The Scioto Audubon is a really awesome Metro Park as far as kids are concerned – you should definitely take your kids there! I had been there a few times for work events in my past life, but I had never explored the park with kids until this past spring! I was missing out!
Here are 9 things you can do there with your kids! (I don’t necessarily recommend doing them all in one day, we did a lot of them and were pretty worn out!) We’ve since been back a few times just to play in the sandbox and have a much more relaxed morning, and that’s just as great, too!
1. Attend a Story Time
We arrived in time for the Pre-K Storytime on a Thursday morning. These story times take place at 10:00 AM on Thursdays and Saturdays in the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. The library area was full of children’s books and there was a tee pee to play in, as well as scientific equipment to investigate. The story time was laid back and fun for small kids. There was a wide age range of kids there and I felt that the volunteer was very understanding of their varying levels of concentration!
2. Visit with Live Animals
After the story time, a volunteer took us down the hall to visit with frogs, turtles and other water creatures. I wouldn’t have known about this room if it wasn’t for our friendly story time leader!
3. Check Out the Play Room
I had no idea that there was a play area inside the Center. I would have been coming here during the winter, that’s for sure! There are puppets in a cave-like play area and a climbing structure! There were also really cute animal costumes for dressing up. Inside the same room were animal pelts and skulls the kids could touch.
4. Play in the Sand Box
Just outside the Audubon Center, there is a sand box to play in. My kids could have stayed here all day! There were already sand toys in the area, so we did not have to bring our own. There’s a chalkboard for drawing on and several paths for the kids to walk on in the area.
5. Walk the Boardwalk
We took a walk out the back of the Audubon Center, down the path that leads to the rock climbing wall and playground. It’s a good hike, but still doable with small children. We didn’t actually see any animals, but we heard frogs croaking! This spot was a little scary for me with an almost 2 year old peering over the boardwalk. If you can trust your kids not to dive in, it’s worth doing! I wished I could enjoy it a little more but I was trying not to have a heart attack every time they walked close to the edge. 😉
6. Check out the River Overlook
The park has a river overlook, out over the Scioto River. There are binoculars available for long distance viewing!
7. Play on the Playground
You can walk down the boardwalk to the playground, or park in the parking lot right next to it. We walked down after already having a full morning playing, so the walk back up was a bit tiring. I might recommend driving down so you can leave from the park. There is a play area for older and younger kids and a mister for really hot days! There are several picnic tables with umbrellas overhead. For older kids, there is a rock climbing wall and an obstacle course nearby. I love the gorgeous views of downtown from the park!
8. Go Bird Watching
Well, this should be obvious at an audubon center, I guess, but there are a lot of bird watching opportunities. 😉 If you can get your kids to stay still enough (definitely a challenge for me!) the birds will congregate at the feeders around the building. We saw quite a few from the windows in the library, and we were able to walk by the feeders on the outside decks (which are also on my list of places to come WITHOUT kids)! There are lots of opportunities to learn about birds inside the center, too!
9. Climb the Water Tower
Or more accurately, climb two stories of the water tower! 😉 And this is a bonus tip because we didn’t actually do it! If I thought it wasn’t going to mean carrying a toddler up and down the steps, I would have totally done this for the awesome view, but I was pushing the limit as it was! I imagine it would be fun to eat a packed lunch up there!
Know Before You Go:
Scioto Audubon Metro Park, 400 W. Whittier St., Columbus, OH 43215, 614-202-5197
6:30 AM to 10:00 PM April through September
6:30 AM to 8:00 PM October through March
Grange Insurance Audubon Center, 505 W. Whittier St., Columbus OH 43215, 614-545-5475
Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Sunday 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM