Peach Picking Fun at Branstool Orchards

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This post was written in partnership with Branstool Orchards.

Peaches at the grocery store are hit or miss, am I right? Mostly miss, in my opinion. I’m always afraid to buy them because they usually disappoint. There is nothing like a sweet, juicy peach, but they are just hard to come by at your local grocery store.

Did you know you could pick your own peaches in Central Ohio? I’ll be honest, I did not. I figured peaches had to come on a truck from Georgia, therefore they were picked early with a makeshift calculation for landing on the shelf at peak ripeness. (Can you tell I’m a little bitter about grocery store peaches?)

Little did I know, amazing, juicy, sweet peaches are yours to be had less than an hour down the road from downtown Columbus (Ohio, not Columbus, GA 😉 )! Branstool Orchards is a beautiful spot off Route 62 in Utica, OH where you can pick your own peaches! (And not just peaches! Apples and pears are available, too!)

Picking your own peaches at Branstool Orchards is a relaxing and family-friendly experience. Kids are encouraged to take part, dogs are welcome, and there are picnic tables throughout the orchard where you can stop and have a snack or a picnic! Branstool Orchards wants your family to have a good time when you visit! They want it to be an outing where your whole family is relaxed and enjoying the process, not just the end result!

You can pick up a wagon (for either your kids or your peaches) and stroll through the orchard. I think most kids LOVE this kind of thing! It’s so good for them to make the connection about where their food comes from, and I think they enjoy it more when they know they’ve hand-picked what they’re eating.

I don’t know many kids you have to convince to eat a peach, but mine can be weird about eating a lot of things I personally think are delicious, so you never know. I do know that being able to pick the peaches and eat them out in the orchard made my kids 100% willing to eat them at home – something that is never a given!

You guys, it’s beautiful! It’s relaxing and unpretentious. Are there farms that are pretentious? I don’t know, but that just feels like a good way to describe the orchard!

Peach season is typically July through September. This year things came a little early at the orchard, so they are expecting just 2-3 more weeks of peach availability! Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates on what peaches are currently available.

If you don’t have time to pick your own, no worries! Pre-picked peaches are available in the market.

Branstool Orchards handpicks their own peaches at the perfect point of ripeness and then employees hand sort them, picking out “seconds” that don’t meet their quality standards. We got to see this first hand, and you can too, as the workspace is visible from and attached to the market. Don’t worry, the “seconds” don’t go to waste, you can buy them at a reduced price for canning or jam!

Branstool Orchards is partnering with several local businesses: Columbus Brewing Company is using Branstool peaches for a peach beer! If you head down the road to Velvet Ice Cream Factory, you can get a peach sundae made from Branstool peaches!  Urban Spreads uses Branstool peaches in their jam, sold at the market! So many amazing ways to eat (or drink) a peach!

Another great thing about the produce grown at Branstool Orchards is their chemical-free initiatives. Over the past several years they have been reducing their use of chemical pesticides by using mating disruption and companion planting. You can read more about that here. They also polish their apples instead of using the wax you will find on your grocery store apples which is another bonus!

With the exception of just a few items, everything in the farm market is from Ohio. The produce that is not peaches, apples or pears is from local Amish farms, provided for your one-stop convenience, and (just so you know) there are also two options for cobbler topping available for purchase! 😉

If you can’t make it out for peaches, Apples will be available to pick until November! You can see the approximate ripening dates here and make a plan for this fall!

I hope you and your kids can carve out a day for peach picking before the season ends!

Know Before You Go:

Website: Branstool Orchards
Address: 5895 Johnstown-Utica Rd NE, Utica, OH 43080
Phone: 740-892-3989
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 9:00 AM-6:00PM, Sunday: 10:00 AM-5:00 PM

  • It is recommended that you allow at least 1 hour for U-Pick.
  • U-Pick peaches are $1.50/lb.
  • There is a $10 minimum for peach-picking.
  • Boxes are provided for picking.

