fryer park, grove city

6 Columbus Area Parks for Toddlers

These 6 Columbus area parks are great for toddlers!

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes taking young kids to the park can be a frightening experience.  You look away for 5 seconds and all of a sudden your toddler is standing at the top of a climbing wall looking over a 10 foot drop off to the pavement below.  I like to take my toddlers to parks where they can roam freely without a lot of worry that their lack of impulse control (or balance) is going to send us on a trip to the ER.  But that’s just me.

I suppose I should make a disclaimer that most (all?) of the younger kids’ areas in the parks I’ve been to have signs saying the equipment is designed for ages 2-5.  I don’t know anyone who has waited until their kid was 2 to take them to a park, so that being said, I have chosen 6 parks with particularly toddler-friendly play areas:

1. Funk-ee-Town, Harrison Park, Harrison West

995 Harrison Park Pl., Columbus, OH 43201
No Restrooms Available

Harrison Park

Harrison Park

GREAT toddler area here!  No crazy heights, the small slide is enclosed at the top, and lots of opportunities for imaginative play – on the ground!  My kids love the snack shack and the house with the blue roof has drums and a xylophone to play on inside, as well as a steering wheel. While you’re in the area, check out some of these kid-friendly options in the Short North!

2.  Jeffrey Mansion and Park, Bexley

165 N. Parkview Ave, Bexley, OH 43209
Seasonal Restrooms Available

Jeffrey Mansion Park, Bexley

Jefferey Mansion Park, Bexley, Ohio

The toddler area here is fenced in, making it a perfect little play area just for the younger crowd!  There is tunnel to crawl through, a dinosaur slide and a play house.  As a bonus, the grounds here are beautiful and if you follow the path into the woods behind the park, you will encounter a boardwalk along Alum Creek! If you’re in Bexley, add a stop at Kittie’s or Gramercy Books to complete the morning!

3.  Schiller Park, German Village

1069 Jaeger St., Columbus, OH 43206
Restrooms Available

Train at Schiller Park, German Village

Slide at Schiller Park, German Village

This side of the playground at Schiller park is very toddler friendly.  Kids love these trains, and the play area behind it, seen in the picture, is specifically made for the toddler set.  It’s completely closed in, there’s a ramp and the slides are so slow my 4 year old got stuck.  😉 There are several baby/toddler swings here as well. Nearby, check out Winans for great coffee and chocolate!

4. Pingree Park, Worthington

374 Pingree Dr., Worthington, OH 43085
No Restrooms Available

Pingree Park, Worthington, OH

Pingree Park, Worthington, Ohio

Pingree Park, Worthington, Ohio

My kids had a lot of fun at this park!  There’s a toddler play set, infant/toddler swings and a small path around the park that does not cross a road or parking lot.  There are a couple of picnic tables and benches here that are convenient for snacking or eating a packed lunch.

Both of my kids, including my toddler, actually really had fun on the tunnel slide, though it specifically says for ages 5 and up.  They specifically enjoyed yelling “Paw Patrol!” from the top and then pretending to slide down into their respective vehicles.  So yes, I did basically yell out jobs for them for at least 20 minutes: “Marshall, I need you and your firetruck to go rescue a kitty from a tree . . .” and so on . . . It was fun. (Sarcasm font.)

5.  Discovery Frontier, Fryer Park, Grove City

3899 Orders Rd., Grove City, OH 43123
Restrooms Available

space themed park in Grove City, Ohio

Fryer Park, Grove City, Ohio

This park is toddler friendly because it is more about space than height.  And yes, I mean that literally and figuratively.  This space-themed park has a lot of area to run, hills to climb and also sand to play in.  My kids love running through the tunnel and up the hill that is the moon. While you’re in Grove City, check out their awesome library!

There are several toddler-sized structures to play on.  It’s hard to say exactly what space-themed things they are supposed to be, but none of them are very high off the ground, and that’s what matters.  At this park, there is also a pond with a path to walk. There are several toddler swings here and they are under umbrella cover for shade – another bonus!

6. Alum Creek Park North, Westerville

221 W. Main St., Westerville, OH 43081
Restrooms Available

Train Park, Westerville Ohio

Alum Creek Park North

Most of this park is geared toward older kids, but there are two things in particular make this park toddler-friendly and worth a visit.  One is the train, which is mainly at ground level with a tunnel to crawl through, benches to sit on inside and a small slide.  The second thing is the large sand pit.  I said it was toddler friendly, I didn’t promise your kids would stay clean.  😉 This park was one stop during our Playdate in Uptown Westerville – make sure to read to find out where we got donuts before hand! 😉

I have personally tried all of these parks with a toddler and lived to see another day!  I hope you and your little ones enjoy exploring a new park!  If you’re planning to pick up coffee on the way to the park, I featured two of these parks in my post Coffee+Park: 3 Parks Within Walking Distance of a Coffee Shop!


