Christmas Staycation: 50 Things to do Over Winter Break in Columbus

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If you’ve got kids off school or family in town and you’re enjoying a Columbus staycation over Winter Break, you’re probably going to need to get out of the house! I’ve got some ideas for you! 

Note: there will be no regular What Should We Do This Weekend? post for December 28-30, 2018. This will substitute for that post!

Here is a list of family-friendly winter break ideas for your Columbus Christmas Staycation:

Activities You Can Do Anytime over Winter Break:

1. See the Huntington Train at Columbus Library, Main Library! This model railroad is a holiday classic! Stop in and see it before it’s gone on January 2!

huntington train at Main Library, Columbus, Ohio

2. See Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory – visit the Conservatory while it’s decked out for the season! Enjoy special performances and activities and this year the event extends into the Children’s Garden!

outdoor lights at Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio

3. Visit the Think Outside the Brick display at Columbus Museum of Art – this LEGO exhibit will be on display until February 22, 2018! There’s an amazing model to see and a section where kids can build with LEGOs themselves!

Think Outside the Brick Exhibit at Columbus Museum of Art

4. Join Ohio History Center for their extended hours during Winter Break! The museum will be open daily: Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018 – Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. On Friday, January 4th they will be open until 9:00 PM with a showing of Bedknobs and Broomsticks at 7:00 PM.

5. Walk through Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo – Wildlights is included in your admission (or membership) to the Zoo and features special activities, amazing lights, light shows, Rudolph and friends in Asia Quest, Santa’s Holiday Home in the Battelle Ice Bear Outpost, Jingle Ball light display and much more!

Trees at Wildlights at Columbus Zoo

6. Drive through Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights at Alum Creek Campground – families can enjoy a 3 mile drive through holiday light show with over 140 LED light displays! $30/car on the weekends, $20 Monday through Thursday. This display will be open through January 1!

drive thru at Butch Bando's Fantasy of Lights

 7. Walk through an amazing display of Chinese lanterns and holiday light sculptures at Dragon Lights Columbus. Special cultural performances, food and shopping will also be available. Save money by purchasing your tickets online. 

Dragon sculpture at Dragon Lights Columbus

8. Visit COSI for their extended Winter Break Hours! COSI will have extended hours from December 26-30th and January 1-5. They will be open from 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM. On Friday, December 28th, COSI will stay open until 9:00 PM for Family Friday Night and admission will be reduced.

boy outside COSI

9. Ride the Smart Circuit to view the holiday lights around The Scioto Mile! Take this 1.5 mile loop on a self-driving shuttle for the warmest way to see the lights on the Scioto Mile and Bicentennial Park!

Holiday lights on the Scioto Mile

10. Take your kids to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus for lots of LEGO fun including Holiday Bricktacular during the weekends in December or visit during the week for fewer crowds! LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus is open 365 days a year!

boy playing at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus

11. Visit State Auto’s Christmas Corner to see a life sized nativity and listen to live choir music! There is hot chocolate available for a donation and on Christmas Eve, Baby Jesus will be placed in the manger at 3:00 PM.

Life Sized Nativity at State Auto Christmas Corner

12. Go on a Winter Break Scavenger Hunt at Blendon Woods Metro Park. From 12/22/18 – 1/2/19 from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM kids can stop by the Nature Center to search for hidden creatures!

13. Participate in the Winter Reading Challenge at Columbus Library – join CML’s Winter Reading Challenge to earn a book kids can keep and a pair of ear buds. Kids get a pencil and book mark just for signing up!

14. APPS Program Winter Break – Columbus Recreation and Parks is offering free programs for kids and young adults ages 14-23 with sports tournaments, cooking classes, free pizza and more! December 26 – January 5, 2019

One Time Events Happening Over Winter Break:

December 26: Celebrate with the Critters at Ohio Wildlife Center – celebrate with the resident Animal Ambassadors, make and take winter crafts and make bird feeders for wild birds! $5/person. Children under 5 are free. 

December 27 & 28: Winter Warm Up Days at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center – from 10:00 – 5:00 PM enjoy crafts, games, stories, movies and songs by the fire. No registration required.

Indoor play area at the Audubon Center

December 28: Super Games Open Play – come in for free play at SuperGames! $10/child.

December 28: Family Friday Night at COSI – admission is reduced from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM!

December 28: KidX: Frozen Fun at Polaris Fashion Place – visit with your favorite movie characters at the Santa Set at Polaris Fashion Place!

December 29: The Big Explore – on December 29th, The Columbus Foundation celebrates it’s 75th anniversary by offering free admission to Columbus Museum of Art, COSI, Franklin Park Conservatory, National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Ohio History Center and Wexner Center for the Arts! Rides on COTA will be free and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams will be offering $.75 scoops! 

two scoops of ice cream at Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream

December 29: LEGO Design Challenge Day at Columbus Museum of Art – compete in creative challenges using LEGO bricks between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM! Included in admission to the museum (which happens to be free that day thanks to The Big Explore!)

December 29: HOOT Family Film Series at Gateway Film Center – enjoy family friendly short films and live music from The Shazzbots! This is a free event with a donation of a non perishable food item for the Open Shelter.

HOOT Family Film Series

December 30: Pizzuti Collection Family Day – Family Day offers free admission and will include a mini chair building workshop, story time and a family centered tour! 

December 30: – Harlem Globetrotters at The Schottenstein Center – see the Harlem Globetrotters in action! There are two game times on Sunday!

January 2: Winter Wonderland Carnival Skate at Skate Zone 71 – in addition to roller skating, this event features a bounce house, face painting, balloon twisting and more!

January 3: $2.00 Roller Skating! at Skate Zone 71 – enjoy $2 admission at all 3 skating sessions!

Winter Break Camp Options:

Click each link for dates and availability.

Winter Camps at Code Ninja Hilliard

Winter Brain Camp at Learning Rx

Winter Break Camp at We Rock the Spectrum

Mary Poppins Returns Camp with Paulette’s Princesses

Winter Break Camp at Vertical Adventures

Mini Art Camps at Art with Anna

Winter Break Youth DIY Camp at AR Workshop Pickerington

Family Friendly New Years Events in Columbus:

Family Fun: New Years Open House Party at Sharon Woods Metro Park – this party takes place on December 30th and includes activities for kids ages 3-8 such as games, activities and crafts! There will be a countdown for a ball drop on every hour!

Countdown to Noon Year’s Eve at KSM Sports and Fitness Indoor Facility – there will be a countdown to Noon Year’s Eve, coffee, snacks, pictures with the Snow Queen, sports, nerf wars and more!

New Year’s Eve at Ten Pin Alley – Ten Pin Alley will be family friendly all day and evening with bowling, $3 laser tag missions, arcade games and the restaurant! Walk in or call ahead to reserve a package!

bowling at Ten Pin Alley

Happy “Noon” Year Celebration! at We Rock the Spectrum – Columbus – celebrate “Noon” Year with crafts, snacks and a balloon drop during open play time! No registration required.

Noon Years’ Eve! at Sycamore Plaza Library – this event includes a noontime balloon drop, crafts, games and “mocktail” toast! 

Noon Year’s Eve at Marysville Public Library – this celebration includes crafts and a countdown to noon!

NYE Kids Countdown! at Skate Zone 71 – this event takes place from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM and will include an early countdown to 2019! $12 per person includes admission, skate rental, unlimited cheese pizza and drink.

First Night Columbus at COSI – this huge New Year’s Eve event includes live music appropriate for all ages, a magician, creation stations, special movies, holiday lights, a story time, an animal show, fireworks and more! Tickets are $10 before 12/30 and $15 the day of the event. 

New Years Eve Family Skate Celebration at Skate Zone 71 – ring in 2019 on skates with unlimited cheese pizza and drink, noisemakers and a countdown!

New Year’s Day Hike at Deer Haven Park – celebrate the New Year with a healthy hike through the woods and prairies and enjoy a hot drink and cookies by the fire place afterwards!

Visit COSI on New Year’s Day – COSI will be open on New Year’s Day from 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM!

