Columbus Riverfront Gem: The Scioto Mile

A golden doodle dog poses in front of the Bicentennial Park sign on the Scioto Mile in Columbus, Ohio.

When my children were small, I spent much of summer planning and dragging them all over Ohio looking for enriching experiences. We visited big cities and little towns, farms and zoos, and sought out learning opportunities all over the Buckeye State.

Staring down the barrel of the twins’ graduation, I did something I’d never done before. I adopted a dog. And while I don’t necessarily seek out learning opportunities for my four-legged friend, I do like to get him out to see and do new things. For one, I think it must get boring for him walking around the same block every day. And two, it makes my empty nester heart happy. Even better, sometimes the kids come with!

A golden doodle dog and a German shepherd look at the Scioto River through a fence along the Columbus Riverfront.
Pumpkin and Frankie enjoyed their walk along the river. They seemed like they wanted to get in!

I’m always looking for new places to explore with our golden doodle, Pumpkin. On this summer day, I headed out to the Columbus riverfront to explore the Scioto Mile. Marina and her dog Frankfort, a German shepherd, decided to explore with us.

History of the Riverfront

If you’ve lived in Ohio for more than a few years, you may remember the Santa Maria ship that was docked in downtown Columbus from 1991 until 2014. It was a full-sized replica of one of the three ships sailed by Christopher Columbus during his 1492 voyage.

The Veteran's Memorial museum as seen on the Columbus Riverfront. The river is in the foreground.
You can see the Veteran’s Memorial across the river.

The Santa Maria closed operations in 2011 due to construction of the Scioto Mile and was removed from the river in 2014. The new project narrowed the river and connected what is now nine parks and green spaces along the Scioto River. The new riverfront was opened in 2015.

Connecting Green Spaces near Downtown

The Scioto Mile is a beautiful place to rest and play on both sides of the river. The riverfront connects nine different parks including: Alexander AEP Park, Battelle Riverfront Park, Bicentennial Park, Dorrian Green, Genoa Park, McFerson Commons, North Bank Park, Scioto Audubon Metro Park and The Promenade.

All of the parks are free and are open to the public between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. You’ll find wonderful views of both the river and the Columbus skyline from most points on the Mile.

On the left a golden doodle dog poses next to a lion on the Columbus Riverfront. On the right is a statue of a man, woman and baby this is honor of immigrants to the city.
Pumpkin stopped to pose with some of the statues at the Battelle Riverfront Park.

Additionally, the Mile is home to some amazing celebrations and frequently hosts live music on the performing arts stage, including Wednesdays on the Green events throughout the summer. It also plays host to the annual Columbus Arts Festival, the Columbus Food Truck Festival , the Jazz & Rib Festival and others. Additionally, it’s a popular seating area for the city’s annual Red, White and Boom fireworks display.

Genoa Park

Genoa Park, located on the west side of the Scioto River is one of my favorite portions of the Scioto Mile. My love for the area, however, starts on the east side of the river in viewing the Riverfront Amphitheater. The steps and seating area of the amphitheater feature multi-colored lighting designs that change throughout the year.

Beyond the amphitheater you’ll find COSI, the Center of Science and Industry. COSI is every bit as exciting to visit today as it was on my third-grade field trip. At that time COSI was located on Broad Street. In 1999, it moved to it’s current site in the old Central High School (side note, my father attended school there for a year and it was also the filming site for the 1984 movie Teachers).

I also regularly visit the Columbus Police Memorial. It’s a monument featuring the names of all Columbus police officers killed in the line of duty. My Uncle Al, rather my great uncle, is listed among the names.

And you may have heard about the deer sculptures. Two of the deer, which have assumed human posturing, can be found on the grounds at Genoa Park. The third deer looks over the city from the center of the Rich Street Bridge.

Bicentennial Park

Built in 1976, the Bicentennial Park was originally dedicated to honor native Columbus resident John Galbreath. This section of the Mile features the Performing Arts Stage and one of my favorites, the Scioto Mile Fountain.

Paddle boarders and kayakers on the Scioto River in downtown Columbus along the Scioto Mile.
Kayakers and paddle boarders were happy to enjoy the river and the view of the skyline (behind me).

The Scioto Mile Fountain is 15,000 square feet and shoots water up to 75 feet in the air. It holds 110,000 gallons of water. On a summer day, you’re likely to find children playing in the fountain. In 2014, it was named by CNN as one of the top 15 fountains in the world. Sadly, for this visit, the fountain was closed and according to their website will not reopen until summer 2024.

You’ll also find the restaurant Milestone 229 at Bicentennial Park. It’s a beautiful location for both indoor and outdoor dining and on our must-do list for later this summer.

Visiting the Scioto Mile

While there’s so much to explore along the Scioto Mile, my favorites are the above listed Bicentennial Park and Genoa Park, along with strolling along the Promenade which is lined with benches and swings. On this trip, Marina and I along with our dogs just walked along the river and then back to the cars on the Promenade.

There were a number of people out with their dogs, as well as bicyclists and roller bladers. There are also bikes and scooters for rent along the length of the walk. On the river we saw a number of kayakers and paddle boarders, as well.

A German shepherd dog and golden doodle dog rest in the grass in a shady spot.
There are plenty of shady spots to rest your furry friend.

It was a hot day, so our little stroll along the river was all the pups could handle. We made sure to let them rest frequently in the shade. Don’t forget to bring water if you’re bringing your dog. Sadly we forgot, but there is a vending machine near Milestone 229 so we were able to get them a drink.


Thanks for FindingOhio with us today. Are you looking for more adventures to share with your dog? Check out our adventures in the Hocking Hills or our visit to Prarie Oaks Dog Beach. Looking for more adventures in Central Ohio? Tag along on our visit to Hayden Run Falls or tour Ohio Stadium with us.

Be sure to check back often, we’re always posting new adventures! And, as always, we’re grateful when you share our content to your social media. We want to get the word out that Ohio is a great place to live and play!