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6 Parks for Toddlers in Columbus, Ohio







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10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions

Every year I feel slightly overwhelmed by all of the Holiday events I really don’t want to miss. A few years ago, I sat down and wrote them out on a calendar. And THAT is pretty much where the idea for this blog began! 😉  Now we’ve come full circle and, though there are probably hundreds of holiday events going on around town, today I am sharing 10 things my family loves doing at Christmastime in Columbus!

1. Village Lights


Hands down, this is my favorite Columbus tradition of the entire year. Wow, did I really just say that? I did. I look forward to this probably more than anything else. I honestly don’t know how much my kids like it, but there are teddy bears and free cookies and hot chocolate, so I haven’t heard any complaints! The streets of German Village are lit with luminaries and restaurants, shops, and even a few private homes along the route are open late with special deals, free goodies and live music! Designated parking areas and shuttles are available.

When: December 3, 2017, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Where: throughout German Village

2. Wildlights


You have to see Wildlights! The light shows are spectacular and the zoo becomes an (even more) magical place for about 6 weeks leading up to New Year’s Day! The first time we ever attempted to go to Wildlights, there was so much traffic that by the time we got there it was too late for my 1 yr old and we just drove right on by the entrance and back on home! Weekends are very busy, so if you can, I suggest trying a week day evening and arriving before 5:00 PM! If you’re a member, you can also avoid the crowds by catching the Member Preview on November 16th.

When: November 17, 2017 – January 1, 2018 (Wildlights begins at 5:00 PM)
Where: 4850 Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065


3. Gardens Aglow (Formerly Merry and Bright)


Gardens Aglow offers special holiday decorations, performances and evening hours at Franklin Park Conservatory. Throughout the season live music and special events are scheduled and the Conservatory is decorated beautifully (that goes without saying)! There are lights throughout inside and outside and it’s breathtaking! From December 1-31 (except for the 24th and 25th) they are open until 9:00 PM. There will be special family-friendly activities happening all through the season!

When: November 11, 2017 – January 3, 2018: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, December: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Where: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43203


4. Bicentenial Park


Throughout the holiday season, the Scioto Mile is awash in light – Christmas lights, that is! What was previously The Grand Illumination will be replaced by WinterFest this year! Taking place on Saturday, December 2, 2017, it will include live performers such as Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons, food trucks like Paddy Wagon and Pitabilities, as well as the opportunity to purchase soup from Milestone 229 in a handmade bowl as part of the Empty Bowls initiative. The park will be full of lights beginning November 17th!

When: November 17, 2017 through Early January 2018
Where: 233 S. Civic Center Dr., Columbus, OH 43215


5. Columbus Commons and the Lazarus Windows


When you’re at Bicentennial Park, make plans to walk a few blocks to Columbus Commons where the park will be filled with holiday displays and lights! Just across the street (at the corner of High and Town) in the old Lazarus building, the windows will be filled with scenes from the 12 Days of Christmas!

When: Late November through early January from dusk until to 11:00 PM
Where: 160 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215

6. Huntington Holiday Train

Main Library is home to the Huntington Holiday Train and every year this amazing display is set up during the holiday season! This year, the library will begin set up of the train on November 17, 2017 and is usually up through New Years!

When: November 17, 2017 – Early January, 2017
Where: 96 S. Grant Ave. Columbus, OH 43215

7. Holiday Train at Ohio History Center


If you happen to have kids that like trains, there is a also holiday train set up at the Ohio History Center. Granted, it’s not quite as elaborate as the Huntington Train, but since we’re members at Ohio History Center, this one is still a no-brainer for me and two boys who love trains! We don’t miss it!

When: Late November – Early January
Where: 800 E. 17th. Ave., Columbus OH 43211


8. Think Outside the Brick


This exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art isn’t even holiday themed, but it arrives in November and says goodbye in March, so in my mind it’s associated with Christmas! If you have kids on Christmas break, this would be a great reason to take them to the Art Museum! The LEGO replica of Columbus is awesome and we love to visit at this time! There are usually blocks for free building in the Big Idea Gallery, too! Admission is free on Sundays and on Thursday nights you “pay what you want” from 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM! See more pictures from our visit here!

When: November 10, 2017 – March 2, 2018
Where: 480 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215


9. Easton


We always enjoy going to Easton at Christmastime – and not just to do our Christmas shopping! There is a life-sized nativity and a humongous Christmas tree (an all-new, 50 ft tree covered in 28, 680 RGB LED’s arrives in 2017!)! There are carriage rides, live music performances and the lighting ceremony takes place on Friday, November 17, 2017 beginning at 6:00 PM and includes a parade, a fireworks show, a visit from Santa and more!


