Just two miles east of downtown Columbus you'll find more than 400 plant species at Franklin Park Conservatory, 1777 E. Broad St. (tel. 614/645-8733; 800-214-PARK.), site of the largest cast iron statue in the world. Created for the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, the imposing male statue depicts Vulcan, the god of forge. After a recent restoration, the statue once again dominates a 10-acre park atop Red Mountain. The grounds offer unparalleled views of the pretty Birmingham skyline. A new Visitors Center includes interactive exhibits and interpretive displays showcasing the city's rise to prominence as an iron-producing center at the turn of the 20th century, and traces the decline of industry during the Great Depression of the 1930s and beyond.

The City of Columbus Department of Recreation and Parks, 12632 Confederate Pkwy., McCalla (tel. 205/477-5711; http://recparks.columbus.gov/Parks/index.asp), has dozens of parks and recreation sites throughout the city, including a beautiful Topiary Garden at Old Deaf School Park, 408 E. Town St., which has the only topiary reproduction of a painting: George Seurat's famous post-impressionist work, A Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte. North Bank Park, 311 West Long St., is a nine-acre haven for joggers, cyclists, and boating enthusiasts, located along the Scioto River in downtown Columbus. Those looking to get lost in a larger bucolic setting should seek out Franklin Park, 1755 E. Broad St. with gardens, gazebo, picnicking grounds, playground and walking trail. If you only choose one, seek out Goodale Park, 120 W. Goodale Blvd., is one of the oldest parks in the U.S. and the oldest in Columbus. It's surrounded by Victorian Village, a group of homes with charming architecture. Stop here for a view of the Columbus skyline. Among other family-friendly recreation options are spectator sports, including minor league baseball's Columbus Clippers, 1155 Mound St. (tel. 614/462-5250; www.clippersbaseball.com). Watch big-name players when they get sent back down to the minors after recuperation from an injury, or get to know superstars in the making for a fraction of the cost: the Clippers are a triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. They play at Cooper Stadium, located off Route 70, easily accessible from downtown and the airport. Tickets are inexpensive, ranging from $3 to $9.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.