked Goods

Outdoor Activities for You and Dad

Maintain Social Distancing While Still Getting Out

A glass greenhouse front
The grand entrance to the indoor botanical gardens. Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor.

Franklin Park/Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

This 100-acre park has plenty of space for those looking for a breath of fresh air this Father’s Day. While the area is filled with venues perfect for hosting events and gatherings, some aspects of the park are currently closed, although outdoor areas are expected to open to the public beginning in mid-June.

Franklin Park initially was part of a small fairground opened in the mid-1800s, expanding over thirty years into the massive park it is today. Soon after the park was established, the Franklin Park Conservatory opened for business. This is a great scene for fathers interested in botany, plants, or beautiful crafted fountains and garden spaces. Another great feature of Franklin Park that dad might be interested in is the 20+ acres of land dedicated to a community garden. Fathers who have used quarantine as a time to start their own garden efforts will appreciate the care and hard work funneled into this community project.

An Ohio park with a view of the city
One of the beautiful views of Columbus available from Scioto Mile. Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor.

Scioto Mile

Downtown Columbus’s prime riverfront destination, Scioto Mile is a 175-acre expanse that boasts eight parks filled with boulevards, pedestrian paths, and bike lanes. This is the perfect place for a picnic or a day-long ride with dad. Pose for pictures in front of Mcferson Commons and visit Battelle Riverfront Park and appreciate the various memorials and statues scattered throughout the space.

Eating pavilions, butterfly gardens, outdoor rock climbing, fishing, and more. With such a fantastic breadth of activities and fun spots to relax, Scioto Park has something for everyone.

Check out any of these locations within the Scioto Mile--and don’t forget the picnic basket:

  • Bicentennial Park
  • The Promenade
  • Genoa Park
  • Battelle Riverfront Park
  • North Bank Park
  • Mcferson Commons
  • Scioto Audubon
  • Alexander Aep Park
  • Dorrian Green
A postcard of a rose garden
This vintage-looking postcard features just one of the many layouts created in Park of Roses. Image courtesy of Park of Roses.

Columbus Park of Roses

Hosting over 12,000 specimens, Park of Roses is an arboretum located in Clintonville that was established in the 1950s and has since become one of Ohio’s biggest attractions. Part of the 149-acre Whetstone Park, this rosy garden is a welcome sight for those facing the quarantine doldrums. 

Stroll through the elaborate pathways and intricate garden layouts, admire the fresh blooms, and keep a distance of six feet between you and other visitors. With such a large space, it shouldn’t be difficult!

Park of Roses has five different thematic layouts:

  • Formal rose garden
  • Heritage rose garden
  • Perennial garden
  • Herb garden
  • Backyard garden
  • Arboretum

Consider visiting the herb garden to get some inspiration for how to garnish your Father’s Day dinner--or get some inspiration for your own garden from the backyard garden layouts on display.

A dog with a frisbee in its mouth
Bring your frisbees, but leave your leashes--this off-leash dog park is a fun place to spend the day.

Wheeler Memorial Dog Park

If dad wouldn’t dream of spending Father’s Day away from his furry children, opt for a fun day out that the whole family can enjoy. Wheeler Memorial Dog Park is the perfect place for off-leash fun.

Nestled within the larger Wheeler Memorial Park, the dog park contains two different areas, one for big dogs and one for small dogs. Complete with a drinking fountain, benches, and picnic spots, the dog park is a welcoming environment for dogs and their families.

Be warned--in rainy weather, this park has a tendency to get a little muddy. If Father’s Day in Columbus is looking a little gray, make sure you have the dog bath ready when you get home.

Shop Local This Year and Find the Perfect Gift

Best Columbus Shops to Order From This Father’s Day

The storefront of Celebrate Local
Jams, jellies, souvenirs, and more--shop local and support Columbus businesses. Photo courtesy of Celebrate Local.

Celebrate Local

Celebrate Local has a wide selection of gifts for any kind of father figure in your life. Many of their products are Columbus-oriented, such as their laser-cut wooden coasters emblazoned with “Columbus” or their wall decor made from reclaimed Ohio barn wood. 

In addition to hand-made pottery and wooden bar accessories, Celebrate Local sells everything you need for the perfect BBQ cookout. From sauces to rubs, they’ve got you covered. Try surprising dad with a homemade BBQ lunch featuring their Jalapeno Lime Glaze or various bourbon-infused sauces.

A man looking at suit accessories
Bring dad in--wearing masks, of course--or surprise him with his gift. Enjoy the textures of these expertly woven fabrics and pick out your fave color combos to add to dad’s wardrobe. Photo courtesy of Pursuit.


Ties are the perfect go-to for a last-minute Father’s Day gift and Pursuit’s Columbus location is just the spot to go for high-quality ties and suits. With options to have suits tailored, customized, or ordered online, you might even consider treating dad and bringing him here to have his favorite suit tailored.

If dad isn’t a tie guy--or already has a closet filled with prior Father’s Day ties--consider getting him a scarf, belt, or tie clip instead. When choosing from Pursuit’s collection of quality accessories, you won’t have to worry about getting dad a gift he won’t like. He’s sure to love it all!

A woman's back in a Happy Coffee sweatshirt
Coffee lover’s apparel from this Columbus cafe is just one gift idea for Father’s Day. And if dad isn’t a coffee drinker, get him a mug anyway--great for soup, ice cream, or plain old water. Photo courtesy of Mission Coffee Co.

Mission Coffee Co.

Columbus, Ohio has two Mission Coffee Co. locations, Short North Cafe and Roasting Annex, Dedicated to creating a space where coffee lovers can appreciate well-crafted brews and learn more about coffee, this down to earth cafe has plenty of gifts for the coffee-lover.

Try one of their artisan coffee blends, or pick up a jug of cold brew for the hot summer mornings. If dad’s a little particular about his coffee or simply hooked on a brand already, get him some fun accessories and brew supplies instead.

If you do decide to pick up a pack of espresso beans, spend some time pursuing Mission Coffee Co.’s educational blog to ensure you make the best ever coffee this Father’s Day.

The Book Loft storefront, a big brick building
These pre-Civil War era buildings have been transformed into a booklovers paradise. Photo courtesy of Book Loft.

The Book Loft

For the dad who likes to read, what better gift than a stack of new books? The Book Loft, located in German Village, offers a variety of ways you can shop while still practicing social distancing. Customers are allowed to enter in controlled amounts and time intervals, but you can also order curbside pick-up or delivery.

One of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, the Book Loft is filled to the rafters with bargain books and new reads. There are 32 different rooms of the Book Loft to explore. Peruse their shop online--or get dad a gift card and save yourself the hassle. They even have mystery boxes, filled with picks from their knowledgeable staff, that will cater to dad’s literary tastes.

Take-Out Brunch, BBQ, and Baked Goods Options

Where To Get the Food Dad Loves

A spread of various barbecued meats
Pork, beef, and chicken raised right and hand-selected are dry-rubbed and slow-cooked to perfection. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Ray Ray’s Hog Pit

Ray Ray’s Hog Pit proves that Columbus can do barbecue right. After dry rubbing their meat with a choice selection of herbs and spices, Ray Ray’s slow cooks their meats for 12-16 hours--just how BBQ should be done!

Slow-cooked in the smoke of hickory and oak, Ray Ray’s meats have the perfect flavor profile and pair well with any of their sauces. Try their massive Grass Fed Beef Brisket--only available on Sundays, perfect for a Father’s Day feast!

For any father figure in your life who loves a good slow-cooked meal, Ray Ray’s Hog Pit is the place to go in Columbus. 

Chocolate cookies and milk on a table
What better way to celebrate Father’s Day in Columbus than by loading up on sugar?

Bake Me Happy

This gluten-free bakery will satisfy the sweet tooth of any dad! Bake Me Happy is dedicated to creating delicious gluten-free baked goods--and they even make them fresh to order when ordered 72 hours in advance. If you’re looking to surprise dad with the perfect breakfast, order ahead and have it delivered to your door!

This Columbus bakery boasts a long list of baked goods--oatmeal cream cookies, spicy peanut butter cookies, donuts, bundts, blondies, and more! They even craft whole cakes to order--what says Happy Father’s Day better than five-layer sprinkle cake?

Buckeye Donuts storefront in Columbus
Start your day off with a baker's dozen and a pot of dark roast. Photo courtesy of Buckeye Donuts.

Buckeye Donuts

An old-school diner located in Columbus right across from OSU campus, Buckeye Donuts serves a variety of delicious breakfast and lunch foods. If your father figure is an OSU alum, this would be a great brunch spot for Father’s Day.

With a variety of old-fashioned and original donuts, as well as gyros, Greek salads, and fresh coffee, Buckeye Donuts supplies you with all the food-stuffs necessary to energize for a fun-filled Father’s Day.

In order to maintain social distancing, call ahead, and choose their quick pick-up option. Throw in a mug or sweatshirt from their merchandise list and you’ve got a great gift, too!

A postcard of Katalina's, a white boxy building
If you’re looking for delicious home-made food that dad doesn’t have to make at home, look no further! Image courtesy of Katalina’s.

Katalina’s Cafe

This cafe offers brunch to-go and has some of the best and most inventive foods in Columbus. Katalina’s features hand-made, Southern-inspired dishes--one of which is their infamous pancake balls.

French toast, breakfast sandwiches, Purple Craze Hash, BLT tacos--their menu is overflowing with tasty creations carefully crafted for Columbus food connoisseurs. 

Katalina’s is housed in a reclaimed gas-station, which adds a touch of whimsy to the spot. Since their opening, they’ve served over a million pancake balls (don’t worry, they counted) and have grown famous in the Columbus area for their amazing service and well-made food.

Take the Time to Celebrate the Father Figures In Your Life

...But Don’t Forget Your Face Mask!

Just because the world is hectic doesn’t mean dad doesn’t deserve a special day. Clear your schedule this June 21st and dedicate the day to dad. What better way to show your appreciation than by checking out some of these great Columbus parks and eateries?

When enjoying Columbus’s many parks and walking trails, make sure to keep six feet of space between you and any strangers also out enjoying the day. Masks on are always a bonus--you want to spread love this Father’s Day, not germs!

With a multitude of parks, four shops filled with gift ideas, and four delicious places to find food, you should have no problem making this Father’s Day a day to remember.

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June 10, 2020
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