Senior-Friendly Festivals in Central Ohio

senior smiling in the distance

Summer in Central Ohio is a great time to visit local festivals. However, a festival that requires a lot of walking or doesn’t offer shade may make it difficult for your senior parents to enjoy themselves.

But everyone is different. Your parents may be able to walk for hours but can’t stay in the sun for long. Or they may need a wheelchair for long distances because they tire easy.

We’ve looked at some of the area’s highlighted festivals and events this summer and rated them A-C (A as highest rating) for accessibility, walking distance, access to shade, and access to water.


Topiary Takeover

Through September 11, Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Franklin Park Conservatory offers close parking, walkways that are smooth and well-tended, limited sun exposure, and opportunities to sit and rest if needed for your senior parent. Through September 11, you can take a wild journey across the world with the Topiary Collection featuring twenty-five topiaries made of living plants!


Paul Busse Garden Railway

Through January 8, 2023, Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Franklin Park Conservatory offers close parking, walkways that are smooth and well-tended, limited sun exposure, and opportunities to sit and rest if needed for your senior parent. Through January 8, the Paul Busse Garden Railway returns to the Grand Mallway this summer. Take a trip to your favorite destinations: Fairytale Land, Wild West Town, European Travels and the animal-themed Who Lived Here.


Try these senior-friendly locations in Central Ohio!



Columbus Arts Festival

June 10-12, Scioto Mile

The advent of the Scioto Mile makes this event much more accessible for seniors. Park at a nearby parking garage. The walkway along the mile is accessible, but it’s a little hilly and may pose challenges for your parent if they have mobility issues. More than 280 nationally acclaimed artists display their works during this event, so if the sun gets too much, most of them have space to welcome you under their canopy.


Jazz and Rib Fest

July 22-24,  Scioto Mile

Although highly accessible, downtown Columbus lacks shade, so the ribs aren’t the only things that are hot. Luckily, the music venues are all in parks which offer shade. Some of the music venues aren’t close to water vendors, so bring a small cooler or, at least, a water bottle or two for your parent to prevent dehydration. Handicap parking is available on the street and in nearby parking garages. If COSI finishes its underground lot in time, there should be plenty of parking available.


Ohio State Fair

July 27-August 7, Ohio State Fairgrounds

You would think, with rides, food booths, and just about everything requiring electricity, power cables would be a big problem for anyone who is in a wheelchair or has difficulty walking. However, in most places, cords have been covered in what are called “yellow jackets”, which ramp over the cords. Most restrooms and all entertainment areas are accessible, and the stages even have assisted listening devices.


Dublin Irish Festival

August 5-7, Coffman Park

Dublin plays host to the world’s second largest Irish celebration, but if your parent has mobility issues, some areas may be inaccessible.  On the other hand, you’re sure to find a spot to view many of the 65 acts and 535 performers. Wheelchairs are available at Information Tents.


Columbus Food Truck Festival

August 19-21, Franklin County Fairgrounds

This festival has moved to the Franklin County Fairgrounds. Sample delicious food from more than 70 Ohio food trucks, experience live music and explore vendors of locally-made crafts.


Columbus Greek Festival

September 3-5, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral

Taste souvlaki and baklava and enjoy the best of Greek culture in the Short North. There’s a nearby parking garage, as well as on-street parking, so you shouldn’t have to walk more than a block to get to the festival. The courtyard and parking lot where the festival is held are flat and even, and the cathedral is accessible.


Country Living Fair

September 13-15, Ohio History Center’s Ohio Village

While each of the buildings inside Ohio Village is accessible, your parent may need some help to get in. However, staff members are there to help, so just ask. Handicap parking is available right outside the front door, but regular parking fees of $5 per day apply. Your parents are sure to love looking at (and perhaps buying) the modern handcrafted treasures and vintage pieces on display.


Columbus Oktoberfest

September 9-11, Ohio Expo Center/ Ohio State Fairgrounds

The location is very accessible, and there’s lots of parking nearby. The only hazard to watch out for is the crowds, especially at night. Early evening lets you avoid the sun and the sometimes-too-exuberant festival-goers. That said, enjoy the best German food Columbus has to offer, as well as polkas and other performances.


Columbus Italian Festival

October 7-9, St. John the Baptist Church

It’s not easy to get around this festival, and there’s no close parking. That said, there are areas where you can enjoy the bands and music and food; just avoid the potholes. This is a great festival to bring both grands—parents and kids—because all the activity is centralized. And this is one of the friendliest festivals around, so if your parent has difficulty walking or needs to sit down, just ask, and someone will help out.

Central Ohio has a lot to offer seniors, whether you live here or you’re just visiting. If your parent needs some help, whether a respite stay, post-surgery rehabilitation, skilled nursing, assisted living, cardiac care or memory care, we can help at one of our 7 area communities. If you would like to know more about the options available at a location near you, please contact us.