Ohio Road Trip Ideas for Winter Break:

PNC Festival of Lights at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden – enjoy a “Wild Wonderland” at the Cincinnati Zoo through December 31. This includes 3 million LED lights, a black-light puppet show, a ride on the BB&T Toyland Express and more!

Christmas at the Castle in Loudonville – see the castle decorated with over 100,000 lights and listen to holiday music! Kids eat free at the Copper Mug Bar and Grille with the purchase of an adult entree. Through January 6.

Holiday Celebration at EnterTRAINment Junction – the holidays at EnterTRAINment junction include visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a Winter Wonderland and Elf Workshop. Santa does not appear after Christmas but special activities continue until January 2.

Train Track at EnterTRAINment Junction

Christmas at Kingwood – visit Kingwood Gardens to see the Tree Walk, a special Greenhouse display, live music and an outdoor Trail of Lights! Through December 30.

Christmas Lights at Clifton Mills – the Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill are on display each evening through New Years Eve and feature over 4 million lights including a 100 foot “waterfall” of lights! There is also a Santa Claus Museum, a toy collection, a synchronized light show and more! Children 6 and under are free. 

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*Please be aware,  information is gathered from multiple community sources.  Times, dates and locations are subject to change. There may be a fee to participate in a featured activity.  Please call ahead or check links to confirm activities.  Enjoy what you do today!*

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Columbus Christmas Staycation

 


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What Should We Do This Weekend? Columbus, Ohio, December 21-23, 2018

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Looking for things to do in Columbus, Ohio this weekend? Here are over 60 family-friendly events happening in Columbus, and Central Ohio this weekend!

Family Friendly Events in Columbus Ohio This Weekend:

FRIDAY

9:00 AM – Family Gingerbread House Decorating at Young Chefs Academy of Gahanna – families can decorate a gingerbread house together! Everything you need will be provided in the cost. 

10:00 AM – Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory – visit the Conservatory while it’s decked out for the season! Enjoy special performances and activities and this year the event extends into the Children’s Garden!

10:00 AM – Santa Photos at Easton Town Center – get your family’s picture with Santa between 10:00 AM and 9:00 PM (with 2 break periods (see link)). Get a professional 5×7 for $5 or take a photo with your own camera. Reservations are available!

10:00 AM – The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical at Lincoln Theatre – join Columbus Children’s Theatre for this updated musical to find the true meaning of Christmas! 1 Act with no intermission. Recommended for all ages.

10:30 AM – Holiday Party! at piccadilly – this party includes holiday crafts, decorating cookies and live music from Captain Captain of The Shazzbots!

11:24 AM – Imagination Station at Bexley Public Library – art supplies and LEGO stations will be set out every Friday for kids to get creative!

12:00 PM – Visit with Santa at The Shops at Worthington Place – get your picture taken with Santa!

12:30 PM – The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical at Lincoln Theatre – join Columbus Children’s Theatre for this updated musical to find the true meaning of Christmas! 1 Act with no intermission. Recommended for all ages.

2:00 PM – The Nutcracker at Ohio Theatre – enjoy a festive performance of this holiday classic with BalletMet. This is a two act performance with an intermission.

3:45 PM – Friday After School Crafting at Art with Anna – enjoy holiday crafting after school until 5:00 PM!

5:00 PM – Festive Fridays at Columbus Commons – Friday nights at Columbus Commons include free hot chocolate and carousel rides! There will also be live music! Share your pictures with #CCHolidayLights!

5:00 PM – Winter Solstice Hike at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park – take a hike on the longest day of the year!

5:00 PM – Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo – Wildlights is included in your admission (or membership) to the Zoo and features special activities, amazing lights, light shows, Rudolph and friends in Asia Quest, Santa’s Holiday Home in the Battelle Ice Bear Outpost, Jingle Ball light display and much more!

5:30 PM – Dragon Lights Columbus – walk through an amazing display of Chinese lanterns and holiday light sculptures. Special cultural performances, food and shopping will also be available. Save money by purchasing your tickets online. 