When: beginning November 17, 2017
Where: 160 Easton Town Center, Columbus, OH 43219

10. State Auto Christmas Corner

Christmas Corner is something we love to do close to Christmas Eve! You can walk through a life-sized nativity following the Christmas story! The Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at 5:30 PM. There are choirs scheduled on Friday and Saturday evenings through December 23rd and free hot chocolate (donations accepted!) will be available on those evenings!  There are ample parking lots designated for viewing this display!

When: Tuesday, December 5, 2017 through Christmas Day when baby Jesus is placed in the manger.
Where: 518 E Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

I hope that whatever you chose to do, you have a special season with your family!


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ICYMI: Columbus Tip Sheet: November 2017

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Coffee + Park: 3 Parks Within Walking Distance of a Coffee Shop

Spring is in the air and park season is upon us.  All of us parents, weary from passing endless hours indoors, break out of our shells, stretch and yawn, opening our eyes to the bright sunshine.  It’s time to head outside.  And I know what you need:  coffee.  If I had a nickel for every parent I see at the park holding a cup of coffee, I would at least be drinking a Venti right now.

What am I giving you in this post?  Three coffee/park combinations.  And my promise to you is that these will be easy to do.  I have chosen three places where you can, with the least amount of effort, pick up your coffee and head to the park.  Sure, you could go through the drive through . . . but I’m all about making this an “outing” that’s fun for the child AND the parent.  Stop by the coffee shop and then head to the park . . . that’s what spring’s all about, isn’t it?

1. Luck Bros’ Coffee House + Pierce Field


IMG_0539 (1)

IMG_0549 (1)

You can literally see the coffee shop from the park. Easy Peasy.

You can literally see the coffee shop from the park. Easy Peasy.

It doesn’t get much easier than this when it comes to coffee and park proximity!  I stopped in for coffee and got tempted by the yummy chocolate chip cookies.  We stayed here to share a cookie and then headed across the street to the park.  Pierce Field has two play areas, one for older kids and one for younger.  There is also a smaller slide and a lady bug to ride on for the toddler set.  The park is fenced in and restrooms are available.  This park also has free wi-fi!

Coffee:  Luck Bros’ Coffee House, 1101 W 1st Ave, Grandview Heights, OH, 43212

Park:  Pierce Field, 1st Ave, between Oxley and Northwest Blvd, Grandview Heights, OH, 43212

Where to Park: I recommend parking on 1st Ave, which separates the park from the coffee shop.  You can park in the parking lot in front of the shops or on the road along the park.

2. Caffe Apropos + Harrison Park



Coffee to park is a mere 4 block walk in this case.  Caffe Apropos serves a large selection of coffee drinks and features a hopping happy hour if you’re arriving after nap time!  My favorites here are the Italian sodas, lattes and cookies from Pattycake Bakery.  Harrison Park (which is a different park from Harrison West Park if you happen to be Googling) is a newer park with a great play area for toddlers (and one for older kids, too!).  The park is along the Olentangy River and the bike path.  There’s a lot of green space here for running around, too.  There are no restrooms available (so you might want to limit your caffeine intake! 😉 ).

Coffee:  Caffe Apropos, 443 W. 3rd Ave., Columbus OH, 43201 (on the corner of 3rd Ave. and Michigan Ave.)

Park:  Harrison Park, on Harrison Park Place between W. 1st and W. 2nd avenues.

Where to Park:  There is only street parking available here but it is free and without a time limit.  I recommend parking on Harrison Park Place, right along the park and then walking to the coffee shop.  If parking is unavailable there, one of the parallel streets will work just fine – Michigan tends to be busy so try Perry, or Oregon between 1st Avenue and 3rd Avenue.

3. Winans Fine Chocolates and Coffees + Schiller Park





Be forewarned that your kids will want chocolate when you get to Winans to order your coffee.  Who wouldn’t?!  The coffee is good and perusing the beautifully made chocolates is worth the stop on its own!  When we visited, the friendly staff gave my kids a free treat – which was awesome!  The walk to the playground will set you back about a half a mile through the park, but walking through the park is, well, a walk in the park.  Sorry, I just couldn’t resist!  You could add in a detour around the pond to feed the ducks or through Huntington Garden, around the Statue of Schiller, which is beautiful in the springtime!  The playground area is great for all ages.  My kids have loved playing on the train.  The playground is pretty well fenced in and shady!  Restrooms are available.

Coffee: Winans Fine Chocolates and Coffees, 897 S. 3rd St., Columbus, OH 43206,  Hours: 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Park:  Schiller Park, 1069 Jaeger St., Columbus, OH 43206

Where to Park:  My first suggestion would be to park on Reinhard, along the park.  Winans is about 2 blocks from the park entrance on Reinhard.  The playground is on the other side of the park, and there is also a parking lot inside the park, closer to the playground area, if you want to start there.  (Enter at the corner of Jaeger and Deshler).

I hope you have as much fun trying out these combinations as we did!


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ICYMI: 5 Go-To Places to Take Your Kids in Columbus

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