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ICYMI: Your Kid’s First Swim Lesson at Goldfish Swim School: What to Expect


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10 Things to do at Olentangy Indian Caverns

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Olentangy Indian Caverns hosted my family for a day of fun in mid-July! We had a blast! I’m sharing about all the things they have to offer in this post and combining it with a giveaway for a family 4 pack of tickets so one reader’s family can do all of these fun things for free! (See my Facebook page for the giveaway!)

If you have never been to Olentangy Indian Caverns (like me!) I think you will be surprised at all there is to do. The great part about it is that it’s not a package deal – your family can pick any one of these things to do on the property to customize your day according to your time and budget!

Here are 10 things you can do at Olentangy Indian Caverns:

1. Cavern Tour

Obviously, the first thing you’re going to think of is the Cavern tour. The caverns are naturally made tunnels and caves that were, at one time, used by Native Americans for hiding, meetings, shelter, etc. You can do a self-guided tour of the caverns or join in on a group tour with a live guide. Our guide was great, giving us the history, telling us stories and answering all of our questions! Cavern tours are $9.95 for those 13 years old and up and $6.95 for children age 3-12. Ages 2 and under are free.

Finding a fossil!

There are a lot of steps to go up and down and the caverns are often wet. We had to hop over and through a couple of puddles on our journey. I was glad I had chosen to wear closed toed shoes for that reason. So keep your family’s footwear in mind when planning for the trip as things may be wet and/or slippery.

The youngest child on our tour was just under two and she had a great time, but if you have a non-walker I would recommend an on-body baby carrier of some sort. You can’t take a stroller in and I couldn’t imagine carrying an infant car seat, but many of you might be stronger than me . . . 😉

2. Museum

The entrance to the caverns is housed in a small museum where you can read about the history of the caverns and some of the famous and infamous things that happened there, and see the bones of an ox that fell down to its untimely death around 1818 (or 1821, depending on the story!). There are also arrowheads and lots of other artifacts related to the caverns.

3. Mini Golf

The option of mini-golf is available on the property. There are 18 holes and the cost is just $3/person.

4. Gem Mining

After our cavern tour, we did some gem mining! This was another first for our boys and I was honestly surprised how much they loved this! (Though when I think about it, the act of digging through dirt, stones and water to find treasure sounds exactly like their idea of a good time! 😉 ) A bag of sand/stones/gems is provided and you use a strainer of sorts and a small stream of water to sift through the sand to find gemstones! There is a range of bag sizes available and prices range from $5.99 – $9.99/bag.

5. Petting Zoo

There is a rather large petting zoo area on the property! There are goats, cows, sheep and even deer who will happily eat out of your hand! If your kids are skittish (like mine) there is a fenced in area where the kids can stand inside and feed the animals from behind the fence. After some shrieks, we started out here and then eventually ventured into the large open area. My kids were scared of the cows but loved the smaller goats. The deer were gentle and sweet. This could definitely be unique a stand-alone activity! The cost for a wristband to enter the petting zoo is $3 and a small bag of food can be purchased for $1, a large bag for $3.

6. Spot More Animals

There are also rabbits and chickens on the farm. They are not for petting, but still fun to spot! The chickens roam around freely so they are fun to watch! The rabbits are in a fenced-in area.

7. Yard Games

On a busy day, you may have to wait for a guided tour slot. While you wait, there are tons of yard games to play on the property! Cornhole, tic tac toe, jenga, frisbees, checkers, etc. There is also a climbing wall and a playground with a fun twisty slide my boys enjoyed!

8. Picnic Area

On the grounds there is a pavilion with picnic tables and covered areas. You can bring your own food here for a picnic lunch or reserve the shelter for a group event!

9. Gift Shop

Pick up souvenirs (and all your activity tickets) at the Gift Shop! There was a surprisingly large amount of merchandise from toys and t-shirts to souvenirs and jewelry!