5:30 PM – Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights at Alum Creek Campground – families can enjoy a 3 mile drive through holiday light show with over 140 LED light displays! $30/car on the weekends.

6:00 PM – Holiday Carriage Rides at Easton Town Center – carriage rides are available every weekend through December 23 for $10/person. Children under 15 are free with a paying adult. Get on the carriage outside of Zara on Gramercy Street. Hours are Fridays and Saturdays from 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM and Sundays from 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM.

6:00 PM – Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides in Main Street Delaware, Inc. – free horse drawn carriage rides will be given around downtown Delaware.

6:00 PM – Tween Night – Holiday Cupcake Wars at piccadilly – kids can compete for the best cupcakes – recipes and materials will be provided! Call for availability.

6:00 PM – Santa House at Strand Theatre – visit with Santa and take your own picture!

6:00 PM – Choir Performance at State Auto Christmas Corner – visit the larger than life sized nativity in downtown Columbus and enjoy live choir performances and hot chocolate!

6:30 PM – Family Night Out at Goldfish Swim School – enjoy an open swim in 90 degree water at all Goldfish Swim School locations! Cost for non-members is $5/person or $15/family. First come first served!

7:00 PM – The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical at Lincoln Theatre – join Columbus Children’s Theatre for this updated musical to find the true meaning of Christmas! 1 Act with no intermission. Recommended for all ages.

7:30 PM – The Nutcracker at Ohio Theatre – enjoy a festive performance of this holiday classic with BalletMet. This is a two act performance with an intermission.

SATURDAY

9:00 AM – Family Gingerbread House Decorating at Young Chefs Academy of Gahanna – families can decorate a gingerbread house together! Everything you need will be provided in the cost. 

9:30 AM – Holiday Sing-A-Long with Captain from The Shazzbots! at Cub Shrub – enjoy a holiday story and music from Captain from The Shazzbots!

10:00 AM – Storytime at Grange Insurance Audubon Center – enjoy a nature based story time for preschoolers!

10:00 AM – Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory – visit the Conservatory while it’s decked out for the season! Enjoy special performances and activities and this year the event extends into the Children’s Garden!

10:00 AM – Santa Photos at Easton Town Center – get your family’s picture with Santa between 10:00 AM and 9:00 PM (with 2 break periods (see link)). Get a professional 5×7 for $5 or take a photo with your own camera. Reservations are available!

10:00 AM – Coffee With Santa! at Transcend Coffee + Roastery, USA – visit with Santa and take your own picture!

10:00 AM – Holiday Bricktacular at LEGOLAND Columbus – – decorate trees with LEGO bricks, spot Santa in MAINLAND, write a letter to Santa Maxx and more!

10:15 AM – Mug and Plate Decorating! at Fit4mom Columbus East – join FIT4MOM Columbus East for this craft time where moms can make a coffee mug and kids can decorate a plate!

10:30 AM – Our Village Playdate and Craft: Mini Fingerprint Ornaments with FIT4MOM Upper Arlington – join FIT4MOM Upper Arlington for a craft time where kids can make fingerprint ornaments! Playdates are free to attend.

11:00 AM – Royals Holiday Gala 2018 at Aladdin Temple (Grove City, OH) – this event includes a cast of characters: princesses, princes, superheroes, santa and more! Proceeds from the event will support children in need around Columbus! $25 per child in advance, and up to 2 adults are free with each child. See link for details.

12:00 PM – Visit with Santa at The Shops at Worthington Place – get your picture taken with Santa!

12:30 PM – Holly Jolly Skate with Santa at Skate Zone 71 – skate with Santa, Rudolph and Frosty!

1:00 PM – Author Beth Stafford & Illustrator Jeremy Slagle at Cover to Cover Books for Young Readers – meet the author and illustrator of the book Chin Up, Chinchilla. There will be a reading and book signing! Both author and illustrator live in Ohio!

1:00 PM – Tis the season at Slate Run Metro Park and Living Historical Farm – stroll around the farm, string popcorn and make an ornament!

