Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (Columbus)

Around 2 miles east of downtown Columbus is 88 acres of park known as the Franklin Park Conservatory.  The Franklin County Agriculture Society purchased the land in 1852 to be used as the site for the first Franklin County Fair.  In 1874 it was designated the space for Ohio State Fair.  In 1886, the Fair moved to its current home- what is now known as the Ohio Expo Center.  The city of Columbus then built the Palm House on the property and opened it to the public in 1895 as Franklin Park Conservatory.  It was known just as Franklin Park from 1884-1895.  Columbus Parks and Recreation owned Franklin Park Conservatory up until 1989.

The John F. Wolfe Palm House at Franklin Park Conservatory not only showcases 43 species of palms from around the world and is a popular spot for wedding receptions or even weddings themselves.  Roughly 200 weddings are held at the Conservatory whether inside or outside on the grounds.
The John F. Wolfe Palm House at Franklin Park Conservatory not only showcases 43 species of palms from around the world and is a popular spot for wedding receptions or even weddings themselves. Roughly 200 weddings are held at the Conservatory whether inside or outside on the grounds.

Some 400 species of plants are housed inside the Conservatory’s green houses and each of its “rooms” are divided according to the natural environments in which the plants would be found: Himalayan Mountain Biome, Rainforest Biome, Desert Biome, and the Pacific Island Water Garden.

The koi pond in Franklin Park Conservatory's Pacific Island Water Garden.
The koi pond in Franklin Park Conservatory’s Pacific Island Water Garden.

The Conservatory is a popular rainy day activity and just as interesting in the winter as it is the same temperature indoors year round.  Fall 2015 will feature large pumpkin carvings by Villafane Studios .Over the Christmas holidays (November 21, 2015 – January 3, 2016), the Conservatory hosts Merry & Bright with Christmas lights and hundreds of poinsettias on display.

In 2003, the Conservatory hosted Chihuly at the Conservatory, a display of Dale Chihuly's glass artwork.  That exhibition proved so popular that the Conservatory set an attendance record.  The private, non-profit group Friends of the Conservatory raised funds to buy most of the glass artwork from the exhibition to make it a permanent part of Franklin Park Conservatory.
In 2003, the Conservatory hosted Chihuly at the Conservatory, a display of Dale Chihuly’s glass artwork. That exhibition proved so popular that the Conservatory set an attendance record. The private, non-profit group Friends of the Conservatory raised funds to buy most of the glass artwork from the exhibition to make it a permanent part of Franklin Park Conservatory.

Outside is the The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company Community Garden Campus- added in 2009- has 40 community plots as well as culinary, herb, and fragrance gardens.

The Desert Biome at Franklin Park Conservatory displays cacti and other plants that one would find in the desert.
The Desert Biome at Franklin Park Conservatory displays cacti and other plants that one would find in the desert and yes, it is as dry in here- in terms of moisture in the air- as it would be in the desert.
Outside the conservatory, along the Grand Mallway is the NavStar, created by artist Stephen Canneto, has become a landmark sculpture at the park.
Outside the conservatory, along the Grand Mallway is the NavStar, created by artist Stephen Canneto, has become a landmark sculpture at the park.

Franklin Park Conservatory
1777 East Broad St.
Columbus, OH  43203

Hours:  10 AM – 5 PM daily; open until 9 PM Wednesdays through August 26th.

Admission:  $13 – Adults; $10 – Seniors and Students with ID; $6 – Children ages 3-17; Children 2 and younger & members are free.

Parking:  Free

Distances from Ohio cities:

  • 3.1 miles East of Columbus City Hall
  • 127 miles Northeast of Cincinnati
  • 148 miles Southwest of Cleveland
  • 148 miles Southeast of Toledo
  • 140 miles Southwest of Akron
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