10. Birthday Parties/Group Events

You can also have a birthday party or other group event here! The shelters are available for rental and for groups of 25 or more you can receive a discount on the price of the activities. See info here!

Know Before You Go:

  • 1779 Home Rd. Delaware, OH 43015, 740-548-7917
  • The Caverns are open from April 1st – October 31st, every day from 9:30 AM – 6:00 PM.
  • Guided tours are only available June 1 – August 6 from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM. You may do a self-guided tour during the other times.

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ICYMI: 4 Nature Themed Story Times Around Columbus


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Exploring Ohio with Kids: Bellevue

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This post has kind of been a long time coming! We did this late last summer and it seemed too late to post it, so I’m sharing it with you now as an idea for a fun road trip this summer! Bellevue, Ohio is a small Lake Erie town about 2 hours from downtown Columbus. We spent a week at Sandusky Bay and this is how we spent one of our days. It could be done in a one day road trip or you could spend the night somewhere near Sandusky and also visit the African Wildlife Safari Park!

Here are 3 activities that will fill your day in Bellevue, Ohio!

1. Jungle Junction

110 Cherry Blvd. Bellevue, OH 44811
Phone: 419-484-5532

Jungle Junction claims to be the largest indoor play structure in Ohio. I cannot verify this, but I will take their word for it! 🙂 This play area is designed for kids ages 12 and under and you must wear socks. I forgot socks and I was able to purchase a pair at the counter.

Around the periphery of the main play area is a toddler play area with animals to climb and slide on.

My kids had spent a lot of time in the toddler area until they gained the courage to enter the Tree Top Play area!

Inside the Tree Top Play area there are lots of climbing structures, slides, tunnels, etc. There are also air cannons that shoot plastic balls all around the area. (If your kids are sensitive to this kind of thing, they do have a Sensory Day on the first and third Wednesday of each month from 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM where the air cannons cannot be used.) My oldest is sensitive to noise and it took him a while to get used to the noise and have the courage to go inside!

Admission is for the day, so you can come and go with a stamp on your hand. There is no charge for parents/caregivers and the price for children (as of May, 2017) is as follows:

  • Children 1 and under: $2
  • Ages 2-12: $6
  • Twilight Special – $4 (After 5:00 PM, Monday-Thursday)

2. Bone Boy’s BBQ

109 W. Main St., Bellevue, OH 44811
Phone: 419-483-7447

We’ve only eaten at one restaurant in Bellevue, but I can highly recommend this one if you like BBQ and it is kid friendly! I loved to see the meat being grilled right out back of the restaurant!

A big bonus here is that kids under 5 eat free!

Yum!

3. Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum

253 Southwest St., Bellevue, Ohio 44811
Phone: 419-483-2222

Wow. I took a lot of pictures here! There is SO MUCH to see! If you have kids that love trains, they will be in heaven at this museum! The museum is open every day from 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Memorial Day through Labor Day, and on weekends during May, September and October.

You buy your tickets in the gift shop – and then try to tear the kids away from the play area so you can see the actual museum! 😉

This museum is very hands on! It has an indoor and an outdoor area. You can walk through train cars, climb into the cabs and see historical artifacts.

The outdoor portion of the museum is across the street and there are many trains to climb into. Many of the trains have displays for viewing inside.

Admission (as of May, 2017) is as follows:

  • $10.00 Adults
  • $9.00 Senior (60+)
  • $5.00 Children (5-12)
  • Under 5 FREE

We played at Jungle Junction in the morning, had lunch and then headed over to the Railroad Museum for the afternoon. With kids under 5 (at the time), we didn’t even have to spend that much money! It was a full day, and as you can imagine, the boys looked like this on the way back to where we were staying:

We love to spend time around Lake Erie! Do you have a favorite place to visit there?

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ICYMI: Columbus Zoo: Little Explorers Base Camp


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