1:00 PM – The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical at Lincoln Theatre – join Columbus Children’s Theatre for this updated musical to find the true meaning of Christmas! 1 Act with no intermission. Recommended for all ages.

2:00 PM – The Nutcracker at Ohio Theatre – enjoy a festive performance of this holiday classic with BalletMet. This is a two act performance with an intermission.

3:30 PM – The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical at Lincoln Theatre – join Columbus Children’s Theatre for this updated musical to find the true meaning of Christmas! 1 Act with no intermission. Recommended for all ages.

5:00 PM – Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo – Wildlights is included in your admission (or membership) to the Zoo and features special activities, amazing lights, light shows, Rudolph and friends in Asia Quest, Santa’s Holiday Home in the Battelle Ice Bear Outpost, Jingle Ball light display and much more!

5:00 PM – Choir Performance at State Auto Christmas Corner – visit the larger than life sized nativity in downtown Columbus and enjoy live choir performances and hot chocolate!

5:30 PM – Dragon Lights Columbus – walk through an amazing display of Chinese lanterns and holiday light sculptures. Special cultural performances, food and shopping will also be available. Save money by purchasing your tickets online. 

5:30 PM – Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights at Alum Creek Campground – families can enjoy a 3 mile drive through holiday light show with over 140 LED light displays! $30/car on the weekends.

6:00 PM – Holiday Carriage Rides at Easton Town Center – carriage rides are available every weekend through December 23 for $10/person. Children under 15 are free with a paying adult. Get on the carriage outside of Zara on Gramercy Street. Hours are Fridays and Saturdays from 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM and Sundays from 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM.

6:00 PM – Tween Night – Holiday Cupcake Wars at piccadilly – kids can compete for the best cupcakes – recipes and materials will be provided! Call for availability.

7:30 PM – The Nutcracker at Ohio Theatre – enjoy a festive performance of this holiday classic with BalletMet. This is a two act performance with an intermission. 

SUNDAY

9:00 AM – Family Gingerbread House Decorating at Young Chefs Academy of Gahanna – families can decorate a gingerbread house together! Everything you need will be provided in the cost. 

10:00 AM – Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park Conservatory – visit the Conservatory while it’s decked out for the season! Enjoy special performances and activities and this year the event extends into the Children’s Garden!

10:00 AM – Holiday Bricktacular at LEGOLAND Columbus – – decorate trees with LEGO bricks, spot Santa in MAINLAND, write a letter to Santa Maxx and more!

11:00 AM – Santa Photos at Easton Town Center – get your family’s picture with Santa between 10:00 AM and 9:00 PM (with 2 break periods (see link)). Get a professional 5×7 for $5 or take a photo with your own camera. Reservations are available!

12:00 PM – Visit with Santa at The Shops at Worthington Place – get your picture taken with Santa!

12:00 PM – The Grinch’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Skate at Skate Zone 71 – wear your ugly holiday sweater to skate with The Grinch at this glow skate!

1:00 PM – The Nutcracker at Ohio Theatre – enjoy a festive performance of this holiday classic with BalletMet. This is a two act performance with an intermission.

1:00 PM – The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical at Lincoln Theatre – join Columbus Children’s Theatre for this updated musical to find the true meaning of Christmas! 1 Act with no intermission. Recommended for all ages.

3:00 PM – Holiday Carriage Rides at Easton Town Center – carriage rides are available every weekend through December 23 for $10/person. Children under 15 are free with a paying adult. Get on the carriage outside of Zara on Gramercy Street. Hours are Fridays and Saturdays from 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM and Sundays from 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM.

3:30 PM – The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical at Lincoln Theatre – join Columbus Children’s Theatre for this updated musical to find the true meaning of Christmas! 1 Act with no intermission. Recommended for all ages.

4:00 PM – Meet & Greet with Frosty & Rudolph at Skate Zone 71 – skate with Frosty and Rudolph!

4:00 PM – Holiday Lights Tour with Columbus City Adventures – this 2 hour tour of holiday lights includes stops at the Scioto Mile, Columbus Commons and Christmas Corner!

