Exploring Columbus with the Family and Train Spots

Exploring Columbus with the Family and Train Spots

By Giles Kennedy

Chief Editor and Founder

The Ohio Railroader Website

Chief Admin and Founder

Ohio Valley Rails FB Page

I have owned the Ohio Railroader website for several years.

Model railroaders, rail photographers and historians come from many walks of life.

Just so happens ABC6/FOX 28 meteorologist Jym Gahahl, former news man Stu Nicholson, and many men and women in Metro Columbus love the sound of the locomotive.

But how does one who loves the railroads, explore their favorite railroad spots; without annoying the family?

Here’s a few suggestions throughout Central Ohio to appease the whole family….

Scioto Audubon Metro Park

6:30am to 10pm April through September

6:30am to 8pm October through March

Phone: 614.202.5197

Just south of Downtown Columbus; off Front and Whittier Streets, sits Scioto Audubon Metro Park.

The really nice thing about this park; it is not just for railfans at all. It was developed shortly after the demolition of what was once the Lazarus and Company’s large warehouse facility.

You can very easily pack up the family, get a picnic lunch, and camp out the portion of the park to see CSX and NS trains roll by.

If you are an average hiker, bicyclist or runner; you make this easily a fitness and railfan stop as well.

The park has a nature center, several trails linking to the Scioto Mile, a climbing rock wall area, playground, and several wetlands pond areas.

So, where’s the best place to catch the trains?

Panoramic views can be caught via the recycled Lazarus Water Tower with observation decks.

Two closest views to the mainlines can be found either near the dog park before the I-70/I-71 overpass (less scenic). Also, the hiking trail between the Obstacle Course and the Park Office on the eastern side of the park is a great vantage point and a great view of Downtown.


Easiest thing to do is park at any parking garage near North Bank Park.

North Bank is right next to the Scioto Greenway for walking or biking.

The two bridges crossing the Scioto River are great photo ops.

McPherson Commons, near Nationwide Arena; offers major green space for parents and kids to run and play.


Another Metro Park few railfans have used is Battelle Darby Creek.

It is on the far west end, south of West Broad Street/US 40. The Camp Chase Trail goes right along the Camp Chase Industrial Railroad’s right of way. From either  vantage point; you are not far from eateries as well as my favorite Westside haunt, Toney’s Coneys West Broad.

Hillard recently rebuild their Station Park near the CSX Columbus Subdivision.

It features a splash pad and an amphitheater. It is in close knit Olde Towne Hillard; featuring restaurants and coffee shops.  

Close by on the grounds of the Franklin County Fairgrounds; the hidden gem features Hillard’s Historical Village. It has a church, railroad depot, blacksmith shop and a restored caboose.

North Columbus

Flint has always been a favorite place for local railfans to get a train. The Market at Flint Station’s parking lot is literally next to the right of way. If the kids are in tow; a small Columbus park, Flint Park is right off Park Road.

Park and Ride anyone? This was mentioned in an Ohio Railroader article I did a few years back. The NS Sandusky Division/CSX Columbus Subdivision goes by two COTA Park and Rides.

The Indianola COTA Park and Ride is right next to the mainlines plus Indianola Car Wash offers the best vantage point. Wash your car while you are there.

Many options in and around Columbus to get your train fix in. All you have to do is explore.

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