First a confession: We didn’t expect much out of our stay at Alum Creek State Park in Delaware, Ohio, given its close proximity to the metro-Columbus area. Some prior experiences camping at state parks near big cities have not always turned out so well, so we were skeptical. But on our first visit we were pleasantly surprised–and it prompted a return visit this fall. This state park may just be Columbus’ best kept secret: The park boasts lots of sprawling, private, and wooded sites (including a full hookup loop) and the park offers easy convenience to family-friendly destinations like the famous Columbus Zoo, COSI, and the rest of Columbus’ downtown attractions.
Located just minutes from Columbus suburbs, Alum Creek was the perfect place to base camp for some fun in the city. The park is surrounded by housing developments, so if you are looking for a “wilderness” camping experience, this is probably not the right stop. Given its location on the outskirts of Columbus, this campground gets a lot of use over weekends and summer holidays. During our first visit in 2014 we camped during week, so the campground was not filled up and had a quiet atmosphere. For our recent visit this September, we camped over the weekend: Even though the campground was completely full, it still boasted a quiet and relaxed atmosphere.
During our 2014 visit, our site (A44) was full shade and bordered by trees and undergrowth making it very private–something we love to have while camping. During our 2018 visit, our site (A41) was also shaded and surrounded by a privacy hedge. There was a spacious grassy area where the fire pit was also located. Many sites throughout this loop of the campground had similar privacy hedges and sprawling sites. Here are two pictures of A41:
If you are looking for some help in selecting a site for your visit to Alum Creek, here are a few of our observations.
- There are some “premium sites” at Alum Creek that did not literally have a lake view, although they were located along the water. If you want a lake view select sites B34, B36, B37, or K21.
- Cabins C15, C17, C18, and C20 were older and more rustic but the cedar cabins located in the E-loop were newer.
- A16 had a huge grassy area behind the site that would be perfect for kids to play. We really loved our site, A41, especially since the bathroom was just a short distance across the road.
- In the full-hookup B loop, B15 and B17 looked really nice, and B1, B7, and B13 also looked like great sites.
- Two sites you might want to avoid: B8 and B10 face the dump station.
Here are a few more pictures of sites at Alum Creek:
During our first visit to Alum Creek, Kristin was not impressed with the shower houses, which were older and in need of some upkeep. The good news is that in the time since, the state park has updated their bathrooms and they were in much nicer condition during our recent visit. Unfortunately because Kristin was pretty sick on our recent camping trip, neither of us remembered to take pictures of the updated bath house. 🙁
The campground offered a private campers’ beach and a campers’ boat launch area with access to the unlimited horsepower lake. Some campsites along the water also had the ability for boats to pull directly up to the sites. Other features at the campground included volleyball and basketball courts, horseshoe pits, playground, nature center, and a primitive equestrian camping area.
During both visits to Alum Creek State Park we did some touring of the Columbus area. All of our touring destinations were less than an hour from the campground. Some of the touring highlights of this and past trips included:
- The Columbus Zoo: considered one of the best zoos–if not the best–in the nation
- The COSI science center
- The Anthony-Thomas Chocolates factory tour
- The American Whistle Corporation factory tour
- The Graeter’s Ice Cream self-guided tour at the Bethel Road location
- The Ohio State Fair, considered one of the country’s largest and best state fairs
- All American Quarter Horse Congress
- Ohio State University football games
- The Columbus Metro Parks (especially Inniswood)
There were more things we wished we had had time to do, including a visit to Topiary Park. We are pondering a future return trip to Columbus to coincide with the Ohio State Fair–we’ve never taken the kiddos there and I would love to take a walk down memory lane.
Date of visit: July 2014, September 2018