4:30 PM – Sunset Bison Walk at Battelle Darby Nature Center – meet at the Nature Center to talk a walk out to see the Bison in the park!

5:00 PM – Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo – Wildlights is included in your admission (or membership) to the Zoo and features special activities, amazing lights, light shows, Rudolph and friends in Asia Quest, Santa’s Holiday Home in the Battelle Ice Bear Outpost, Jingle Ball light display and much more!

5:30 PM – The Nutcracker at Ohio Theatre – enjoy a festive performance of this holiday classic with BalletMet. This is a two act performance with an intermission.

5:30 PM – Dragon Lights Columbus – walk through an amazing display of Chinese lanterns and holiday light sculptures. Special cultural performances, food and shopping will also be available. Save money by purchasing your tickets online. 

5:30 PM – Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights at Alum Creek Campground – families can enjoy a 3 mile drive through holiday light show with over 140 LED light displays! $30/car on the weekends.


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*Please be aware,  information is gathered from multiple community sources.  Times, dates and locations are subject to change. There may be a fee to participate in a featured activity.  Please call ahead or check links to confirm activities.  Enjoy what you do today!*

 

ICYMI: 7 of the Most Festive Things You Can Do in Columbus This Holiday Season


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Explore the Scioto Mile with Your Kids on the Smart Circuit

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Explore the Scioto Mile with your family by riding Smart Circuit, Ohio’s first self-driving shuttle! You can be a part of the start of a new era of mobility innovation in Central Ohio!

Thank you to Smart Columbus for sponsoring this post!

smart columbus experience center building

Spend a Day on the Scioto Mile with your Family By Riding the Smart Circuit:

Columbus is home to Ohio’s first self driving shuttle! Sound scary? I’ll admit I was a little bit nervous – especially just a few weeks after having been in a car accident – to take my 4 year old on a self-driving vehicle! But when I found out that all of the vehicles are manned by an attendant who can step in at any time, my fear subsided!

Turns out the majority of vehicle accidents are caused by user error! The hope is that one day, self driving vehicles, though they may sound scary to us now, will actually reduce accidents and save lives.

What is the Smart Circuit?

Columbus is home base to a project called Smart Circuit, a self-driving shuttle. It’s the first of its kind in Ohio and it’s short route is 1.5 miles, has 4 stops, and takes about 15 minutes to complete. The shuttle is free to ride and operates from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM every day.

riding the smart circuit columbus, ohio

campfire seating inside the smart circuit

Funded through October, the project has two major goals. One is to provide data and information to engineers, researchers and policymakers from Smart Columbus, DriveOhio and The Ohio State University as they decide how self-driving technology can be further used around Ohio. The second goal is to offer us, the general public, a hands-on experience with self-driving technology. Think of this as an educational project- for all of us!

How does the Smart Circuit work?

I’m not going to pretend to understand the technology that makes the Smart Circuit shuttle work. But I had lots of questions like  “how does it know where it’s going?” “How does it know when to stop?” and “How does it know when everyone has boarded the vehicle?” 

The shuttle uses sensors and intelligent software with a 360 degree view to help the vehicle know where it is, what direction to go and when to stop. If someone or something runs into the street, the shuttle can tell and knows to stop. And don’t worry, the attendant tells the shuttle when to pull away from each stop. It’s not going to start going before you’re safely in the vehicle! 

Is the Smart Circuit Safe for Kids?

You might also be wondering, as I did, about safety for children.

attendant in the smart circuit, columbus, ohio

The first thing that might set your mind at ease is that there is a vehicle attendant in each shuttle who can take control at any time. While I was riding, we encountered a truck parked in a space where the Smart Circuit was supposed to make a full u-turn but there wasn’t enough room. The attendant stepped in and made the turn. 

Secondly, the vehicle goes at a max speed of 25 miles per hour. There are 4 seats in the back that are in a “campfire” configuration.

mom and son riding the smart circuit

You will need to follow the same vehicle safety guidelines that you follow in your own car. Children under 4 are required to have a car seat on the Smart Circuit.  I would recommend doing this with children who need a booster seat or no seat at all for ease of transport!

Where can I get on the Smart Circuit?

smart circuit stop

The Smart Circuit has 4 stops: COSI, National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Bicentennial Park and Smart Columbus Experience Center. There is a sign at each stop letting you know where to wait for the shuttle. There are three shuttles on the route and your wait time in between shuttles is around 10 minutes. View the route here.

What is there to do on the Scioto Mile?

So now that we’ve got all of the technical questions out of the way, I’m hoping you’ve come to see the Smart Circuit Shuttle in the same way I did: as an experience. The Smart Circuit exists to help us learn about self-driving technology and to experience it ourselves. We are the first city in Ohio to have access to this kind of experience and it will certainly be a part of our children’s lives in the future!

Why not take this opportunity to be “a part of the start” and be one of the first people in our state to have this experience? I’m proposing you make a day of it!

boy running on the scioto mile

8 Family Friendly Things to do Around the Scioto Mile:

Here are 8 family-friendly things to do around the Scioto Mile that enable you to take your kids on the Smart Circuit as part of your transportation! Pick a few of these stops that make sense for your family and give it a try!

1. COSI

cosi

I recommend starting at COSI for your trip on the Smart Circuit! There is an underground parking garage where you can park and if you visit COSI you can have your parking validated. Parking is $5 for COSI members and $6 for the general public if you get your ticket stamped at the COSI box office. Otherwise parking is $6 for the first 3 hours and $2 for each additional hour up to $15. 

COSI (Center Of Science and Industry) offers fun and educational experiences for all ages! From the little kidspace for toddlers to all of the amazing regular science exhibits, rotating exhibits and the American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery there is truly something for everyone! 

2. Dorrian Green

dorrian green park outside cosi

Don’t have time for a full on visit to COSI? Check out the park and playground area just outside of COSI. There are several play structures and small fountains during the summer! Outside of COSI there are also a couple of dinosaur displays that can be seen without entering COSI.

3. Smart Columbus Experience Center

inside the smart columbus experience center

The Smart Columbus Experience Center is open for you to stop in and learn about the future of transportation! There are touch screens with games that can be played (also look for these around the Short North!) and vehicles to explore. If you are interested in purchasing an electric vehicle you can also come to The Smart Columbus Experience Center to test drive vehicles in a no-pressure situation! 

Smart Columbus Experience Center

4. Bicentennial Park

bicentennial park in Columbus Ohio with holiday lights

Bicentennial Park is a great hang out space for families! During the summer, kids can play in the fountains and during the holiday season, the park is decked out with lights! Taking the Smart Circuit around its route is a great way to see the holiday lights all throughout the Scioto Mile! 

5. Veterans Memorial and Museum

We have yet to visit the newly opened Veterans Memorial and Museum, but this would be a great stop for older kids and adult family members. I’ve got it on good report that you should allow a couple of hours to visit the museum (and maybe NOT tack it on to a visit to COSI!) 😉 

6. Cultural Arts Center

Cultural Arts Center in Columbus, Ohio

Stop by the Cultural Arts Center to visit one of the art galleries. Admission is free. Adults can take classes here or join in one of the Conversations and Coffee talks!

7. The Promenade

promenade on the scioto mile

The Scioto Mile encompasses 175 acres of parkland and includes bikeways, walking paths and 9 parks! The Promenade on the Scioto Mile is a walkway along the river that offers stunning views of downtown and swings and benches for relaxing.

swing on the Scioto Mile promenade

8. Columbus Commons 

Columbus Commons at night

Just a short walk from Bicentennial Park, Columbus Commons is another great spot to view holiday lights or to play in the summer! Columbus Commons is home to many free events during the spring through fall and is a large green space to let your kids run out all that energy no matter what time of year!


After visiting the Smart Columbus Experience Center and taking a ride on the shuttle, my interest is piqued! I’m curious to see how transportation will change in my kids’ life time. 

What about you? Will you take your kids on the Smart Circuit this year?

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scioto mile promenade

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Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio

ICYMI: Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus, Ohio


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