One of the easiest and (and cheapest) ways to spend time by yourself or with friends is by checking out the many great metro parks located around the city. Taking a quick trip to one of these is a great chance to escape the hustle and bustle of city life for a few hours.

Highbanks Metro Park

Highbanks gets its name from the 100-foot-high shale bluff towering over the Olentangy State Scenic River. It is located near Powell and Lewis Center In the park, streams have created many deep ravines in the eastern part of the 1,159-acre park. The Coyote Run and Overlook trails combined make for five miles of hiking. Along with forests and river views, you’ll also come across Adena mounds and another prehistoric earthwork.

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Escape the city and head to the west side of Columbus. Only 20 minutes away from downtown, Battelle Darby Creek offers more than 7,000 acres of forest and 20 miles of hiking trails. This giant park stretches along 13 miles of the Big and Little Darby creeks. Bison has also been reintroduced to the park and freely roam with in two of the enclosed pastures.

Sharon Woods Metro Park

This 761-acre park is located in Westerville and is made up of forests, fields and 11-acre lake. The Edward Thomas Nature Preserve sits inside the small park and is named after renowned Ohio naturalist and one of the founders. Seasonal pools associated with the swamp forest communities are present in the park. These pools provide critical spring breeding habitat for amphibians and other wildlife. There are four miles of paved trail perfect for bicyclists. Those looking to go off the beaten path will enjoy the three miles of nature trails that wind along the wetlands.

Slate Run Metro Park

Slate Run is located near Canal Winchester and features a variety of habitats including open area grasslands, wetlands, meadows and forested areas. The park is 1,705 acres with a 156-acre wetland. Combine the Bobolink, Kokomo and Sugar Maple trails for a 6-mile tour through the full spectrum of biomes

There are so many great parks to choose from and they can fit the specific interests of all visitors, whether you go to get your exercise in for the day or to spend your time leisurely, taking in all the nature. No matter what you choose to do at one of these parks, they are a great place to get some fresh air and relax!